Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Is it safe to uninstall updates?


Is it safe to uninstall or delete updates to programs after one has
installed them? My add/remove is chock full of updates and I’m thinking
if they’ve been installed or superseded by later updates, I should be
able to uninstall them.

Is it safe? Kinda, sorta, but not really.

Do I think you should do it? Nope.

The updates are there for a reason.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

I do first have to say that since you mention generic “programs”,
this answer has to kind of assume the most common case. I’m certain
that there are programs out there for which it’s perfectly acceptable
to uninstall, for example, version 1.2 if you have version 1.3
installed. It’s bad programming on that application’s part, but it could
be quite ok.

I just have no way to know which programs you have that might fall
into that bucket.

“When updating itself, a well behaved program will
automatically remove any prior updates that are no longer

When updating itself a well behaved program will automatically remove
any prior updates that are no longer necessary. In other words, they do
the work you’re asking about already. You’ll often see this when
installing a new version of a program; it might ask or instruct you to
uninstall the old version first. The same is generally true with

Windows itself typically has a long list of patches. When you
install a service pack, such as XP’s Service Pack 3, you’ll see that
long list get significantly shorter, since all the patches are “rolled
up” into the service pack.

Now, you can uninstall individual patches. The problem is
that you are undoing whatever it was the patch fixed. You might be
re-introducing a security hole or some other kind of bug or

And sometimes you have to. But not for housekeeping. Occasionally, a
patch will have unintended or unexpected side effects, and a temporary
resolution might be to uninstall a specific fix.

So my advice is to leave them be. For the most part, the list of
patches is there on purpose, and you don’t really want to get rid of
any of them.

Uncheck the “Show Updates” box at the top of the
Add/Remove Window to hide them if they get in your way.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

8 comments on “Is it safe to uninstall updates?”

  1. I have a friend actually think the same, he was thought that is no necessary to update windows or install new versions for programs ,and i was try to advise him but with no result , but before a few weeks he faced problems with his computer system and he discovered the problem was from his negligence with updates for his computer system ,at the end he satisfied with important of updates and that it’s an important factor for stability and balance system and for programs too.

    thank you Leo for the useful article.

  2. I have noticed the following installed:

    Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1
    Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 hotfix
    Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1(195MB)
    Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 Service Pack 1(250MB)
    Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 (27.75 MB)

    I wonder if the previous versions are necessary…

  3. I want to respond to Jay-Jay. I have a similar question to yours. I actually tried uninstalling the previous versions but the system would not let me. A message would pop up that they are being used by other applications.So perhaps the older versions are still required.

  4. The Sun Java Enviroment is also nortorius for crappy updates. Leaving older version behind. At one time I had 3 different update folders, each with over 100MB of files each. I now uninstall the old before installing any new. If you have more than one, uninstalling the old seems to have no affect on the new.

  5. .Net 3.0 adds function above & beyond .Net 2.0, and thus still requires it for any application that uses .Net 3.0. .Net 2.0 is not compatible with .Net 1.1, and any application that is using .Net 1.1 still requires it to be present. I don’t know what the rules are for .Net 3.5, but I do know that (clearly) all this .Net stuff is pretty much a confusing mess, eh? ;-)

  6. This did let me at least know that I’m not the only one that keeps having Windows XP Updates, automatically installed,& Security updates as weLl.There are about 30 of them now,& I’m out of disk space,& now my printer doesn’t even have enough room to exist because of them!I do have an iphone(it’s brand new,so I’ve not utilized the apple site at all on my home computer,there’s no room!),CAN ANYONE HELP ME?I WANT ENOUGH ROOM TO USE MY PRINTER AGAIN!Thanks,I’m desperate

  7. I did read your advice on leaving Net Framework
    alone of it is there. Our problem is that for the past 2 years we have not been successfull in Net Framework updates getting installed after their download. We do not have any of the Net Programs on my Win XP SP3 Home Edition computer. Do I need them, and if so how do I get the ones I need? Incidentally, our XP Laptop runs fine. Any advice?

  8. I am a little confused by the comment that deleting patches/updates will uninstall that update. I had assumed that if, for example patch KB12345 updated file progABC.exe, if you then deleted KB12345 progABC.exe would stay updated and you were now just removing a redundant update file. Is this not the case?

    It depends on what you mean by “deleting patches/updates” – certainly deleting them in Control Panel will uninstall them. Deleting the backup files created as part of their installation will not uninstall the patch, and in fact will make it impossible to uninstall since there’s no prior version kept to revert to.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.