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After uninstalling a piece of software, I sometime notice residual entries in the registry. I would like to get rid of them.

I have found an unsatisfying approach, described here:

  1. Use the export option in the registry editor before installing the software.
  2. Install the software.
  3. Use the .reg file that was generated to roll back changes to registry.

The problem with this method is that if I install more software before uninstalling something, this will also undo the changes the installed software made to the registry, in addition to the registry changes from software that I want remove, which is undesirable.

Is there a way to undo all the changes that an installation made to my registry, without undoing all the other changes since it was installed?

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4 Answers 4

Why couldn't you use something like ccleaner to clean out a bloated registry? It should clean out any entries software uninstallers may leave behind.

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I already have CCleaner. It misses residue entries and it's not really intended for this purpose. –  Leif Ericson Aug 24 '10 at 16:53

You can use software like Revo Uninstaller which can automatically search and remove registry entries related to the software you're uninstalling.

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I read about Revo Uninstaller and it seems to be the best uninstaller there. I will check it out. Thanks. –  Leif Ericson Aug 24 '10 at 17:11
    
I used it to uninstall soulseek and HandBreak and it tried to remove all my OpenOffice installation :S –  Leif Ericson Aug 24 '10 at 18:07

I think that most people are over concerned with the Windows registry. Problem is, most people shouldn't open that door. Most "registry cleaners" are going to do nothing but damage programs or your Windows Operating System itself. You might not even notice it at first but then when you go to run a program you get the dreaded ERROR message. Most likely it came from deleting registry keys/values/etc.

I have to admit that I opened that door on many occasion myself, hunting down every little reference to a program that I uninstalled.

Your right about exporting/importing the entire registry itself, if you don't "roll back" the registry before you install anything else, the new program is doomed to fail.

Revo uninstaller is an excellent application when uninstalling, it enables you to check off what you want or don't want to delete & will even delete to the recycle bin in case your unsure if you should have deleted the entry. To top it off, it will create a restore point before uninstalling just for those catastrophic failure moments.

You'll hear conflicting stories on whether or not to "clean" the Windows registry, in my opinion, don't ever use a registry cleaner. If you need a program to sweep out your registry you shouldn't be cleaning it in the first place. I understand the desire to have a "clean" registry, so after I uninstall a program i do a regedit & manual search for the program name & installer, deleting what is left over.

As far as any programs go, after doing a manual registry search I use a program called "Everything". It's kind of a Windows Explorer replacement except EXTREMELY fast. It tends to find things in places I would have never thought to look, like "AppData\Roaming".

http://www.voidtools.com/

The only other I would suggest is Windows Live One Care

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Cool! Thank you :) –  Leif Ericson Aug 25 '10 at 23:04

If you want to be completely thorough, you can use Process Monitor to capture the installation (filtering by process name). I don't know of a software to "undo" the changes based on a Process Monitor capture, though.

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