I suggest you ...

Create a "remove all remnants of Visual Studio from your system" program.

I'm writing this on behalf of the thousands of other Visual Studio users out there who have had nightmares trying to uninstall previous versions of VS. Thus cumulatively losing hundreds of thousands of productive work hours.

During this year, I had installed the following programs/components on my system:
* Visual Studio 2012 Express for Desktop
* Visual Studio 2012 Express for Web
* Team Foundation Server Express
* SQL Server Express
* SQL Server Data Tools
* LightSwitch 2011 trial (which created a VS 2010 installation)
* Visual Studio 2010 Tools for SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2
* Entity Framework Designer for Visual Studio 2012
* Visual Studio Tools for Applications
* Visual Studio Tools for Office
* F# Tools for Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web

Two weeks ago I discovered that third-party controls can't be added to the Express versions of VS. I'm disabled and live on a fixed income, so spending $500 for the Professional version, in order to continue my hobby programming with a third-party control, was a tough decision. But I bought it.

When it arrived, I figured it would take an hour or two to remove the above programs and then I could install the Pro version. I wanted to have a clean file system and Registry for the new install of VS Pro.

It's now SIX DAYS later, and my spending 12-14 hours a day working on this alone. Removing these programs was the biggest nightmare I have ever faced with Microsoft products in my 30 years of being a Microsoft customer. Each one of these products automatically installed 5, 10 or more additional components, along with many thousands of files and individual Registry entries.

It took me four days alone, just to successfully remove the LightSwitch 2011 trial, and the entire VS 2010 product it installed. Restoring a 600 GB disk drive (5 hours) from backup after every removal attempt failed miserably. I finally gave up, spent 6 hours downloading the entire VS 2010 ISO and installed it. Only then, was I able to successfully uninstall LightSwitch 2011 and VS 2010.

As for the remaining products listed above, the uninstall programs do NOT UNinstall everything that they automatically INstall. Every single, automatically INstalled component, had to be removed manually, one at a time. Along with manually creating a System Restore point before each removal attempt, in case it failed. In total, I spent 12 hours uninstalling the remaining products.

I have a Registry search program where I can enter a search string and it will list ALL occurrences it finds in the Registry. I checked "visual studio", "visualstudio", "vbexpress", "vcexpress", "SQL Server", etc. I never finished searching for all the possible Visual Studio and SQL Server strings because the results being returned were eye-popping. Each search was returning 1,000, 3,000, even 7,000 individual Registry entries that had NOT been removed by the individual uninstall processes. This is TENS of THOUSANDS of never to be used again Registry entries that these programs simply left behind. The size of my Registry file is now a stunning 691 MB!

All of this frustration and wasted time is completely avoidable! And my case is not "isolated". There are hundreds of thousands of hits on Google regarding this problem, that point to Microsoft forums, MS Blog sites, and many independent Windows developer support forums on the web.

Microsoft really should provide an uninstall program that actually works, by UNinstalling everything it INstalls -- for each product it sells -- including Visual Studio. The downloadable (from Microsoft) uninstall program for VS 2010 does not work correctly and does not remove everything that VS 2010 installs.

When a program installs multiple individual components, tens of thousands of files and Registry entries, it SHOULD have an uninstaller that removes ALL of this, automatically, just like the install program. The OS and Registry keep track of dependencies and you folks know what the removal order should be for all of these products. So the team that creates the INstall program for each product, should also create the UNinstall program. And, the product should NOT ship until this program works correctly and fully.

You have ONE install program for each version of Visual Studio, that asks the user what they want to install and then does it ALL automatically. You should also have ONE uninstall program that does the same thing in reverse...
* Collect info on all the VS-related products and components currently installed
* Ask the user what they want to remove
* Determine if their selections make sense
* Check for dependencies by using your knowledge and experience, along with the computer's stored information, and warn the user as needed
* Decide on the removal order
* Then do it ALL automatically -- removing ALL files and ALL Registry entries

When you release a new product version, ADD the new version and additional decision logic to this existing program, do NOT create a new uninstall program. This way, the user can also remove previous version products, components, etc. ONE uninstall program *should be* able to uninstall every version of Visual Studio released in the past 10 years, along with every single component that was available with it, AND all of the associated files and Registry entries.

