Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taming AVG Free version 8

I've now had the change to spend additional time with the latest version of AVG Free 8.

Overall I am pretty impressed.

The other day I made an initial foray into AVG Free 8 and walked away pleased, but with a bit of sour taste in my mouth: AVG Free Version 8.0 Released...First Thoughts and Complaints.

My biggest complaints initially, inclusion of the "AVG Security Toolbar" in all my system's web browsers, location of the "AVG Safe Search" feature embedded into the browsers, and a permanent "error-state" icon for AVG down in the system notification area if this feature was disabled. Otherwise, I was very impressed, both with the overall performance and GUI design, as well as the installation process.

In my previous post, I pleaded with someone to provide the following guidance:

I am also bummed that I had no global way in AVG to disable the AVG Security Toolbar (and AVG Safe Search) from all my system browsers. I was forced to manually set the toolbar to not be viewed in each web browser installed on my system...even when it was otherwise "disabled". Major points off for this. If anyone finds a global setting IN AVG Free to disable/hide them all at once, please leave a tip in the comments. Otherwise, you are left to do the "light" method like I first proposed, or the "heavy" method as AVG outlines in the FAQ.

Fortunately, a brilliant anonymous commenter dropped an almost perfect solution for ridding your AVG Free 8 installation of these (to me) unwanted security features; and as a bonus, the method results in a non-error state AVG system tray icon!

The solution? It was buried in the AVG Free FAQ's #1338

You must run the AVG Free 8 installer from the command-line using a set of specialized switches/arguments/parameters.

How to install AVG without LinkScanner

If you wish to install AVG 8.0 Free Edition without the LinkScanner component, or uninstall this component from your program, please proceed as follows:

  • Download the AVG 8.0 Free Edition installation package from our website.
  • Run the installation with the parameters /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch. One way to achieve this is to:
    • save the AVG Free installation file directly to disk C:\
    • open menu Start -> Run
    • type
      c:\avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch
  • The installation will be started, and AVG will be installed without the LinkScanner component.

If you have already installed AVG Free 8 like I did, here is what I did:

I opened a command-line session and browsed to the location where I had downloaded the installation file.

Then I ran the following command on my Vista system (all on one line):

c:\Users\Claus\downloads\avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch

If running on XP, your default download location might be different than above.

It might be best to follow the FAQ suggestion and just copy the download file to the root of your C: drive (or the root of another partition if you are so equipped) and run the command from there.

Note, there is a space between the ...exe and the /REMOVE_FEATURE... parts, as well as a space between the ...SafeSurf and the second /REMOVE_FEATURE... part.

Once the command is run, a new installation wizard will be seen and you can see that the "Remove/modify" components option is checked by default. Just keep hitting "next" and the AVG program will reinstall. No reboot is required and when you go back in to the AVG Console view, the AVG Link Scanner component is now removed.

Additionally, I found that all your settings and logs were preserved and exploration of the browsers shows that neither the Link Scan or Safe Search components are in IE 7 or Firefox Add-on lists any longer.

And the AVG System Tray icon is back to it's normal state.

Sweet!

Unfortunately, unless someone does some good search-engine work before installation, or reads the correct AVG Free FAQ page prior to installation, there is no other documentation or options pre-installation to tell users of this "advanced" technique.

And I suspect many user's of AVG Free 8 might not be comfortable to correctly locate and perform the simple command-line kung-fu to clobber these features out of the AVG Free 8 product. No matter for most, I suppose. They might actually need these features and find them valuable.

Other Post AVG Free 8 Installation Observations

Installation on my XP systems went smoothly. I didn't know about the above tip when I did my XP installations either so I had to go back and re-do that.

On my XP system, it took about 5 hours and 30 minutes to perform a full-scan on my 500GB drive. I actually have about 100 GB of files spread across the four partitions I configured on it. I generally just configure my system to do a scan on the primary system drive and then I manually scan the other partitions every few weeks. That cuts down on the scan time.

While scanning the system did seem very responsive with the scan priority in AVG set to the default "medium" setting.

I kept all the scan settings on the defaults. It netted about 50 or so "tracking" cookies, about 23 "potentially unwanted applications" which turned out to be made up of my trusted and faithful system logging and key-finder utilities, and three copies of a WinPE Builder included application called Mark Editor. Virus Total and Jotti were mixed on if it was really a virus or not. I strongly suspect it will turn out to be a false-positive based on PXE packing methods, rather than a real threat. I must confess that the scan was very thorough, and was able to get into the other user profiles when looking for browser tracking cookies.

I was able to restore the PUP's quickly and set them to be ignored at next scan (more on this in a moment). I was able to delete the tracking cookies directly, and the others were left in the "Virus Vault" as AVG refers to the quarantine zone. I'll go back to sort and research these later.

I've noticed that when I downloaded emails in Thunderbird with attachments, they are still scanned automatically. I've also noticed that files downloaded off the web in Firefox or IE are also scanned automatically. These are welcome carryovers from AVG Free 7.5.

Advanced AVG Settings

All of the components can be reached from the menu bar under "Components" for quick action, though these don't differ any from just clicking on the corresponding element Overview icon.

To run a quick scan I found it easier to use the "Tools" menu bar and just select "Scan Computer" or "Scan selected folder..." or "Scan file..." to kick of a particular scan type. Hunting these down in the GUI view was a bit tedious.

Management of AVG Free 8 options proper seems to me best accomplished from the "Advanced AVG Settings" window. This can be reached from the menu-bar by going to "Tools" then "Advanced Settings...". The main icons are useful for quickly checking status, but I find using them to configure AVG itself were not nearly as useful as I would have preferred.

There is a lot of stuff you can do in here, so program tweakers will be quite pleased with the options, for the most part.

Appearance: Here you can set the language as well as a number of system-tray notification options.

Maintenance > Virus Vault: Here you may set the Virus Vault (quarantine) size and enable "automatic file deletion" after a number of days or files in the vault are reached. I disabled that option in case I need to go back and recover something mis-identified or research is needed on.

PUP Exceptions: Here you can edit which PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) that you wish to exclude from identification and alert by AVG. The Good? This lets me keep a number of my sysadmin utilities safe (key finders, loggers, etc.) from alerts and removal. The Bad? they are maintained on an individual file-level basis. You cannot set an exclude rule for a folder. The Compromise? You may enable an option to exclude the file from any location, not just a specific patch. The Save? Monitoring is based on a checksum value for the file, so any malicious files that attempt to mask an allowed file name are likely not to sneak by and be excluded! Nice!

LinkScanner: Curiously, even though I had "uninstalled" this component as outlined, this section remains and is still "Enabled" by default. Were a user to keep that component, you may manage the AVG Search-Shield, Active Surf-Shield, and reporting of exploited websites to AVG for study. I have all these disabled.

Scans: Three sub-groups here. Settings for whole computer scans, shell extension scans, and scans for specific files or folders. I've left all the default settings for whole computer scans in place which involves automatic healing/removal of infections, searches for PUPs and spyware threats, cookies, archives, use of Heuristics, system environments (processes, registry keys, memory, etc.), and infectable files. Rootkit scanning is not enabled in the Free version of AVG 8. You may set the scan process priority using a slider bar. The Shell extension scan mimics the same options as does the specific file/folder scan. However under each one you can customize the tick-box options.

Schedules: Three more sub-groups. Scheduled Scan, Virus database updates, and program updates. I've set my scans to run daily at a specific time, but you may also base your scans to run on an hourly frequency or at a certain action (like startup). You can run scans if previous tasks were missed (due to the system being off) or in low power mode. Not immediately obvious is the fact that this window view is tabbed and you can also access the "How to scan" previously covered as well as "what to scan" where you can select the entire system, or specific drives, folders or special locations. I am really pleased with this element design but wish the tabs would have been more visible as some users might miss their presence. The update schedule window mimics the one for scans, but without the tabs as does the program update. I tweaked these a bit to ensure that program and DAT file updates occur every four hours as Grisoft frequently issues micro-updates throughout most days.

Email Scanner: Here you can set up how AVG interacts with your email application. I use Thunderbird and AVG Free 8 integrated perfectly with it. I have the settings configured here to check both incoming and outgoing emails, but to not "certify" the mail. (That means it adds extra text to your emails indicating the message/contents have been pre-scanned.) Some recipients might like seeing that, but I don't trust such messages and would res-can anyway. You can go with the default message for viruses found in emails, or change to a custom one. You can set the scanning properties here to use heuristics, for PUPs and spyware, and look inside emailed archive files. (I've enabled all these.) Finally you can optionally have AVG Free 8 report to you if passworded attachments are found, files with macros are found, files with hidden extensions are found (I've enabled this) and move any reported attachments to the Virus Vault. Under the Certification window, you can modify the message attached to your emails if this option is enabled. Finally, under Mail Filtering, you can set AVG to strip out email attachments, or do so for just executable files and/or documents. Finally you can filter out files with specific extensions.

