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Most of us know that when you install an application, it’s not that uncommon for it leave bits of itself behind on your system after you uninstall it again, even using the official uninstaller utility that came with it. Security software is a prime example which can often leave a ton of redundant data behind and in many cases this causes system instability until all traces have been removed. Many of us have third party uninstall tools to help scan for and get rid of this leftover data such as Revo Uninstaller, but although they can do a fine job, these are after the event tools and sometimes not quite as accurate as they need to be.
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The best way to make sure nothing gets missed after removing an application is to monitor and track the file and registry changes when you install the software so when it comes to removal, you have the chance to delete anything the original installer left behind. There are many tools around that can watch your system for certain changes and we’ve written about ones that can track changes during an installation in another article.
These 7 utilities below can monitor the install and then uninstall the software again removing all the changes the original uninstaller might have missed.
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Advanced Uninstaller Pro is definitely trying to be the complete all-in-one utility because in addition to the uninstalling functions, it also boasts a whole host of other useful tools. Registry cleaning, optimizing, backup and restore, file cleaning and optimizing, Services, Startup, Control Panel and Font managers, several different tools for IE, Chrome and Firefox, and there are many more. The program has a Revo like Uninstall Programs option that does a standard removal and then scans for leftovers and a Monitored Installations option.
This second option requires you to start the installation monitor tray component and then you can right click on it to start a monitored install using the before and after snapshot method. We were quite surprised at how long the program took to create the snapshots and then the log file, nearly 3 minutes reading from the in built clock.
Uninstalled software can be backed up and restored again at a later date. Even if you never use the uninstaller functions on offer, Advanced Uninstaller Pro still has a ton of other features you might find useful. Watch out for the AVG search bar adware being offered on install.
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2. Install Monitor
Mirekusoft Install Monitor has a few advantages and possible disadvantages over some other install tracking tools. On the plus side everything is monitored in real time so you don’t have to create before and after snapshots which saves a lot of time. This is achieved by a service running in the background (MspySvcHost.exe) that constantly watches for installations.
Then when you click on the installed program in the Install Monitor window it will give you information about the size of the install and all the registry and file changes that it created. The selected software’s created content and startup entries can be viewed using the tabs below.
Software removal is a 2 step process with the standard uninstaller running 1st and then the program will tell you if there are still leftover entries it tracked which you can then remove using the Cleanup button. The running service could also be considered a drawback if you don’t want monitoring on all the time as you would have to stop it manually.
Although it isn’t bundled with any adware, Install Monitor does require the Visual C++ Redistributable and SQL Server Compact Edition to function which can be downloaded automatically if you don’t have them already. There are separate versions for XP, and 32/64 bit Windows.
Download Install Monitor
Primo is actually a before and after snapshot utility based around Regshot 1.8.2 and users with experience of that utility will probably like Primo as well because it has a few additions. The program consists of 2 executable files, the Primo executable to take the snapshots and then save the differences file, and a tool called CHKUnin which creates a .reg file and a .bat file, both of which can be used to delete the monitored application installs or delete any leftovers after an uninstall.
If you don’t extract the program to the C drive it will popup an error on start, simply change the Output path to stop it appearing again. Multiple drives or folders can be scanned by separating them in the box with a semi colon. Click 1st Image to create the before snapshot, install the application and click 2nd Image to create the after snapshot.
Then press Compare to create the log report which can be in TEXT or HTML formats. To create the uninstall batch and registry files run CHKUnin and open the text log file (not HTML) which will automatically make the files for you and they can then be run when you want to remove the software or left behind data.
4. Total Uninstall (last freeware version)
Total Uninstall has been shareware for many years now, but was once a freeware tool and although it comes from 2005, this older version 2.35 still works and does the job quite nicely. There aren’t that many features in the program apart from the standard registry and file scanning options for the before and after snapshots which makes it an easy to use application.
Monitoring a new install is done via dragging the installer onto the window and before you create the 1st snapshot will be given the chance to edit the default registry and file locations to be scanned. After waiting for the snapshot to be created you have the option of monitoring just the single application or several which can then all be uninstalled at once.
The rest of the procedure is quite standard and will create the after snapshot and show you the differences in a tree view. Then when you want to remove the program from your system select “Uninstall or view changes of a monitored application” from the main window along with what to uninstall where Total Uninstall will let you review and then completely remove the program.
