Software installation and removal


Software installation (setup)

If you're searching for software on the internet, always take a few minutes first to read all the info you can get about the program you selected before downloading and installing it.

First of all, what's the cost... Remember that there's a lot of good and free software ready to download from the internet, but also keep in mind that there are many different software distribution methods, and "free" does not always mean really free... If you don't feel familiar with this stuff at the moment, don't start downloading right now, but read something about software distribution methods first. You can click the "related-topic" button below the page to read something about it, this will give you a good overview containing all things you must know about free and pay-software.

Then, at least, check if the program you are going to download will run under your current operating system, such as Windows (tm) 9x, ME, 2000, XP, Linux or other. Although many programs will still run under the different versions of an o.s., don't take any chance unless you're absolutely sure things will work without messing up your system. Also look for comments of other users: many sites have a rating system where users can evaluate the software.

When you start downloading a program, most of the time you get one single installation file. The system will ask you what to do: open the file or save it on your computer. Always choose to save the file, and save it at a location where you can easily find it back afterwards.

After the download is completed, go to that directory and look for the file. In most cases the file you saved is a compressed archive, containing all the files the new program needs to install later. Many programs come as an ".exe"-file, that means a filename with the extension ".exe". In that case installation is simple, double-click the file to start the setup-process. Then you can follow the instructions given by the setup-program. In case the file you downloaded hasn't the extension ".exe", just read on and see the remark below.


Many times the setup-procedure of the program will give you the choice between a 'standard' or 'common' setup and an 'advanced' setup. Always select the 'advanced' setup, which gives you the possibility to make further choices, such as which components of the program will be installed or not, where the program will be installed and so on. If the program comes from a trusted vendor and it was also downloaded from a trusted source, you can safely select the default options and, eventually, make changes afterwards. But in some cases the program setup may also offer to install additional software, such as other programs, toolbars, etc. which are not needed to run the main program. So, be carefull during install, read and understand the program info, and select only the options you want.

If, during the installation procedure, a window pops up, asking you to overwrite a file, be careful not to click 'yes' immediately. In many cases it will do no harm to your system to overwrite a file by a newer version, but there's always a risk that other programs, already existing on the system, will no longer work after that. So, unless you're absolutely sure, click 'no'. In fact, you always better click 'no' if the program asks something you don't understand completely. Maybe then the new program will not work, or not work properly, but in most cases that's better than messing up things already on your system.

Finally, before running the program, look for info-files provided by the programmers, containing helpful installation tips and notes. In most cases these files are named "Readme.txt" or "Info.txt" or something like that. If you can't open such a file by double-clicking on it, try to open it in Windows NotePad.

After the installation process is completed, you may delete the installation file you downloaded from the internet ('cause the program itself is now installed on your system in a different location). Or you can keep the file and copy it to a cd-rom as a backup in case you need to re-install the program.

In case you didn't get an ".exe" file, but -in most cases- e.g. a ".zip" file, the installation procedure to follow is nearly the same as above. Just like the single ".exe"-setup file, the ".zip" file contains all the setup-files needed to install your new program. But unlike the ".exe"-format, a ".zip"-file will not automatically extract all the files and install the program. It needs to be "manually" unpacked first before installing the program.

One of the reasons why ".zip"-archives are used is to save space, resulting in smaller and faster downloads. This is done by compressing the files (make them smaller) and avoiding the need for an included rather large decompression an installing procedure.

So you could say that the installation now breaks up in two steps: first you must unpack the archive (the ".zip"-file), and look what's in it (the separate files), then, the next step is to start the installation procedure.
Let's have a look...

If you're running Windows XP, in most cases the operating system can also unpack the files for you. Just double-click the ".zip"-file and select a directory to unpack the files into.

If you're not running Windows XP, or if it can't unpack the archive-file, you'll need an extra (de)compression tool such as WinZip to unpack the file (see the program review-section). The (de)compression program must be installed onto your computer before you can work with ".zip"- and other compressed files. Read the manual of your decompression program an follow the instructions to unpack the files into a directory of your choice. In most cases you can keep all the default settings of the program.

