Over in our forum Max inquired about whether it was safe to remove old versions of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) that had been left behind after each upgrade. Of course you can, and there’s a good chance that you can free up hundreds of megabytes by removing them.

According to Sun the reason they leave the old versions of Java on your computer is to ensure that older Java applications will work even if they’re not compatible with the newest version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE):

The latest version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is always the recommended version as it contains updates and improvements to previous versions. The latest available version is always compatible with the older versions.

You can keep older versions of the JRE installed, in case you have an applet/application that still depends upon a previous version.

The chances of you actually needing one of these older versions probably isn’t high, and removing them can definitely free up some space on your hard drive. Sun provides instructions on how to uninstall older versions of Java, but it can be a bit tedious if you’ve got several updates to remove.

The easier method is to use a free program called JavaRa, which JMBAKE pointed out. It only works on Windows, but the nice thing is that it doesn’t require any installation. Just download the file, extract the contents, and you’re ready to go.

When you launch JavaRa you should see a simple interface just like this one:

java jre removal-1.png

It’s all pretty self explanatory, but here’s a list of the things that you can do:

  • Remove old versions of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)
  • Update to the latest version of JRE
  • Remove the Java startup entry
  • Remove the Sun download manager
  • Remove useless JRE files

Nothing like having a little extra breathing room on your PC. ;)

Download JavaRa

There Are 10 Comments

  1. I followed instructions, said all removed, rebooted, still there. Went to Revouninstaller, still there. Did a full remove of v6 updates 2,4,5,6 and left 7. Not sure why the other program didn’t do the trick?

  2. Michael Dobrofsky

    Thanks, I’ll try this out. Hate how companies leave this crap. They should have an *option* to remove.

  3. There is actually a better reason than freeing up space to use this. Carefully written code can call up a specific version of JRE and if it happens to be a version that is vulnerable then they may be able to get control of your computer. This is the real reason to get rid of these old versions. I have always uninstalled the old versions manually and never found a need for the older versions except one specific app that controls the postscript processor on our printer/copier at work. Still I keep that 1.4 JRE up to date to stay secure.

  4. Worked great for me, thanks! Always felt a little bothered with all those old Java folders on my system.

  5. Excellent program. Even if you are removing only one version of JRE, it’s SO MUCH FASTER than the Add/Remove version of the uninstaller! Why on earth does the built in removal take so damn long?!

  6. @Schwinn: Try the free Zsoft uninstaller.

  7. leland wrote:
    There is actually a better reason than freeing up space to use this. Carefully written code can call up a specific version of JRE and if it happens to be a version that is vulnerable then they may be able to get control of your computer. This is the real reason to get rid of these old versions. I have always uninstalled the old versions manually and never found a need for the older versions except one specific app that controls the postscript processor on our printer/copier at work. Still I keep that 1.4 JRE up to date to stay secure.

    Very true. I didn’t even think about the vulnerability aspect, but that can be a big security problem for users.

    Schwinn wrote:
    Excellent program. Even if you are removing only one version of JRE, it’s SO MUCH FASTER than the Add/Remove version of the uninstaller! Why on earth does the built in removal take so damn long?!

    I always wondered why it was so slow as well. If you’ve got multiple versions to remove this is definitely the way to go.

  8. I’m not really sure about this updater … and as for the fact of updating itself (‘Additional Tasks’ => ‘Update JavaRa’), it downloads JavaRa version 1.10 whilst my installed version is latest 1.11. If it cannot update itself, am I entitled to believe it will perform better win Sun Java ?

  9. The download link goes nowhere, or it goes to a page that has no download link

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