Uninstalling programs during routine computer maintenance raises questions
Over the past few weeks, several readers wrote in to say they took our experts’ advice in doing a bit of spring cleaning on their desktops and laptops. But they also had a few questions.
How will this affect browsing/searching on a day-to-day basis? Will it help prevent all of the pop-up advertising or at least some of it? Will it slow down searches? Will it cause problems in other programs such as Quicken, Adobe, tax-prep programs and others?
Reggie F., Garner
“Other than the similarity in name, there is little if any relationship between the two,” said Dr. Jo Perry, a lecturer at N.C. State University who teaches Java courses at the engineering school.
Java, on the other hand, is a programming language for applications. When you download and install it (http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp), what you’re actually using is a Java virtual machine, which allows you the run the code that powers Java programs like games and other apps.
“A JVM runs the code instructions in the machine’s native language,” Perry said. “The JVM, and hence Java, is independent of any Web browser.”
There is legitimate debate – for example, between experts in publications like PCWorld – over whether removing Java from your machine is actually a good thing. It’s not necessarily that doing so will decrease performance, but that it doesn’t actually do much to solve the malware problem.
The simple advice is the same that Paul Rosenberg, owner of the Chapel Hill-based repair shop Love Your Computer, gave last time: patch it or pitch it.
Q: After reading your recent article on deleting old software, I removed several programs. There are also many microsoft.net files and service packs that I didn’t dare delete, but I wonder: Can some of them be safely deleted?
William T., Cary
It’s tough to resist going a little uninstall-happy when doing irregular computer maintenance. But when it comes to ditching these files, Craig Petronella, president of Petronella Computer Consultants in Apex, doesn’t recommend it.
“It takes an expert to remove the right ones, and one mistake can make the system unusable for a small gain in disk space,” Petronella said in an email.
To get more bang for your buck, he recommends a free program called CCleaner, which backs up your PC’s registry and scrubs it clean of the leftovers from uninstalled software.
“Windows operating systems rely on the registry or ‘blueprint’ to know where important files are,” Petronella said. “Over time, this database becomes bloated because when software is uninstalled, the software usually doesn’t clean up the registry, resulting in a slower PC over time.”
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