Sunday, June 01, 2008

More Perspectives and Tips on AVG Free version 8

In my last post in the ongoing saga regarding coming to terms with AVG Free version 8, I made some speculations on why Grisoft had managed to create such a disconnect between what was a beloved anti-virus product and the fans who had evangelized for it.

Now a phrase along the lines of "...biting the hand that feeds it..." comes to mind.

Cue the Violins

I think this will be the fifth post in what has become quite a popular theme here on this humble blog:

Karel Obluk from Grisoft stopped by and graciously took the time to make some positive in the hopes that an "upcoming serivice pack 1 will help solve all the issues discussed here and in the previous post." One a bit more off the mark in suggesting that I don't get the value and need for the new AVG "Linkscanner" technology.

Here was my response:


Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment.

It's nice to hear confirmation that Grisoft is working hard to fine-tune AVG. I (and many others) know it will be a work in progress. It would be nice if Grisoft had a blog where they post development updates and news/tips regarding AVG v8 ($/free). I think everyone would find this deeply beneficial. If your company already has such a blog-page, could you share the weblink?

I get the Linkscanner feature.

Your FAQ also does a great job summarizing it: AVG Free FAQ's #1338 I had previously posted a link to it in one of my posts.

Yes, Roger Thompson's blog (and many others like it) point out the hazards that lurk behind many innoculous-appearing web-links. It takes a second to click but hours to clean and recover a system after a bad jump. Many (but not all) geekier-minded security folks already are cautious and security minded with link-hopping. However, as I have said before in my posts, a great many home-users are not so sophisticated and would find great-benefit in the LinkScanner feature of AVG v8.

The biggest hurdle for the rest of us is convincing us 100% that web-surfing performance is not impacted at between using/not using LinkScanner. And that AVG isn't doing any "data-collection" based on those checks...regardless if it is anonymous or not. Current discussion and comments from "power-users" is that they don't want to see a tool-bar, that LinkScanner feature does take a toll on system and web-surfing performance, and that for many folks, it is more of a burden than help.

Please bear in mind, that many users of AVG Free are running your product on older systems that have much more sparse resources (CPU/RAM/HDD space) than more modern pc systems bring. That is one of the very reasons they love and have turned to AVG is that it runs so very well on these older systems. As AVG version 8 adds more features and performs more functions those are bring a noticable impact to their beloved (and outdated) systems. They see and feel the difference and this leaves a poor taste in their mouth. Some even feel "betrayed".

It would be REALLY nice if the AVG installer provided a number of installation options for the user to select:

Minimal: For older laptops/workstations with minimal resources--provides basic email and A/V protection only.

Regular: For moderate laptops/workstations that will provide email/malware/A/V protection.

Full: Complete AVG feature installation (email/malware/A/V/LinkScanner/SafeSearch/SafeScan.

Custom: Pick and choose element installation.

That alone would probably win back many of your AVG/Grisoft product fans.

Thanks Merna!

Then a comment was left by Merna that left me realizing just how much I had been posting about this singular product.

Merna had found such value in the posts, she shared them in the comments of Windows Secrets and to Ron Schenone.

My Google Analytics account is telling me that LOTS of folks are posting link-backs to these posts. I'm not pointing this out to toot my own horn, but to illustrate (again) just how many fans of AVG feel really, really put-out by the changes made in the latest AVG product. And what is crazy to me is that Grisoft didn't have to end up in this mess. I sincerely think their product is very, very, good. It's just a shame that it has been buried under a mess of stuff that requires a bunch of high-tech hoops to jump through to reclaim the performance and behavior we all love with AVG.

As Ron Schenone says, for some reason a few of us still feel compelled to keep toiling away both on our blogs and our desktops trying to tame AVG Free version 8 and spread hope that it can be made worthwhile again.

Claus Valca's No-Fuss "Clean AVG Install" method

Previously posted in the comments of this post, I responded to a newbie's request for help on how to upgrade or install AVG Free Version 8.

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. (DO NOT try to run it directly from the web!)
  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.

Ron also suggests doing a disk-clean using CCleaner prior to install. Might help. As well as doing a scan for disk/file errors prior to install. That's always a good idea before installing software. I'm a 100% fan of doing a clean uninstall of AVG 7.5 and rebooting PRIOR to installing AVG 8. I don't like the "in-place" upgrade method; especially when it applies to security software.

