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How to Remove Programs that refuse to Uninstall Normally

unable to uninstall application
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One of the important steps in maintaining a PC, is to remove programs which is not necessary for the user. The freeware or shareware program that you may have installed to try it out also needs to be removed once the trial is over. Having too many programs installed in a PC can also lead to computer slowing down and create conflicts with other software. The solution is to remove unwanted programs which will increase the computer speed and cause less software conflicts.

Remove a program is not rocket science. Anyone with basic computer knowledge should be able to do so. But the process can be tricky, if the program or software refuse to uninstall using the normal method. The reason for a program for refusing to get uninstall the normal way is, if it is poorly coded or the program is corrupted by external sources such as malware/ virus attack or file corruption from conflicts with other softwares.

Here is a step by step method to remove programs that refuse to uninstall

  1. Try the normal uninstallation method

  • Use the normal and most popular method by going to Add/ Remove program to uninstall the software.
  • Press Windows Key + R for Run Window
  • Type appwiz.cpl and click OK. This will open the program list window. Select the program that you want to remove and click Uninstall.
  1. Try using the program uninstaller to uninstall the program

Most programs comes with an uninstaller file which is designed to uninstall the program. Open the folder where the program or application is installed. Usually it is located inside the system folder (usually C: drive) C:/ Program Files/<program name>.

  • Go through the files inside the application folder and check for an uninstallation file. You can identify the file by its name with uninstall in it. Sometimes if you fail to remove the program from Add/ remove program, running the uninstaller file from the application folder might help.
  1. Confirm if the application is properly closed and related services stopped

It is not possible to remove a program, if that program is running in the background. And it is easy to figure it out as the OS itself will throw a straight forward message that you cannot proceed with uninstallation because the file is running. But sometimes you may never know what is happening as the OS may not be able to give you this message. Do this step to make sure the file is not running in background.

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + ESC. This will open Task Manager. Go through the list of all files running in the background. Stop these files from running by Right clicking on the process and click End task.
  • Press Windows Key + R for Run window. Type services.msc and click OK. This will open the list of services installed in your PC. Go through the list. If you find a service which is related to the program that you want to uninstall, click on Stop. This will stop the service from running in the background.

Now go ahead and check if you are able to uninstall the program.

  1. Uninstall the program from Safe Mode

If all the above methods failed, try uninstalling program in Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, only OS files will be running, thus reducing the possibility of interference from external sources. The logic is, by reducing the possibility of external interference you have more success in uninstalling the program. Here is a link on how to uninstall program in Safe Mode.

  1. Check if there are any specialized uninstallers released by the program manufacturer

Some programs refuse to get uninstalled because of poor coding by the developer or when the files inside the program gets corrupted. If these issues are widely reported, most manufacturers come up with their own uninstallers to uninstall their program. All you have to do is download the uninstaller from manufacturer website, run it and follow the instructions.

  1. Use uninstaller programs

There are plenty of free uninstaller programs like Revo uninstaller, Geek Uninstaller, ZSoft Uninstaller etc. These programs can help in removing the program name from Add/remove program list and also assist in removing the program from its installed location.

  1. Run a file cleaning software

My choice will be to run Ccleaner. Ccleaner can help you in removing the left-over files from the uninstalled software. There is also a registry cleaner which can be used to remove the registry entry left over by the uninstalled software. Here is a link on how to run Ccleaner like a Pro.

Following these steps and you can get rid of any programs or applications from your PC. If you are still unable to remove the programs, the only solution remaining for me is to do a Windows OS clean installation and start all over again.

Use the comment section if you have any queries.

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About the author: Anup Raman A Tech Enthusiast|Blogger|Tech Trainer with 10+ yrs experience in the field of IT. My expertise are in Operating Systems, mainly Windows and Computer security which comes from my experience, working as Tech Support and Trainer for Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee. Loves blogging about Technical Troubleshooting, discussing latest Gadgets, Games and doing Reviews.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Doug Hay Jan 20, 2017, 9:12 pm

    I don’t know if you could call it a program, but a stubborn pop up keeps appearing starting that my version of Norton is incompatible with Windows 10. Trouble is I do not use Norton — made the mistake of taking the free trial offer when I loaded Windows 8, but declined to continue with it, preferring another anti-virus product. After updating to Windows 10, I decided to not renew the other AV and just rely on common sense and Windows Defender. The Norton pop up has appeared repeatedly since then, and the only way to get rid of it is to use Task Manager, as the X box does not respond. Doing searches on how to get rid of it, I deleted what appeared to be the responsible file in C: > Users > Public > Public Downloads > Norton. But it keeps coming back. Any idea how to get rid of it for good? Would appreciate advice.

    • Anup Raman Jan 21, 2017, 11:16 am

      This is because Norton is not properly uninstalled from the system.

      Go to Norton Uninstall Tool link.

      Download the tool, follow the instructions and run it. Make sure to select the option Remove Only, since there is no plan to install it back.

      Hope you get the problem fixed. Please let us know the results.

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