Tips & Advice

One month down to one minute

Avast Security Blogger, 14 January 2011

One month down to one minute

I promised to follow on the most-download-software-statistics post from last week and shed some light on the real number… the number of avast! users. But before that, let me get back to the history a little because what seems as the most obvious thing now – didn’t look quite so obvious 9 years ago.

It was only in January 2002 when AVAST introduced for the first time its free antivirus and allowed home, non-commercial users to use it for free. During the whole first month following the introduction only 93 (!) users downloaded, installed and registered the free version.

Some say, getting the “first million” is the most difficult part. It took AVAST 30 months until summer 2004 to reach the milestone of having 1 million users. From that moment on… it started spinning much, much faster. The 2nd million was reached only 5 months later and 2 months further on there were 3 million users protected by avast!

In 2006 avast! free antivirus was made available in many languages besides English. Partially, it was done internally by our own staff. More importantly, number of language localizations was done by the avast! users themselves in the countries. Result? The user base grew to 10 million in January 2006 and doubled (!) to 20 million by November of the same year.

In 2007 AVAST hired employee number 38 (I need to find who it was) and the user base doubled again to 40 million. By the way, this started unofficial tradition of “employee-to-user-efficiency-metric” which says we should have 1 million users per each employee. The metric is kept until today…

So much for history. What is the number today?

Well ;) it is two numbers actually: 141 million registered and 119 million alive users in December 2010..

The “registered user metric” dates back to its launch when avast! Free Antivirus required “registration” to receive a license key. It was and still is a convenient way how to measure the user base. Obviously, over the years some users who registered the license didn’t actually use it any more. Either because they lost their e-mail and re-registered with new. Or stopped using avast altogether and installed something else.

To reflect on this, AVAST introduced a new metric back in 2008 and started to measure “alive” users by counting unique downloads of the virus database update. The logic is simple: avast! antivirus installed on a computer will get everyday a virus database update. If avast! antivirus is removed from the computer, there will be no updates and we have lost a user. If there is new unique installation asking for updates, we got a new user. Of course nothing is so simple in the world of two digits ;) For example, not every computer is turned on every day. Actually, on given day only every second computer is turned on and in given week about 80%. Therefore we measure a whole month at a time. If particular installation doesn’t come for an update for 30 days… it is considered lost.

It is worth mentioning here that we have over 10 million users in France and when they all go for the standard 5 weeks summer holidays to Cote d’Azure or the same length winter holidays in les Alpes… they do cause havoc to our counting ;)

Last but not least, there is a counting trouble with security networks. When they are managed centrally, avast! will request and download only 1 virus database update for the whole network regardless if it is 20 or 20000 computers. And count all of the as 1.

I hope it is clear now ;) Nice weekend to all!


In 2010 the user base increased by 35% or 31 011 326 users. (this is the alive count).

With a little bit of rounding and one eye closed ;) Each minute of 2010 avast! was installed by the same number of users as in the whole January 2002.