Resident Shield: This feature provides "real-time" protection against malware and virus/trojan threats. Event though I primarily use ThreatFire from PCTools for my HIPS protection, I have left this enabled so it will also scan and monitor for PUPS/spyware threats, scans boot-sectors of removable media, and uses Heuristic properties for scanning. I have disabled cookie scanning, auto-healing, and scanning of files at close. The Advanced Settings sub-window allows you to either scan all files or those for specific files and document extensions. I've kept the defaults which are very extensive. Lastly, you can set Exclude Rules for monitoring. You can set multiple excludes based on paths, files, or a list of items. Handy!

Update: Under the main window here, you can control AVG's behavior for setting of update application on computer restart, update immediately (with some options for confirmation), and require AVG to confirm with you if a particular application must be closed before update can be applied. Wow, it has manners! Finally you can set proxy locations for updates, dial-up settings, and finally add or change URL(s) used for retrieving the updates.

Whew!

Lots under the hood that isn't obvious at first glance.

Welcome to the Virus Vault!

Once a scan has been completed, you are presented with a tabbed list of groups of items; Results overview, Infections, Spyware, and Warnings (mostly tracking cookies). These items may be clicked on for a bit of detail, however it isn't much of of minimal use for security minded folks seeing details on the items found.

If a scan is running and you wish to view the progress, you can select the AV scanning component, then on the side-bar click on the scan-task under the "Computer scanner" bar on the left-side of the window view. Curiously, I decided to run a manual full-scan when I started this blog and when the scheduled auto-scan time kicked off, it also began, thus I had two concurrent AVG Free 8 scans going at the same time! Seems to me the program should give an alert and allow the user to proceed, cascade the scans to run after each other, or cancel one of them. I just manually canceled the auto-scan myself.

Once the scan was completed I saw the results were displayed under the "scheduled scan" line item, and not the manual scan list item, even though I canceled the auto-scan and kept the manual scan running. Not a big deal but confusing.

Now it gets interesting. Either while the scan is running, or after it has completed, you can click on the menu-bar and select "History" to view the scan results and details.

Furthermore, you can also use that location to go to the Virus Vault to inspect any items found and moved here for quarantine.

The Virus Vault allows you to view the Event History of scan results for the system as well as items in the Virus Vault proper.

Here is where the product shines for AVG Free 8 users who are security proactive.

Items in here can be managed in a number of ways; you may restore the item (and add it to your excludes if desired (for PUPs, items identified by AVG as a virus/trojan may be restored but cannot be excluded automatically). If you do restore a file so identified, it will be put back, but if Resident Shield is enabled, you still cannot access it for transmission to a third-party security source (Jotti or Virus Total). I understand this, but it is frustrating to have to disable components of AVG to accomplish this easily. You can also delete the file entirely, rescan the file (to sf new DAT updates pass the file now), and--this is the best part--directly transmit the file to AVG for analysis from within the program. This is useful for reporting potential false-positives. I'm thrilled to see this feature added.

If desired, you can also provide an email address to get results of your submission. However, that is not required to complete the transmission.

Finally you can empty the vault entirely.

To delete the cookies, you must go back to the scan results, click the "warnings" tab, and select the cookies to remove (individually or multiple items).

Regarding Alerts and Restorations

I did notice two interesting behaviors of AVG Free 8 here.

First, if you decide to manage the items added to the Virus Vault in the middle of an ongoing scan, you can do so. However the changes are not reflected in the scan-results listing. Example, a PUP is found, you decide to restore it from the Vault. When the scan is completed, it is still listed there in your logs.

Secondly, when you decide to restore an item, you don't have any options to "exclude" it immediately from future scans. What happens is that the item is restored, then the Resident Shield will (eventually) re-alert the finding of the restored file, and now you are able to either move it back to the Vault, add it to the exceptions list, or ignore it. Finally, you do have the option to remove any threats caught by Resident Shield as a "Power User."

Note, when I selected multiple PUPs to restore at once, I was not given the option button to add the item to the excludes list. So keep that in mind that if you want to add PUPs to the exclude list during restoration, don't select multiple items but restore them one at a time.

This alert window forces itself to remain visible above all other windows on the desktop so it cannot be ignored or minimized. You see it and must deal with it. Not a bad decision by Grisoft.

There is a section at the bottom of the alert where you can select "more details." This provides the Process Name responsible for triggering the file alert as well as the Process ID. Curiously, many of these "restoration alerts" were triggered when ThreatFire was caught scanning the file as it was being restored by AVG!

There is a link to find more info about the threat identified, but it is a bit clunky. The link takes you to an AVG Virus Encyclopedia link, but instead of providing you direct details of the threat found, you are required to manually look up the threat by name yourself. Not so useful. Details of the threat once found are fairly useful. This may be bound to cause some user confusion. For example, it identified the NirSoft application ProuKey (used to look up Microsoft product keys on a system) as a PUP. When I enter AVG virus encyclopedia, no results were found. However when I tried using the AVG Threat Name as displayed in the alert box (HackTool.DHQ), it also was not located.

Final Odd Performance Thoughts

Lastly, I've been composing this post in Windows Live Writer back on our Gateway laptop while running a manual AVG full system scan. The system processor is pretty strong and set to run at full-on power with no laptop power-saving configurations. It has the full 2GB RAM allowed. It is running Vista SP1. I'm not running any other applications except WLR, Firefox 3.0 (Minefield) and AVG Free 8. I've noticed that the system continues to seem to "pause" from time to time. Opening Microsoft Sysinternal's Process Explorer found that the AVG scanning process (avgscanx.exe) frequently jumps to over 50% of the CPU process capacity. These are when the system "pauses."

Strangely, I didn't notice that behavior at all last night on my Shuttle desktop system that has XP Home SP2 with only 1 GB of RAM and multiple more applications open at the same time of a full system scan. I don't know if this is because AVG Free 8 behaves differently under Vista or there is just something about my particular Vista system that leads to that behavior. Memory usage of that process while scanning is around 80,000 K. I do wonder if AVG Free 8 is fully "Vista optimized".

Once the scan completed, things returned back to normal.

Claus Remains Impressed

Overall, I am growing more amazed at the fullness of features and options offered by Grisoft in AVG Free version 8. I really liked and was quite satisfied with AVG 7.5 but version 8 really knocks my socks off.

Sure there are a few items here and there that are frustrating, starting with the AVG Security Toolbar and the SafeSurf and SafeSeach features needing a special command-line install technique, and lack of ability to directly add items to the exclude list from the Virus Vault, high CPU utilization under my Vista system (at least) but not under XP, inability to add multiple PUP restorations at once to the exclude lists for scanning, and finally the lack direct alert matches to the AVG Virus Encyclopedia.

Those quibbles aside, Grisoft has delivered an outstanding consumer security product in AVG Free 8.

Very nicely done, Grisoft!

--Claus

97 comments:

TeMerc said...

Wow, amazing bit of work, thank you very much for all the time and effort put into this new AVG version review.

It is too bad how they force feed the LinkScanner bar install and while the instructions you provided are indeed clear, most users will be scared off trying it.

To make matters worse they then make its removal darn near impossible to either find and execute, opting for the extra $$ for each install.

This has been a matter of contention on several forums, COU and mine as well as others.

As good a review as you give it, I'll still steer users away from it based on the forced toolbar install. Companies going for the easy money as they've done don't deserve ME pointing users to it.

Claus Valca said...

TeMerc,

Thanks for the cross link from your blog as well as the kind words.

I agree 100% with your assessment. I don't "mind" Grisoft deciding to include these features but I wish the method to "opt-out" was much more clear and GUI based for all users to consider and decide. What's more, turns out that the SafeSurf Shield feature isn't even "activated" in the Free version, although you get it installed in your browsers anyway. Wow!

I've tracked some of the "contention" on the toolbar angle in a number of forums and I can't say I blame anyone. Even my daughter hollered at me when she logged into her Vista profile and found the toolbar present in a browser. (Good kid!)

I still think it has value in being recommended (and most home users won't get this discussion or understand our shared turn-offs and concerns) but it is a disappointing turn. Maybe it will get corrected in future versions.

I forgot to mention that they actually have a very good user's manual available for download.

I found it after I had written my post and it really is a good compliment to the program.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 User Manual (PDF)

However, again, it doesn't go far enough into including the option to do a non-toolbar/safesearch installation via command-line.

One final comment (for now); there appears to be much confusion on the web and in other article comments by folks who aren't clear as to which components are included in the Free version.

Certainly the product comparison web-page leaves much to be desired.

I've seen a number of comments that claim that email attachment scanning is just included on a "trial basis" in the Free version but will stop after a time-limit. I haven't found anything to that effect in the Grisoft documentation itself. It does say that phishing protection, spam filtering, and fraud protection are not included in the free version.

Grisoft certainly has made a dangerous tactical move here. Time will tell if the strategy pans out in their favor.

Thanks again for the kind words!

--Cheers

cdman83 said...

Hello.

Nice post, I've been recommending AVG to people. I would be interested in your opinion about setting up users with normal-privileged accounts (rather than Admin accounts). I know that it's very effective in protecting against threats, but how feasible is it (from a sysadmins point of view)?

Best regards.

