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It's a general question -- not related to a particular situation.

When a setup program has finished to copy files one the system, sometimes it asks the user to reboot his computer.

Now, instead of restarting it, you uninstall previously installed application. What append to the system? Is it safe to do that?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

As long as the installer and uninstaller are well written then there shouldn't be a problem.

The reboot is required because the installer needs to replace a file that currently in use. This will happen when the system next reboots. You'd get the same when the application/service using the file was restarted.

The uninstaller should check to make sure that no other application requires a file before removing it from the system. I'm not 100% sure of the details but I think Windows (say) keeps a record of which applications use which dlls. When an uninstaller tries to delete the dll it decrements the use count and only really deleted if the count hits zero.

To be safe, if you are installing a new version of a program it's probably best to uninstall the old version before installing the new version.

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Yeah, it's a question of how much you trust the installer, and, unfortunately, there's no good way to know which are trustworthy and which aren't -- some "brand name" software has lousy installers, while little no-name freeware packages may have great ones. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 18 '11 at 11:36

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