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Deleting a VPN is a pretty straightforward process like with any app or software, especially on smartphones and tablets. But completely removing a VPN from your PC or Mac can get a little more tricky because the uninstall process doesn’t always delete all the files associated with that VPN. It’s always a good idea to make sure there’s no trace left behind. Why?
Some VPN files stick around in hidden places, leaving behind logs or records of your activity, either in the system files or within the Windows registry. This can cause a conflict if you try to install a different VPN on your device.
But never fear, we’ll show you how to cover all of your bases to make sure that your VPN and associated files are fully removed.
To uninstall a VPN on your iPhone or iPad, delete the app as you would any other app. But you want to make sure you don’t leave any configuration files behind so also follow these steps:
- Open Settings
- Tap General
- Tap Profile
- Here you’ll see any configuration profiles installed on your device. Tap on the VPN profile you want to delete.
- Tap on Delete Profile, then confirm by tapping Delete again
For Android devices, just delete the VPN app as you normally would any app, but you also want to make sure you remove any VPN connections:
- Go to Settings
- Look for the connections subheading and tap More connection settings
- Click on Setup and Manage Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
- Tap on the VPN you want to remove
- Tap on Delete Network
- You’ll see “No VPNs” once they’ve all been removed
Use Cleanup Software
The easiest way to remove a VPN is to use Mac cleaner software, like AppCleaner for Mac (free) or CleanApp for Mac ($14.99). CleanMyMac X by MacPaw is an excellent solution if you want to do a thorough cleanup of all of your system files. These downloadable programs are straightforward and easy to follow using their onscreen instructions.
Manually Delete VPN
If you prefer to manually delete a VPN rather than use a cleanup software, follow these steps.
- Go to Applications folder
- Click on the VPN app you want to delete
- Click on Move To Trash
- Empty your Trash folder
Remove Other VPN Files From Mac
Even though you’ve gone through the uninstall process to remove your VPN from your Mac, some VPN services leave configuration and other files behind. Here are some tips we’ve found on message boards to make sure you rid your Mac of all VPN-associated files.
Note: The tips below relate to specific VPN providers like VPN OneClick and IPVanish. But based on our research, these tips will help you remove hidden files that other VPN services leave behind. Always use caution when doing low-level cleanups like this — things can get really messed up if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Open System Preferences
- Click on Network
- In the Network menu, you should see a padlock icon at the bottom left corner. If it’s locked, click on it and it will ask you for the admin password, after unlocking you should be able to delete the configuration files.
If this doesn’t work, you can manually delete these files by removing them from the relevant preferences file.
- Go to Network Services
- Find: /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/preferences.plist
- Look for the User Defined Name you need to delete, e.g., VPNOneClick
- Be sure to make a backup of the files
- Use a plist editor, like Xcode (it’s free) or TextMate, and delete these files
How To Uninstall Programs From Mac
Here’s an excellent video tutorial that takes you through the steps of uninstalling any app or software (and its system files) from your Mac.
When you install a VPN service on your Windows PC, it saves files in various places and makes changes to the registry, so there are a few extra steps to make sure you’ve completely removed all VPN-associated files.
Use An Uninstaller
Like their Mac counterparts, cleanup software products for Windows do a great job of uninstalling a VPN from your Windows PC. We recommend Geek Uninstaller, Ashampoo Uninstaller 8 or Revo Uninstaller.
All offer free downloads, but they also have more powerful paid versions if you want to do a thorough cleanup of your PC. These programs not only let you easily remove a VPN from your PC, but they also do a scan for any hidden leftover files and give you easy instructions on how to delete them.
Manually Delete VPN
1. You’ll want to start by finding where the program files reside on your hard drive.
- Open a client window
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task Manager
- Right-click the app name and select Open File Location
- Note the folder name because you may need it later in the cleanup process
2. To uninstall the VPN program & remove TAP drivers (virtual network adapters that are required for VPNs to run in Windows):
- Go to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Uninstall a program
- Find the VPN you want to delete in the list
- Right-click and select Uninstall
- This list may also include a TAP driver for that VPN. Locate any items beginning with ‘TAP-[VPN name].
- Remove these by right-clicking and selecting Uninstall
- Restart your computer to complete the process
Tip: If you can’t find your VPN in your installed programs list, then go to the location where you noted earlier and try and find an uninstall.exe file.
Remove Local Logs
Go back to the location folder you originally noted, and see if any associated files have been left behind. If so, you can delete them as long as you’re sure they’re related to the VPN you uninstalled. It’s also a good idea to search your PC for files with similar names. Some common places where they might reside include:
- Program Files
- Program Data
If you find other similarly named files, only delete them if you’re sure they’re related to the VPN you uninstalled.
Tip: If you don’t see the ProgramData or Users\\AppData folders, go to Control Panel > File Explorer Options and make sure ‘Show hidden files, folders and drives’ is selected.
Don’t Forget About The Registry
Note: Always use extreme caution when deleting anything from your Windows registry. Be sure that what you’re removing is related to the VPN you’ve uninstalled. You can wreak havoc on your PC if you delete anything important. This final cleanup isn’t absolutely necessary so don’t compromise your computer if you’re unsure about what you’re doing.
Many VPNs store some settings in the Windows Registry, and they can reveal details of your account or connection history.
- Launch REGEDIT
- Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE
- Scroll through each set of keys to find anything related to the VPN that you’ve uninstalled
- Remove these keys only if you’re 100% sure
How To Uninstall Programs From Windows
Here’s a fantastic video tutorial that shows you the several ways you can uninstall apps and software from Windows 10.
Are you considering deleting your VPN because it didn’t deliver what you hoped? Before installing a new VPN on your device, be sure to read our reviews of the best VPNs for personal use.
And if you’re looking for a VPN for your small business, we have reviews for those, too. All of our reviews give you features, pros, cons, pricing and more so you can make the best decision for your specific needs.
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