Norton's Uninstall Deluxe deals with pesky, misplaced apps

Microsoft Windows Dynamic Link Library files don't want to disappear, executable files
can't be removed and links won't let go. All that misbehavior was supposed to cease under
Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT, which have a Registry file that's like a Motor
Vehicles Department for computer applications.


When a Win95 or NT application is installed, it makes entries about itself in the
Registry file so the operating system supposedly knows everything it needs to know about
the app.


That's often not the case, as anyone who has uninstalled an application is well aware.
Win95 and NT embed a basic uninstall program, but it's less full-featured than many users
need.


That's where Norton Uninstall Deluxe comes to the rescue.


Uninstall Deluxe works a little differently from Windows' built-in uninstall. Instead
of listing only the programs that have taken the trouble to enter themselves in the
Registry, Uninstall searches the hard drive and Windows Start menu.


When it finds an application or a link to one, it looks in the Registry file and disk
for references, and then it follows rules for dealing with file interdependencies.


The first time you launch Norton Uninstall Deluxe, it does something called a
SafetyScan, which looks over your disk for internal file references. It concentrates on
the headers of .dll files and .exe files, but in Thorough mode, it can drill down into the
.exe files for references not listed in the file header.


Thorough scanning takes a bit longer but is worth the time to ensure complete removal.


I tested Uninstall Deluxe under Win95 and NT 4.0 Workstation, hunting for apps that
could not be removed normally because they were damaged or had not been installed
according to Microsoft guidelines.


A number of programs on the GCN Lab's test machines had Registry entries but weren't
listed in the native Windows Add/Remove Programs dialog box. This is not supposed to
happen but often does. Another bunch of programs refused to submit to the native Windows
uninstall program.


I turned Norton Uninstall loose, figuring it could safely remove many of the unwanted
apps. To my surprise, it got them all and handled their shared .dll files very well.


Symantec should call this package Uninstall Deluxe Plus because it does much more than
uninstall apps. It can move an application, changing the configuration options as
necessary so the program will run in its new location.


That's a great time-saver compared with having to delete and reinstall an app just to
relocate it to a new disk or volume.


Uninstall can also copy a program from one system to another. This was easy back in the
old MS-DOS days; you just copied the files and directory.


Under Win95 and NT, it's nearly impossible and probably wouldn't be worth the trouble
it would cause.


Again, Uninstall Deluxe comes through. It can analyze an application, associated files,
registry entries and system files, and then create a self-extracting, compressed
executable. You can move the application to another system, uncompress its files and put
them in the right directories. After the Registry entries are made, you're ready to run.


In much the same way, Uninstall Deluxe can archive entire applications. It analyzes and
compresses an application and its files. When you need them again, it uncompacts them.


Uninstall Deluxe even helps you reclaim disk space. Its Disk Cleanup feature removes
unwanted files. You can set AutoClean to get rid of certain items, such as temporary
Internet files and others not needed to run applications.


File Cleanup can watch for sound and video files, backup files and graphical files.
Many users don't want these file types, but programs dump them on the hard disk anyway.
Now you can get rid of them.


Disk Cleanup also removes duplicate files, tidies up your Registry and restores
programs removed by Disk Cleanup.


Now we come to the part that ensures smooth running. The System Watch feature monitors
actions taken as a program is installed. Then, when you want to remove it, Uninstall knows
exactly what to do. System Watch and InstallGuard create undo files, which simply reverse
the installation.


I've reviewed many utilities that remove applications, but Norton Uninstall Deluxe is
the most impressive. It's straightforward and easy to use, unlike some other Symantec
products. I just wish it could do something about that gum on the bottom of my shoe.


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