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  1. #1
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    Clean Registry after Uninstall

    Many programs leave traces in the Registry - even after full uninstallation. This often causes other programs to issue errors because they detect old programs they do not like.

    If I KNOW a program is uninstalled AND no longer needed, is it safe to remove all traces of it by searching with regedit, for mentions in any of the six main sections. I do not really trust reg cleaners and would prefer to do a manual search??
    David P - The Truth Is In Redmond

  2. #2
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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    Yes, it should be OK. Why not export the keys before deleting them? Then you have a backup in case something bad happens.

    Joe
    Joe

  3. #3
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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    Thanks Joe. Can u suggest any good books on registry editing, or do they carry the same caveats as the many threads here decrying the miracles of reg cleaners. I did a search on Amazon, but most of the titles seem to be for sysadmins 'tweaking' machines. I am more interested in cleaning out old programs or trying to fix uninstall strings that do not work?
    David P - The Truth Is In Redmond

  4. #4
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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    The registry is simply a place that ANY program can store ANY information that it wants. The reason for the warnings about editing the registry is that the only people who really know what a particular registry entry does are the programmers who use it.

    Why do you want to remove these unused registry entries? I suspect you are more likely to cause problems by deleting unknown entries than by leaving them alone.

    An alternative approach is just to accept that the registry gets in a bit of a state, and that system files and DLLs also get screwed up by installations and deinstallations, and resign yourself to a complete reinstall of windows every 2 to 3 years (or more frequently if you often install and deinstall programs).

    StuartR

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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    I'd suspect that the registry books will be written addressing the Microsoft related entries used to tweak Windows. You'd have to try and find information from each software publisher about their unique registry usage. If you want to persist in cleaning old programs you search method is as good as any since you don't want to use a registry cleaner. Uninstall strings that don't work are usually because one or more files has already been deleted - not much you can do about that. Sometimes a reinstall then uninstall will clean things up.

    Much about the Windows registry, system files & dlls depends on the Windows version. NT based OSes have a different registry structure than 9x OSes. Newer Windows OSes (2k & XP) are much better about protecting system files & dlls than older Windows versions (9x & NT). I'd differ from what Stuart says only in that with XP I'd only re-build a system that was still substantially the same hardware wise if I noticed a substantial performance deterioration that could not be explained by a hardware malfunction, malware, virus, etc.

    Joe
    Joe

  6. #6
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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    > I'd differ from what Stuart says only in that...

    No major disagreement here. I tend to find that XP based systems gradually develop irritating and incomprehensible faults that I can neither fix nor understand. Once the number of issues exceeds my tolerance threshold I wipe and start again.

    StuartR

  7. #7
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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    The reason I want to remove old entries.

    A real example - I installed Palm Desktop and Intellishield Lite from a Sony Clie installation CD. No choice about Lite, it installs automatically. I upgrade to a later version of Palm Desktop and Upgrade to full Intellishield from their web sites and it all dies.

    After many talks with the good people at Pumatech support, it appears that even when Lite is removed via Control Panel, it leaves bits that critically interfere with the full version, and they instruct me to use Regedit to totally remove all its keys from all sections. I do this blind, happy that I have a full backup hard disk, and all is well.

    This thread was prompted by a need to understand a little more about the Registry so that next time there is a program problem which seems to need a remove/reinstall, I am a little more knowledgeable about what I am doing
    David P - The Truth Is In Redmond

  8. #8
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    Re: Clean Registry after Uninstall

    That certainly sounds like a good reason to me, and I do agree that - in general - you can search for and remove references to deinstalled programs.

    Just make sure that you follow advice to back up and export first; because one day you will find an installation that can't be safely removed like that. For example, it may have modified an existing registry entry rather than creating a new one, and you would need to restore the original value.

    StuartR

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