IT Wars: Episode 1 - Removing unwanted Anti-Virus software

Removing Antivirus SoftwareAnti Virus Uninstall Wars

Like many of you, I am sure, I have encountered those occasional programs that just will not uninstall from “Add/Remove Programs” in the control panel. The problem is not restricted to, but seems to be most prevalent, in the attempt to uninstall unwanted anti-viral programs. I will not name names, (Trend Micro, Symantec, Kaspersky), but there are a few companies out there who have made no attempt to make their anti-virus software easy to uninstall. And, actually this is easy to understand why: if the software was easy for an end user to uninstall, it would be easy for a virus to uninstall it. 

When you encounter this problem, my first suggestion is to Google it. Many internet security providers also provide diagnostic tools or “rippers” that will remove the unwanted program. These rippers are usually free, easy to download and easy to use. They generally work very well.

Every once in a while, however, you encounter that persistent, pernicious AV software from the paranoid mind of a reformed hacker that will just not uninstall no matter what you do. You then have two choices, based upon your level of computer expertise. Choice number one is to take your computer to a computer professional and have them remove the unwanted program and download into your computer the AV software you want. This choice is for people with limited or no computer skills, or people with more money than free time. Remember, you are not just paying for your support team’s work, you are also paying for the many hours of experience that goes into acquiring the knowledge to do this.

Choice two is for the computer literate, and is free, but takes up to several hours. Click your “Start” button and go to “My Computer” and select your main computer drive, usually the C: drive. Select Program files. Right click on the folder bearing the name of the program you are trying to delete. Select delete. You will be asked if you really want to send that folder to the recycle bin. Say Yes! Close down all screens and empty your recycle bin. That was the easy part.

Click on your “Start” button. Select “Run”. Type in regedit, yes, you are about to edit your registry. Hit enter and a file list will open up on the left side of your screen. Select “Computer” or “My Computer”. Then select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Select “Software”. Find the correct folder under “Software” (by searching for the manufacturer’s name) and right click on the folder. Select delete. Always backup your computer before doing registry edits; it can cause a problem that is difficult to fix without a backup.

You must reboot your computer after you do this. When you go to “Control Panel” and then to “Add/Remove Programs” the deleted program might still show up, but all you have to do is select the program for uninstallation and the computer will tell you it is already gone, would you like to remove it from the list. Select yes and there you go, you are done. Sometimes choice number 2 will not work. The problem is usually a password protected file in the folder that will not allow permission to delete. If this happens you had better either know the password and file location or you had better seek professional help.

As I said before, this problem is not restricted to AV software. Computer manufacturers like to preinstall “trials” of certain programs and these “trials” have a habit of being miserable to uninstall. Most of the program manufacturers have “rippers” or “fixit” programs that will work well for you. Do your best and remember that we are all pulling for you because we are all in this together. If you have more money than free time, skill, and / or patience, please call us at 630-208-800.

Peter Heinicke

Peter Heinicke

Chicago area ERP consultant with over 40 years of experience in Sage 300, Sage Pro, Quickbooks ERP and other systems

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