Just like any other program, when the time comes to uninstall certain VPNs it can be quite a tricky process, often leaving some leftovers behind that can still clog up your computer or mobile device and steal precious space when you need it the most. In fact, the practice of hiding behind unnecessary leftover files after what might seem like a perfectly normal uninstall is becoming more common nowadays, and as such it’s important to know that there are still ways to completely remove the remnants of an unwanted VPN. On a mobile device the uninstall process of an app is pretty straightforward and thorough, but on computers this is not always the case and typically more action is necessary.
The first step to uninstall a VPN client on PC is the same as for any other program. Head into the control panel, select the ‘Apps’ section, and then find and remove the desired VPN program. While this may be enough in some cases, nowadays VPNs provide more additional tools than ever, and in many cases these will also need uninstalling too.
One of the most common is the browser add-ons. These are not removed alongside the VPN client and because, in many cases, they actually act as ad blockers, it can be advisable to keep onto them for a safer and more peaceful web surfing experience. However, if you absolutely don’t want any strings attached to your previous VPN, then just visit your browser’s add-on page, find the culprit and disable or uninstall it for good.
Then there are leftover files, fragments of previously installed software that are often invisible to many of us. This can either be registry entries, desktop shortcuts that are not removed or any other small apps that continue running in the background.
In the case of registry keys, these are often left ‘half empty’ so that – should you install the program again later – the previous configurations and user preferences that you used can be quickly loaded up again. They still take up space on your computer, though, and could contribute to slowing down the machine’s overall performance.
Finding VPN programs running in the background is trickier, though. The best way to find these is by accessing Windows’s task manager (Ctrl + Alt + Delete) and then scrolling down the list. If you find anything running that you don’t recognize or think may be associated with the VPN, despite how insignificant the CPU impact may seem, search for its location using Windows search and then delete the files. Only do this if you’re certain the program was installed as part of the VPN, however.
However, you can avoid all of these manual tweaks by simply using a computer optimization tool like CleanMyPC. Not only does this allow for the clean uninstall of any program, but it takes care of empty registry keys and any other leftovers, too. It can also clean your computer from unnecessary junk to make it faster and healthier.
Mac computers fall under the same category as PCs, though with the obvious software differences. Usually, a simple uninstall of most apps is enough, and for that you simply need to locate the VPN you want to remove in the Applications directory and then drag it to the trash bin. If such an app requires any supporting files, these will be stored in the /Library/Application Support directory so you can delete them from there as well.
As with PC software, this won’t remove any add-ons from browsers so you must do the same to clear away any VPN extensions that may have been installed. Likewise, computer optimization tools are available for Mac computers as well and, in this case, CleanMyMac is a just as good an option.
If there’s something the iOS operating system is good at, it’s deleting apps. In fact, all that iPhone and iPad users need to do to uninstall any of them is to hold down on the home screen icon until a little ‘x’ appears on the top corner. Tapping that cross will then prompt a deletion confirmation that, when accepted, will erase the app and any associated files, including any stored data and user settings.
Much like Apple’s mobile operating system, removing an app using the default uninstaller is enough to have it completely wiped away from your system. Having said that, you can simply hold down an app on the home screen and drag it to the trash bin, which should then display a window confirming that the app will be deleted. In certain builds of Android, however, this might only remove the icon from the home screen and not from the device itself.
To confirm the app is uninstalled, or to do the task yourself, visit the smartphone or tablet’s settings menu, select the application management option and then tap on ‘Apps’ to find everything that is installed on the Android device. From here, locate the VPN app (sort by alphabetical order to make this easier) and select it, from there choosing to uninstall it. If the VPN cannot be found, then it has successfully been removed already.
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