Please don't tell us why it CAN'T be done. Rather, figure out a way to do it, and then make it happen, just like every other software company out there has already done for their products. Even FREEware providers have better uninstall processes than Microsoft. This is a sad state for Microsoft and it should be rectified SOON.

Thank you.

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Don shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

We hear you. Uninstalling Visual Studio is not a pain-free experience.

As mentioned in a previous update, Visual Studio is one of the most complex installers because it includes support for many different languages, frameworks and platforms, installing runtimes from Microsoft and other companies. When someone attempts to uninstall VS (often many months later), it’s not easy to know which components are in use by other applications that may have been installed in the meantime, since some third-party install packages don’t track this. So we err on the side of leaving more remnants rather than risk leaving other apps without the dependencies they need to execute.

If you’re comfortable with this trade-off, we have built a couple of solutions for you:

1. Use the /force switch when running uninstall, which provides a more aggressive approach. This is documented in more detail here:
http://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/heaths/2015/07/17/.

2. We’ve completed work on a still more aggressive uninstaller which iterates through all items that Visual Studio has installed and forcibly removes them. This is available here in both binary and source code form:
https://github.com/Microsoft/VisualStudioUninstaller

But we know we have to go still further, and so in the next release of Visual Studio, we’re revamping the entire installation experience, as described here:
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/visualstudio/2016/04/01/faster-leaner-visual-studio-installer/

Over the last few months, we’ve rebuilt the setup engine and installation experience to install much more of the product into a local folder, moving most VS registry entries to a private hive, converting MSI dependencies for VS components into Visual Studio extensions, and layering Visual Studio to reduce the default installation size. This work is not complete, but it is one of the largest investments we’ve made in the new version of Visual Studio and will go a long way to ensuring that the product installs quickly and uninstalls cleanly.

You can preview this work here: http://aka.ms/vsnewinstaller and we’ll be releasing a number of updates before we ship the next version of Visual Studio.

Given the above updates, we’re now closing this suggestion, not because we’re “done” with acquisition or answered every last criticism in the thread below, but because with the creation of the Visual Studio Uninstaller we’ve delivered on the specific request made above. Since we’re focusing now on the new installation experience and setup engine, we’d love to see your feedback on that component in particular so that we can build a better product for you.

Thank you for sticking with us in the meantime!

Warm wishes, Tim Sneath | Visual Studio Team

167 comments

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  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    What? Microsoft bloating your drives. Unheard of. Service packs, IE updates with security holes, VS is the king of GoB up duh memory/drive, and don't forget the extra Office stuff that no one uses. Kinda like the cable companys, nine hundred channels with nothing to watch.... I don't want F#dull, I don't do C++, I don't dooooo UWP, Web, etc. C# and VB is all the industries are going to.

  • Hiren commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I downloaded visual studio 2015 enterprise iso around 3.8 gb then I downloaded vs2015.3.vsu.iso around 6gb I tried install visual studio without update it become successful
    But when trying to update 3 from iso it shows me some problem
    1.unable to find path of some packages
    2.faulty internet connection
    3.currupted files but I checks and compare sha-1 values it looks fine but still finds issues
    Finally I created new offline cache with healthy internet connection from web insttaler and then try to install from packages cache it will might give you a success.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    vsnewinstaller does not work 100%^ leaves tons of visual studio Dependencies in registry all over the place. :(

  • RAMAKRISNA commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Dear Sir,
    This is ramakrishna i have one doubt that when i am going to uninstall my microsoft visual studio 2013 ultimate 4.Pls suggest me how to uninstall that product.and also my microsoft sql server management studio is also non-functioning.

