Why Do You Regularly Reinstall Your System?

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I read that you regularly install your system completely from scratch, if I understood correctly. Why is that? Is that against potential malware that didn’t get detected? Do you do this monthly, or twice a year? Regularly reinstalling all the software anew should take you some hours, even if you’re fast. Or did I misunderstand something.

You understood me correctly.

While I don’t do it as often as I once did, it’s absolutely something that I need to do from time to time.

Why do I do it? In part it’s the nature of software, and in part it’s the nature of what I do.

The good news is that it has nothing to do with malware.

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Can Malware Authors Hijack My Anti-malware Software?

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Leo, I believe that the vast majority of PC users are not exactly sure about what is normal or what’s supposed to happen during the Windows uninstall process; most specifically, or importantly, when dealing with malware.  Can the unscrupulous malware writers hijack the process somehow in an attempt to get the PC user to install something else, or worse??

It might be helpful here to start with a definition of the term “uninstall”. “Uninstall” is a term we use to refer to the orderly process of removing software that has been installed. It’s usually performed by the very setup program that put it there in the first place.

And, to be clear, there’s really no such thing as a standard Windows uninstall process.

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Why Did I Get this Additional Driver Utility?

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When I was downloading a driver to put the sound back in my system,  something called “driver wiz” wound up on my system. When I went to the Control Panel to remove it, the command “move” or “remove” is no longer there –  just the word “change.” When you click on Change, it tries to install the program driver wiz. I found out that I’m not the only one having this problem. Can you help?

What you have is a classic PUP –  Potentially Unwanted Program.

Unfortunately, there’s rarely any “potentially” about it. The programs are unwanted. They’ve been getting more aggressive and people are saddled with all sorts of things that they really don’t want.

Let’s talk about prevention first.

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Why Might an Uninstalled Program Still Be Listed?

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I’m running Windows XP, SP3, fully updated. I was running AVG anti-virus free edition 2012 until I uninstalled it when I started using Microsoft Security Essentials. Belarc Advisor still lists AVG anti-virus with real-time file scanning turned on. Speccy lists similar information and states that the virus signature database is up to date. Both also show Microsoft Security Essentials as being up and running. I downloaded and ran the AVG 2012 uninstall program and used search/Windows Explorer to find and delete any remaining AVG files. Belarc Advisor and Speccy still say that AVG free edition 2012 is still installed, up to date, and real-time scanning. Do you have any suggestions how I can overcome this problem?

Let me begin by asking this question: is this really a problem?

I get that it’s an annoyance. I wouldn’t expect those utilities to show something that you have so clearly and thoroughly uninstalled.

The problem is that the solutions we have aren’t really as clean as we might want them to be. If we want to actually clean this out completely, that involves a little risk.

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Uninstalling Software You Don’t Need

It’s not at all uncommon for a computer to accumulate quite a collection of software over time. Applications, utilities, Windows features, and who knows what else all accumulate over time to take up space and resources from our machines.

It’s also not uncommon for much of the software installed on our machine to go unused and unneeded. Perhaps we stopped using a specific application. Perhaps a trial version of some software remains. Perhaps some software was installed as part of some other installation.

The bottom line is that there are things we can uninstall.

There are two places we need to look.

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