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A failed install can leave things behind. Usually it's benign, but when a failed install takes up a lot of disk space, it's time to recover.

There isn't a lot of free space on my main drive, and I wanted to install software on my PC but it was not installed successfully. However, it got 2GB of the space on that drive, and its not possible to uninstall or remove that program in "add or remove program". How can i remove it?

It's too bad that the failed install didn't clean up after itself.

A good installer/setup program should do exactly that: if it fails for any reason clean up. That means not taking up 2 gigabytes of space for something that didn't work.

However, you're in that situation, so I'll look at some of the approaches I would take recover that space.

My first reaction is to use a different tool to uninstall the problematic software. Unfortunately, that tool requires ... installation. I'll assume that things are tight enough such that we'll start by simply freeing up some "elbow room" on your machine.

"... I'm going to focus on the problem at hand: disk space."

Making Some Room to Work

I would do two things to clear up what could be a lot of space on your machine quickly:

  • Clear your browser cache. That's covered in this article: What's a browser cache, how do I "clear" it, and why would I want to? For the cost of a little performance the next time you use your browser, you may find that you've recovered a lot of disk space quickly. Of course that space will slowly disappear as your browser cache fills up again with use.

  • Delete temporary files. That's covered in this article: Can I delete the contents of my TMP folder? This has almost no performance cost, and depending on what's been accumulating over time can also clear up a lot of space quickly. Heck, it's possible that the 2GB "used" by your failed install are here, and doing this will recover that.

While the second could possibly actually resolve the issue, it certainly doesn't cover all cases, so we'll assume it didn't.

The goal here was simply to quickly free up some room on your hard disk so that we can install another application.

Revo

My go-to tool of choice for failed installs - or rather for failed uninstalls - is Revo Uninstaller. The free version is all you need (though I elected to support their efforts by purchasing a copy).

Revo will first attempt to run the "normal" uninstall tool for the application if it exists, but then will take additional steps to remove "leftovers" from the registry and elsewhere on the machine.

Revo may well help locate and truly uninstall the failed install you're currently stuck with.

Naturally, of course, it may fail to find anything, depending on exactly how your problematic uninstall failed.

Manual Removal

This gets ... trickier.

I want to be clear that I'm not going to recommend a "manual uninstall", removing all traces of the failed install. That's difficult at best to do, simply because we really have no idea where things might be have been placed.

Rather, I'm going to focus on the problem at hand: disk space.

A program that when installed takes up 2 gigabytes may well be easy to spot, simply based on disk usage.

Where's my disk space going? outlines use of a utility to see what's taking up space on your machine. By examining the relative size of folders - most likely starting with the folders within "C:\Program Files" and/or "C:\Program Files(x86)", you may be able to quickly locate the application by name and find that it is, indeed, using 2 gigabytes in its failed installation.

The initial solution: rename the offending folder and reboot.

I do this first instead of immediately deleting simply to quickly determine if deleting the files would cause a problem of some sort. If the reboot proceeds without error, I'd delete (or perhaps backup and delete, just in case) the folder or files that are associated with the application and are taking up so much space.

If there is an issue after reboot, then I'd investigate that before proceeding. More than likely it is an auto-start entry referencing the partially installed program, which you'll want to remove before proceeding.

While you're at it, looking around at what's taking up space, you might just see if the bigger offenders are actually needed. I'm not saying delete things recklessly, but while you're looking it might be worth checking and considering if additional things need to be uninstalled or moved.

Article C4506 - October 27, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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10 Comments
Simon
October 27, 2010 11:50 PM

"I do this first instead of immediately rebooting..."

You meant "... immediately deleting..."? :)

Indeed. Thanks for catching.
Leo
28-Oct-2010

thebluejay
November 2, 2010 12:34 PM

I like to try reinstalling the offending app and then try uninstalling again. That sometimes works because the original install did not work properly.

pau
November 2, 2010 12:37 PM

i go to search on opening page and then type in the name of the file. click search and then delete whatever comes up then. works for me. and i use revo too

WayneW
November 2, 2010 1:15 PM

Since disk space and installing is the issue, I'd use Revo on a stick (Revo Portable).
I have Revo installed on my machine AND on a flash drive. Handy for working on other computers.

Ward
November 2, 2010 2:27 PM

Windows Install Clean Up usually works.

Andrew
November 2, 2010 2:35 PM

I use "WinDirStat" from
http://windirstat.info/
This gives you a colourful graph where biggest used spaces are. I used this once when I started to lose lots of space. It helped me to discover that my firewall was saving log files. In the end I recovered just under 4GB of space....YES 4GB!!
Have a go, you can search by file types, programs, etc etc

narumanchianji
November 2, 2010 6:50 PM

some times, to uninstall a failed install, i found a good solution. try once again to install it. sometimes it will tell you that a previous install had to be uninstalled and will uninstall. otherwise it may successfully install. now look up at the installed application and keep it if you want or else uninstall with revo.

Dave Markley
November 3, 2010 6:34 AM

I would like to recommend 'Treesize Free', a really great, free program that w3ill show you everything stored on your hard drive and how much space each program is using. If you find something you don't need or want, simply 'right click' on that item then click 'delete'. Another thing I've found very helpful is to run 'Disk Cleanup' and when the results appear click the 'More Options' tab and then 'System Restore', providing that your PC is running fine and you shouldn't be needing it. If you've never cleaner your System Restore folder this can easily free up as much as 10 to 15 gigabytes. Just remember to defragment your drive when finished. And remember that a drive requires about 1/3 free space to function properly.

Nagesh
November 3, 2010 8:17 AM

whenever your software is failed to install,you just uninstall that software because it may take lot of disk space but while uninstall also it shows some error message,on that situation you just go to run 'disk cleanup'.

Pat Coppage
November 4, 2010 9:02 AM

In the last case senerio I rename every ????.exe file I can find in the offender to ????.crp and then reboot. If it says, "That's a no-no", then reboot in Safe Mode and try renaming again. Reboot again. This should prevent anything in the offender from loading. It works for me.

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