Updated: 02/07/2022 by Computer Hope
Uninstall progress bar.

Uninstall is removing a program and its associated files from a computer hard drive. The uninstall feature differs from the delete function in that it safely and efficiently removes all associated files, whereas delete only removes part of a program or selected file.


Unfortunately, not all programs include an uninstaller. If the program has no uninstall option, you'll have to locate the program's folder and delete the folder to remove it from the computer.

What happens to a program when it is uninstalled?

When uninstalling a program using the uninstaller, all files copied to the computer are removed, and system setting changes are removed or reverted to their defaults. The deleted files are not sent to the Recycle Bin or Trash, and the program would need to be installed again to be used.

Are documents or other files I created using the program deleted?

No. Any new file created by you after the program is installed remain on the computer. However, some programs and games may ask to delete the created files or saved games. If you choose to delete these files, they are removed during the uninstall.

What is the difference between deleting and uninstalling it?

The delete feature is used to remove documents, pictures, and other files used by programs on your computer. Uninstall is used to remove a program installed on a computer.

What could happen if I delete a program instead of uninstalling?

Today, most software deleting the programs folder and not using the uninstall option does not cause any problems. However, deleting a program instead of uninstalling it may still cause any or all of the following problems.

  • Files copied during the install outside of the program folder become orphan files and take up disk space.
  • If the program was a startup program, you'd get an error when the computer starts.
  • Shortcuts or other programs that rely on the program generate an error.
  • Changes made to the registry remain and cause errors or take up disk space.
  • File association may be broken and cause associated files to not open or open with an error.
  • The uninstall option in the operating system or another program list the program as installed, but it cannot be uninstalled.

Add or Remove Programs, Delete, Install, Operating system terms, Orphan file, Reinstall