1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How To Properly Reinstall a Program in Windows 7 or Windows Vista


Reinstalling a particular program is often a valuable troubleshooting step when you're having problems with that program.

Properly reinstalling a program involves uninstalling the software from Windows 7/Vista and then installing it again - often called a "clean reinstall." It's important that a software reinstall is done correctly so you can determine if the program is the cause of your problem.

Important: Be sure to backup any specific data that you think might be affected by uninstalling the program.

Follow these steps to reinstall just about any program installed on your Windows 7 or Windows Vista computer:

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Reinstalling a software program in Windows 7 or Windows Vista usually takes less than 15 minutes.

Here's How:

  1. Click on the Start button and then Control Panel.

  2. Click on the Uninstall a program link located under the Programs heading.

    Note: If you're viewing the Classic View (Vista) or Icon view (Windows 7) of Control Panel, double-click on the Programs and Features icon.

    Important: If the program you're planning on reinstalling requires a serial number, you'll need to locate that serial number now. If you can't find the serial number, you may be able to locate it with a product key finder program. A key finder program will only work if the program is still installed so you must use it before uninstalling the program.

  3. Locate and click on the program you want to uninstall by scrolling through the list of currently installed programs you see on screen.

    Note: If you need to reinstall a Windows Update or an installed update to another program, click on the View installed updates link on the left-hand side of the Programs and Features window.

    Not all programs will show their installed updates here but some will.

  4. Click the Uninstall/Change or Uninstall button to uninstall the program.

    Note: This button appears on the Organize/Views toolbar above the program list when a program is selected.

    The specifics of what happens now depends on the program you happen to be uninstalling. Some uninstallation processes require a series of confirmations (similar to what you may have seen when you first installed the program) while others may uninstall without requiring your input at all.

    Answer any prompts as best you can - just remember that you are wanting to completely remove the program from your Windows 7 or Windows Vista computer.

  5. Restart your computer, even if you're not required to.

    Important: In my opinion, this is not an optional step. As annoying as it might sometimes be, taking the time to reset your computer will help ensure that the program is completely uninstalled.

  6. Verify that the program you uninstalled has been fully uninstalled. Check that the program is no longer listed in your Start menu and also check to make sure that the program's entry in Programs and Features has been removed.

    Note: If you created your own shortcuts to this program, those shortcuts will likely still exist but of course will not work. Feel free to delete them yourself.

  7. Install the most updated version of the software available. If the best you can find is the original installation disc or file then so be it. However, be sure to check the software developer's website for the latest available version of the program.

    Important: Unless instructed otherwise by the software documentation, any patches and service packs that might be available should be installed to the program after the reboot following the installation (Step 8).

  8. Restart your computer again.

  9. Test the reinstalled program.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.