Download Total Uninstall v2.35
5. Comodo Programs Manager
Comodo Programs Manager is a well polished tool to monitor and help remove installations and also has some nice features such as an install maker option that creates a setup executable from the contents of the monitored install so you can install the program next time quickly and silently. It also has quick access to the Windows Features option and a Windows Updates section allows the viewing and possible removal of any causing issues.
The Drivers and Services option is a powerful and also dangerous thing to play around with if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Uninstalling something Windows or a piece of software relies on will likely cause it stop working properly.
When you want to remove a program simply click on it and select Uninstall, you will get the a Complete Uninstall option if it’s been previously tracked by Comodo or Standard Uninstall for one that hasn’t. After the uninstall any changes still left will be available to remove.
Programs Manager also places shortcuts on the right click context menu for easy access and has a backup uninstall option so you can undo the uninstall process at a later time. Monitoring is in real time and like Install Monitor uses a resident service process called CPMService.exe to monitor the install.
Download Comodo Programs Manager
6. ZSoft Uninstaller
ZSoft Uninstaller has quite a few interesting features built into it. Apart from being able to Analyze an installation using before and after snapshots of the system’s files and registry, ZSoft Uninstaller also has a simple temporary file finder and remover, an empty folders finder and remover and a very basic startup program manager.
A few more interesting functions are the the automatic classification and filtering of known “Crapware” entries and a “Badware” finder which will scan your system for selected keywords such as “Coolwebsearch” or “CyDoor” etc, and then allow you to remove the entries.
The program runs on the standard formula of taking a before snapshot, installing your software and then taking an after snapshot although you do have to give a name to the analyzed program yourself. Uninstalling is a bit on the annoying side as the developer has placed 3 different disclaimer check boxes that you have to tick before continuing with the removal.
The option to remove leftovers is also not great because any entries have to be removed individually. The website does point out that ZSoft Uninstaller cannot remove 64-bit specific software although removing 32-bit programs on a 64-bit o/s works fine.
Download ZSoft Uninstaller
7. Ashampoo Magical UnInstall
This tool is the predecessor to the shareware Ashampoo Uninstaller application dating back to 2007 and is completely free if you use an email address to get a free key. As with all Ashampoo free products, it’s best to use a temporary email service to avoid being bombarded with advertising emails. One major drawback of Magical Uninstall is it won’t work on a 64-bit Windows but still works fine on 32-bit Windows including 7.
Apart from an options window, Magical Uninstall doesn’t have an interface as such and all actions are controlled through the tray icon context menu. Simply select the Install an application option from the menu and you will be asked to browse for the setup installer. Then it’s the standard snapshot A, install, snapshot B and compare process and selecting the menu Uninstall an application option will fully remove the application again.
There is also the ability to backup and re-install the software at a later time and actively monitor for when you launch a setup installer. Thankfully this version of an Ashampoo product does not include adware or toolbars in its installer although you do need to opt out of the newsletter on first run.
Download Ashampoo Magical UnInstall
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Advanced uninstaller pro worked for me. Thanks for your advice.Reply
It appears the Mirekusoft version has gone shareware. 30 day trial, then $24.95 and up to buy.
I have used Advanced Uninstaller Pro for a few years, though not recently. It’s a bit unweildy, and admittedly I only used it for its snapshot uninstall feature, but you can monitor an installation and uninstall it via a right-click in the system tray if you allow it. It does a fair job of detecting installs too in case you forget. Again, an optional feature.
Since the recent topic has been about programs leaving leftovers, I can say Google Chrome leaves all kinds of junk on my system which is why I’ve been looking for another uninstaller tool. Thanks again for this site?Reply
I hate begging but I beg to differ. And I apologize for not reading all of your great article. But ran here I did because I couldn’t take another step from where my jaw dropped.
Wouldn’t the install of the app be known to the app as well? Upon installation, the installer or the software would have some kind of test to make sure all the fingers and toes were there. (More importantly, I would only have to be embarrassed once to not make that mistake again. To varying degrees, I’m sure the app is handling exceptions.)
A clean bill of health upon installation would produce a clean uninstall, at that very moment. (exceptions exist). The homeless files appear because of the things that happened after the initial install and over a long period of time. (see plugins, cracks, hacks, tweaks, cheats, scratched cd or bad network connection.)
It basically becomes a “do delete? or do not delete?” situation for the programmer if he even writes the uninstaller at all. Many IDE’s like visual studio handle the install and uninstall automatically.
