Every day I download a ton of software
to review for this column and also for personal use. Unfortunately, not all downloads are good downloads. While I do find a few gems, the ones that don't make the cut end up sitting on my computer until I have a chance to sweep through and uninstall them.
The problem is that the Windows Add/Remove control panel on my PC doesn't do as thorough a job as I would like it to. I've found that it leaves behind program folders, Registry keys, and files after telling me a particular program has been uninstalled. Over time, these files and folders add up, and before I know it, my Program Files folder is filled with names of programs that I don't use or even have on my hard drive anymore.
Do you have a favorite third-party uninstaller that works for you?
Fortunately, a few uninstaller alternatives exist that do a better job of cleaning up your computer and offer a wealth of other useful options to manage disk space. Though none of these offerings are free, you might find that knowing that you're really uninstalling bad programs is worth a little extra money.
Your Uninstaller 2004 Pro shows you all of your programs' icons in a huge scrollable window that's easy to navigate. Sometimes when you use the Windows add/remove utility, it's hard to tell what some programs are simply by their names. With Your Uninstaller 2004 Pro, if you want more information about a program before you uninstall it, you can click an icon, then click App Info. (Shareware/Windows)
Innovatools Add/Remove Plus lets you uninstall programs with only a few clicks of your mouse. What I really like about this one is the ability to print out a list of installed programs so that I can look at a hard copy of what's on my hard drive. (Shareware/Windows)
Ashampoo UnInstaller Platinum Suite offers a unique and efficient solution to the uninstall problem by creating a log of your install processes so that it can retrace those steps when it's time to uninstall. This one offers some other extra features for removing cookies, your Internet history, and empty folders as well. (Shareware/Windows)
The Windows Add/Remove Programs is less than perfect for catching every file, folder, and Registry entry. If you really want to clean up your computer, these uninstaller options do a much better job of getting it all out.
Want to surf the Web in style, use a unique MP3 player, or get rid of some nasty spyware? Jason Parker
of Download.com handpicks software downloads for every occasion.