Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

The first defense in unwanted downloads is to prevent them from installing in the first place. If they do download, you may need to take some extra steps to get your system cleaned up.

Today, I downloaded a VLC media player and along came a lot of unintended crap: for instance, a browser called "Alot" that I never wanted but it installed itself. I uninstalled it with some effort, but I see but see a whole lot ("alot") of files still lurking on my C: How can I purge this stuff? When I hit Delete, it won't let me get rid of the "Alot" app file. Can you advise?

In this excerpt from Answercast #30, I look at why extra downloads may show up on your computer, and the proper way to get rid of them.

Downloading programs

So I'm really surprised that you got this with VLC. VLC, in my experience, has been a very reputable app.

Get downloads from the right source

I want to make sure that you are getting VLC from the right place, from videolan.org. They're the official site for it.

Don't bother going to another download site. There's simply no reason to get it anywhere else.

Choose custom or advanced install option

Also, whenever you install software (I don't care if it's VLC or something else that you get from somewhere else on the internet), always, always, always choose the custom or advanced option when you install the software.

Never, ever choose the default settings because quite often the default settings will include additional software that is one of the revenue generators for the software that you're downloading.

Read every screen

Finally, when you step through the install process, make sure you're reading every screen.

Very often they will ask you, "Do you want to install this nifty new toolbar or browser?" And the checkbox will be checked on by default. If you're not paying attention and you just click Next, you literally asked for this software – for this download – and installed on your machine.

Removing unwanted software

Now, with that out of the way, how do you get rid of it?

I've never heard of the "Alot" browser; I really haven't. My suggestion would be to run REVO Uninstaller and see if it will pick up the leftovers that have been left by the Alot browser.

  • If it is truly malware, I would also consider running something like Malwarebytes to see if it will clean the thing up.

Of course, whatever security software you're running: make sure those are up-to-date and scanning regularly.

Restore to backup image

Finally, this is one of those cases where, if it is seriously causing you trouble, I would strongly recommend restoring to a backup taken prior to the installation of VLC and this Alot browser.

Deleting the program file

With that out of the way, when you hit Delete, "It won't let you get rid of the file?" I need to know what error message you're getting.

  • It may be that you simply need to be running Windows Explorer as an administrator.

In other words, the file may have been installed with administrative privileges. Even though your account may have administrative privileges, you're not actually running as the administrator by default.

You would need to right-click on the icon for Windows Explorer and choose Run as administrator. Then after having done that, it may give you the additional permission to delete the files.

So hopefully, I've given you some things to try.

Pay attention to downloads

The most important thing; the most important lesson for you (and everyone else who's reading this or listening to this) to take away is to:

  • Pay attention... pay very close attention to where you're getting your downloads from; and to all of the options that are offered in the installation process.

Article C5521 - June 28, 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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5 Comments
Wally
June 28, 2012 10:31 PM

Leo - great advice. It never dawned on me that Custom Install could allow me to keep "junk" out - thank you. And, I will do the "Admin" level purge next - many thanks

snert
June 29, 2012 4:26 PM

Sometimes installed apps don't show up in Revo, for some reason. In that case I use File Shredder to wipe the apps folder. Then I go into the registery, delete any references to the app and reboot.
I don't recommend futzing in the registery if you don't know what you are doing. You can kill you computer.

Billy Bob
June 30, 2012 6:04 PM

Agree w/ Leo that VLC is a "reputable app." In my opinion, it is the only, and the last, video player anyone needs. It can play any file under the sun and it doesn't even try to take over your media viewing experience by creating dumb libraries and playlists. Great product!

ButchCass
July 1, 2012 9:41 AM

The 'Alot' apps are toolbars from www(dot)alot(dot)com/

They can be removed or disabled in any browser, just as any toolbar. You are using Firefox, right?

In my opinion, toolbars should be avoided, as they are large, resource hungry programs. There are better ways of accessing the pages and apps you want. That said, as always, what works for YOU is best. If you decide to use toolbars, just remember that each one will slow your machine down more. I typed this very slowly, for people with several toolbars. :)

K.Vee.Shanker.
July 2, 2012 11:39 PM

One more reason to choose 'Advanced or Custom Install' option during installation. You can also deselect the other languages' support. They typically involve languages such as Chinese, Korean, Russian, and so on, which most of us never need!

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