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Author Topic: Software Uninstallers  (Read 3250 times)

MrCrispy

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Software Uninstallers
« on: January 24, 2012, 04:06:54 PM »
A few issues I want to talk about -

1. Is the uninstaller in Windows enough? 3rd party uninstallers just call the same entry point to uninstall anyway, all they do is have a nicer GUI and maybe list more stuff.

2. Uninstallers that work by diffing - i.e. taking a snapshot before and after install, then comparing. Are these reliable? There's too much going on in the OS, and no way to determine what's related to the app you're installing, or is just additional filesystem/registry activity.

3. Does Windows even support true uninstalling? I say not. Because every single program that has a trial version leaves behind remnants, so you can't install it again and restart the trial.  And many programs never uninstall properly. e.g. crap like Acronis TrueImage, and leave behind tons of stuff.

cyberdiva

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2012, 04:14:35 PM »
1. Is the uninstaller in Windows enough? 3rd party uninstallers just call the same entry point to uninstall anyway, all they do is have a nicer GUI and maybe list more stuff.
I'm not in a position to address all the questions you asked (though I think there was a thread not long ago on DC about uninstallers that take snapshots before and after).  I just want to say that I much prefer Revo Uninstaller to the Windows uninstaller.  I've used both the free and the paid version of Revo, and both of them do a better job than Windows, IMHO.  It's true that Revo uses the same uninstaller that Windows does, but Revo then goes on to scan the computer for leftover files and folders AND scans the registry for leftover registry entries.  This latter is what I appreciate most.  Very infrequently I decide to leave some registry entries that Revo claims I can delete, but most of the time I simply follow its advice, and I've never been sorry (knock on wood).

rgdot

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 04:16:15 PM »
I would say yes worth it, not all but something like Revo Uninstaller for example. Uninstalling is sometimes 'intentionally bad' for reasons like trial info. From a non-programmer's (me) perspective I see a difference between uninstalling files and removing registry entries and shared files (dll, etc.).

MrCrispy

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2012, 04:30:03 PM »
I think this is how it roughly works -

- Program X lists stuff in its msi manifest that it needs - these are files, registry entries etc. Windows Installer creates these, or checks they exist etc
- When it runs, X creates more stuff. Windows has no knowledge of these
- When you uninstall, stuff in the manifest is removed. Rest is left alone
- Programs like Revo do a scan of the registry looking for references to the program path, its known reg entries etc, and try to remove orphaned entries

It's all extremely inelegant and error prone. Even Microsoft has finally given up the idea of shared install binaries with Windows 8 - Metro mandates a single app folder with all the binaries it needs contained within.

Ath

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 04:38:02 PM »
This all proves that 'mere' developers should leave software installation to pro's. And they shouldn't be messing with msi's either ;)

40hz

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 06:36:27 PM »
It would be so much better if Windows adopted something along the lines of BSD's 'ports' methodology.  8)

hpearce

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2012, 07:41:23 PM »
Revo has long been the lead "free" uninstaller ... but it is possibly being challenged by the IObit uninstaller  which is good and free but does 64 bit apps too.
Windows 7 SP1 (TM) Home Premium 64-bit .. Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU P8400 @ 2.26 GHz / 2.27 GHz .. 4GB RAM .. NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS .. Gateway P-7805u FX

justice

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 04:12:55 AM »
Quote
3. Does Windows even support true uninstalling? I say not. Because every single program that has a trial version leaves behind remnants, so you can't install it again and restart the trial.  And many programs never uninstall properly. e.g. crap like Acronis TrueImage, and leave behind tons of stuff.
I'll refer to InnoSetup's stance to clarify why this is happening on purpose (see [UninstallDelete] section, unfortunately not online:

Quote
NOTE: Don't be tempted to use a wildcard here to delete all files in the {app} directory. I strongly recommend against doing this for two reasons. First, users usually don't appreciate having their data files they put in the application directory deleted without warning (they might only be uninstalling it because they want to move it to a different drive, for example). It's better to leave it up to the end users to manually remove them if they want. Also, if the user happened to install the program in the wrong directory by mistake (for example, C:\WINDOWS) and then went to uninstall it there could be disastrous consequences. So again, DON'T DO THIS!

Ath

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 06:18:06 AM »
see [UninstallDelete] section, unfortunately not online:
Oh, it's on-line: http://www.jrsoftwar...alldeletesection.htm
And the entire help is here: http://www.jrsoftware.org/ishelp

CCpotter

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 08:11:09 PM »
Sometimes, when you are using the uninstaller in windows, it won't delete all you messages which means some space are still occupied, while a third party uninstaller can do this in a much better way, like Free File Wiper, i learnt it here

http://mydailysoft.b...reliable-way-to.html

Ath

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Re: Software Uninstallers
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2012, 02:21:36 AM »
Ever since Windows NT an Administrator (the actual user that should be installing/uninstalling software) can not reliably access the personal files of another user. Either because the files can not be reached in the other profile, stored on an AD controlled location, or because access-rights don't allow him in.
These files should in fact be manually deleted by the user. But most software do not provide instructions on how, where & what to remove after uninstall. That's what can be kind-of fixed by these uninstallers, for the current user only, ofcourse.