  • mickeyf commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It works in the other direction also. Installing VS 2017 broke my installation of VS 2008, which is required for maintaining applications deployed to many customers. There was no warning, no instructions for installing side by side, just "kabloowie", sorry, 2008 not working any longer.

    An option to install side by side would have been ideal. A warning that paths would have been overwritten would have been better than nothing. MS should realize that although developers may love to use the latest and greatest they must also frequently continue to use older versions even when those are no longer officially supported.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    My C drive is now almost full due to Visual Studio. I thought I removed it from Programs & Features, but I can tell my C Drive has almost filled to capcity. How do I get rid of all Visual Studio components??

  • Z commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Not even system restore removes license information either it seems, which is shocking to me. It was extremely hard to get the email displayed under "about" to change. I had to use an older duplicate Microsoft account because it simply would not update the email address to the one I signed in as, even after I changed it. After switching to the other account then back to my current one, only then did it bother to update the displayed email.

  • mroz commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    As long as you will use msi installers doing thousands of f* registry entries and later depend on that, you never be able do VS installer fast and reliable. Only on this frankenstein MS Windows this work that way. I'm really curious how it is possible than there are some Microsoft teams making soft for Android/iOS without Registry and COM??? And why if you can do this on other systems you still make MS soft with full of COM/Registry bloat??

    You can do Visual Studio Code with XCOPY deployment (ZIP), do it with full Visual Studio, or you wont ever do it well.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I thought maybe VS changed and installed VS 2017 RC. Again, same ****. Now i can't even uninstall that ****. Better using Intel C++ Compiler or using TDM-GCC with only Windows XP API's. Microsoft nothing done anything good other than Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, some BASIC stuff.

  • Bill Kratochvil commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I lost a week of development trying to get my Visual Studio 2015 update 3 to work after failed installation. I should note that this also plagued me a few months ago after update 2 (I lost a week trying to overcome dialog boxes). None of the solutions noted above worked for me. In the end I had to scour the internet for clues that had me manually install the publish DLLs into the GAC - and this was only AFTER I could even see the DLLs because the publish extension failed to install which required me to figure out that I had to remove all folders that had NuGet files in them under the Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions.

    I thought Microsoft's treatment of its developers was bad in regards to mobile development, I was there since the beginning but finally got the message and recently got me an IPhone; the message was "you aren't worth the time to communicate with". Now I stumble on this site which has not only reinforced that message but is telling me they will allow countless developers to reimage their computers - then help them.... Salesforce is starting to look real good to me as a developer... http://www.global-webnet.com/Adventures

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is why people prefer Apple. Never struggled so much in my life to uninstall and install a piece of software.

  • F You Microsoft commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Seriously, go f yourself. This is such a pain, and it causes us a lot of pain, struggling for 6 days, 1,000 USD for a software I cannot install, uninstall, repair, run...

  • Jaben Cargman commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It's completely ridiculous ... I've put DAYS into this VS Update 3 upgrade. Its stuck somewhere looking for SOME msi... but no way to tell it to ignore it or move on. I've started manually running EACH package. Nope, stuck, stuck, stuck. Now it can't find some old Azure version MSI -- of course, no way to download these files anywhere. This is so painful... two days of wasted productivity is a terrible experience.

  • N Barnett commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    My VS 2015 won't uninstall even though I only just installed it. just sits there laughing at me with a thingy going round and two copies of KB(sorry forgot number, 33028something?) running and taking time and reading HD.

  • Philipp Novikov commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Just wanted to thank you for this tool, it's true that I have never so many problems with fixing a broken installation as with Visual Studio - nothing helped - manually deleting the files and cleaning the registry, using Ccleaner and even Revo Installer! This tool worked wonders, though.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    But the "Scorch" program doesnt work.. Why not just remove it? I cant remove the bloody program from my computer..

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