Recently, AV-Comparatives released their 2015 Summary Report, an important resource for anyone who is interested in security solutions and antivirus software. Avast had a few exciting wins in this year’s report, which we plan to build upon as we continue moving forward into 2016.
Firstly, Avast was awarded the title of Top Rated Product for 2015 by AV-Comparatives. In their report, AV-Comparatives writes:
“Avast is a Top Rated Product this year, receiving five Advanced+ awards in the course of the year, including both Real-World Protection Tests. . . We feel its scan-results dialog box is equally well suited to expert and non-expert users.“
In addition to being a Top Rated Product, Avast also won the Gold Award for AV-Comparatives‘ Overall Performance Test, as well as a Silver Award for the Malware Removal Test.
In describing their Overall Performance test, AV-Comparatives adds that Avast demonstrates a significantly lower impact on system performance than that of other products. This means that Avast doesn’t disturb you while you browse, work or play on your PC.
How to make your PC’s performance the best it can be
If you’re experiencing a sluggish computer, there’s several things you can do to improve your system’s performance.
- Make sure your software is up to date. The most up-to-date software contains fixes and patches that makes it run at its best. Avast 2016 products have enhanced features and the highest detection rates to protect your computer from malicious attacks. Software Updater is a feature in Avast 2016 that helps you ensure that your programs are up to date.
- Old hardware. If you try to install modern software onto your old computer, it could start running at a snail’s pace, because the hardware simply is not capable of running the software. Ideally, buying a new PC with a multi-core processor is the best solution. However if your budget does not include a new computer, then you could add more RAM.
- Stick to one security program. It’s not advised to run more than one security program with real-time protection at a time. Please uninstall any trial software that came with your PC before installing different protection. You can find a list and instructions to remove here. We recommend that you follow the vendor’s instructions before proceeding with the uninstallation.
- Clean out the clutter. Leftover files and registry entries, unneeded shortcuts, adware, toolbars, and bloatware can slow your computer down. Getting rid of the junk can bring new life to your machine. Get rid of the junk you didn’t know you had with Avast Cleanup and restore your browser to its initial, clean state with Avast Browser Cleanup.
It usually happens after you download something free. You go back online and your browser suddenly looks unfamiliar. There’s new buttons and weird icons in the place of what you used to have. A strange search page from a company you have never heard has taken the place of your homepage.
How did I get that annoying toolbar?
You have inadvertently downloaded a browser toolbar that came bundled with other software.
Free programs, like Adobe Reader, often include add-ons like toolbars or browser extensions. Most of the time, during the installation of the software, an opt-out option will be presented for the add-on. But, lots of people click through without reading, and when they’re finished they discover they have downloaded something they didn’t intend to.
To keep this from happening in the first place, slow down and read the screens. You could save yourself lots of time and headaches if you do.
Most Internet users are familiar with this problem all too well: After downloading a video player, Java, Flash updates or other software, the browser has suddenly changed. New buttons and icons in all colors and sizes along with an URL entry bar take up valuable real estate on your browser. The browser runs noticeably slower – and the results look different. Most annoying is that the advertising becomes more prominent.
Over the past two years, Avast Browser Cleanup has identified more than 60 million different browser add-ons which are often bundled with other free software, such as video players, Java and Flash updates. These toolbars typically occupy the horizontal space below a user’s browser and can include buttons, icons, and menus. Despite removing and re-installing a browser, toolbars will often remain, which is a behavior similar to malware.
This question didn’t come from an AVAST email, a support ticket, or even our Facebook page. It came directly from my mother as we were talking on the phone one day. Believe me, when you work for a security software company, you better have an answer for your mother! Thankfully, I do.
Most toolbars and smiley things are unnecessary and may even cause slowdowns or unexpected crashes. Technically, toolbars are not a threat so most antivirus products won’t flag them as potentially malicious, but since they are annoying and unwanted, you can use Avast Browser Cleanup to activate/deactivate installed toolbars.
Open the Avast Antivirus dashboard, and click on the tools icon (it looks like a wrench and screwdriver). Open Browser Cleanup and click start. It will scan for toolbars with a bad reputation and give you the option to remove them.
Avast Browser Cleanup removes unwanted toolbars from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox ,and Internet Explorer. It is integrated in all Avast antivirus security products, and is also available as a stand-alone product on various download portals for use by friends without avast! installed.
Heavy duty browser cleaning
Since the Avast Browser Cleanup tool was launched in February 2013, it has removed 125 million unwanted toolbars from Avast users’ computers. That’s more than 10 million toolbars zapped each month.
Toolbars typically inhabit the horizontal space below your browser and include buttons, icons, and menus that give you an easy way to select functions on the desktop, in applications or the browser. In some cases, they can be quite useful, but Avast users have rated only 4.2% of toolbars as “good” or “useful.”
Avast Browser Cleanup has identified 10 million different toolbars in the database, and Avast users have rated most of those as “bad.” The Sweetpacks toolbar, and millions like it, received that rating because they change your home page and search engine into their own. Toolbars often install a hidden background program for “updates,” but it really prevents you from resetting your homepage and search engine back to the ones of your choice. Worse yet, this service makes sure that the toolbar gets reinstalled if you try to remove it.
Our infographic shows you which toolbars Avast users have rated the top “bad” ones and the companies that supply them. You may notice that some vendors show up more than once with a different product. Renaming products is a shady practice used to trick people.
“Roughly 7 million out of the 10.2 million toolbars in our database are polymorphic – which means they have a varying and almost unreadable name,” said Thomas Salomon, head of Avast Software’s German Software Development team. “Companies use this naming strategy to confuse people, and make it difficult to remove the annoying toolbars.”
You can see some of the variants in a previous blog post.
Another dirty trick vendors use is to name a toolbar after a well-known and respected product – kind of a smoke-and-mirrors approach.
“For a couple of months now, the vendors of annoying toolbars have been using another dirty trick: They name their own bad add-ons with the good name of well-rated and useful add-ons and thus use this good reputation to ‘hide’ their own crap,” explains Salomon.
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by Thomas Salomon, head of AVAST Software’s German Software Development team
In a previous blog post we wrote about the statistics from Avast Browser Cleanup. These statistics have become even worse:
- More than 1,000,000 (one million!) browser add-ons are available for the three main browsers
- More than 82% of all add-ons have a bad or very bad rating from our user community
- Two thirds of all add-ons in our database are from only three companies
- We see around 30,000 new add-ons per day of which 90% have a bad or very bad rating
As we can easily see the numbers are still rising. It’s now time to share some more details about the bad add-ons we’ve noticed so far. Read more…