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2,001 Tips
Windows 3.x
Uninstalling Applications

Manual Procedures

When you want to get rid of a Windows application, you should crack open the app's documentation first. Often, you can find step-by-step uninstall instructions by checking the index or table of contents for terms like "uninstall," "deinstall" or "remove."

Audit App Installations

Keep track of changes to system files as reference for future uninstalls. Copy WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT under different names-for example, use the extension, BAK, for each. Install your new program, and then use your word processor's compare function to compare the new contents of these four files. Create a file containing the changes. Save it in the new application's directory. Give it a name that's easy to remember, like UNINSTALL.DOC, or include the name of the product you installed, such as WORDINS.DOC.

Uninstall Safety Net

Uninstalling programs can cause Windows to become unbootable. You can fix this problem if you have a set of backups that includes copies of AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, and all your other INI and GRP files. You can automate this process with a batch file. First, create a \WINBAK directory, then save these lines as WINBAK.BAT: copy c:\config.sys c:\winbak\config.%1s copy c:\autoexec.bat c:\autoexec.%1t copy c:\windows\*.ini c:\winbak\*.%1I copy c:\windows\*.grp c:\winbak\*.%1g. When you run the batch file with the parameter J1 added (WINBAK J1), it will save AUTOEXEC.BAT as AUTOEXEC.J1S, and so forth. Change the parameter each time you run the batch file so you don't overwrite old backups. You also need a bootable floppy, which you create with FORMAT A: /S. If a change in your system makes your computer freeze, you can reboot with the floppy and restore your system files from the backups you made. Then you can try your uninstallation again.

Care and Maintenance of WIN.INI

WIN.INI can become unwieldy, filled with references to long-gone applications. In fact, if it grows to over 64KB, Windows will function erratically. To remove an application from your WIN.INI file (usually found in the WINDOWS directory), create a copy of WIN.INI with a different name. Don't rename or move the original; if you do, Windows will stop working. Select File/Run in Program Manager or File Manager and type SYSEDIT. Look in WIN.INI for a section with a name that is the same or similar to the name of the program you removed, and delete it. Search WIN.INI for any references to the directory in which the program resided, and delete them, too. Save WIN.INI and reboot. If you have a problem rebooting, you may have accidentally erased a necessary line. Restore the backup copy of WIN.INI you made and try again.

Delay Deletions

When uninstalling applications, never delete a file or directory immediately. Rename or move it, then make sure your computer reboots and launches Windows properly. If that works, try opening your most important applications. Wait at least a month before disposing of the files in question to make sure they're not related to an infrequently used app.

Just Names and Dates

Many Windows programs place DLLs and executable files in the WINDOWS and WINDOWS/SYSTEM directory, where they will be difficult to locate and delete. The two best ways to find them are by date and name. No matter which method you use, do not delete the files you find; move them to a different directory until you're sure they're not used by other applications. To identify files by date, find one file you are sure belongs to your application. Select View/Sort by Date and look for other files with the same date and time. The other method involves looking for names similar to that of your application or the program publisher. Open File Manager and select View/Sort by Name to look for similar names.

Clean Scene

A clean CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT is essential for any uninstallation. Copy these system files under another name and select File/Run in Program Manager or File Manager and type SYSEDIT. In both files, search for and delete references to the program directory for the program you're uninstalling. Save the files, and immediately reboot your computer. If you see any error messages or experience any difficulty rebooting, restore your backups. You should reboot immediately because it will be easier to diagnose any problems.

Verify the Version

Before you delete a mystery file in the WINDOWS directory, start by checking its Version Information, to see if it really relates to the program you're trying to uninstall. Version Information usually includes the vendor name, product name and a brief description of the file. To check the version, open File Manager and select a file. Then select File/Properties from the menu (or press Alt+Enter).

In Windows for Workgroups 3.11, File Manager will display the Version Information (if any).

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