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The rule of thumb is to not delete things from your system unless you are certain what they are. If you do, back up first!

I'm using Windows 7, 64-bit. Occasionally, I look at my uninstall list and I frequently see things like Java 6, Update 22, and then just below that is Java 6, Update 33. Another also happens with the Microsoft.net Framework and Silverlight, which I do not use. There are other examples. Because of the size of these programs, do I need them all? Do I need all these duplicate updates?

In this excerpt from Answercast #41, I look at the problems involved in deleting program and update files from a computer to clear up space.

Do I need duplicate updates?

You know, the answer is probably not – but unfortunately, it's only "probably."

We really don't know for sure. It does vary:

  • Depending on which piece of software you're looking at;

  • And what versions appear to be duplicates;

  • Or appear to be superseding each other.

In general, an update program should do the right thing. If a previous version of the software being updated exists, and it's really no longer necessary, the update program should take care of that; it should remove the older version and replace it with a version that it's putting in its place.

  • Unfortunately, we know that sometimes that doesn't really happen.

  • Unfortunately, very unfortunately, I can't tell you which ones those are, and which ones you should and should not feel free to delete.

So, my recommendation, if everything is working properly is leave well enough alone. Don't go out and delete things that you're not certain are absolutely safe to delete.

Free up disk space

If you're looking for disk space, I can almost guarantee you that there's better pickings elsewhere.

  1. You can probably free up more disk space using some tool like TreeSize to look and see what's actually taking up a lot of disk space on your drives.

  2. The other thing then is – if you're bent on deleting some of these things – please take a complete system image backup first.

You don't know what you might break and unfortunately, sometimes you may not find out for awhile. You're going to want to be able to restore from an image backup to the state you were in before you deleted whatever it was that turned out to be very important.

So, those are my two recommendations:

  1. Don't do it;

  2. And if you must, take a full system image backup first.

Article C5660 - August 5, 2012 « »

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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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2 Comments
Karl
August 5, 2012 6:32 PM

Java is one program that does not remove the old version when it has an update. I have used Jave since 2006 and i know for me it has never removed older versions when it updates.

It is always best to uninstall old versions of Java, the old version and the new version can have conflicts and make programs that use Java not work proper.

When Jave has an update, i will first uninstall the old version before downloading the new version.

Any of the other stuff, especially when it comes to Microsoft updates and Silverlight is Microsoft, i'm not sure about them, i leave them alone so they can play and have fun.

A Richter
August 9, 2012 2:03 AM

Java can be a pest; for years, I have been using JavaRa for a sweep after every update, reliably.
CCleaner should take care of the rest, as long as the Windows Disk Cleanup facility is deemed insufficient (generally and as of Vista onwards, it has been up to the task, I believe).
It need not be wise to venture out any further, like meddling with the registry. Not worth the potential trouble, indeed.

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