This post will serve as a brief introduction to the next version of Mirekusoft Install Monitor. There are several new features as well as performance and reliability improvements under the hood. It also has several bug fixes and user interface improvements.
Improved Changes for Better Usability
- The user interface has been improved to make it easier to use and more responsive.
- The program bar which used to contain a drop down list of all programs has been replaced with a combo box and tracks the recent selections.
- The Program Tree bar has been added as another way to navigate. There’s more information about programs available including usage information.
- The speed of the programs list has been improved and clicking on items is much faster. To make the list faster some of the information has now been moved to a program properties dialog.
- The contents pane has been changed to make it easier to see what is installed by location. You can also launch programs directly from the list. There have also been changes to the uninstaller to make it more efficient and able to handle files that are in use.
There are also several new features that include:
Click on the links above to learn more about these added features.
Last time I talked about some of the limitations with existing uninstallers that either use a scanning approach or
snapshot based approach. If you are familiar with these uninstallers it might not be immediately obvious how to Mirekusoft Install Monitor works as an uninstaller. Mirekusoft Install Monitor is actually quite easy to use. It does most of it’s work in the background so the user does not have to do anything special to benefit.
Install Monitor does not have to scan for leftovers and instantly knows what’s left behind. It monitors both installs and uninstalls and across reboots. This can be helpful if the uninstaller leaves stuff behind. The user does not have to run the installer in a special way. Install Monitor will automatically detect installers. In fact the only time you ever need to launch the Install Monitor application is if you want to manage or remove a program or figure out what was installed. Many uninstallers that offer install monitoring will give a scary warning against installing multiple programs at the same time (this may be out of the user’s control for instance if a background program decides to update itself). However Install Monitor is also able to intelligently handle multiple programs bundled together. This is useful for instance if unwanted software gets installed with good software. It is also able to intelligently guess the icon for a program even when the program does not register one. Install Monitor allows you to see what other uninstallers are missing or should not be removing.
Despite all the advantages it has uninstaller, Install Monitor uninstall capabilities can be more precise and intelligent. The ability to roll back changes by individual applications can be improved. It can also have better support for programs installed before Install Monitor. Look for these issues to be addressed in future releases.
In the past few posts I have talked about application management and how Mirekusoft Install Monitor is more than an uninstaller. In this post I wanted to talk about how uninstallers traditionally work and some of the limitations. In a later post I will talk about how Install Monitor uses an approach that is different from most uninstallers.
How Most Third Party Uninstallers Work
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Most third party uninstallers tend to rely on searching predefined locations to remove existing software. There are different ways of doing this scan but essentially it usually requires the program that was uninstalled left behind something that could be used to identify traces of it. Registry cleaners also do something similar. After a scan of the file system and registry the user is presented with a long list of what the uninstaller believes are leftovers that can be removed.
Limitation of Scanning Approach when Uninstalling
How effective is scanning?
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This scanning approach however has obvious limitations. Most uninstallers which scan for leftovers now also offer installation monitoring. This process relies on taking snapshots before the installation and comparing to the state after the installation. The user has to start the install with the monitoring program. These programs will sometimes provide a right-click shell extension to make it easier. It can be difficult sometimes to find the executable for instance in the case of updaters. It adds an extra step and some guesswork to the installation. Should a particular install be monitored or not?
Understanding the Downside of Snapshots
Another downside of snapshots is usually they take a lot of time, processor usage, disk activity, and disk space to create. It would not be unusual on a system with a lot of items for a snapshot to take up a minute or more. They in general do not work well with installs that use multiple installers or require reboots.
What happens if bad or unwanted software piggybacks on good software?
It may not be obvious when monitoring should be turned off. Some uninstallers recommend you run and activate the software first.
What if the software does something else that should be monitored?
The snapshot approach increases the probability of spurious activity being caught.
What if another program decides to update itself while the uninstaller is in snapshot mode?
Are there ways to get beyond these limitations?
That will be addressed in a future post.