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August 10th, 2009

What is avast! responsible for?

The question sounds promising, right? You’ll finally understand everything that avast! does while it’s running on your machine. However, this article is intended to discuss the topic from the other side – what avast! is absolutely not doing on your PC. The inspiration to write this article came from my short discussion with Vince. This article should continue the aim of his posts in making things clearer. I’m not used to writing such posts, I’m rather technically based, so if you have any questions, feel free to use the comments and ask me. So, let’s consider the main points.

While reading the forums all over the internet, some of them seem to be rather demagogic. They push their readers to hate avast! regardless of the facts. Some users (often moderators themselves) have their magic incantation to carry out an exorcism and “uninstall avast” and they use it at every opportunity.

Q: My computer has a picture of a landscape as a  background, what should I do?

A: Uninstall avast and install blahblahblah, I’m sure it will find many infections.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Q: A bus driver ignored my signals and didn’t stop.

A: Uninstall avast, you’ll feel much better.

If you thought that such answers are not typical, then you would be wrong. I’ll give you some examples from one forum, which was supposed to help people solve their PC problems. It’s up to you to judge, whether they actually did that or not. Person A is the questioner, person B is the pseudo-geek, who is supposed to help him.

A: Yesterday when I started my PC the sound was completely off. What’s wrong?

B: What’s your antivirus and antispyware?

A: Avast and blahblah.

B: Avast is a piece of s**t. It only produces false positives and doesn’t see any trojan horses. Uninstall it, download blahblahblah and scan your system, you’ll be amazed.

What the hell is the relation between the sound output and avast? The answer should guide the user to check his sound card drivers, recently installed software and games etc. I haven’t seen even one single case of the sound output being corrupted by avast.

A: My computer generated a BSOD saying something about memory corruption. It happens only when the computer runs for a long time.

B: It may be some kind of overheating, but I have to ask you what antivirus you’re using.

When A answers, that his AV is blahblahblah, B guides him to check the RAM modules. When A answers “avast”, B tells him that’s not a HW problem and that he should uninstall avast etc. Why? Can you see any kind of logic in that? That’s an example of what I call pure demagogy.

Fortunately, the facts can’t be changed. As I have said many times – there are people who talk and people who really do something. Someone else said -  antivirus software changes, but their reputation remains. Many of these so-called “advisors” may have used avast years ago, maybe visited some site, got infected and this has colored their opinion of avast forever. But now we are in 2009 and things are completely different. There are also many people doing a lot more than only talking – I mean the testers. They measure the effectiveness of the program against the various types of malware, the number of false positives, the impact on systems etc. Why do people choose to ignore the facts in favour of their biased opinions? They’re telling people that avast is terribly slow and uses too many system resources, even when systematic testing shows it’s not true. They’re telling people that avast is the worst antivirus ever, but in fact, for the last several years, avast has consistently been rated as one of the best performing antivirus programs. All of this information is readily available, it only requires a bit of googling – and what’s really important – the right interpretation of the measured data. So, what can I suggest to you?

- If you have any problems while using avast!, try using our forums, where you’ll be connected with the real community (the devs, viruslab, highly experienced users called Evangelists), and someone will almsot certainly help you find the right solution.

- If you come accross a post on a forum, which you think may be biased, look for some independent data so you can make your own decision.

- When a problem arises - don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. It’s always important how the vendor responds to such things, so you should always give them the opportunity to respond. You’ll see that the problem can often be solved while still using the product, whereas making a knee-jerk decision to uninstall and switching to another product provides no guarantee that the problem will not persist.

Categories: General Tags: , , , ,
  1. Typical Techie
    August 10th, 2009 at 13:44 | #1

    What a lying biased article! Everybody knows the ONLY TWO ways of fixing ANY computer-related problem:

    1. Uninstall avast!
    2. Get Firefox

    That is if you have Window$, if you’re lucky enough to have a Mac (I love you, Steve, you’re not like those greedy M$ ba$tard$) – you NEVER have problems. Ever. And if you’re elite enough to have a Linux distro (stupid n00bs should ask an 1337 friend to install that for them, while explaining how n00b and dumb they are for about an hour or two) – you NEVER have problems. Ever.

    Bottomline: uninstall avast! everything is avast! fault! And get Firefox if you don’t want to have viruses on your Windoze, stupid n00b!

  2. leomin
    August 10th, 2009 at 14:43 | #3

    now I know where the non-free antiviruses spend their money, they hire online speakers

  3. August 10th, 2009 at 23:01 | #4

    @Michal Krejdl

    Michael, I think the first comment (“Typical Techie”) was satirical.