Claus Valca said...

cdman83, thanks! I started out just trying to cover some basics in this post but it ended up getting away from me!

I also recommend setting up XP/Windows users under non-admin level security account profiles. It makes sense to me but does require (especially in a corporate environment) much more pre-checking that programs can be run successfully without a need for privilege escalations.

At home, I've set up standard-level user accounts for the wife and kid. The wife has never complained about any issues related to this. My daughter has once or twice come to me when using the Vista system and requested I put in the system's admin account password to escalate an action (almost always related to a program update from Windows).

I even still have UAC turned on for our Vista system (though I have disabled the UAC prompting using TweakUAC by running it in "quiet" mode. Works great and UAC still keeping an eye on things.

You are on the right track with that great article of yours! Well done.

As regards to AVG Free v8, I haven't (yet) found any issues running it under reduced accounts. I did install it on our shared account Vista/XP systems under the system's admin account. Not sure if it makes any difference. No complaints yet with that arrangement.

In such a case, I guess I would only recommend setting the Virus Vault settings to keep all the items found and removed to the vault by AVG. AVG does seem to do more than a fair-share of false-positives. This way you can put things back if something is found in error. Also the PUPs are a bit "aggressive" but that's probably just me as I am a sysadmin and have and collect a bunch more of these tools than the average user will ever encounter.

Good work and direction!

--Cheers

Pavel said...

a few other switches:

TSCC_DLG_DISABLED
CURRENT_ONLY
ON_RESTART_UNINSTALL
NOAVGTOOLBAR
PROGRESSONLY
UPDATE_SERVER
NO_VC_REDIST
DONT_REPAIR_FILES
KILL_PROCESS_IF_NEEDED
NO_AVGW_STARTUP
NO_CC_STARTUP
DONT_START_APPS
USER_ENUM_MODE
QUIT_IF_INSTALLED
REMOTE_LOGIN_AS
REMOTE_INSTALL_TYPE
REMOTE_SETUP_PACKAGE
OLD_TARGET_DIR
REMOVE_FEATURE
REMOVE_FILTER
MACHINE_LIST
SKIP_ROLLBACK
RESTART_IF_NEEDED
UNINSTALL_OLD

greenbandit said...

I know it is free but upgrading to V8 from V7.5 seems to be a problem causing downgrade.
Under V7.5 I had a system that seemed to scan Thunderbird emails and had a taskbar icon that changed whenever a virus update failed, now it says the Thunderbird email scanner is not working and the taskbar icon is always showing an error even when the virus defs have updated.
I was waiting for a major version update before updating to the paid version, but this free V8 has put me off parting with any cash until these bugs are sorted.
I will be going back to V7.5 until all this gets sorted.

Claus Valca said...

Pavel...thanks for these additional installation CLI parameters! Awesome resource. I saw some in the PDF for the AVG documentation manual, but these look much more useful! Any chance on sharing your source?

Greenbandit...I'm with you. Did you do an "over-install" upgrade from V7.5 to V8.0? When I did mine, I first uninstalled AVG 7.5 (kept logs/quarantine items) and then after reboot, did a clean install of AVG 8. I also run Thunderbird as my email client and pull from multiple POP sources. My AVG 8 has been scanning perfectly and I still see (though way prettier) the pop-up dialog for these attachment scans. I did get the error-state icon, but it was because I had disabled the SafeSurf/Scan features, before getting the tip to do an install with it left off. Every system is different with it's own combo of factors....your's might be giving AVG 8 the blues.

Great program and seems fine...scans seem to take longer than AVG 7.5. The PUPs scans are really aggressive and I've had to restrict scans to my primary partition and exclude the ones where I keep utility archives and even the one I do my Win PE 2.0 boot disk building...just so I don't loose my network scanning apps and key finders. Ughhh!

But I'm sticking with it...just requires more work now to maintain than v 7.5. No doubt about that to me. Maybe things will get better as we get used to each other!

I remain hopeful....

marks said...

Thanks, did not really have a need for the toolbar or the linkscan features. I moved the exe file to my c: root directory and then had to type in the full exe file name (i.e. avg_free_stf_en_8_100a1295.exe) for Run command to work with /REMOVE.

This procedure removed the linkscan icon from my overview menu altogether. Using XP.

FWIW, like you I much prefer AVG to Avast, Norton and others which I have tried. Works well with my MailWasher Pro which I use for email.

WT Gator said...

This is fantastic stuff. Many thanks to the poster for taking the time and trouble to put all this up. Legend. :)

RSeabra said...

Hi there, thanks for the great tips on this page.

I've noticed one more problem I think you haven't addressed here. In the previous versions of AVG, whenever you requested a scan from the shell extension, a small window would open and resolve the whole matter in and of itself -- scanning, informing, self-imploding and all.

Now, I don't seem to be able to stop the whole freaking AVG window to come up every time I call for a shell scan in just a one file. Absolutely incomprehensible, isn't it? You call for a shell extension scan and it turns into a full window scan. So why bother with a shell extension??

Anonymous said...

I had been a happy AVG Free + Thunderbird user.

When I upgraded to 8.0, AVG found a virus in an email attachment, and then deleted the entire email folder - not just the attachment or just the one message.

To make it worse, it is completely deleted, ie not in the virus vault.

Anonymous said...

great work!
But why would an average user not want to install a LinkScanner ? . To me this may be a good feature. What am I missing?

I am cautious and will wait a few more days. My understanding is that they will not support 7.5 after this month

Thanks

marontiveros said...

Just my tow cents: I installed the free version today (May 3rd) and, choosing Custom during the installation process, you can choos if you want the toolbars and other stuff. All without touching the "Run" box.

About performance, so far so good, no slow downs in boot time or execution, and I have a pretty old laptop in use (PIII 384 RAM)

Anonymous said...

AVG 8 would have to be the biggest, bloated POS since Windows ME.

No happy. No unistall method which should be available to anyone to use short of a reformat of your hard drive.

Link scanner? who made them the defacto net nanny of anyone who installs this.

Good one Grisoft. How to piss off 70 million users with one program.

Anonymous said...

Yo morontiveros, there is an old English saying "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth". If it doesn't float your boat go buy Kaspersky, If you don't want 'link scanner' or the toolbar don't enable them in the install process, it's that simple.

Bear in mind it works fine on most machines. I've installed it on maybe a dozen of my domestic clients machines in the last week and it's been fine. just coz it doesn't play nice on yours doesn't mean dick, other than your machine is wierd. You should really spend your time sending a detailed error report to grisoft instead of bitching, quite pointlessly, on some forum.

Weak.

Roger

Claus Valca said...

Hey guys and gals...just a note.

I appreciate everyone's comments. I'm planning on a followup post very soon rolling together the different perspectives on this AVG Free Update and the "enhanced" features it provides over 7.5.

The way the comments are displayed, the commentator's name (if provided) currently shows at the bottom (end) of the comment, not at the top. I need to play with the HTML comment code a bit in Blogger. It has confused me quite a bit and I am sure others as well.

Only mention it as marontiveros's comment was quite positive towards AVG. It was the Anonymous poster's comment that follow's his name I think that Rodger was actually referring to.

Sorry for any confusion or misatribution of comments due to that comment formatting thing.

--Claus

Albert said...

I came across your website while Googling for a way to uninstall SafeSearch.

Being on a capped plan, I watch my downloads closely. After installing AVG Free 8.0, I noticed that my downloads had increased quite a bit, and I suspected that Safe Search was the culprit.

My suspicion stems from the fact that while SafeSearch is working out the safety rating for each link, my download indicator keeps flashing, which it never did as much with the previous version

I have just uninstalled SafeSearch, so it's a bit early to say if my suspicions are correct, but I would be interested to know if other users have similar suspicions.

chisa said...

thanks for that fix. what a total pain in the arse avg are for not allowing you to deselect this at install. and i am sure it kept crashing firefox.

Claus said...

As promised, been tweaking the comment formatting on my blog a bit. Should now be easier to tell who commented what. Hope this clears up things...

Claus said...

To Chisa, Albert, WT Gator, and marks...

Thanks for your kind words...it is aggrivating to me when I can't find what should be a "simple" solution. I'm happy to share the tips and glad others are finding them useful as well.

I still think AVG is a strong product, but it is a real bummer they took this route.

I hope to get on my soap-box this weekend about AVG Free v8 and the shift we've seen.

RSeabra...I didn't think about the observation you made, but you are correct! I also now miss the "mini" scan-status results window. Like you, I'm not as keen on seeing the full console window appear. Seems a bit of an overkill.

Added to that...the previous version of AVG Free Anti-spyware had a nice AVG icon in the shell extension list. AVG Free A/V didn't. Couldn't figure out why they didn't add in an icon there. Now that a/v and antispyware is bundled, I don't see any shell extension list icon for AVG. Too bad. Most all of my other integrated anti-malware scanning programs that have a shell-extension listing do. AVG looks really plain now in there!

Raymond said...

