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