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Can I Remove The Multiple Visual C++ Entires In Add/Remove Programs?

Theresa from Alberta Canada writes:

In my “Add/Remove Programs” list I have 14 entries for Microsoft Visual C++ with years ranging from 2005 to 2010. Is it safe to delete all but the current one? My OS is Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.

Although it’s likely not the answer anyone wants to hear, the short response is: “No.” Although they may seem redundant, you actually shouldn’t delete any of these entries if they appear in your list of installed programs:

Visual C++ Entries

The longer answer behind that “No” requires a little bit of explanation. Visual C++ is a programming language used by development teams to create the different programs you use, from word processors to photo editing tools all the way to computer games. Programmers don’t want to have to re-write all the same code over and over, however, which is why there are standard library redistributables. These C++ files contain various code snippets that are frequently used, and they prevent programmers from having to re-write the code for every program they create.

If these files are installed on your computer, it means you have a program that requires them to run properly. Uninstalling the redistributable will cause that corresponding program to behave incorrectly or possibly even fail to load at all.

So why are there so many of them on your computer? New C++ libraries become available over time, and there are different versions of each year’s release. The new ones don’t “overwrite” the old ones, however, meaning there may still be data in the older version that programs need to access, and deleting them can prevent those programs from working.

There isn’t a simple and sure-fire way to know which program is using which redistributable version, and you may even have several different software programs all using the same C++ file, so frankly deleting old ones to save a small amount of hard drive space isn’t worth the possible risks.

~ Ty Arthur