@ claus

Just a note to inform you of the fact that the 30 day 'time limit' re: the Email Scanner is in fact incorrect, as per the following AVG official website. The Email Scanner is for the life of the product

Click on the link 'Important information about e-mail scanning' located under News, just over half way down the page: -

http://free.grisoft.com/

@ anonymous

There is an uninstaller located under Start > Programs > AVG Free 8.0 and Add or Remove Programs

Claus Valca said...

Raymond, You are correct in your tips.

There seemed to be a lot of mis-conception when AVG Free v8 was released regarding what was still included and which features were not. The supposed "30-day email" scanner limit was one of the biggest noise-generators in all the posts and forums I saw. Followed closely by the "toolbar" feature.

I think the feature comparison chart that Grisoft has on their website helped to fuel that speculation. I think it could have been a bit clearer.

Every pc system is a bit "different" so I can't say why anon wasn't able to find out how to uninstall the application either. Wasn't hard to find or do and pulled off clean in my virtual machine system tests.

Certainly no comparison to trying to get Norton/Symantec AV Suite off and out of a system.....

Don H. said...

I cannot use avg 8.x because it won't allow my RAMdisk.

Does anyone know where I can download an AVG 7.5 that is still functional / updateable. My last full download is so old (2006) that grisoft refuses to update the software or the definitions. Bah.

Anonymous said...

My experiences w/ AVG 8.0

It destroyed my RAMdrive, corrupted my Registry, disabled my OEM Recovery Wizard, and did something that prevents me from successfully reloading the 7.5 version I had used previously. Shows ERROR in system tray unless all bloatware is enabled. Downloads bloatware updates even if disabled. AVG 8.x *IS* a virus.


I installed the new AVG 8.0 yesterday morning without a thought of protecting my earlier versions ... Stupid me! I should have backed-up my entire system.

The 8.0 is at least 50% bloatware and displays itself in the System Tray in an **!!!ERROR!!!** state unless **ALL** the bloatware features are turned "On". It also instructs that other AV-ware be deleted. Not likely. First it took 15 minutes for the "new" AVG 8 to "Update" itself, including updating the bloat-functions I didn't want and had disabled.
Then I noticed it had killed my RAM-Drive, which several dozen of my batch files absolutely require. Then I discovered that it had done something to disable the Systerm Recovery features. So I couldn't even get back to a functional setup. Even re-installing, I couldn't get a RAM-Drive to work at all. Scheese. Thanks AVG.... not.

So I'm looking for a "new" fast virus scanner. I already use Avast, but it takes hours to scan my entire system. The main reason(s) I used AVG at all were (A) it scanned mucho faster, and then Avast would notice and sound the alarm if AVG tried to open a malware. (AVG itself almost never noticed malware, ever).
And (B) when my dialup connection got "hung", clicking AVG to look for updates would almost always get things un-hung and moving again.

So I'm looking for a new fast virus-scanner, preferably Resident.

I did finally get a functioning RAM Drive again, but it took all day and about 30 reboots to discover what AVG 8 had broken: It made a *very* sneaky Registry change, on a sub-level that even Spybot / Teatimer did not perceive. And I still don't know how or what it broke in the System Recovery setup. AVG 8.0 *IS* malware. Beware.

Claus Valca said...

Don H. You might try looking at OldVersion.com

AVG Anti-Virus - Older 7.5 Version downloads

There are a number of "older" AVG Free 7.5 versions there.

Don't know if you will have any luck with the DAT file support for it though...I haven't gone looking for them or to see if any are available for v8 but are backward compatible with v 7.5.

Please let me know if you find anything out...

Don H. said...

Thanks Claus,
I tried the newest version from there 3 times today, and every one aborted every attempted update with the message: "Install probably corrupted, please reinstall." Yeah
Apparently 8.0 deleted something from my Registry that 7.5 just can't live without. After uninstalling everything (the 3d or 5th time) I manually scanned my Registry for AVG entries, and found 26 PAGES of leftover AVG crud. Which I removed. My machine reboots much faster now, but the re-installed AVG(s) still abort any attempt to update virus definitions the exact same way / with the exact same message.
I've been advised to try Avira for quick-scans. (I always have Avast monitoring, but his scans take 3+ hours on my machine, and it is much more effective to use a faster scanner, which Avast then monitors every file-access it attempts). Any thoughts / recommendations on Avira?

Don H
~~

Doug said...

one thing i've found is that safe search slows down browsing considerably,even accessing my router/modems configuration pages is noticably slower. disabling it returns browsing to normal speed

-=Zapf=- said...

If anyone gets annoyed with that "Did You Know?" pop-up that appears at the bottom of the AVG 8.0 User Interface, there's a way to get rid of it here (from "toastycheese678"). Basically just remove the \Program Files\AVG\AVG8\avgmwdef_us.mht file.

I just thought it was pretty funny that anti-virus and anti-malware software would have pop-ups shipped with it as standard ;)

Why do AVG include the link scanner component for firefox and IE when both already have things like anti-phishing protection anyway? E.G. Firefox either downloads a distributed DB from google in the background or sends every link clicked to google for comparison with their DB. Strange. Have I missed the point somewhere?

Don H. said...

I think they (Grisoft) have missed the whole point about "User Friendly".
I wrote them several days ago about 8.0 making my RAM drive "unavailable" and changing my Registry so 7.5 cannot be reloaded no matter WHAT I do, and making "unavailable" all my OEM Recovery Backups prior to installing 8.0 as well.
They apparently could care less.
This mirrors my original experience as a newby on the internet where my larger downloads (dialup) always mysteriously crashed within two hours. I could *not* download anything which took longer than 2 hours.
Of course I ultimately discovered that it was AVG doing checks for "updates" every 2 hours, without a word of warning about what it was doing, and without a care in the world for what it was crashing in the process. I can't think of anything more User UN friendly.
I just spent 2-3 man DAYS trying to undo what their 8.0 did to my computer in less than a minute.
I'm done with them.

John Goodwin said...

Great source of info Claus, AVG 8 Free has slowed down a few installs for me personally.

The command line switch list is going to be very useful for me. I've already blogged on the subject of upgrading from 7.5 to 8.

Quality information, so thanks to you and others posting here.

Regards

Johnnyboy

Anonymous said...

Came across this looking for an answer to my question...

Does anyone know how I can PAUSE the set scan? In previous versions you could right click the systray Icon and pause the scan or stop the scan. In Version 8.0, you can't do this.

My dad had problems with 8.0- the PAID version.. he tried to go back to 7.5 but it wouldn't let him for some reason (I've forgotten the errors he told me). He WAS able to install AVG 8.0 free though. He wasn't thrilled with the tech support he got either.

Claus Valca said...

That's a very good question. I have noticed that as well (that there doesn't seem to be the "pause" option from the system tray icon).

I have found that when I run a manual scan and want to pause, I have to launch the main AVG window, then select "Computer Scanner" from the side-bar, and then while a scan is running I have a pause button to select.

I think you should be able to do the same thing for a scheduled scan as it should show up as a task under the Computer Scanner item.

(Like many things in this new AVG creation) this appears to be one of those little basic things that was easy to do in version 7.5 but not so much in version 8.0.

Anonymous said...

@ Albert:
The LinkScanner indeed appears to be the cause for increased download size. I captured some of the traffic caused by LinkScanner with Ethereal and found that on various links (especially links to forum pages) the LinkScanner gets mislead and downloads megabytes of data. I first thought I was botted or had a trojan, but it clearly seems to be the LinkScanner. The worst thing about it is that even if you change websites after having made your search, AVG continues to analyze these links, which can consume a significant amount of your bandwidth. The only way to stop these downloads is then to quit your browser. BAD! DISABLE!

@ Claus
Thank you for this excellent review and sharing!

Nick

Anonymous said...

The way to roll back to AVG 7.5 is to go to oldversion.com

http://www.oldversion.com/program.php?n=avg

Download and install the most recent AVG 7.5
While installing 7.5 and you get to the update part "DO NOT" put a check in the box that don't ask where to obtain updates.
After install finishes it will not be able to complete because you need to go to thier website and manually download the update files to complete the install.
Once those files are incorperated into 7.5 it will start working.
Then you can go to the update properties screen and put the check in the box to "not" ask where to get the update file from.
Now it will work just like it used to! :)

Anonymous said...

I guess you can't install AVG 8.0 onto another drive besides C:\ ?

Claus Valca said...

@anonymous #1 - good tip on installing previous versions of AGV free. I think that will help a lot of folks.

@anonymous #2 - I believe that if you do an "advanced" or custom installation, you have the option to set the installation path to a different location. I haven't tried and don't know if you will get into any performance issues, but it should be possible but seem to recall seeing this option when I've done a few more installs of AVG Free 8 this weekend.

Anonymous said...

bravo on the post, Claus. you have to be the most devoted blogger I've seen in my life.
even though I have no interest in AVG whatsoever, I still thought I would just show my admiration ;)
keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Maybe this is the wrong place to post this.....if so, I am very sorry....but I really need some major help.
I am at a real lost on what to do about installing the new AGV 8.0 over my 7.5 version.
There seems to be a debate about this...some say uninstall 7.5 first, others say..you can install the 8.0 free over the 7.5 free edtion...
I have read most all the posts and mostly everyone here can do things to change and improve the new version,like getting rid of "link Scanner" what-ever that is? I have an idea of what I think it is..but still not sure.
When you are fairly new to computers and still trying to learn...this can really confuse you. I never knew anything about Free virus protection until a nice tech installed it on my computer for me..He did all the settings..
I have moved and I dont have his help anymore..and paying for tech help is to expensive and sometimes they take your money and do nothing and you still have the same probs...
Take my word for it..this Granny needs some major help with this stuff....I dont know how to set-up the AVG Free 8.0 once it is installed on my computer. I dont know anything about the settings. This is scary, when you are depending on this to keep your system free of virus attacks.
Can anyone help me and post how to do this in Non Techie talk?
Thank-you so much for your help.

Claus Valca said...

I don't know what is "best" but here is what I have done on EVERY system where I had AVG 7.5 free then upgraded to AVG 8 free (for Windows XP...Vista is very similar but stuff is named slightly differently):

1) Go to your Windows Control Panel and find the Add/Remove Programs icon. Select it.
2) Look through the list and find AVG Free A/V and select it and tell it to remove. (I always tell it to leave anything in the vault and save logs.)
3) Reboot when done.
4) Download (if you haven't already) the newest version of AVG Free v8 from Grisoft to your computer. Make a note where you saved it.
5) When downloaded, copy the file to the root of your C: drive using Windows Explorer.
6) Once copied, right-click on the file and select "rename" Rename the file from something like "avg_free_stf_en_8_100a1295.exe" to "avgfree8.exe"
7) Close the window when done.
8) Go to Start and find "Run".
9) Type "CMD" and click "OK" you should see a black text box appear.
10) At the prompt (blinking cursor) type cd\ and press the enter key.
11) You should see c:\>
12) Type the following exactly (spaces and all) after the c:\> where the cursor is blinking: avgfree8.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch
13) After a moment the install wizard should run. You should be able to take the defaults and keep going. At some point you will get a prompt to set a default system-scan time. I usually set mine for about 30-min to 1 hour past when I usually turn my computer on just so the scans don't start when I am just getting started on my computer.

This should get you going with a new load of AVG Free 8 just fine WITHOUT the linkscanner stuff that everyone here is fussing about. It does have it's benefits if you are worried about going to websites that could damage your computer. If so and you want to put it on "fully" then follow the same steps to point 5 then just go ahead and double-click the setup file to run it and take the defaults. I still would "opt-out" of the Yahoo toolbar. You don't have to do that if you follow the full steps as outlined.

You don't have to make any "advanced" setting changes if you don't want to. My post outlined which ones I settled on. It is pretty good "out of the box" post-install.

I (and others) believe that while the linkscanner option is good in theory, its performance really hurts web surfing speed, especially for dial-up users and very slow machines.

Good luck. Take your time.

I still think AVG Free is a good product, especially once you remove the linkscanner stuf.

-Cheers

Charisse said...

Thank you for the very well considered and well written advice here.
Since my AVG updater has so rudely announced there will be NO MORE updates for 7.5 after May 31st, this blog couldn't be more timely...

Anonymous said...

I think the May 31st date has been extended to December 31st.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Thank-you so much Claus for your help. I appreciate you taking your time to post these detailed
instructions.
I will try my best to follow your steps and hopefully things will go smoothly for me.

Again, I Thank-you so very much for your kindness in taking your time to help someone like me... that is real "Newbie" to all of this computer stuff...

CC Granny

Charisse said...

Indeed, the date to discontinue updates for v 7.5 has been extended!

see:
http://freeforum.avg.com/read.php?1,123812,backpage=,sv=

[QUOTE]DEADLINE FOR AVG 7.5 FREE UPDATES 31/12/2008
Posted by: michaelhd - AVG Team
Date: May 5, 2008 10:00AM

DEADLINE FOR AVG 7.5 FREE UPDATES 31/12/2008

This is the official date that support and updates for AVg 7.5 Free will end.

If the date changes we will give you good forward notice.[/QUOTE]

Anonymous said...

Not sure which browswers you use, but if you have IE the simple fix to your problem with the AVG tools showing up in the browser is to simply right click the toolbar area and deselect "AVG Security Toolbar". Takes two seconds.

Claus Valca said...

@Anonymous: that indeed is what I first did when I ran into the issue: AVG Free Version 8.0 Released...First Thoughts and Complaints

However, I didn't just want to disable the appearance of the toolbar in Firefox and IE, I wanted it gone! Sure I could manually remove it, but that was a bit of work for something I didn't want in the first place.

Especially as in Vista when I told it not to install, but it did so anyway.

That's just my personal feeling towards an otherwise nice product.

Daniel J. Doughty said...

Claus,

Thanks for the fix to the annoying Link Scanner problem. It worked like a charm. No uninstall, no reboot, it just works. Beautiful

Daniel J. Doughty

Inder Singh said...

Claus,

I don't like the feature of automatic updates for any of the software. If I disable the automatic update in AVG free 8, there is an annoying exclamation sign. Is it possible to disable the update manager and AVG not showing the red exclamation?

Claus Valca said...

@ Inder Singh...I don't think so, at least in any normal way. You might try this "workaround" Go into the advanced options under menu bar. Then find the schedules > program update schedule and virus db update schedule items. Leave auto-updates set to run at a specific time, but schedule it to run at a time your computer is off. For me that would be 3 AM. The untick all the options for it to run on startup if missed, and the run the update again...options. Leave the tick to keep the scheduled task enabled. This should trick AVG into seeing the update feature is enabled, but by setting it at time it will be missed and not checking when scheduled updates are missed, you should be able to keep the error state icon from appearing. Then just manually check for updates at your leisure.

Let me know if this works.

Colin said...

Having read the post above where it says that updates for AVG 7.5 will continue till December,,,,I have one question, as AVG 8 only works with WinXP and Vista, and is not suitable for Win98, does this mean there will no longer be updates for Win98, and if so, what will happen to those folks, who don't have a WinXP or Vista suitable machine?

Cheers.

Nathaniel said...

Thanks much, Claus and commenters. Very helpful. Slice like a pair of in ordinary oranges.

Claus Valca said...

@ Nathaniel...you're quite welcome!
@ Colin. I think it might be bad news. I haven't found any indications that support for Win 9x or Win 2K systems will be supported by AVG going forward after that point.

In fact, I've seen some new posts that indicate that the updates for AVG Free 7.5 version will end on June 25th while a statement from AVG customer service says it will end May 31'st, 2008. And it is the PAID editions that will continue the updates until December.

Confused?

See this post by Ron Schenone: Hello, AVG 8 Tech Support! Anyone Home? ~ The Blade by Ron Schenone, MVP

As I've said repeatedly now, I think AVG is a great product, but parts of their team seem to keep fumbling the ball and it makes Grisoft end up looking like a pretty messy solution in a software field where rock-solid trust is tantamount.

I can only hope that they work out these issues and more and the upcoming service pack release for AVG will resolve some of the internal issues with the program, and the public-info team will get the same documents and a consistent message will be seen henceforth.

Claus Valca said...

Correction: AVG Free is compatible with Windows 2000, XP (x32/x64), and Vista (x32/x64).

Other AVG editions of version 8 are compatible with those versions as well as 2000 Server, and 2003 Server versions.

It appears that no version 8 AVG products will be compatible with Windows 98, Me, or NT.

Nathaniel said...

Bummer. You could run linux, maybe. :p

Colin said...

Claus, Thank you for your update, regarding AVG and Win98. I do volunteer work for a charity, and many of our member machines are Win98 and are on Dial-up. We used to use Norman Anti-virus,,,very good software,,,,,but the weekly downloads (each Tuesday in Australia) of 14-15mb, make it impossible to download. Normal daily updates are fine. So we switched our members to AVG Free 7.5, which has been very good. Of course with AVG 8 not being compatible with Win98, we will be in some trouble.
I think the days of using Win98 online, may be numbered.

Cheers.

rotterdarned said...

Claus, AVG should take heed and offer you a position with the firm to moderate their Forum (in my experience, programmers tend not to be clear and excellent writers as you are!) and to thank you for a brilliant piece of research. Ah.. research is always best, but sometimes even a tech fool like me can stumble backwards into useful discoveries!

As a mathematician, I look for pattern analysis first. And I studied all the boards globally, as I found the AVG 8.0 fascinating as a business case study. The predominant global pattern that quickly emerged was a near 100% hatred of the toolbar which really is one in the same program as a part of the destested CPU-spiking link scanner.

Members here have commented that this feature is getting to be overkill with the world's two leading browsers having their own built-in link scanners as well. After a certain point of unloved CPU stressors, we are ready to say to them all - "hey! stop it! enough is enough! the crime is undeserving of this punishment! I'll take my chances with the ugly looking links ,already!"

And Zone Labs has their own toolbar with similar link scanning. The world's largest free softwall Firewall plus the world's largest free Anti-Virus/Spyware. Think of the mathematical probabilities of these two obvious bedmates on personal systems - oy!

Again, me with my stupid numbers. AVG has become the 4th most highly deployed Anti-Virus on earth since Intel bought +/- 43% of the firm two years ago. It is fair to say that when Intel says "Jump!", AVG responds "How High?"

Intel then clarifies to their security software "division" by responding, "the higher the better, man! push those new series dual and quad core CPU's we're fab'ing like they're going out of style - everyone else from Microsoft to Apple and Nvidia - bless them, even 'the enemy' (AMD and ATI) - has picked up the wonderful rhythm of this great new product launch! You have done a great part to add your share with your AVG 8.0 BETA, but still not enough. Meet this American firm, Exploit Prevention Labs - their wonderful Link Scanner eats CPU power like the stuff is going out of style. We think you should even buy them - here's the money to buy them with, no problem. Really, what are friends for anyway?"

Stumbling backwards for me .. a friend who actually wears a plastic pen holder in his shirt pocket and works for AMD says in late 2005, "hey JD, you must try the BETA of this product EPL - it is basically useless or even less than useless to everyone except Intel and AMD. Try it on your monster home rig, please? Tell me what you think!"

I report back after a week trialling EPL, "man, you're so right! Useless as charged, but wonderful to sell lots more high-end $$$ processors!?"

He comes back "so I must tell my boss if we should tender to buy EPL. Your opinion?"

I say "No, it'd be too transparently self-serving. Let Intel buy them."

He responds "No, they love EPL for the same reason we do, but it WOULD be too transparently self-serving and Intel's people are no fools either."

I respond, "well, why not beat Intel to the punch and tell your boss that AMD should tender to buy one of these good security outfits - maybe AVG, Check Point Zone Labs, Kaspersky Lab, AVIRA, you know the list! And THAT firm buys EPL to shove it onto their retail products. If they agree to do so, then you make them an offer they can't refuse and basically buy it for them by buying their whole security company."

We use the AVG Network Security product version at my SMB. And I still am grateful that our AVG Firewall is fully compatible with Vista - thank the Lord for small favors, yes?

So our two-year license with AVG ends in September and we must decide the right direction to turn next.

Our CTO asks me, "Hey JD, tell me more about this EPL product. You tried it before AVG / Intel bought the company, right?"

I told him I had no expert opinion to offer but favor Kaspersky Lab on our sillly little home office network.

I described it: "Well, they leave a big footprint too, like the new AVG. And their firewall is essentially impossible to configure without a Masters in Comp Sci from Stanford. But at least Kaspersky's feet are big and loud with real security programs. They'll even protect us against Intel and AMD!"

-jd:)

Anonymous said...

To install without "AVG Toolbar" and "LinkScanner".

=> avg_free_stf_*.exe /NOAVGTOOLBAR /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch

I can understand what AVG Technologies (formerly Grisoft) was trying to do in theory. Its just that the implementation is problematic! :(

Regards
-aussiebear

DC said...

1 - Is 8.0 no longer free? I cant find a link to download the free version.

2 - Will 7.5 no longer work if I choose not to upgrade?

John Goodwin said...

AVG certainly is still free and available from their website, link below and there's a link to click on the left hand side of the webpage;

http://free.grisoft.com/

As for updates for V7.5, perhaps Claus can confirm. I have seen comments posted that say updates are available but the cutoff point is unclear from what I can make out. Paid-for versions have updates available until the end of 2008 but the free version will lose the ability to update in late June (25th from what I recall).

Claus Valca said...

@ aussiebear . Yep. That will do it. If you look a bit higher up in the comments you will find a comment left by Pavel that has a number of additional CLI arguments to be used with the setup file. I seem to recall that by not installing both the SafeSearch and SafeSurf features, I didn't get the toolbar either. But maybe I just de-selected it as an option during the setup wizard.

@ DC . Yes AVG Free version 8.0 does exist. Don't let Grisoft's challenging webpage designed to funnel you to their paid products fool you. (It did my father-in-law who ended up purchasing the full AVG Internet Security 8.0 suite product (sighs).)

Try this more direct official Grisoft link for AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0
Download AVG Free 8.0 (AVG server) page

There's other good stuff (user guide) down at the bottom of that page also.

And don't fall for the "Trial-pay" offer either, unless that's your bag.

Alternative trusted download location: AVG Free Edition 8.0.100 via FileHippo.com

The answer to when AVG 7.5 won't work any more is kinda murky; even from Grisoft itself.

Quoting what I said in that comment:

"I've seen some new posts that indicate that the updates for AVG Free 7.5 version will end on June 25th while a statement from AVG customer service says it will end May 31'st, 2008. And it is the PAID editions that will continue the updates until December.

See this post by Ron Schenone: Hello, AVG 8 Tech Support! Anyone Home? ~ The Blade by Ron Schenone, MVP"

Still no clear answers. Good followup post by Ron here: Hello, AVG 8 Tech Support! Anyone Home?

@ John . Thanks mate for the quick update to the comment by DC! Yep, per the additional info I listed above your answer is about as clear as I can come up with at the moment.

I think I am going to load up AVG Free 7.5 in a virtual machine just to keep an eye on it to see what actually happens at some of these potential death-dates for 7.5.

If the "automatic updates" get turned off but Grisoft continues to offer them for its paid customers, I'm betting die-hard 7.5 fans can continue it on life-support by manually downloading and installing the DAT files for a bit longer (December 2008).

Here's a link to them via Grisoft's offical Download update (AVG 7.5) web-page.

Cheers to all.

Yet another AVG post to come soon.

(Sighs)

Anonymous said...

A simpler way to avoid the included toolbar would be to do as I did, which is simply when installing, choose the advanced or power user method. This will give you the option of whether you want to install the toolbar or not, which I opted not to do. See ... Simple! ;-)

Claus Valca said...

@ anonymous. I did do that. On one of my systems it worked and didn't install the tool-bar. On the other, even though I told it not to install, it did anyway. Maybe a bug with the installer?

Thanks for the reminder there is an option to not install it as part of the setup wizard.

Melissa said...

hi! I tried this:

"c:\avg_free_stf_all_8_100a1323.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf/REMOVE_FEATURE fea AVG SafeSearch"
but it wouldn't work- it gave me this error:
Installer initialization failed due to the following error:
Warning: Invalid command line argument "fea".

help please? :D I'd love ya for it ;) I can be emailed at: moarstories@hotmail.com

Colin said...

Melissa
You did leave out an underscore, in your script:

c:\avg_free_stf_all_8_100a1323.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf/REMOVE_FEATURE fea AVG SafeSearch


It should read:

c:\avg_free_stf_all_8_100a1323.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf/REMOVE_FEATURE_fea AVG SafeSearch

Anonymous said...

Hello Claus,

It's me Granny..
I have not done the install of the new 8.0 AVG version as of yet.
I have your instructions and I am a little nervious because I have never did anthing like this before. I always had help. I do want to learn so I can start doing these kinds of things myself.
I want to try to follow your instructions to install, but before I do. I wanted you to see this link to a guy that has a video on how to install the new 8.0 version.
He says you DO NOT have to uninstall the 7.5 version.
The new 8.0 will install overtop of the old version. This is when I get confused. I thought you HAD TO unistall 7.5 first. If this is true?
Again, I am so afraid that I will make a mistake and then have major problems, like some of the ones
I have read about in here and not be able to fix them on my own. Its Scary

Thank-you for your advice and help on this.

Here is the link:

http://www.helpmerick.com/avg_free_antivirus_8_0_upgrade_video_tip.htm

Claus Valca said...

@ Granny. Hey! No sweat! A little caution goes a long way.

I haven't had a chance to look at the video yet. Will see if I have time by the weekend.

Otherwise here are my thoughts:

Yes, you can install the new version 8.0 over 7.5. It should take up some settings/configurations from the old version...but there are lots of new ones...so I'm not sure what value that adds.

My thought (and based on comments by others who have tried it both ways) is that clean installations of AVG 8.0 seem to go smoother with fewer issues...in general.

I've done clean installs on mine and they have worked great. If you want to try an over-install (or upgrade), it's up to you. Certainly it's possible and supported.

My personal experience tells me that for most software products incremental version updates should be installed on top of an existing version, but a major version update just generally gets better mileage with a clean install.

To add some confusion to you now, it looks like an AVG Free 8.0 "service pack" version update will be released very soon. The comments are filled with details and teases from DougCuk on this. I hope this weekend to do a post just on this.

So, that said...I would probably wait a bit longer before installing AVG 8 now if I were you until this new updated version 8 release comes out.

It promises to fix a number of issues everyone has been fussing about and be more stable.

Stay tuned and we will let you know when it is out.

--Cheers!

John Goodwin said...

@ granny and @ claus

Hey, I'll readily admit I'm lazy and for the 3 installs I've done so far, each one has been an upgrade i.e. simply installed the new version over the old version.

There is something in the installation that seems to check for previous installations and I'm sure (please correct me if I'm wrong) that the old version 7.. gets uninstalled prior to the installation of version 8.

So to summarise - I don't think you'll have any problems doing it the 'upgrade' way but Claus Valca's statement is good advice

Regards

John G.

Anonymous said...

Hello Claus,

I will wait a bit longer like you suggested before I install 8.0. I would like to get it right the first time. The only thing that I worry about in waiting to install the newer version is..
Will I still be safe since the updates have already stopped for my 7.5 version.

Thank-you so much Claus for all of your help and time.

Greatful Granny

Hello John G,

Thank-you for letting me know about installing over the old version. I appreciate your input.
Its hard for someone like me to know which way to go with these things. I am trying to learn and hopefully with all the help I get in here I will get it right..
Thank-you for your help too.

Greatful Granny

Claus Valca said...

@ Granny - You can keep your virus files updated in the meantime. The trick is just knowing where to get them and how to get them loaded.

For these steps I'm using AVG Free Edition 7.5.524 on a Windows XP system.

1) Go to the following link and download the following update file:

AVG Free V 7 Priority updates - IAVI: / 1521 It's the bottom one and I suspect the name will change as it gets updated. The trick is to check the date column and try to snag the most current one. Should be updated daily but you might want to do this every few days if not daily. Make a note where you saved the downloaded file.

2) On your computer, launch either the AVG Free Test Center or Control Center.

3) Find the "Check for Updates" button on either center page and click it to launch.

4) In the pop-up window, DESELECT the "do not ask for update source next time..." checkbox. You will need to be manually updating them from here on out.

5) Click the "Folder" button at the bottom.

6) Browse to the location where you saved the BIN file you downloaded in step 1 then click OK. If everything is good, AVG should find the "New Update File".

7) Click "YES" to update AVG Free.

8) The file will be unpacked and the AVG updater should kick off like before.

9) When done, it will give a report that it was done successfully.

You have now manually updated AVG version 7 to to the latest virus signature files!

Easy-Peasy!

@ John G. -- Good feedback. Glad to hear the over-lay upgrade method works. It does uninstall the previous version as noted in the installation wizard. It also clearly states that version 7 must be reinstalled to "roll-back" after uninstalling version 8.

I ran a scan of before/after changes for a in-place AVG Free 8 upgrade over version 7 and version 7 is effectively removed from the system.

--Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Hello Claus,

The strangest thing happen.
When I got on the computer this evening, the AVG downloader popped up and said it was downloading the latest update. It ran as usual and then it said it was up to date.
How did that happen? I thought it stopped as of the 25th?
I am really surprised that happened.

Thank-you so much for the info on how to update AVG myself. Thats a relief to know I can keep up to date, until I install 8.0 version.
I really appreciate you letting me know how to do that.
Should I wait and see if it update's on its own again?
Just now I got the pop-up about no more updates after the 25th and like I said earlier, it did an update as soon as I got on the computer.
I dont know whats going on?
I have AGV 7.5.524. on Windows XP Pro

Again, Thank-you so much Claus for all your help. I do appreciate all your time and efforts to help me and others in here.

Granny

John Goodwin said...

@Claus

There's a very interesting article about the amount of traffic being generated by the LinkScanner in AVG8 over at El Reg here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/26/avg_disguises_fake_traffic_as_ie6/

Lots of anti-AVG comments, and this is coming from people who seem to have been using and recommending AVG for a while too. It would appear that lots of bandwidth is being eaten up by AVG's LinkScanner when using Google Search. This also ties in with click fraud so I think Google will start to become VERY interested in AVG8 and how it operates.

Let's hope that AVG see the light and remove this feature by default, and go back to being a company that provides a great AVG client without all the unfortunate bloat that AVG8 has become now.

Kind regards

John Goodwin

P.S. I see that some people on the comments have recommended the command line parameter to disable SafeSearch/LinkScanner

John Goodwin said...

@Claus

Apologies, but the link in my previous post was truncated! I have created a new shortened version, thanks to tinyurl dot com below:

http://tinyurl.com/58fcmu

The original link (on separate lines) is listed below:

http://www.theregister.co.uk
/2008/06/26/avg_disguises_fa
ke_traffic_as_ie6/

Kind regards

John Goodwin

Claus Valca said...

@ Granny - I'm not surprised at all about what you encountered. I've posted a bit before that it seems that even inside Grisoft there is conflicting information as to when the auto-updates will stop.

My advice for now is to keep the auto-updates coming on your system as long as they are working.

From time to time practise making a manual download and update until you are very comfortable with the process.

This way you can be covered if you decide to keep AVG 7.5 even after AVG 8 "SP1" gets released. It might end up not delivering all that we are expecting in terms of improvements.

Sounds like you are getting a good handle on AVG 7.5 management and will be in good shape should you decide to make the jump to AVG 8 down the road.

Power to the People!

--Cheers!

Claus Valca said...

@ John G. - Thanks for the new Register link. Certainly is even more interesting information.

I think this "cosmic-noise" being generated is a much bigger story and issue than most in the tech-world news have picked up on yet.

I've been following it from a 2nd angle as well.

One web-developer who may have first "broke" this story to the Register is continuing to monitor and report on his findings over at his OSBLues blog:

AVG LinkScanner Updates User Agent

AVG confirms Adwords unaffected

On top of all this, when will the madness stop? By this I mean Firefox 3 and Opera 9.5 builds both contain "web-friendly" link-prechecking protection from users if they enable that option. Firefox 3 downloads URL databases from Google and though I haven't yet fully researched Opera's, it appear to also use a more friendly manner of web-link checking. IE also contains an anti-phishing protection feature. Products like the free SpywareBlaster product can also help block malware sites locally on a system without gumming up the Interwebs.

The threat they are attempting to protect against is real; certainly. But at what cost to the web community? I think better methods exist.

Yes, the comments here (and some later AVG posts I've done) do contain the command-line method to remove some of these "features" during installation. I highly recommend using them.

Finally, I've been sitting on a few more AVG posts. Hopefully I'll get them out this weekend.

One of the items that DougCuk has led me to is indication that in the AVG Free 8 "SP1" release coming late this month or mid next, it will now contain the ability within the GUI installer wizard (if custom is chosen) to de-select the linkscanner component from installation.

It is reported that also in that version, Linkscanner has also be updated to be less local-system performance-impacting. (Doesn't mean it will cause any less grief to web-masters however....)

It's a start...but I'm still waiting to see if the upcoming solution goes far enough.

I REALLY like AVG Free. I like AVG version 8. The amount of custom CLI "tweaking" I've had to do and the ongoing furor over the linkscanner web-traffic generation is finally making me feel a bit "icky" about the whole thing.

I'm not to the point of feeling like I need to take a shower after supporting it, but if things don't turn around from Grisoft's deployment I might be a lone voice shouting in the wind.

Thanks for all the tips and comments John! Keep 'em coming!

--Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Hello Claus,

Thank-you so much for the instructions on how to update manually. I will wait and see how long the updates keep coming and when they stop I can update myself, now that I know how to do it.

I will let you know when the automatic updates stop.

I will have to help my husband with his AVG. He has a laptop and he has Vista on it. Do I update manually the same way on his laptop? His AVG seems to be still updating too. I want to be able to get his updates when they stop.

I want you to know how greatful I am for all your help. You are so kind in taking your time to share your knowledge and expertize with me and all the other people in here.

Greatful Granny

Claus said...

@ Granny - Yep. The same manual update process should work just fine on Vista as it does on XP.

Glad that I and all the other commenters here can be of help.

--Cheers.

Anonymous said...

AVG 8.0 Free will soon be provided WITHOUT anti-spyware and anti-rootkit.

http://free.grisoft.com/ww.download-avg-anti-spyware-and-anti-rootkit

Anonymous said...

http://free.grisoft.com/ww.download-avg-anti-spyware-and-anti-rootkit

Claus Valca said...

@ Anonymous - Yes...not sure what to make of that, but I think (at the moment) that this is the case of more AVG announcement muddlement from its public-relations group.

Some time ago AVG bought out Ewido's anti-malware program and was offering it as a free/$ standalone AVG Anti-malware product. It was pretty good.

AVG also had quietly released a standalone beta version of a rootkit scanner..also interesting.

With AVG version 8.0, the anti-malware scanning has been folded into their main product line.

See this link: Choose your protection level

Note the following "Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware
Protection against viruses, spyware, adware and identity-theft" shows checked across all versions.

The Anti-rootkit module is only in the Pro and Suite versions.

AVG Anti-Rootkit Free Edition

The rootkit scanner is only available in the paid versions now.

I've used both these standalone AVG versions in the past and like the anti-malware product. The anti-rootkit version left much to be desired and there are already a lot of good free-ware anti-rootkit program out there still.

Anti-Rootkit Tools Roundup Revisited

While it is certainly possible that AVG could pull out the anti-malware component from its AVG Free verion 8 product, I really don't expect that to happen.

-Cheers

Lloyd Borrett said...

AVG has already responded to resolve the LinkScanner issue. The full response can be seen at http://www.avg.com.au/index.cfm?section=news&feature=104

An updated version of AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 is already available, see www.avgfree.com.au. The Search-Shield component of LinkScanner has been modified to only notify users of malicious sites. The equivalent modification to the the AVG 8.0 commercial products will be rolled out on 9th July 2008.