  4. August 10th, 2009 at 23:09 | #5

    It’s funny that most of the users went the other way around. They uninstalled Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro and similar behemoths and installed avast!.
    The systems were clean ever since. Extreme risk users can’t be saved even by super highly restricted Linux. If they can’t infect the system, they will enter personal info or credit card info on fraudalent webpages. It’s interesting how “use Linux and you’ll be safe” doesn’t work anymore…

  5. Ramjade
    August 11th, 2009 at 11:38 | #6

    @ Vincent,

    Thanks for accepting suggestion.

    I was a Avast User once. But I gave up on it.

    Reason : While doing a full scan, after 3 hours+, my scan was only 51% completed. Always when I scan with Avast, it will take more than 2 hours to complete (~5 hours) just to do a full scan.

    I can’t wait for 5 hours for a scan to finish right? That is dreadful. Will appreciate it if you your team is able to reduce it to like 30 minutes. I know lots of user will be happy. I know I am one of them.

    I tried Avira and full scan with heuristics set to the highest, the time taken was like 45 minutes.

    More suggestion :
    1. Automatacally scan pendrives when they are plug in. That is one nice feature to add to Avast 5.
    2. Allow user to submit file to Avast through the antivirus.
    3.

  6. ice-9
    August 11th, 2009 at 12:04 | #7

    pleae man dont give your ears to what they say .avast! is the best av i have known ever and it works so good.ligh on systemresource.strong on viruses.the bad guys who talk bad about avast are realy ******.after avast! going better and better to the top of antivirus the will say “africa is poor because of avast.”.”ohh th economy problems because of avast”.”blablablabla”.they talk like this because they hate avast because it is very very good company.they take free av and services and talking in bad way.
    thank you.

  7. August 11th, 2009 at 14:14 | #8

    @Ramjade
    The scanning time is dependent on (roughly proportional to) the amount of scanned data. There are some tricks to make the scanning faster and these will be included in v5. Anyway – I have made some testing and reached the throughput around 13 MB/s on average (slower HDD) PC with avast. Did the same with Avira and Kaspersky and they were not n-times faster than avast as you wrote (I used the cmdline versions of the scanners). What plays a big role is the fragmentation of data – a high fragmentation of the test set decreased the scanning speed to cca 5 MB/s (for all tested engines).

    Btw: is it really necessary to scan gigs of movies etc. every time?

    Automatically scan pendrives – not a good idea IMHO. Should we really scan the whole 16 GB flash drive and block the device until the scan is finished? Instead we can check only the autorunned binaries. We’re also thinking of the capability to turn autoruns off from the avast! GUI.

    Submission of samples – that’s already implemented (starting from v4.8) for suspicious files and false positives.

    We can discuss it further on our forums, if you want.

  8. August 11th, 2009 at 20:26 | #9

    @Ramjade
    Hi Ramjade. I am not sure it is good to make a decision based on the time to scan a total system. I remember at my previous company we were being attacked by a competitor in Japan who claimed that their system scan was 3x faster than ours. Sure enough it was–but they only scanned 1/3rd as many files. As I liked to say back then, “It is easy to do nothing very fast”.

    As Michal also pointed out in his reply the number of files scanned is the major cause of a difference in scan times. You might compare the number of files that Avira scanned vs. the number that Avast scanned. I know that the number of files scanned–even in a total system scan–can vary tremendously between products.

    That being said, we are employing a lot more “tricks” in V5 and beyond to speed up these scans.

  9. Gene Feher
    August 11th, 2009 at 23:42 | #10

    I have used Avast exclusively for 3 or 4 years and install it on all of my computers. I recommend it to everyone. The only problem that I have had with avast is that sometimes it is unable to remove remnants of malware. I am infected with JS:FakeAV-AH and while avast sees it and deletes files, it comes back. Still I would not uninstall AVAST!!!!

  10. wonder
    August 11th, 2009 at 23:54 | #11

    Hi Vincent,
    I’m a very stisfacted avast user. With regard on the speed scan i’ve to say that, in my experience, it depends on the file extension too. E.g. .avi files: they can take even 10 min to be scanned in the standard or deep mode. But it happens for .flv files too (and onestly I notice that things are different with other AV).
    Certainly, you can avoid to scan them, but actually I read that even this kind of file is not safe nowadays..they can be infected as the others files.
    I found a solution: to make a start up scan. It’s very fast and allows you to remove automatically infected files. I hope you will save this feature in v5.
    So, what can I say…IMHO avast! is the best free product on the market, is the most complete. If you could manage to improve the speed scan for certain kinds of file…it cuold be better again.

