Have a look at the list of installed -- or portable -- programs on your system right now. Do you see programs on the list that you used in the past but no longer? Or programs that you never used even though they are installed or available?
The All Apps listing of the Windows 10 Start Menu can for instance be a glaring reminder of programs sitting idly on your hard drive.
There is nothing wrong with keeping most of the programs installed. While you may regain some hard drive space, usually up to a couple of hundred Megabytes unless we are talking games, there is little benefit other than that for most programs.
Some programs on the other hand interact with the system or the Internet even if you don't use them. Think of auto-updating programs like web browsers that update frequently, or programs that add entries to menus in Explorer if you are using Windows.
And then there are programs that may introduce security issues or other issues on your PC. If you keep Adobe Flash or Java installed, but don't update as soon as patches get released, you may as well give attackers the key to your
castle PC directly.
Keeping your PC clean by removing software that you no longer use has several advantages. I mentioned the gain in free hard drive space already. If you uninstall a web browser for instance, that is usually several hundred Megabytes right there. If you remove a game, it can reach the two-digit Gigabyte space easily.
Uninstalling programs will also clean up the Start Menu entry of the program, and remove links from context menus or the desktop if they were placed there during installation or use.
A cleaner start menu improves its usability. Considering that programs that you don't use are dead weight, you'd improve discoverability of programs that you do use by removing those dead weight programs from it.
While you can do so manually as well without removing the application, there is little need for keeping it around if you know that you will never use it again.
You may also benefit by removing programs that use Internet bandwidth regularly for updates, even if they are not used.
Depending on the program, you may also remove attack vectors from your system. If you don't install Java or Flash, attackers cannot use exploits for those programs to attack your system.
There are good reasons for keeping programs around. For instance, if you are not sure that you will never use a program again, you may want to keep it around. This is true especially if the program does not take up a lot of space on the hard drive -- or if you have plenty -- and is not cluttering up menus.
One example of such a program is one that you tried, but did not think it was ready yet. Maybe you want to wait for updates to be released for it to check it out again at a later point in time.
There may also be situations where removing programs removes the license you got as well. Say, you got a program from one of those daily giveaway sites.
It is usually not possible to re-install those program versions at a later point in time (without prep work) as they are time limited. So, it may be better to keep it around if there is a chance that you may use it again in the future.
Last but not least, you may want to keep a program if it is not available anymore elsewhere, or if there is a chance that it might become unavailable.
Now You: How do you handle programs you no longer use?
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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.