Additionally, it was always recommended to run the tracking app externally. You may have covered it, sorry. Tracking apps that reside on the same operating system will not be 100 percent accurate. They rarely are, as it is. You’ll get better results if your system is idle. This means all the Windows updates should be done or disabled and there should be minimal traffic from whatever app that is installed. msconfig to strip down the windows footprint will get you the best results from a tracker.
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Your idea that a software install will know exactly what it has installed and be able to uninstall it all again is a nice theory but is not what happens sadly.
That is why tools like this and other tools that remove leftovers exist. There are literally thousands of applications that don’t remove what they’ve added to the system.Reply
In addition to that, certain softwares install and deliberately leave certain keys or values or some entries in registry to detect re-installation. One example is: if you install SUPERAntispyware pro trial in your system and once the trial expires (after 15 days), you uninstall it, then re-install it. This software installs quiet, but once you run, it says, “the trial has expired’. It means, it leaves its trace deliberately to identify if the trial has ended or not, when you uninstall it.Reply
A lot of software that has trial versions, licenses or subscriptions doesn’t store that data in standard locations, in the registry or in a local file. That is for obvious reasons.
On the whole, these monitor programs don’t scan every corner of your PC but the most common locations that will catch what is needed maybe 90% of the time.Reply
I think what the original poster meant to point out is that a lot of what is left over after uninstalling a program the official way is not necessarily stuff that was placed during installation, but while using the program over a certain period of time. Some configuration files, profiles etc. may only be created once the application is actually used, and there are temporary files and caches that can accumulate over longer periods of use. In that case, of course the method of comparing snapshots from before and right after an installation is not sufficient to clear out all the remaning bits. So ever now and then, a more generic search for orphaned files and registry keys might still be necessary.
It’s difficult to work around since you can’t do this diff-based procedure over longer periods of time. The logs would become unmanageably big, and it may be difficult to associate changes with specific applications.
I use the very simple, low-overhead method of RegShot sometimes, and find it an adequate solution to keep the system relatively clean after trying out and removing new software. But I do see the commenter’s point that that’s not quite enough to ensure an absolutely clean removal.Reply
Ashampoo Uninstaller versions 3 and 4 do an excellent job of monitoring file and registry changes and display these changes in a log file which is reviewed in the main window before restoration is completed. You can also select the folders and registry hives and keys that you want to monitor or restore. Those files that are deleted during the installation of applications are backed up so that they can be restored along with the registry changes. I doubt that there is a better uninstaller.Reply
I contacted Comodo. As per Comodo, “Comodo Programs Manager” is NOT recommended. They recommend use of other freeware. “Comodo Programs Manager” has been discontinued and they refuse to be responsible for it, if you decide to use it.Reply
Gta san andreas car mod installer free download for android. Where is Revo Uninstaller using it since you first mentioned think 3-4 years nice oneReply
The free version of Revo doesn’t monitor software installs, only the $40 Pro version does…Reply
Revo Pro Uninstaller is the only one that I have used since it’s inception of uninstallers! I have never had a problem with it and once you purchase it your updates are free for as long as you own it! It is actually, the best software program that I have ever owned, since owning a computer… The has been more than 25 years! The is saying a lot about a business, who has been 100% behind their products! I don’t know of any other company that I can say that about! I love Revo Pro Uninstaller, I am a customer for life!Reply
So why not mention it? Thousands of folks (like myself) have paid for the Pro version but can’t figure out from Revo’s hopeless user manual how to do a monitored install. It could at least have been mentioned in this so-called ‘review’.Reply
Revo Pro is paid software and all these programs at the time of writing were free, that’s the reason it’s not here.
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I really don’t understand why you have so much trouble with monitored installs, it’s literally a button on the main user interface or in your right-click context menu to start the process. It’s also mentioned in the manual.
Before criticizing others for not helping you, perhaps you should read the manual a bit more thoroughly and spend a bit more time understanding how your software works.
Types Of Software InstallationReply
Tevo has just gone to a subscription model … now you rent it by the yearReply
You only subscribe for updates, though. You can still use any version you got during your subscription period without any restrictions after your subscription expires. You just cannot use a newer one.Reply
I didn’t notice a reference to these programs’ log reports. I’ve used ZSoft’s Uninstaller for several years now and find it suits my needs quite well. I particularly like the option to view a text file of the actual file and registry changes made by the install. There’s even the option to keep the installation log of a program when uninstalling it.Reply