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MS-Windows Troubleshooting

Remove (uninstall) program fails


Symptom: There are entries in the 'remove software' (Control Panel > Add/Remove programs [Remove]) that fail when told to remove.


This typically indicates that either:

  • the software has already been removed
  • it has been over-installed with a newer version - and the record for the original version is still listed.
  • the uninstall supplied with the application simply does not work.



  1. Remove the software manually if it is still on the workstation. (See "How to manually uninstall an application" for guidance notes.)
  2. Remove the entry from the list of applications that can be removed. Each entry on this list (Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs) is held in a key in the registry under:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Uninstall

    Use 'regedit' to edit the registry. Ideally backup your machine before you do this in case you modify the wrong registry entry. Just remove the key for any entries that have been removed and are no longer required.

    Note: Most entries reflect the application name as it appears in the list. Some do not. The sub-key 'Application Name' holds the application name as it appears in the uninstall list.

These notes have been tested with Windows NT4, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

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