Upon removal, a good program will give you the option to clear old settings, be they in a folder or the registry. This lets you get rid of every last remnant to calm your OCD, or troubleshoot issues caused by preferences from older versions. When you aren’t given the ability to do this easily, you’ll have to do some investigating yourself.
Recently I started experiencing a problem where VLC would crash if I let it run to the end of a video. It didn’t matter what the codec was, or the container format, if I didn’t hit pause or switch to another clip, I’d have no choice but to kill the VLC process via task manager.
I tried rolling back to an older version and reinstalling the current version to no avail. What I didn’t do was clear the old settings and preferences because, well, it takes time to get a program set up the way you want it and I’d never had trouble in the past.
Of course, after exhausting all other avenues I reinstalled VLC 2.1.5, but this time made sure to check the box to delete my preferences and bang, the issue was gone.
Unfortunately, not all programs provide an easy way to purge lingering user files and you might be left to dig them out yourself. Here are some tips if you do find yourself in this situation:
- The usual ports of call are the “My Documents” directory and “Users\[Username]\AppData”. You’ll still need to track down the precise folder of the troublesome program, but it almost always boils down to looking for a path containing the application or developer’s name.
- If this turns out to be a false lead, you can dive into the registry, specifically the
HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Like the AppData folder, spotting the app / developer name will usually uncover any lingering settings.
- If you still can’t find anything, you’ll have to engage the services of Process Monitor, which will show you exactly what parts of your system running applications are accessing. With the right filters in place, it won’t take long to find the app’s settings folder and registry location, which you can then get rid of with a few taps of the Delete key.
The usual disclaimers applies — tinkering with the inner workings of your operating system can lead to sadness (usually in the form of blue-screens and boot problems), so be sure you know what you’re deleting and why!