  11. wonder
    August 11th, 2009 at 23:59 | #12

    I’m sorry…the message above is for Michal :)

  12. JW
    August 12th, 2009 at 02:30 | #13

    All I have to say is that I have tried other antivirus programs, one I tried for a period of 5 months, then ate the cost and went back to avast! I am excited for the new security suite coming in October that includes a firewall. avast! is the best I have used.

  13. Alexis
    August 12th, 2009 at 06:28 | #14

    Ramjade :
    1. Automatacally scan pendrives when they are plug in. That is one nice feature to add to Avast 5.
    2. Allow user to submit file to Avast through the antivirus.
    3.

    It shows that you know nothing about Avast.
    1.Avast scan your pendrive then you plug in, it will alert you if find something.
    2. You can submit files using the chest

  14. V
    August 12th, 2009 at 19:39 | #15

    @Typical Techie

    Successful troll was successful.

  15. August 12th, 2009 at 21:34 | #16

    Hey…

    As Far As I Know… Avast Is The Best AV Out There…

    I Use To Use Norton, And It Slowed My PC Down And It Was Barely Protecting My PC…

    Then, I Uninstalled Norton AV And Installed Avast…

    I Have To Admit… My Computer Performed Smoother Than Ever…

    Suggestion:It’ll Be Great To Have Boot Time Scan In Vista 64bit… (Some Of The Features Available To Windows XP Is Not Available In Vista 64bit…

  16. Theo van Elsberg
    August 12th, 2009 at 23:26 | #17

    As I profession Software Engineer I have been using McAfee for 10+ years. Finaly I was fed up by there product “functionality” (I need a virus scanner, not a “Total product blabla”), pricing strategy (I have at leat 6 systems running) as well as there “support” (sending mainly automated replies). So I started looking for alternatives….

    Now using Avast! (Family Pack) for more then a year. I was impressed by its performance from the start. Installed it on at least 10 different systems (XP/Vista/Windows7/WindowsHomeServer) and never had a single problem. I really think it is a great scanner!

    Questions on configuration, licensing and a suspected false positive generated by McAfee where promptly handle through e-mail support replying within 24 hours (by a real support engineer).

    I can recommend Avast! to anyone!

  17. August 13th, 2009 at 11:39 | #18

    That’s sound bad that some user makes AV always as a impeachment.
    However in some forum with a problem with Virus.
    Other member guide for “Install Avast”.
    Note : I didn’t have any problem with avast and other brand name AV software

  18. Tech
    August 14th, 2009 at 01:23 | #19

    Michal, I feel normal that other forums will bash avast… they’re the concurrence. They talk bla-bla-bla, well, what will you expect?

    Some writer on my country said, joking:
    If the facts are against me (or my opinions). Worse for the facts.

  19. Jeanne Therese
    August 14th, 2009 at 22:43 | #20

    I have used Avast free for about three years now. I think it is great. Had McAfee, it caused problems, Had Norton is was fine. The only other anti virus/firewall I think can compete with Avast is Comodore…. liked it very much but was very complicated to run. Avast is simpler and really does an excellent job. Willstay with Avast although CNET recommends Avira as #1 best?? Will not try. Happy with Avast. Have a great day!

  20. August 15th, 2009 at 19:06 | #21

    Everybody have their own favorite AV, surely they would recomended their fav, but by saying bad things about other product(s) may not be a wise act to solve any matter that we face.

  21. Brad
    August 16th, 2009 at 19:44 | #22

    There is an program called Personal Antivirus that acts like a virus and installs itself. Avast did not catch it. Should it have and does anyone know how to get rid of it safely?

    Thanks

  22. August 17th, 2009 at 09:58 | #23

    @Ratcicle
    Yeah, some users also guide to install avast!, you’re right. What I’m talking about is the reason to (un)install avast (or any other AV). And there’s something wrong, if the only reason is a personal love or hate for a particular AV. These feelings should always only complete the global look (based primarily on facts) at the product. I can accept the “different people – different taste” principle, but I can’t accept demagogy.

  23. August 17th, 2009 at 10:04 | #24

    @Tech
    Nope, they are not a concurrence (at least from my point of view). They absolutely don’t compete with us in the bussiness (because they don’t produce anything except their blahblahblah glorification and “uninstall avast”). They’re on some common forums and should help – consider the causes of the problem and deduce the solution, not only copy+paste “uninstall avast”.

