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Getting rid of a program is rarely as simple as using the default uninstallation routine. Only the best written programs will leave no trace; most leave behind orphaned files and registry keys. While minor at first, this damage can build up--especially if you're the type to try out many programs. Ashampoo UnInstaller 4 ($50, 10-day free trial extended to 40 days with registration) ensures that when you uninstall a program, absolutely everything is removed. This suite goes beyond its eponymous function, offering a toolkit of extra utilities to help keep your computer running smoothly.
This utility suite is similar to Windows System Restore, but with greater flexibility. Ashampoo UnInstaller takes a snapshot of your hard drive and registry immediately before and after a program is installed. Then it compares them and creates a log which details every change made. So, if you later choose to remove a program, Ashampoo UnInstaller knows exactly how to reverse the changes it made. The automatic installation detector is a little flaky, so it's better to initiate the change tracking yourself. However, this nuisance is small compared to the rewards.
With Ashampoo UnInstaller watching, I installed programs that included some pretty nasty spyware. Usually to get rid of such a program it's necessary to go through multiple uninstallations, a spyware sweep, and sometimes even an antivirus scan. But Ashampoo UnInstaller worked very well, clearing out each program and its malicious junk with one simple routine. This isn't Ashampoo UnInstaller's primary use--and it's certainly no excuse to skip your usual antimalware regimen--but this extra wall of defense allows you to be slightly less paranoid about installing new software.
The price tag is hefty, but there are enough extra features to justify it. Included is a registry cleaner, hard drive cleaner, hard drive defragmenter, disk scrubber, and a whole slew of other utilities, all full-featured and functional in their own right. If you don't need any of these, perhaps a cheaper and simpler program is better. (And if you're a PC novice, you may want to avoid the registry cleaner entirely; excessive registry scrubbing can harm your system.) But Ashampoo UnInstaller 4 is a solid software suite which will keep your computer squeaky clean.