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by Ray DeCosta

Q. Under Programs and Features in Control Panel, my computer shows a large number of listings with names such as "Microsoft .NET Framework" and "Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable". Since I don't use these programs, can I save disc space by removing them?

A. No! Don't even think about your removing these programs. While you don't use them directly, many of your installed programs do. If these are missing, you probably won't be able to do anything on your computer. Both the .NET Framework and the C++ programs are used as "libraries" of code so that your application programs run smoothly and consistently. The programmers who write your program's code use these libraries extensively so they don't have to re-invent the wheel for every mundane bit of coding.

For example, your program puts a Message Box of some sort on your screen with "Yes" and "No" choices. To write the code to do that, the programmer does not have to specify the Message Box size, color and font or to create the individual "Yes" and "No" boxes with the proper text, shape and position. All that has to be done is to write one line of code with a number of parameters and the Framework or Redistributable will handle the rest of the process.

You might think that you can delete older versions of these libraries but again the answer is "No!" Without extensive knowledge of just which libraries are used by every program on your computer, removing one library could affect any number of programs or perhaps none at all. The newer versions do not necessarily replace older versions but generally build on them. There are numerous exceptions but the difficulty level of being able to say which library may be removed is very high.

Your safest bet is to leave all of these programs strictly alone. That's a good idea with any program or file you might find on your computer unless you have done research and know exactly what the particular item is really used for. Rebuilding a damaged Operating System is not a job for the faint of heart!

Published: Courier 10/10/15 - Page 12A