  24. August 17th, 2009 at 10:06 | #25

    @Brad
    Visit our forums, here’s not a good place to discuss such problems.

  25. Avast Firewall?
    August 20th, 2009 at 00:40 | #26

    I would like to see alwil come out with a firewall. I love the avast! antivirus,and yes, it does have the network shield.. but as we all know thats not a firewall per say just a defense against a direct attack to your pc’s network. Comodo is a great firewall and not to mention free (Better than ALOT of paid >.>) Their AV SUCKS but the FW is GOOD. But I don’t really like having two diff progs. Maybe v5 can have a firewall included? or a standalone version for the low-end systems?

  26. Avast Firewall?
    August 20th, 2009 at 00:49 | #27

    Sorry for double post. But mind you it will need the advanced features that alot of the other firewalls have. like stealth ports and such. I think an option for the whole package (avast+firewall) would be great! So for those who don’t want to replace their FW they can choose to not install it and just ahve the antivirus.

    IMHO I’d like to see an avast! firewall but at the same time it is going to have to rival that of Comodo,which is one of the most top notch firewalls out there atm.

    I read that someone said V5 will have a firewall. Is this true?

  27. August 20th, 2009 at 10:30 | #28

    @Avast Firewall?
    Avast5 will have a firewall (in a paid suite). Some detailed info will be available soon.

  28. Gizbar
    August 20th, 2009 at 18:37 | #29

    I have used Avast for about 4 years now, and have come across the demagogy. I’m not praising one AV program over another, but I do promote what has worked for me. I was a big fan of AVG, until it refused to install on a new machine I built. I changed to Avast, worked out how to update automatically, and have stuck with it ever since! I have also installed it on several machines that I have worked on for friends and relatives too. I do find the scan a bit slow sometimes, but as it doesn’t usually find anything anyway, it’s not usually a problem.

    Hints for people with slow scanning….

    1) Wait until bedtime. Set scan going. Go to bed. Wake up in morning, scan is done! Even if it takes 5 hours it should still finish before you get up.

    2) Move known good downloaded files to another folder, and exclude the folder. If it’s been scanned already why keep scanning it?

    I’m looking forward to version 5, and am waiting for the 64-bit version to have a boot-time scan as well. Keep up the good work!

    regards, Gizbar.

  29. Albert Malvar
    August 21st, 2009 at 02:38 | #30

    I have tried several AVs from different providers many years back, but now I’ve sticked to AVAST bec it gave me the satisfaction I’ve been looking for in my PC and in my laptop.
    Btw, I’m using avast for >2yrs now and I would say, this AV is great and is indeed dependable(too long for personal experience to justify).
    Well, I believe people behind AVAST are those who really cares, unlike those (you know who you are) who are just after $$$$..
    To AVG people, keep up the good works and more power!

  30. Typical Techie
    August 22nd, 2009 at 17:32 | #31

    @Michal Krejdl
    Of course I am!

  31. David Marsden
    August 22nd, 2009 at 22:28 | #32

    I have been using Avast! home for several years and find it excellent. Recently I have persuaded three people – all of whom were having problems with AVG – to change to Avast!
    I am just sad that when Avast! 5 arrives I will not be able to use it because, for various reasons, I am using Windows ME.
    Also, considering the frequency of updates, doesn’t anybody sleep in Prague!

  32. August 23rd, 2009 at 20:52 | #33

    @RejZoR
    AVAST WAS AND IS MY AV AND $$$ ‘SAVIOUR’. I CONFIDENTLY RECOMMEND IT TO ALL FOR PERSONAL AND CORPORATE USE. THE OTHERS, NAGGED ME TO INSANITY AND EVEN SHUT ME DOWN AT CRITICAL TIMES EVEN WHEN FULLY AND LEGALLY PAID UP DUE TO THEIR
    REGISTRATION ENGINE ERRORS. Both McAf & NAV did this. NAV was also almost
    impossible to uninstall.
    And I have read some of those AVAST truly false negative reports also.
    Thanks AVAST

  33. August 24th, 2009 at 06:08 | #34

    Dear All,

    As cahya mentioned above that everyone or some organization have their favourite top tools, but in terms of performance, capability and quality as i know avast! still on the top one. But i don’t know is there any improvement for other brands in the near future?

