How To Uninstall Node.js + Troubleshooting Tips

Posted on June 27, 2024 | Updated on June 27, 2024

Node.js is a popular tool that lets developers use JavaScript to create powerful and efficient applications. Developers use it for everything, from small projects to large enterprise systems. While Node.js is useful, there are times when developers may need to uninstall it. 

Maybe they need to install a newer version, fix some issues or clean up their system to make space. Whatever the reason, properly removing Node.js is important to avoid future problems. 

1. Preparing to Uninstall Node.js

Before diving into the actual uninstallation process, it’s crucial to take a few moments to ensure the removal of Node.js goes smoothly.

The first step to take is checking its current version. Knowing which version of Node.js you have installed is important in case you plan to reinstall it later or need to resolve version-specific issues. To check your version, open your common line tool and type node -v.

This command will display the current Node.js version on your system. As such, you can make strategic decisions later in your installation or reinstallation plans.

Additionally, it’s wise to back up any important data. This includes global npm configurations, stored npm packages and project-specific Node settings. You can find the npm configuration file (npmrc) in your home directory or near your Node installation. Make sure to copy this file and any other critical project files to another location on your computer or an external storage device.

2. Uninstalling Node.js for Different Environments

Uninstalling Node.js can differ slightly depending on your operating system. Below are steps for Windows, macOS and Linux to ensure a thorough and clean uninstallation.

Windows Users

  • Using Windows Add or Remove Programs, go to the Control Panel and select Programs > Programs and Features.
  • Scroll through the list of installed programs and find Node.js.
  • Click on Node.js and choose Uninstall. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the uninstallation. 

Sometimes, additional files remain even after uninstalling from the Control Panel. To ensure you remove them, open the Command Prompt as an administrator. Then, type the following command to remove the global node_modules directory — rmdir /s /q “%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\npm.”

Next, you can delete the Node.js installation directory. If the folder is locked or you don’t have permission, you may need to restart your computer and try again.

macOS Users

  • Open the Terminal and type the following command to remove Node.js — sudo rm -rf /usr/local/bin/node, sudo rm -rf /usr/local/lib/node_modules.
  • Enter your password when prompted to execute the commands with administrative rights.

To remove npm and globally installed npm, you can use the sudo rm -rf commands. Additionally, you can use a package manager like Homebrew if you installed Node.js via Homebrew.

Linux Users

The specific commands may vary depending on the Linux distribution. For example, Ubuntu uses the sudo apt-get commands, while CentOS uses sudo yum to uninstall Node.js. For Fedora, you would use sudo dnf commands. 

3. Post-Uninstallation Steps

After uninstalling Node.js, ensuring the uninstallation is complete and your system remains clean is important. The first thing to ensure you removed it successfully is to open the command line tool and type node -v. If Node.js is uninstalled, this command should return an error like “command not found.” If it still shows a version number, Node.js is still there, so you may need to delete some residual files manually. 

Another item to check is the removal of Node.js from your system paths. On Windows, you can look into this by going to the Control Panel > System and Security > System > Advanced System Settings > Environment Variables and skimming for references of Node.js in the paths.

For all operating systems, residual files can remain in common directories. You can manually navigate to these directories and remove leftover Node.js or npm files and directories. Use commands like find / -name “node*” and find / -name “npm*” on Unix-based systems to locate stray files. Ensure you use sudo if you need administrative rights to remove the files.

Additionally, if you had npm installed, clear the npm cache by running npm cache clean –force. This will ensure no cache data remains. 

Troubleshooting Common Uninstallation Issues

Sometimes, you can encounter issues when uninstalling Node.js. Here are the most common problems that developers run into and what you can do to fix them.

Issue 1: Dependency Issues

Dependency issues can arise during the uninstallation of Node.js, especially if other applications rely on specific Node or npm versions. To address this, list all global npm packages to identify potential dependencies before uninstalling. 

After uninstallation, reinstall all required packages with the correct versions, or consider using a version manager like NVM to handle multiple node versions. This will allow you to switch contexts without disrupting dependent applications.

Issue 2: Node.js Reinstallation Problems

You may need to reinstall Node.js for certain reasons but can encounter issues. This often happens if the uninstallation isn’t complete. Ensure you remove all old files and directories fully and clear cached data.

Additionally, verify that no old environment variables or path settings linger, as they may conflict with the new installation. If you’re still facing issues, downloading the latest version of Node.js from the official website and following the instructions can ensure a successful setup.

Issue 3: Permission Errors During Uninstallation

Sometimes, permission errors occur when trying to uninstall Node.js. Ensure you have administrative rights by using “Run as Administrator” on Windows, for instance. If problems persist, adjust file permissions directly or check for active Node.js processes that may prevent file deletion. You can manage this through the system’s task manager or command-line tools to end active Node.js services.

Uninstalling Node.js Successfully

Successfully uninstalling Node.js sets the stage for a clean system or a fresh installation. Remember to thoroughly remove all components and clean up residual files to prevent future complications. Whether you’re upgrading or troubleshooting, following these guidelines ensures a smooth transition and maintains your system’s health. For further support, always refer to the official Node.js documentation.

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About The Author

Cooper Adwin is the Assistant Editor of Designerly Magazine. With several years of experience as a social media manager for a design company, Cooper particularly enjoys focusing on social and design news and topics that help brands create a seamless social media presence. Outside of Designerly, you can find Cooper playing D&D with friends or curled up with his cat and a good book.

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