Computer security software like anti-virus and firewall programs are notorious for leaving behind file and registry traces when uninstalled. I have found that using the in-built uninstaller via Start > Control Panel > Add\Remove Programs first and then followed by the official clean-up tool released by the respective vendor is quite effective in removing the software cleanly.
What are security software removal tools?
A security software removal tool is one which helps in cleanly removing a failed installation/un-installation or a damaged anti-virus, anti-spyware or a firewall product.
Why is it necessary to use specialized tools to remove security software?
- You may want to replace your existing software for a new one or reinstall it.
- The in-built uninstall programs may not be able to remove all the files and registry items.
- The uninstall program may itself be corrupted resulting in a failed uninstallation.
- There may an instance when the new security software refuses to install due to the incomplete uninstallation of the previously installed security software.
- Your security software installation is damaged by a Malware infection.
- Windows Security Center seem to believe there is an active security application on the computer although there is none.
Why do many of the security software are unable remove themselves cleanly?
Probably due to the nature of their software, they need to be installed deeply hooking into the bowels of Windows, hence the uninstallers are unable to remove their own components cleanly.
Majority of the security software vendors provide individual tools for the express purpose of cleanly removing file and registry remnants left by their software. I have made a list of such vendor provided security software removal tools, you may find it here at Security Software Removal Tools
Caveat: Some of the vendors state that these tools should be used as a last resort, only when uninstallation or repair installation process has failed.
What to do if both the in-built uninstaller and the tool provided by the vendor fail to remove the software?
You may try AppRemover, a free specialist security software removal utility. This portable tool supports automated removal of most well known anti-virus and anti-spyware software including Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky, AVG, Avira, Ad-Aware and Spy Sweeper.
Go to the list of Security Software Removal Tools