Get rid of unused programs on your computer

One of our recent articles, Optimize your computer for peak performance, talked about some steps you can take to maintain your computer. It was a pretty popular article, and we got a lot of comments. The most common comment we got was another simple way to keep your computer running at peak performance: get rid of programs you're not using.

Basically, all you have to do is survey the software on your computer and uninstall programs you don't use. By doing so, you can lower the amount of space used on your hard drive and lower the memory it uses. This sounds simple, but I just did this to my work computer after having some performance issues. I deleted programs on my computer that I had never used or hadn't used for more than a year.
My computer started faster and my computer sped up. It's simple and very rewarding.

To uninstall programs from your computer:

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click Add or Remove Programs.
  3. In the Add or Remove dialog box, you will see a list of all the programs on your computer. When you click on a program, you can see how often and when you last used the program. The image below shows where you can find this information. If you want to get rid of the program, click Remove.
  4. Click Yes when you're asked whether you want to remove the program.

Image of the Add or Remove Programs dialog box

Here are some other articles that can help you speed your computer.

—Jason Kozleski

Comments (11)
  1. Brandon says:

    I totally agree that removing unused programs from your computer will boost performance, but what if when you try to remove them they won’t uninstall? Do I need to buy a specialty "Add-Remove" utility?  

  2. Janet Baldwin says:

    I found some of the tips very interesting and useful, but have a question. With the computer doing it’s job of cleaning files and defragmenting they seem to go thru something called "old disk structure". Which came about when I had to reboot from the startup disk. Can those files be safely removed now that the computer is up and running?

  3. ted says:

    does this include all the microsoft hot fixes that I have downloaded over the years?  Can I safely remove these too?

  4. Kent says:

    I enjoyed the information but receive an error message "could not open install.log file" when trying to remove a number of programs.

    Any help is much appreciated.

  5. Jordan says:

    It’s a good idea to remove programs that you don’t ordinarily use. Some programs could sit on there and you forgot you installed them. I do notice occasionally that some programs date of last use does not update. For example, some programs I use still have the original date of installation. Best bet is to make sure you know you won’t use it, and if you have saved files that rely on that program, make sure you have access to the disk of the original program should you ever want to use your saved file again. Just be careful what you uninstall. Occasionally, some software uses other program’s data…part of file sharing. Its a completely normal process of integration of programs. If a file from one program relies on another program you are trying to uninstall, let the files that are needed remain on your computer so as not to disrupt your settings. It’s a safety feature usually built into uninstallers, but some people might go and delete them manually thinking they were left behind by mistake. Bad mistake to remove them yourself if you don’t know their full use. This holds VERY true for hotfixes. Once you install hotfixes and updates over programs for windows, it spans across multiple programs, especially Microsoft programs. It really isn’t good to remove such programs unless you are having trouble with your operating system in general or performing some sort of maintenance/repairs. They are there to fix other problems. Removing them could bring problems back.

    "Old disk structure" is something I recall seeing during installation, usually of a partition of the harddrive. Or is that of system boot time… something with reconfiguring the operating system at startup, boot to last good version. Unless you take defragment from a command line, I never see this in the GUI version, the regular Windows envirnment type. If you attempted to reinstall windows after a problem, you inserted your backup disk I assume and ran your backup tools. It really depends if you put the files on yourself, or the computer extracted the files itself. Boot files are required by the system at each startup, so if they are in the Windows Operating System folder, I’d suggest leaving them and don’t look at them. If you ran a Windows Operating System Installer with the startup disk "boot disk", the program should have been able to remove what wasn’t needed and installed its own files.

    If the Add-Remove Utility doesn’t work, there are 2 possabilities. 1) Reinstall the program to obtain the necessary files needed to complete the uninstall… if that doesn’t work… 2) Alternatively, if it is a Microsoft product, you can look online for help under… 3) For experienced users, if absolutely necessary, there exists a file that does uninstalls, but it can have adverse affects on other files since it completely removes everything. As I said above, files, especially dll’s (Linked libraries) may work together with other progams. Seek help directly from the creator of the program if you are unsure of your program problem, best suggestion…! That way, you can find out exactly what you need to do in order to avoid further problems to other programs.

  6. Beata says:

    I can not uninstall Macromedia Flash Player version this stops me from installing tne newest version.I have downlaoded a special programe from Macromedia website (uninstalling all versions but it doesn’t work…)I feel hopeless as I am a beginner in computer matters.Thanks in advance for any advice and help.

  7. patty graham says:

    can not get all of quick time out of my computer (help)

  8. 1/. I have an Icon in my Control Panel that appears to collect all the documents I write whether asked or not I want this…How can I deleat this Icon & its enablement to do this permanently ???

    2/ How can I find out if anyone else is watching in on my computer….I have had a few very weird things happen when in use…as if someone else is scanning through my Documents…??!!

    Best Irene

  9. Sabrina Tucker says:

    How do you get into 2000 professional when you don’t know the password or passcode

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