Over the weekend I was doing some maintenance on a laptop belonging to a soon-to-be member of my extended family. Whilst this mostly involved the things I always do when doing maintenance on a Windows computer, there was also another issue. Last time I’d worked on it, I installed Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), as the previous anti-virus program on there – a version of McAfee branded by BT – was at the end of its subscription period.
At the time, I thought I had successfully removed it, but, apparently not. And as a result it had somehow disabled/uninstalled MSE, which meant that Windows Security Centre popped up warning messages when the computer booted. As the computer isn’t mine I can’t be sure that this is what happened, but I struggled to find any icons for MSE.
As for McAfee, there were some related entries in the Programs and Features Control Panel applet, but these didn’t work – trying to uninstall would simply open a blank white screen. Eeek.
Anyhow, thankfully McAfee provide a cleanup tool – the McAfee Consumer Products Removal tool – which will remove all traces of any McAfee software released from 2005 onwards. It’s a last resort option – really, you should uninstall the applications properly first, and the information page also recommends deactivating your licenses so that they can be re-activated later should you want to re-install. This is because you can also use the tool to refresh a corrupt install, as well as get rid of it.
It takes a few minutes to run, and then a simple reboot is required. If it’s successful, the C:\Program Files\McAfee folder will be empty, and all McAfee applications will be removed from startup and the start menu. You can then install any other anti-virus tool, like the aforementioned MSE, without worrying about any conflicts.