Completely Uninstall and Delete ANY File

It’s that time of year again where I’ve got a horrid mix of commercially released software (e.g. Civil 3D 2009; EE ProPack 2009; etc) and alpha and beta software. Inevitably, there comes a point where something needs to be ripped out and reinstalled. Anyone who has uninstalled software knows that there is no silver bullet to automatically removing an app. There are 3 main issues that come up.

  1. Windows Add/Remove app doesn’t do a complete job of uninstalling.
  2. Manually uninstall is tricky
  3. Some files just won’t let you delete them.

Well, this post is intended to help you solve all 3! Read ho after the jump

Windows Add/Remove

This does a decent job of getting the obvious stuff, but not everything. After you’ve used the Add/Remove tool, try the Windows Install Clean Up utility to help hunt down any straggler files and folders. This works well on many apps, but unfortunately not on Civil 3D, and you’ll need to move on to the next tip.

Manual Removal of Civil 3D

Even after using Add/remove and the Windows Install Clean up, there will still be remnants of Autodesk products strewn about your hard drive like car parts on the highway in a Mad Max film. Here are the basic steps to remove this debris (and follow this link to official Autodesk write-up)

  • Manually delete the following subdirectories found at C:\Documents and Settings\…
    • \All Users\Application Data\Autodesk
    • \<username>\Application Data\Autodesk  (where <username> is your name and all names other users of your computer)
    • \<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Autodesk
  • Next, browse to C:\Program Files\ and delete
    • all Autodesk folders
    • \Common Files\Autodesk Shared
  • Delete the following keys from your Registry
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Autodesk

It is likely that when you try to delete some of these folders\files, they will out up a fight and refuse to delete. That’s where the last tip comes in.

Delete ANY File

For whatever reason, some files think they are immune to your deletion wishes. When you try to delete them, you get errors such as “In use” or “Check Permissions” or some other lame attempt to stay execution. Well, don’t worry, because there is a great little Freeware tool called Unlocker that will let you kill any file. After you install it, it adds an item to the menu that appears when you right-click a file or folder. Just find the stubborn files, right-click, run Unlocker and the folder or file is gone.

Delete Temp Files

Before reinstalling  Civil 3D 2009, do the following:

  • In Windows Explorer, delete the contents of your Windows Temp folder. You can locate the Temp folder by entering %TEMP% in the Address bar of Windows Explorer. BEWARE! This could take a LONG time, depending on how many files are in your temp folder. I had 113,775 on one comp and 106,347 on antoher and it took well over 10 minutes to delete.
  • Use the End Task feature to end any anti-virus programs.

Be sure to reboot and you should be good to go.


Just a quick postscript…

After spending the better part of 8 hours getting 2 completely different computers back on their feet, I cannot stress the importance of deleting the Temp files.

Also, have you ever seen this error?

“CreateFile failed with error 3: the system cannot find the path specified.”

There are a few posts in the Autodesk Civil 3D discussion group about it but no good answer. Well, now I think we have one: Delete the Temp folder files before reinstalling!!


  1. Aaron Vera says:

    What about CCleaner? It’s free software that has its own software removal tool as well as a registry cleanup function. This will search your registry and remove invalid paths. You may have to delete some directories manually, but it will automate the registry cleanup.

    Oh, and it cleans temp. files too!

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. Can you post the link here?