Revo Uninstaller: Fast, Good, and Free

Back when I still did software engineering, one catchphrase I learned that has stuck with me is: “Fast, cheap, and good: Pick any two, and you’ll probably get them. Pick all three, and you probably won’t.” By that metric, Revo Uninstaller succeeds in delivering a highly improbable hat trick, along with great functionality, good support, and frequent (self-installing) updates.

Anybody who’s installed Windows applications and then decided to uninstall them from a PC knows that some uninstallers work better than others, and that the Programs and Features item in Control Panel (Add/Remove Software in XP) doesn’t always produce the best results. Some programs are particularly notorious for the amount of litter the leave behind after being uninstalled, including files, directories, Registry entries, shortcuts, and more. In my personal experience, major offenders “in the clean-up before you say goodbye” category include Symantec/Norton products, AOL, Adobe Acrobat, and others. Simply put: Revo Uninstaller provides a framework within which you can uninstall Windows software, and includes its own follow-up scan and cleanup routines to get rid of anything an uninstall utility leaves behind in its wake. The program is also relatively small (the download is 1.52 MB) and doesn’t itself impose much on Windows Vista (or XP, either). As you would hope, Revo Uninstaller does as good a job of uninstalling itself as it does with other software you give it to clean up after.

You drive the primary functions of this program through its Uninstaller tab, as shown in the following screen capture. Simply right-click on any entry listed in the Application column at the far left, and you’ll get a nice pop-up menu that lets you run the related program’s uninstall utility (if one is available), but that also provides instant access to its install location (via Windows Explorer) and primary Registry key (via regedit). There’s even an automatic Google lookup on the application name available through this menu (using your default Web browser) so you can quickly research something you might not recognize, always a good idea before removing a program from any Windows machine: it might be something awful, or it might be something essential. You can also access a program’s update function if one is available through this right-click menu as well.

the Uninstaller tab in Revo Uninstaller

The Tools The Uninstaller tab appears by default,
and is where you’ll make most use of this tool.

The Tools tab offers an Autorun Manager utility that lets you enable or disable Windows Startup items, by selecting or deselcting a checkbox to the left of each entry. It works about as well as Windows Defender’s Software Explorer or StartUpCop at managing startup items, and supports a right collection of right-click functions as well, as shown in the next screenshot.

Windows Startup Item manager

The Tools tab includes a tool to manage Windows Startup items.

Other items available in the Tools tab include access to Windows tools (under the Optimize left-hand pane entry), and cleaners for your Web browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera, and Netscape), MS Office apps (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and FrontPage), and Windows (all kinds of history lists). Revo Uninstaller also offers a “Hunter Mode” where you can drag and drop an inspector onto shortcuts, executable files, and other Windows objects to invoke its uninstall, lookup, and reporting functions (this works nicely for items that don’t appear in the Uninstaller tab listing, or stuff about which you’re simply curious).

I’ve been using Revo Uninstaller for about six months now, and it has helped me clean up some terrible messes on my Vista and XP systems. I strongly recommend trying it out, and spreading the word to other Windows users as well. This one’s a keeper!

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About Ed Tittel

Full-time freelance writer, researcher and occasional expert witness, I specialize in Windows operating systems, information security, markup languages, and Web development tools and environments. I blog for numerous Websites, still write (or revise) the occasional book, and write lots of articles, white papers, tech briefs, and so forth.

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