SANDY BERGER: Uninstalling Old Programs Helps Your Computer
In an effort to get you to clean your room, your mother may have told you that "cleanliness is next to godliness."
I don't know if cleaning up your house or your computer will make you feel any holier, but it is sure to make you feel better. And in the case of your computer, it may even help your computer to run faster.
Last week, we talked about emptying the recycle bin and doing a general disk cleanup. Today, we will focus on removing old programs.
Every program you install on your computer takes up space on your hard drive. If you have a new computer with a very large hard disk, you probably have enough space so you don't have to uninstall programs unless you want to, but if you have an older computer with a small hard disk, you will definitely want to remove old programs that you are no longer using.
Also, there are times when you need to uninstall a program. For instance, you should never have two anti-virus programs running on your computer at the same time because they may interfere with each nother. So before you install a new anti-virus program, you should always uninstall the old one.
Removing old programs from a computer is an easy chore that all users should be able to handle. When you decide to uninstall a program, the first place to look is in the Program list. Find the program and see if there is an uninstall utility listed. If there is, you should use it to uninstall the program.
For instance, I wanted to uninstall the software for an old Dymo label maker. I simply clicked on Start, then on All Programs. I double-clicked to open the folder marked Dymo Labels and chose the program that said Uninstall Dymo Label. The old program was uninstalled quickly and easily by simply following the on-screen prompts.
If the program you wish to remove does not have a stand-alone uninstall utility listed, it can be removed from a Windows computer through the Control Panel, which can be accessed from the Start menu.
If you are using Windows XP, you will choose the Add and Remove Programs area of the Control Panel. Vista users will choose the Programs and Features area of the Control Panel.
Be patient because it may take a few minutes for your computer to compile the list, but within a few minutes you will see a list of all of the programs that are installed on your computer. You simply scroll down the list and click on the program that you want to uninstall. Then choose Remove or Uninstall/Change. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the removal.
Sometimes during the installation, you will be asked whether or not you want to remove shared files that the program uses. It is always safest to say "no." These files don't take up much space and by leaving them alone you can be sure that if some other program is using them, that program will still run properly.
Select and uninstall each of the programs that you no longer need. Remember, however, that you will need the original download file or program disks if you want to reinstall the program later.
Occasionally, you will find that you cannot remove a program completely. This seems to happen often with certain programs such as Symantec's (Norton) anti-virus programs. If this happens to you, and it is just a regular program, you can usually just complete as much of the uninstall as you can and not worry about removing the rest of it.
The program that you were trying to remove may still show up in the Add/Remove program list, but it will not run. If, however, it is a program like Norton anti-virus that you must get rid of before you install a new anti-virus program, you can check the manufacturer's Web site for removal tools. Symantec and some others sometimes provide special removal tools on its Web sites.
Although the above instructions will allow you to remove most programs, occasionally there is one that has special instructions. This is the case with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Web browser. If you install IE8 and don't like it or it doesn't work well on your system, you can easily uninstall it.
Windows XP users will use the usual Add/Remove Programs area and will see Internet Explorer 8 listed as a choice where it can be removed. However, Windows Vista users will not see IE8 listed in the installed program list. Instead they will have to go to the Programs and Features area and click View installed updates which is under Tasks on the left side of the screen. That's where they will see IE8 listed and will be able to remove it.
Don't be afraid to uninstall programs that you don't use anymore. Keeping your computer clean may not make you any holier, but is a worthwhile endeavor.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/ happycomputing.
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