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Old 23. Mar 2013, 12:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Left-over folders from uninstalled programs

Recently I have been nosing around in my Win 7 x64 computerís directories. I came across folders, sub-folders, and files that were from programs Iíve tried in the past but which I have since uninstalled. These folders are were found in the following locations:
  • C:\Program Files
  • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\
  • C:\Users\AppData\LocalLow\
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\
  • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\
Let me further clarify that these folders and locations were not from a single program, but rather from several that were uninstalled over a period of time.

I have deleted these folders, but havenít cleared them from my Recycle Bin, since I wanted to operate the PC for a while to see if there were any noticeable adverse effects. After periods ranging from 3 weeks to 3 days (since I hadnít deleted them at the same time), I havenít noticed any ill-effects.

Could anyone here advise if itís safe to delete these left-over folders once a program has been uninstalled?

Thanks,
Joe

P.S. Again, for clarification, I havenít fooled around in the Registry as I donít know enough to do so yet. Nor do I intend to do so lightly since I understand remnants left in the Registry by uninstalled programs shouldnít affect the system, and hardly take up much space to be concerned about.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 02:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I recommend waiting at least a week or so. If no ill affects are found, then I would delete the files from the recycle bin.

If you are at all a little paranoid, feel free to make a system restore point just to be safe.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 03:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Kendall. As I said, some of those folders have been moved to the recycle bin for maybe 2 or 3 weeks now; others just a few days, but so far there have been no ill-effects that I can observe. The idea of creating a restore point hadn't occurred to me, and I guess that's why it's good to get suggestions. Thanks for that.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 08:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Joe, like you, I also hunt around for left-overs in these folders from time to time, and I often find left-over files and folders of programs I have removed/uninstalled. If you are quite sure that those are the files and folders of the programs you have uninstalled from the system, then it's quite safe to remove them. I have done this numerous number of times, and can tell it's safe.

I have stopped relying on System Restore since long. First, it's not entirely reliable... it's no guarantee that system will be in same stable state with System Restore. Often, it happens that system restore does restore back to a point, but the system behaves weirdly. Sometimes, it does not work at all.

Also, system restore points tend to take up a lot of space. Just a few days ago, I turned off system restore on a laptop of a relative, and found that it freed up around 4 GB of space! And before that, the hard drive space was in red, showing that there was very little space left.

Moreover, in case of infection, the malware often hides in system restore, and if that is not turned off during infection cleaning, the malware can be back from there.

Of course, in some situations, system restore can be a life saver, but I have stopped relying on it personally. I would rather do a re-install. But, to each his own.

Joe, I would say again, don't use registry cleaners, not worth it. Although, I know you haven't used it, and maybe don't intend to... but just in case that you want to use them.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 08:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm opposite of anupam on the registry cleaners. When I uninstall something and manually delete folder/files. I run ccleaner's registry cleaner to clean up any leftovers as well.

If you delete the files and the computer still looks for them because of the registry, it might not cripple the computer but it could make it slower because it is looking for something that isn't there anymore.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 08:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeb View Post
If you delete the files and the computer still looks for them because of the registry, it might not cripple the computer but it could make it slower because it is looking for something that isn't there anymore.
Why would the system need to look for them, unless you try to access the program, and that wouldn't happen, because neither the program is there, nor the files/folders. The computer does not need to look for them. The registry entries just occupy a bit of space, that's it. Other than that, I don't think those entries contribute to system slowdown, or anything of the sorts.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 10:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The registry is the basic starting point for the computer. If the registry tells it to look for and load "Fred Bloggs Cleaner" and that is one of the programs you have deleted, then that takes a bit of time and processing power until it realises that the program is no longer there. Sometimes that can lead to other problems. It is always good to have a clean registry and that is something I always aim for with no harmful effects so far after many years.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 12:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't have much knowledge about working of registry, but as per my understanding, I don't think the system will look and load unused registry entries. Why would it.. unless the program remains in startup, or is invoked by some means. But, when that program has been removed from the computer, with all its files/folders, exe, etc, it wouldn't be in startup, and it cannot be invoked. So, why would the system need to load its registry, or why would it need to look for it? That's illogical.

Even if the whole registry is loaded into memory, but I don't think each and every program in the registry is looked up.

I never cleaned up registry on my system, and still it ran/runs fine as ever.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 01:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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In order to keep the inevitable build up of those obsolete files to a minimum, I always favour portable programs when given the choice. Those deemed "stealth" by the PortableFreeware website take preference for me.
That way there's no need to worry about the registry being interfered with either.
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Old 23. Mar 2013, 08:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I never thought I would have started such an interesting discussion . Nevertheless, I'd like to thank everyone for their input.

@Anupam,
Yes, I'm quite sure those folders belong to programs that were already uninstalled from my computer. It's reassuring to know you hunt for these leftovers too and you never had ill-effects from deleting them.

About the System Restore part, I appreciate the advice. Following a tip from Vic Laurie, I've actually reduced the amount of space that System Restore uses. I've had previous advice too, that System or Drive Imaging is far more reliable than System Restore. I haven't disabled System Restore, but may consider it in the future because of the possibility of malware using it.

As for the Registry, I'm certain there may be orphaned items in mines, but I never suffered any ill-effects from them. I don't intend to use registry cleaners, not even CCleaner's which is considered quite conservative. If and when I do start to tamper with my registry, it'll be when I learn enough about it to know exactly what I'm doing. I'm not ruling that out, but I'm not ready for that yet. Until that time reaches, I'm content to leave well alone.

Mind you, I don't feel it's wrong to run registry cleaners since, from what I understand, you are usually presented with the results of the scan. It is up to you to determine and decide whether the entries presented are indeed the correct ones to delete. This is where the crux of the matter lies. If you know enough to identify and be completely certain those are the correct registry entries to delete, then by all means do so; if you aren't sure, then it is best to leave them. Just don't take it for granted that what's presented by the scan really need to be deleted. That's the whole idea in presenting you with the results - letting you decide. That's how I see it.

I'm with Anupam on the idea of orphaned items having no adverse effect on the speed or functioning of the system. I may be wrong, but it's only logical to think if there are no start-up entries or executable files that would access these orphaned entries, then they should be of no consequence other than residing in the Registry and taking up a small amount of space. For that matter, IMHO, it's when people get obsessed with "house-cleaning" and feel they must run a squeaky clean system, that trouble could result from interfering with things they have limited knowledge about.

As a side note, IMHO, the various ideas coming from different persons about the exact role of the Registry is interesting from the standpoint of just how much mystery the Registry is shrouded in. I don't think there's any rocket-science to it. For me, it just means I have to do more researching and learning to clear-up all the myths and misconceptions someday .
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