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The reasoning behind McAfee UnInstaller is somewhat of a paradox: Why should I add a program to my PC in order to uninstall other programs? After testing out UnInstaller 6.0 from McAfee, I'm still not convinced I should.
The $19.95 (street) program is actually a compilation of several McAfee tools, including a cleaning program and SpaceMaker alongside UnInstaller. UnInstaller does have several advantages over the Windows tool, namely, it warns you against deleting files that you'll need for other applications. It also allows you to create a backup copy of any file or application that you delete, meaning just about anything can be undone.
Uninstalling programs with McAfee's UnInstaller is quick and easy, and it guides you through the process. If you try to uninstall an application without making a backup, it warns you against it. Using the added features-the cleaning program and SpaceMaker-was what caused me the biggest problems. (The cleaning program is designed to remove accumulated "junk" from your computer, such as your Internet cache, the contents of your recycle bin and outdated shortcuts; SpaceMaker is a tool that frees up a specified amount of space on your hard drive by deleting unnecessary files.)
When you install UnInstaller, it asks you to select file types to protect so the application will know not to delete them. I selected all the available options for Outlook files, not wanting any of my e-mails to be erased. After running both the cleaning program and SpaceMaker, my e-mail messages were intact, but the contents of my Outlook address book had disappeared.
SpaceMaker caused my computer to freeze repeatedly, too. I had to force quit just to get out of the program. After uninstalling the entire application and reinstalling it, it worked fine, but the whole process took some time.
UnInstaller may have some useful features, but the program isn't a necessity. In fact, a better policy might actually be having your IS department handle uninstalls for your employees.
Liane Gouthro, a former technology reporter at PCWorld.com, freelances from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.