Symantec uninstaller may not finish the job

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

Like most Windows software, Norton security products, published by the Symantec Corp., come with an uninstall option to remove the software from your computer.

Unfortunately, neither Symantec’s bundled uninstaller — nor a little-known, special utility from the company — removes every single thing.

Incomplete removal poses a risk to users

My Jan. 24 round-up on reviews of security suites reported that Symantec’s Norton Internet Security 2008 had garnered Editors’ Choice awards from PC Magazine and PC World — more top prizes than any competing suite. Soon after my article appeared, dozens of readers wrote in to complain about their experiences with Symantec software. Among other problems, they cited the difficulties they’ve had uninstalling Norton security products.

In addition, a number of sources confirm that security software in general, and the Norton product line in particular, do a poor job of removing their products.

Why are incomplete uninstalls a problem? In addition to leaving useless data on a customer’s machine, such Registry entries may in some cases cause conflicts for other software.

For example, self-described industry guru Dave Taylor warns that “the presence of uninstalled security software in the Registry can conflict with newly installed security software and cause system freezes.”

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-02-07: