Withdrawing Avira recommendations

Started Dec 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Jim Cockfield
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Withdrawing Avira recommendations
Dec 23, 2012

As I've mentioned in numerous threads before, I've been using Avira Antivir Premium as one of my protection layers when running in Windows.

See this thread from a few days ago for one example (and I've suggested AntiVir Premium in many other threads in the past, as one layer of the protection I use when running Windows):

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50503303

Why am I no longer recommending Avira?

I haven't booted into Windows in a couple of months, and decided to do that today, in order to update all AV protection, Windows OS Updates, Browser Updates, Plugin Updates, etc.

Avira notified me via popups that a newer version was available (Avira Antivir Premium 2013), and I used the links in the notification to download it, then started it's installer.

After a lot of time downloading the latest updates during the install process and letting it continue, Comodo Secure Firewall notified me that abnstub. exe was trying to access the internet. So, after a quick search about it, I determined it was doing that for the Ask toolbar.

Since I've been *extremely* careful not to let programs install those types of toolbars, I was very surprised that I could have have let something like that "slip through the cracks" given the layered approach I use to security, and I blocked that access.

After a while the Avira install needed a reboot to finish the upgrade from Avira Antivir Premium 2012 to 2013. At that point, I decided to disable both Threatfire and Comodo Secure Firewall, just in case they were interfering in some way; and when I restarted Windows, I got a screen with a progress bar showing that Avira was "preparing to install".

I let that Avira progress screen continue for a very long time, until it became obvoius that the program was stalling in some manner, with no disk activity at all.

Right clicking on the Avira program running in the panel didn't do anything and the Windows Start Menu was unresponsive at that point, too. So, I decided to try a Ctrl-Alt-Delete so I could try and kill it. That didn't work either.

So, I had no choice but to hold down the power button until the PC shut down.

When I restarted Windows again, the same symptoms occurred with a Preparing to install progress screen from Avira. I again waited a long time before it was obvious the update program had stalled, with no choice but to use the Power Button to shut down again (because nothing else allowed me to do anything about it). IOW, the Avira nstaller "stalled" and wouldn't let you do anything else with PC.

So, I ended up booting into Windows using Safe Mode, then running msconfig from a command prompt, and unchecking Avira related programs from both the Startup and Services Tabs.

That let me boot into Windows 7 normally again so I could bypass Avira trying to run and "hanging" (where Windows was unusable).

I then tried running the installation program for Avira Antivir 2013 again. The install Wizard told me that Comodo Secure Firewall, Malarebytes and Threatfire were not compatible. That's the first notification I saw about those issues, and I had already disabled those programs anyway so that they would not have been interfering with the update process.

But, because I was suspicious about the warning I got from Comodo Firewall earlier concerning abnstub trying to access the internet during the first upgrade attempt, I decided to try the Custom install option with the Avira Antivir 2012 Premium installer, and sure enough, there was a check box concerning installation of the Ask toolbar (that you would not see using the default install options) that was checked by default.

Frankly, I'm shocked that they'd take that approach (trying to install what many users classify as Adware) with a paid Antivirus product, with no notification that they're doing that unless you use a Custom Install and pay attention to the available options (with installation of that toolbar checked by default).

That also makes me wonder if that's the reason they claim that some of the other AV products I use to supplement Avira Antivir Premium are listed as incompatible (because they may flag the Ask related programs Avira is trying to install as unwanted).

Of course, even the Custom Install didn't work correctly after the hassle I'd gone through so far. I needed to track down a license key before it would finish installing, as when I was forced to power down the PC because the first upgrade attempts failed with the PC becoming unresponsive, it had apparently already removed what was needed to reuse the old key.

Now, I could probably forgive some issues with the upgrade process failing and requiring me to start over again. I could probably even forgive the need to track down my license key again after the upgrade failures. I

might eve forgive them for requiring me to "jump through hoops" using mscofig to keep the update from running and "stalling" so I could start a fresh installation from scratch again (although I would not expect most other PC users to understand how to go to that much trouble, as clearly, the installer trying to upgrade from previous versions has issues)

But, I'm not going to forgive them trying to install Ask related toolbars, especially since you wouldn't know they're even trying to do that unless you use a Custom install, instead of sticking with the defaults, and especially since I'm using a paid product (Avira Antivir Premium).

But, even if I were using a Free Version, that's still no excuse.   I can understand companies wanting to make money by installing adware.  But, at least most installers ask you first.

Sorry, Avira has now lost a customer, and I will no longer recommend them going forward.

I'll use one of their competitor's products instead.

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JimC
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