BOOT CAMP 50
This weeks Boot Camp was prompted by a letter from Mr J.
Madsen of Ilkeston in Derbyshire. He wrote to say that he enjoys Tip of the
Week, and the various suggestions that we publish for installing software and
extra facilities in programs like Word, but he would be far less nervous about
trying them if he knew in advance how get rid of them.
Good point Mr Madsen, we'll definitely bear that in mind for
future Tips but it raises the wider issue of uninstalling software. This topic
is rarely, if ever, covered in software manuals or 'Help' files but it is a
vitally important subject and the root cause of a lot of problems for Windows
When new software is loaded onto a PC's hard disc drive a
program folder is created and this is where most of the files from the
installation disc, CD-ROM or Internet download will end up. However more often
than not the program installation generates a number of what might be called
'helper files' as well as making changes to important system files within
Windows. Helper files contain data, information or routines the program needs
to operate within Windows; the commonest type end with the extension 'DLL' (see
Jargon Filter), you will probably find hundreds of them lurking inside the
System folder in your Windows program; look but don't touch!
The mistake a lot of PC novices make when trying to remove a
program, is to open Windows Explorer, highlight the program folder they want to
be rid of and then hit the delete button or key. This action clears the
reference to the program folder from the hard disc's table of contents, though
the actual files remains on the disc. At this stage the program can usually be
restored as Windows 95/98 has a safety feature called Undo Delete. It's on the
Edit menu of the Recycle Bin, but it only works so long as the Bin isn't
emptied. When it is -- to free up space on the disc drive -- the program files will be overwritten.
The real problem though, is all the other bits and pieces left behind, and the
changes made to Windows system files.
Following an incomplete program removal the next time
Windows boots up it may search for the program, discover it is missing and
display one of those scary error messages. The obvious advice is don't do it,
but if you do remove files via Explorer always wait a few days before emptying the
There are several ways to safely remove unwanted programs,
which method you use depends on the program and the software installed on your
PC. The program's own uninstaller utility -- if it has one -- should be your
first port of call. The uninstaller and its associated log file contain details
of where all of the files the program installed were sent, and any alterations
made to Windows settings.
In Theory all programs that Windows knows how to uninstall
and those that have their own uninstaller utility will be listed in Windows
Add/Remove Programs (Start - Settings - Control Panel), though for various
reasons this doesn't always happen. Even if the program isn't listed it may
still have its own uninstaller. Point at the application on Programs on the
Start menu and see if one is included. If not then the last resort is to look inside
the actual program folder, using Windows Explorer; if there is one it will be
called something like 'Uninst.exe', 'Uninstal.exe' or 'Unwise.exe'.
Most uninstallers run automatically though occasionally you
will get a message to the effect that some files could not be removed. There is
usually a good reason for this. Ninety nine times out of a hundred the oddments
left behind are harmless, take up little room and should be left alone. Do not
be tempted to track them down and remove them manually unless you know exactly
what you are doing.
But what about software that doesn't have its own
uninstaller? The only safe option is to use an uninstallation program. Ideally
you should load one on to your PC's hard disc the day you buy it. A good
uninstaller automatically monitors all new program loaded onto the PCs hard disc,
keeping a detailed log of everything that occurred for future reference.
However, it's never too late and most uninstallers can still remove previously
installed software, though they may not do quite such a thorough job.
Uninstallers can also carry out regular spring cleaning operations, looking for
orphan files, file fragments and duplicate files that are taking up valuable
There are plenty of housekeeping programs to choose from,
the best known being CleanSweep from Quarterdeck, McAfee Nuts and Bolts, Norton
Uninstall, Imsi WinDelete and Cybermedia Uninstaller. Most of them sell for £30
or less, and that is definitely money well spent!
Finally, we really should put our own house in order. Over
the past few months Tip of the Week has included several tweaks for Microsoft
Word. In most cases they can be removed or undone by simply unchecking the
option mentioned in the original procedure but one or two of them may leave
behind icons or buttons on the toolbar. You can delete any Toolbar item by
going to the Tools menu and selecting Customize. Now go to the Toolbar, click
and hold, keeping the mouse pointer on the offending icon or button and it will
be surrounded by a black box, drag the box onto the desktop and it will disappear.
In case you remove something by accident go to Customize and select the
Commands tab, find the icon you've zapped in the Commands window and drag it
back onto the toolbar.
Next week -- Looking at monitors
Dynamic Link Library -- a file containing data or
information needed by a program. DLLs may be shared by a number of
applications, in which case they are stored in a central location, such as the
System folder in Windows
Files ending in .exe are 'executable' which basically means
they contain a program that will start when the .exe file is opened
A record of the name and location of all the files stored on
the hard disc, and any alterations made to other files, during software
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you frequently need to insert
a word, line or block of text into MS Word documents you can easily automate
the process with a simple keyboard shortcut. Highlight the text and press Alt +
F3, to create an AutoText entry, then give it a name or accept the default that
appears in the dialogue box that appears and click OK. Now go to the Tools
menu; select Customize and the Commands Tab. Click the Keyboard button then
AutoText in the Categories window.
Highlight your new entry in the Commands Window, click a cursor in the
Press New Shortcut Key field, choose a key combination then click Assign.
To remove an AutoText entry go
to the Insert menu, click AutoText, then AutoText, select the AutoText tab,
highlight the entry and click Delete.
R. Maybury 1998 2611
If you want to delete an application first go to Control
Panel and start Windows Add/Remove Program utility
Uninstaller applications like Quarterdeck CleanSweep
automatically monitor all
Programs installed on your hard disc, so they can be
Program uninstallers should advise you if any of the files
they are deleting could impact upon other programs, and give you the option to keep