I was looking through my Add/Remove Programs list the other day and I noticed most of the items were updates. There were Windows Updates and others I’ve run for other programs in the past. Is it safe to remove them or do I need to hang on to them? Please explain!

What a great question! I’m almost positive you’re not the only one who has wondered that same thing at some point or another. It’s true, if you go to Start, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and run through the list of applications you have installed on your computer, you’ll find that most of them are for updates you’ve run in the past. There might even be some in there from years back. So, if they’re so old, it’s safe to assume you can get rid of them, right? Well, maybe not. Keep reading to find out why!

The easiest way to explain why it’s not okay to delete some of the updates is because they’re there for a reason. If your computer didn’t need them, you wouldn’t have had to install them in the first place. The updates are there to keep your computer working at its best and if you removed them, you’d basically be undoing the work the updates did to begin with. Plus, removing the updates could put you at risk for security holes or other vulnerabilities and trust me, you don’t want that to happen!

Now, as you’re going through your Add/Remove Programs, you’re probably going to think your list is a bit long. But in all actuality, it’s probably not as long as it could be. You see, when you run an update for one of the programs on your computer, the new material always overtakes the old. If the program you’re using is programmed right, it will automatically remove any older updates you no longer need. It works the same as when you’re installing a new version of a program. It’s a basic rule that the new overrides the old. So, basically, the updates are already doing the removal work for you. Cool, huh?!

The same goes for Windows Updates as well. Those often include several patches and the newer patches always go right over the old ones. Patches are sometimes all rolled in together as well, so either way, you’re going to have a shorter list of patches. You can remove individual patches if you want, but again, that can put you at risk for certain vulnerabilities. Like I said before, by doing that, you’re just undoing the work of the patch and defeating the whole purpose.

Of course, there will be times when you need to uninstall a certain patch because of unexpected problems, but that doesn’t happen too often. All in all, your best bet is to just leave the updates alone. It’s really not a good idea to weed through your list and uninstall any you may think are unnecessary. A good rule to go by is if they’re in your Add/Remove Programs list, they’re supposed to be. They’re serving a purpose, even if they look like they’re just taking up space. They’re not hurting anything, so just leave them be!

If you really don’t like looking at them, you can uncheck the Show Updates checkbox at the top of your Add/Remove Programs window. That will hide all of the updates to make your list look a little shorter. If that makes you feel better, it’s a much better option than removing something you might need on down the road. I hope this clears everything up for you.

~ Erin