Whenever you want to uninstall software on Windows, you have two core options to do so. You may install it using Windows' remove a program control panel applet or use third-party tools for the job.
The native option in Windows gets the job done most of the time but lacks advanced features such as cleaning up leftovers.
If you have removed software in the past from your computer you may have noticed empty Start Menu folders for instance which were not removed with the program.
These leftovers are not a problem usually. They may take up a bit of space on the hard drive or clutter the system but they usually do not cause any functionality issues on the system.
When it comes to advanced uninstallers, the following three are mentioned the most: Geek Uninstaller, IOBit Uninstaller and Revo Uninstaller.
Which of the three is best at cleaning programs and leftovers on Windows PCs? Lets find out.
Geek Uninstaller, available as a portable version.
IOBit Uninstaller, needs to be installed.
Revo Uninstaller, available as a portable version.
All three programs are compatible with all supported versions of the Windows operating system.
First test: how many installed programs are recognized by the three uninstaller programs.
The free version of Revo Uninstaller does not offer full 64-bit compatibility which means that it won't list 64-bit programs in its interface.
That's a serious issue right there as it limits program functionality on 64-bit systems.
The difference in the program count between Geek Uninstaller and IOBit Uninstaller is not as easy to explain. IOBit did not pick up some programs, Boxcryptor or Apple Software Update for instance, which Geek Uninstaller did list in its interface.
How thorough is the removal process of each program? To find out, I installed the three random programs Tomahawk, Telegram Desktop and SlimBrowser, and ran uninstall operations on each using each of the three removal programs.
I ran each program once and accepted all suggestions before I closed it and ran the uninstaller. The moderate uninstallation mode was selected in Revo Uninstaller as it is the program's default mode that is likely used by the majority of its users.
Listed Tomahawk with a size of 115 Megabyte and today's installation date. The selection of uninstall ran the native uninstaller of the program first and then the leftover scan.
The scan found 78 Registry items that it linked to Tomahawk.
The program listed Tomahawk with a size of 115.65 Megabytes and today's installation date. It ran the uninstaller of the program first and found 39 Registry items in its own leftover scan.
Listed Tomahawk with a size of 115.65 Megabyte and today's installation date. It ran the regular uninstaller first before it ran its own scan for left over files.
Revo Uninstaller found 303 different Registry items that it associated with Tomahawk.
Revo was the only program to list leftover files in a local directory. It found 24 files in the directory.
Both Geek Uninstaller and IOBit Uninstaller missed the data directory with 24 files that Revo Uninstaller did pick up. Revo did find additional Registry items that the two other programs did not find.
Geek Uninstaller listed the program with a size of 25 Megabyte in its interface. It found no leftover traces.
Listed Telegram with 25.08 Megabyte and today's installation date. Found nine Registry items associated with Telegram Desktop.
Listed Telegram Desktop with a size of 25.08 Megabyte in its interface. It found 9 leftover Registry items that the regular uninstaller did not delete on the system.
Geek Uninstaller failed to find the nine Registry items that Revo and IOBit found.
The leftover scan found three Registry items and no files.
IOBit's program found 66 leftover items in the Registry but no files on the system.
The program found 69 Registry items and three leftover files.
Revo Uninstaller picked up 69 Registry items and three local files, more than the other two programs.
Revo Uninstaller turns out to be the most thorough uninstaller of the three tested ones. It is held back however by its lack of 64-bit program support which will become more and more of an issue in the future as programs shift to 64-bit.
The test was not run under scientific conditions and results may vary if you run it using different programs.
Still, it is interesting to see that there is a huge difference when it comes to leftover files and Registry items found by program uninstallers.
Now You: Do you care about program leftovers?Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.