Then, after the archive-file is unpacked, go to the directory whereto the files are unpacked and look for a file named "Setup.exe" or "Install.exe" and double-click on it to start the installation of the program. Sometimes you won't find a "setup.exe"- or "install.exe"-file, then just look for a file with extension ".exe" and double-click on it. This will start the installation process of the program. Then follow the same procedure as described above.

Finally, there's one another possibility: some (mostly older or very small) programs don't even need a setup-procedure. By double-clicking the 'exe'-file, the programs opens an runs immediately. Then you may simply copy the program-file(s) into a directory of your choice, and you can create a shortcut to the 'exe'-program file and put it in the windows start-menu.


After a program installation is completed, you can safely delete the setup-file and/or all unpacked archive files used to install the program, they are not needed anymore to run the program; or you may keep them in case you want to re-install the program at a later time without the need of downloading the setup-file again.

Tip: It's good practice to create a cd-rw (rewritable cd) with all those setup-files on it. Then you've got all the necessary files by hand in case you have to re-install your system. Of course sometimes you will prefer to download the most recent version of a program, but in the meantime, it will save you a lot of time.

Software de-installation (un-install) or modification

To remove a program from your computer, go to the control panel and select the "Software" icon (double-click). In the upcoming list, search for the program you want to remove from your computer. Click the button to remove the program and follow the instructions on the screen. Most of the time you can use the default settings for an automatic program removal.

In the same way, you can modify an existing program installation. As mentioned above, during setup, many large or advanced programs will give the user an option to select which program components will be installed or not. You can do this also now, by clicking on the button to modify the program installation.

Tip: if you didn't install your software yourself, have a look at those program options, for there's a good chance that some components which are not installed, could be useful to you. You can safely add and remove components using this method.

After program removal or modification is completed, close the control panel and -if the system asks for it- restart your computer.

Then, if you removed (not modify) a program from your system, there are still a few things to do. Removing software by following the standard procedure as described above is the certainly the safest way to do it, but unfortunately, by far not all traces of the removed software are deleted. Lots of code-entries and maybe files will still remain on the system, many of them deeply hidden in the system... That "clutter" will stay there "forever", making the computer slower and sometimes less stable. The system gets "clogged".

Cleaning up all those remaining "clutter" goes far beyond the intention of this guide, and if fact, sometimes it's nearly impossible to do. Not only would it take more time than a complete, fresh re-installation of the whole system, but it's also a tricky thing to do, even at an expert-level.

But still you can do some things to keep your system as clean as possible. In Windows Explorer, expand the "Program Files" directory and look for the remaining name(s) of deleted programs. You can safely delete those directories. Then go to the "Documents and Settings" directory, search for your user name and open the appropriate "Application Data" folder. Here also, look for remaining folders with the name(s) of programs no longer on your system and delete them.
If you wish, you can also use some system tools to cleanup part of your system now and then (see the program section on this site).

In case your system is already "clogged" so much that it seems to slowdown more and more, the best and virtually only solution will be to re-install the whole thing. Although a complete re-installation is a bit more complicated than just removing or modifying some software, it's something you can try yourself if it's really needed. You find a (relatively) easy step-by-step guide on this site ("First Aid Guide").

Tip: 'cause of those remaining "clutter", it's obvious that the more software you install and uninstall, the more the system gets "clogged"; so don't install lots of programs just for fun... Always first read something about the software you want to install to see if a program will be useful to you or not.

Remark: software troubleshooting

If you got into problems after installing software, or the system hangs (crashes) when using a program, or even when it became completely unstable, then go back to the computing info-pages overview and have a look at the "Troubleshooting" tips. In many cases you can fix the problem yourself and -if necessary- even re-install your complete system by learning some basic, relatively easy procedures.




Related topics : Software distribution methods - Application software fixes


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