Finally Ron recounts that some users are getting corrupted AVG 8 setup files and suggests trying different locations. If you don't want to get them direct from Grisoft (sometimes the server downloads seem slow) I would recommend trying a download from FileHippo as an alternative location.

Lastly, particular to Vista, it is recommended that before you put AVG Free 8 on a Vista machine that you first ensure all your security updates have been applied and the system rebooted. I know that sounds like an obvious tip, but it seems to behave better on updated Vista machines.

Also, when I installed AVG Free 8 on my Vista box I followed the steps outlined above, but I first "right-clicked" my command-line box and told it to run with elevated privileges "Run as administrator..." then typed the long command line listed. Even though my personal Vista profile account is an administrator-level one, my intuition told me I might want to run the setup program with "full" administrator rights for the installation.

Disable the AVG Free version 8 "Dropdown Notification"

One more post-installation tip. You will soon notice that a pop-down message appears every time you open the Security Console window in AVG Free version 8. You can't disable this "feature" from within AVG, but some clever folks have figured out how to stop it from appearing:

To get rid of the "Dropdown Notification" simply change 2 files in the C:\Program Files\AVG\AVG8 subfolder:

Rename the file "avgresf.dll" to something like "avgresf.dll.disabled"
Rename the file "avgmwdef_us.mht" to something like "avgmwdef_us.mht.disabled"

I just appended an extra ".disabled" extension to the existing one.

Works like a charm.

Fauna in the Forums

Looking for more AVG Free version 8 "wailing and gnashing of teeth?" (And a few good tips sprinkled in like salt in a wound?)

Head to the Forums

Have no fear, Claus Valca is still here on the trail of AVG Free version 8.

Hopefully the world is a better place because of it.




Ron Schenone said...

Hello Claus,
I received this comment from one of my readers and I thought I would share it with you:

"I had hoped that once we were past the May 31st deadline things would become clearer, and we could coast along to the “real” deadline of December 31st.

But as of today we now have a new “official” deadline - of June 25th 2008 - displayed as of today by the installed v7.5 Free program. - Link to new June 25th Popup - received on a system running XP Pro.

To confuse matters further I received the following email response from AVG Customer Service a few days ago:

“The AVG FREE Edition 7.5 will discontinue as of May 31st 2008 however the AVG 7.5 Paid Editions will continue until December. This is not a marketing ploy.
Jason Robins
Customer Service
AVG Technologies”

I think AVG are having a serious communication problem - and in the process are damaging their reputation as a leading security company."

Regards, Ron Schenone

Ron Schenone said...

This just came in from another reader:

"A member of the AVG Development Team - posting under the name Vinzenz.Ewido - and several of the Beta testers - have posted info on the Wilders Security Forum regarding the next major update to the AVG 8.0 program. Link to thread -

Internally the AVG Team are calling this next major AVG 8 update “SP1″ (aka v8.0 build 111) - this update is supposed to resolve a large number of the current problems - including some Firefox v3 compatibility issues. However as of today this is still only available to Beta testers.

With any luck this update - when released - may at last allow AVG 8 installation to be as trouble free as v7.5 has been."

DougCuk said...

It appears the SP1 update has just reached the paid for AVG product and should filter through to the update servers and the free product very soon. Version number on the paid for product is Build 8_125a_xxxx

From the Wilders Security Forum:

Many fixes including the ActiveX compatibility issue with Spybot S&D and SpywareBlaster

Claus Valca said...

@ DougCuk - Thanks for this awesome tip. Can't wait to see if this SP1 fixes some of the headaches. the change list looks promising. Hope the final list when published contains even more.

I appreciate you sharing the news and the link!


DougCuk said...

Still waiting for the free version - we are currently at 8.0.100 will change to 8.0.130 when released.

Check this location for the Free version:

DougCuk said...

Latest news on SP1 for AVG Free - could be a few weeks before release!

I suspect a few problems have been found during the paid for release - now bumped to 8.0.131 after only three days.

Quote below from,133954
New AVG Free 8.0 (SP1)
Posted by: michaelhd - AVG Team
Date: June 24, 2008 07:18AM

AVG Free SP1 is due for release in the next few weeks (mid july or earlier).
It will be a standard update to existing AVG Free 8.0 installation - no need to install new build.