    Keep improve and consistently maintain your quality avast!, as long as one company could consistently maintain their product’s quality then quantity will be followed.

  34. NiGhtMarEs0nWax
    August 26th, 2009 at 14:25 | #35

    It’s redicuous the amount of people that favour AVG over Avast, Avast isn’t perfect but AVG is almost useless. Usually the people that favour AVG don’t have a rational explanation, or they say something like “i haven’t found any virus’ since i installed it,” it’s a bit like a policeman claiming he is so good that he has never made an arrest.

    i don’t know, call it a wild irrational stab in the dark, but maybe.. just maybe.. it’s missing something?

    As for the false positives, i’ve used avast for about 3 years now, and i have had very few, i’d rather false positives than find nothing at all. A combination of Avast, Sandboxie & Defense+ makes it very hard to be comprimised.

  35. The Arfen
    August 27th, 2009 at 12:12 | #36

    Ramjade
    if you bother to set up Avast correctly then you can run Avast at night when the computer is not being used and if you had botherd to set it up right then Avast will deal with any infections found without your intervention.
    you can set it to turn off the computer when it’s done it’s job,
    so i think you are ,
    well i cant say what i think you are on here. @Ramjade

  36. August 28th, 2009 at 12:34 | #37

    I am now 75 + and trying to keep my pc free of any virus therefore am using Avast, there is no simple way of updating programes-like one word UPDATE, first you are told to do this, then that, then look for something that is not there, dont get me wrong I am of a different generation- knowing some things that have been lost by time, will never be taught in schools. I only wish that programers would sometimes think how would my grandfather cope or do this.
    I find it very interesting and admire the inteligence of this generation, so will strugle on.

  37. August 28th, 2009 at 13:22 | #38

    @Alan Thomas
    Once you install avast! everything should go smoothly (without your interventions). Avast only notifies you about the automatically done VPS updates (blue window) and (from time to time) about a major program updates (green window), where your confirmation is needed, if you really want to use the newer version.

  38. linda docker
    August 28th, 2009 at 23:59 | #39

    hi could any one please help me to remove avast, it wont shift from add/remove and ive downloaded a remover programme but still cant get it off my pc, thanks

  39. Yance
    August 31st, 2009 at 23:09 | #40

    Hi, i love avast antivirus and i always recommend it to everyone. But in general, why avast only delete the infected files and don’t try to repair it. Just few infected files that can be repaired by avast, but usually only delete it. Is repair infected files is not be avast attention?

  40. September 1st, 2009 at 09:25 | #41

    @Yance
    Follow the article Buggy file infectors here on blog, it could explain you some things related to curing the infections.

  41. Yance
    September 5th, 2009 at 15:37 | #42

    @Michal Krejdl
    I’ve read the article. Quit of the viruses bug, i found that another antivirus product, even local products in my country (Indonesia) usually can cure the infected files while avast not. In my experience, avast always just delete the infected files and did not trying to cure the files. This matter causess my friends that i recommend to use avast less like avast to clean the viruses from their computer. But the avast ability to protect the system from viruses, running light/smooth, and the ease to update virus database, i think avast still the better choice of antivirus product. I just hope avast can cure more files that infected by any viruses.

  42. September 6th, 2009 at 22:04 | #43

    @Yance
    Let’s enumerate the active virus families:

    - Virut: { complexity [7/10], functionality [6/10] } it’s a hard piece of work to maintain the detection, bacause Virut is updated each two or three days. The same applies to the cleaning to keep it up to date. As a matter of fact – the vast majority of Virut infections leads to format + reinstall even when you use some AV (or separate tool) that claim the ability to cure it.

    - Sality: { complexity [6/10], functionality [6/10] } the difficulty of cleaning is a bit lower than the case mentioned above, but there’s a higher probability of creating corrupted binaries and the infection also needs some hard-tuning of your system.

    - Mabezat: { complexity [4/10], functionality [3/10] } this virus produces a lot of corrupted binaries. They are absolutely uncurable and I would say (with a bit of exaggeration) it would be a total waste of time to write the cleaning routine for such a buggy file infector.

    - DunDun: { complexity [4/10], functionality [8/10] } the one that probably worth it. We’ll analyse it further.

    - Parite: { complexity [3/10], functionality [9/10] } we already cure it.

    Other viruses are not active ITW except very rare occurences of Polipos or Cekar. Only the curing of Virut and Sality would take a full time of an highly skilled reverse engineer (and coder) – even then we can’t guarantee the ability to put the system to its original state.

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