It's rare these days, but every now and again you'll come across a Windows program that refuses to uninstall. About three weeks ago, while doing research for this column, it happened to me. I downloaded a desktop program for mapping local Wi-Fi networks, but try as I might I couldn't get the darn thing off my PC.
Eventually, I chalked up the problem to a quirk of Windows 8.1, figuring the program's uninstaller was crashing when it came in contact with Microsoft's latest OS. Not content to let an unwanted app sit on my system, I turned to Revo Uninstaller.
Revo is a well-known desktop utility that is part heavy duty uninstaller, part system cleaner. There's a paid pro version for anyone who needs it, but for quick hits to get rid of a stubborn program that's overstayed its welcome, the free version works just fine.
Revo to the rescue
Dumping an unwanted program with Revo is almost as simple as uninstalling a program through the Control Panel. Once you launch Revo it populates a list of all the desktop programs installed on your PC--Windows 8.1 users won't see modern UI apps in this list.
To uninstall a program, just click it in the list and then select Uninstall from the menu at the top of the window. You'll get a second warning asking if you are sure you want to dump the selected program.
Once you click Yes, another window pops up with several options for how serious you want Revo's uninstall process to be. Options range from using the built-in standard uninstall to Advanced. The Advanced process includes a more thorough scan of the registry and other places on your hard drive to scrub your system clean.
By default, Revo offers the Moderate option and that should be enough for most users. Once you've chosen the level of seriousness for your uninstall option, click Next and Revo creates a system restore point before starting the uninstall process.
At this point, the desktop program's customized uninstaller might show up. If it does, just click through it like you normally would. Then return to the Revo window and click Next.
Now, Revo will take its final step of scanning your system for leftover data. Click Next again and you'll see a list of all the extra data that Revo wants to dump. This usually includes items like program logs, caches, and temporary files.
Check off the boxes for the items you want to get rid of and click Delete. Finally, click Next and Finish to complete the uninstall process.
It sounds like a lot of steps, but it really takes just a few seconds. Besides, when it's time to dump stubborn programs a more thorough system cleaning is well worth the extra effort.