Uninstalling Software (Sucks) and Why Computers Are Still Slow

Andy Warren, 2008-10-16

I’ve just recently acquired a new laptop and my resolution is to install no software on it that I’m not previously experienced with or have first tested on a virtual image. Why? I’m completely tired of watching the lastest and greatest hardware take minutes to boot as it gets junked up with all the stuff software vendors feel that I need to have running, and even when I unstall their stuff, somehow it’s never quite the same. If uninstalling really worked the danger would be limited to it doing bad stuff to your machine such as removing a DLL that you really do still need (not so common now, more common in the past). But uninstalling only sort of works, because they don’t clean up everything (they want to be conservative) and they want to leave behind things like their auto updaters that suck up memory.resources.

Lately I’ve been using Revo Uninstaller and it’s interesting as well as free. It runs the MSI uninstall first, then has an option to scan the machine to see what is left behind and let you remove that stuff as well. Software vendors (yes, you guys in the SQL Server tool space), run this after an uninstall of your app – why are you leaving that junk behind? I suspect some of it is the nature of the MSI and associated engine, but you’re developers, surely you can work around/augment it so that it cleans up correctly?

I yearn for application virtualization that is cheap and reliable, for now I’m stuck using Virtual PC. It works, but it’s just more work, have to make sure all the images get updated with the patches or risk the latest vulnerability. Part of the promise (or my hope anyway) of .Net was to move away from shared libraries, drop all the files in a folder and it would just work. No registry keys, just an ini/xml file, or perhaps even a small db for configuration settings. Doesn’t seem to have happened yet.

Computers are still slow because everything has to run as a service, or just memory resident with an icon in the tray. Adobe, MS, Apple – they all think everything needs to run all the time, many times to make their software seem to load faster. How about just making it run faster? Or make it easy for me to choose whether to let stuff remain running. Ever try to disable Quicktime from showing up in the tray? You can use something like the free Autoruns to try to kill some of it, some of it just comes right back. You might consider recommending the $8 Startup Cop 3 to non-technical users, Autoruns is a bit much for many. 

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