Once the updated version has been rolled out to all AVG 8.0 users the issue will be resolved.

As of this date, Search-Shield will no longer scan each search result online for new exploits, which was causing the spikes that web masters addressed with us.

However, it is important to note that AVG still offers full protection against potential exploits through the LinkScanner Active Surf-Shield component of our product, which checks every page for malicious content as it is visited but before it is opened.

We’d like to thank the web community for bringing these challenges to our attention, as building community trust and protecting all of our users is critical to us.

Best Regards, Lloyd Borrett
Marketing Manager, AVG (AU/NZ)

Claus Valca said...

@ Lloyd - Thanks for stopping by and leaving that comment/announcment. It makes me feel good that AVG is out looking at user and community blogs on their products.

I was aware of that fact and pointed out that in my tests the traffic generated by the latest build of AVG Free 8 (138) does a remarkable job improving traffic loads for the AVG users.

Take a look at this updated post if your teams are interested. They have done some good work!

AVG Free Version 8 (post-SP1) – Definitely Differe...

--Cheers!

Liv said...

Wondering if someone can help me avg has completly slow downmy computer and redirects me to other pages on the internet ,It wont let me download any other programs, and cannot delete witth the simple add/remove programme, tried also deleting in the In (C:) but doesnt work, Im on a Windows Xp if anyone can help!
EMAIL:
xxlivxx123@hotmail.co.uk

Claus Valca said...

@ Liv - sounds like you may have other problems besides AVG. Redirection of web-pages is usually a sign of malware issues. If was present before AVG it is possible it is preventing it from working properly.

You may need to get a copy of another anti-malware program using another system, copy it to USB, and run it on the problem system first to try to clean it up before you are able to address AVG issues.

Some you might want to try are SUPERAntiSpyware, Spyware Terminator, Malwarebytes .org. I also hear that Counterspy is very good.

Have you tried using an alternative uninstaller program like Revo Uninstaller or Free Uninstaller 1.1.

I'm not certain, but it seems you have tried to uninstall the application from the command-line. If not, try downloading and copying over to the root (C:\) your system the latest AVG Free 8.0 setup file, then open a command-prompt box and browse to the saved location.

Then from the command line try the following command:

C:\avg_free_stf_en_8_169a1359.exe /UNINSTALL

(note your filename might be a bit different, use whatever it is called at time of download.)

That might work to get it off.

Or you can just try to run the installer again from the GUI and it should see it is already installed and offer you a chance to repair or remove.

I'm not sure what else to suggest. It does seem pretty wild that your system won't let you uninstall it normally, does page redirects, and no downloads either!

Looks like you will have your hands full for a while!

Good luck!

mikem62 said...

I have AVG8(free) and since installing this, many of the emails I receive are no longer in HTML format and are just plain text. I read somewhere this happens with AVG8 and suggests switching to Avast or maybe a couple other programs.
Is there a way to get my HTML back?

John Goodwin said...

I would certainly advise checking your email options to see if you can switch it back to HTML instead of plain text. I have the option on Thunderbird, but I know it can also be done with Outlook and possibly Outlook Express too. I cannot say for sure since you don't mention which email client you have.

Just for the record, I've never experienced the problem you've described with AVG.

regards

John Goodwin

Don H. said...

Does anyone know (Offtopic Warning) which build of which version of AVG 7.x began attempting to secure (seize?) an internet connection before it would allow the boot process to continue / complete??
After installing the last 7.5 on my BRAND NEW Vista laptop my boot time went from 10-15 seconds to 3-5 MINUTES. (Whenever WiFi was unavailable maybe ???). Ditto uninstalling that and installing the next-to-last build...
After my misadventures w/ v8 AVG trashing my RAMDrive and Registry I guessed that it was again a Grisoft product screwing up the works, and sure-enough, as soon as I uninstalled it, my boot time dropped back to 10-15 seconds again... including load-times of Avast, Spybot, Ad-Aware(which I'm also not very happy with), Spyware Terminator, and Spyware Blaster.
I guess this was a rhetorical question. After my repeated misadventures, Grisoft would have to PAY me, or at least provide a free machine, to ever load one of their produts again.

Are you listening Grisoft???

(And now the Punch Line: You're never going to here ME say "I could've had a V8")

(very stupid American Veggie-Juice ad)

mikem62 said...

I use MS Outlook 2007; I have found the solution to the problem and I'll post it in case it comes up for anyone else.
Go to Tools, Advanced Settings, E-Mail Scanner (on left) then on the right, uncheck the Certify Mail check box.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Great work thanks mate. Glad I happened to read this before install!

Claus Valca said...

@ Anonymous - Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad it helped!

--Claus V.

Anonymous said...

Claus. You are a moron. All you have to do to not have the toolbar is to not install it in the first place you freakin dolt.

Claus said...

@ anonymous - This is the case now, but that was NOT always the case in the early release versions of AVG Free 8. This was posted back in April '08 right after the product was first released.

As I pointed out in my previous related post I had selected the option to not install the toolbar at the very beginning, but it installed on my system anyway...despite my selection not to! It probably was simply an installer-code bug, but at the time, I wasn't the only one who was observing this behavior. And it certainly wasn't welcome to many of us.

Working around it to manually remove the toolbar was a big pain as it was installed in all the supported system web-browsers.

So the workaround--at that time which I posted here--was to do the installation from the command-line with extra arguments. That was the only guaranteed method to ensure you didn't end up with the toolbar in the first place.

AVG has long since fixed the installation bug and it doesn't seem to be an issue any longer, as you so kindly have pointed out.

At the time of the posting, however, it was relevant.

--Cheers

Colin Jensen said...

Hi there,

I put a tutorial together on how to install AVG8 with out the Link scanner.

Click here to view the article

Claus said...

@ Colin - I checked it out! Nice work and very good use of screen-captures. That helps a lot. I should use them more myself.

AVG 8 is great, and though the Link Scanner feature is not nearly as bad as the first versions, I really don't see much use for it except for really, really, really noobie pc users...and even then I question it's usefulness. I think the real value is more for AVG as looking like providing a more competitive "security suite" when lined up against others than it really helps the majority of folks who use AVG itself.

My opinion however, your mileage may vary! ;)

Good work and thanks for choosing to share it here!

Cheers!

Claus V.

Anonymous said...

I've just installed AVG 8 Free, and my Thunderbird couldn't connect to server. I played around with some AVG definitions as in FAQ 1286 and 1287 in http://free.avg.com/faq.num-1240#faq_1240 and now Tbird seems ok. I haven't experienced other problems, but it seems my computer is slow. I also tried to verify AVG is scanning my emails with eicar.com, but I'm not sure if it does. Does AVG immediately announce a virus, or I need to scan in order to see it? What should my AVG definitions be?

Nicholi1120 said...

So I seem to be having issues with installing some programs on my computer...I go to install them and my computer hangs up, I have tracked it down to avgrsx.exe causing the issue, when it's been stopped I don't have an issue installing..I hate disabling it due to the fact that in order to do that I disable most of AVG, and thus leave my computer open for a virus...anyone have any ideas about this issue?

AVG Download said...

Does anyone know how to install avg without the darn toolbar?

John Goodwin said...

I would certainly recommend doing an Advanced or Custom installation. That way I believe you get the option to choose what you want to install.

As I am doing this from memory now, I would point out that I simply untick the LinkScanner item. I may not be affected by a toolbar install as I use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

See the post on this blog at: 5/03/2008 8:16 PM (copied below for your convenience)

Original post by Marontiveros

Just my two cents: I installed the free version today (May 3rd) and, choosing Custom during the installation process, you can choose if you want the toolbars and other stuff. All without touching the "Run" box.

About performance, so far so good, no slow downs in boot time or execution, and I have a pretty old laptop in use (PIII 384 RAM)

5/03/2008 8:16 PM

Claus said...

@ AVG Download - I haven't gone back to using AVG in almost a year.

That said you might find these posts helpful.

Remove LinkScanner from AVG simply

Remove AVG Toolbar

(Solved) - How do I remove AVG Toolbar

It seems there are two camps; 1) you can "hide" the toolbar from Firefox/IE. However it seems to have a "re-enable" monitor to respawn it to live after a week. You then have to find that tickbox in the options to keep it from "reloading" in a week. 2) you can "uninstall" the toolbar permanently. I believe the solution remains the same as last time when I played with it. Download the newest AVG-Free setup exe file and run it (don't uninstall the existing AVG install first). When it sees that it is already present it will offer you a radio button to "add/remove components". Check that one. Follow the steps but then you will be able to de-select the components you don't want, and it will permanently remove them. When the over-install completes, it should remove the unwanted items permanently.

See this post Remove LinkScanner from AVG simply It may have changed just a bit in the year since writing it, but I suspect it is pretty close.

This worked a year ago on the systems I was installing AVG Free onto that got the toolbar (even when I told it I didn't want it installed!).

Cheers...

--Claus V.