After installing avast! Free Antivirus, you'll see avast!'s orange icon in Taskbar Notification Area (aka System Tray) and a "Welcome to avast!" message pops up. Close it.
If you hover your mouse pointer over avast! Free Antivirus icon, you will see system status - normally this should be "avast! Antivirus: Your system is secured". This means that no action is necessary. More information about different statuses and messages is available on the second page of this article.
Additional protection features, such as AutoSandbox, WebRep, Browser Cleanup, Site Blocking and Software Updater are covered in an separate article.
avast! starts reminding you 30 days before the free license expires. A red window appears above Taskbar Notification area, stating that "Your subscription for avast! Free Antivirus is about to expire". Click the Renew now button.
If your license has expired, all avast! Real-Time Shields turn off and cannot be re-activated without renewing your subscription.
Alternatively, you can right-click avast! icon in Taskbar Notification Area, open Maintenance tab and click Registration.
Then click Register now in the avast! Free Antivirus window.
A large red offer appears, with main focus on paid product. Look to the left and click the gray Register button in the Stay with your current basic protection column.
Enter your First name, Last name and Your email address (a working one). Then click Register with email. You'll receive an e-mail with activation link shortly - click the link to activate your free license. This will also create your avast! account (accessible at https://my.avast.com).
Although you can also register with your Facebook account, I would not recommend doing so - Facebook is known to leak and sell personal data to third parties (advertisers). If you do prefer the Facebook way, read about setting good Facebook Account Settings and Facebook Privacy Settings.
In case you already have an avast! account, type your current password. Forgotten passwords can be reset using the Forget password link. You must have access to the provided e-mail address, though.
Your avast! Free Antivirus 8 is now licensed for a full year again!
Another promotional sales offer appears, just close it or use the Stay with basic protection link.
If avast! Free Antivirus is not open yet, click its orange ball-shaped icon in Taskbar Notification area, or click Open avast! user interface button (the left one) of avast! Desktop Gadget.
To configure avast!, click Settings link in the upper right corner of main window.
As you can see, avast! Antivirus 8 now has a totally revamped user interface. On the very left, current status is displayed - green means that everything's fine; yellow means some trouble and red requires immediate attention.
The first three large buttons - Scan, Software Updater and Browser Cleanup are available for avast! Free Antivirus users. Firewall requires upgrading to a paid version and Secure VPN needs paid subscription to a third-party service. Market is again available for all, having both paid upgrades and features, plus free protection for Macs and Androids.
avast! basic settings - enhancing performance on Windows
Let's start by checking Basic settings. In case your computer is not very fast, you can uncheck the box named Animate the icon when scanning in Appearance section. The change takes effect only after you restart Windows.
In Behavior section, make sure the Automatically open the Scan Results when scan is finished check box is ticked. This will notify you if infected items have been detected during a scheduled or on-demand scan. In case of no detections, the window will not appear.
Click Updates tab on the left to open Update settings page.
Click Automatic update under Program section to automatically update avast! Free Antivirus program. Also, make sure that Engine And Virus Definitions section is set to Automatic.
If you have a dial-up Internet connection, also check I only connect to the internet using a dial up modem box under Update parameters section. If you have other connection type, do not select any boxes here.
Next, click Details tab under Update Parameters section and deselect the Show notification box after automatic update check box. This disables automatic pop up messages after each virus definition update. Auto-update interval is set to 240 minutes (4 hours) by default and there is no real need to make it shorter or longer. Additionally, avast! Free Antivirus 8 checks for updated engine and virus definitions every time you start or restart your computer.
Reputation Services and Streaming Updates make sure avast! Free Antivirus 8 always detects and removes latest malware, even without full virus definition updates. All unknown and downloaded programs are double-checked this way to deal with newest threats quickly.
Make sure that both Enable reputation services and Enable streaming updates check boxes are ticked.
This does not mean that you can disable updates described in previous section!
Here's an example of Reputation Services in action - The file you are downloading seems to be very new or very rare. If you are absolutely sure that you are downloading a clean program (in this example, it is), select Complete the download from Actions To Take section. Then click OK.
Monthly security reports are offered via a pop-up message. These reports contain overview of scanned items and removed threats to assure you that avast! is doing great on your Windows PC.
If you do not need or want the reports, open Popups tab and clear the Show monthly security reports box. The Generate report now! link allows you to see the overview at any given time.
In case other users or kids tend to fool around with avast! settings or you want to enable the Site Blocking feature of avast!, you can password-protect all important configuration items as well as prevent the disabling of avast! Real-time Shields. The latter helps against malware that tries to silently disable or kill anti-virus programs.
To lock down avast! Free Antivirus 8 settings, click Password tab on the left. Then click the Protect avast! with a password check box and type a password into Password text box. Retype the same password into the Re-enter password text box.
Do not use your Windows password here! I strongly recommend creating a brand new password for avast! settings and storing it safely in a Password Safe password database. You can also read about creating and remembering strong passwords in my Creating strong passwords article.
By default, only Updates and General program access are available without password. This should normally be left this way, because updating virus definitions should be password-free. Those who have a very limited data plan, can actually password-protect the updates to minimize the data downloaded - avast! performs an automatic database update every time you start Windows.
If you want other users to be able to cancel scheduled scans, clear the Scan control check box.
The next time someone tries to change settings or disable avast! services or Real-time Shields, an avast! Authorization prompt appears. The prompt will be displayed for 60 seconds and if no input appears during the time, the action will be cancelled.
To check which program has made the request, expand Advanced. The requesting process should always be "avast!" here.
Type the password into Password field and click OK to allow the action, or click Cancel to deny the action.
In case you start seeing such prompts frequently for no apparent reason, you should perform a Malwarebytes Anti-Malware full scan to make sure there is no malware in your computer!
Click Sounds tab on the left. To disable avast! Free Antivirus 8 sounds altogether, clear the Enable avast! sounds box.
Alternatively, you can clear only the Automatic Update check box in the Events section. But as long as you like avast! sound notifications, always keep the Threat detected, Suspicious item detected and Potentially unwanted program (PUP) detected boxes checked.
Voiceovers offer more fun - default sounds can be replaced by pirate talk, for example.
avast! Community Settings - privacy, recommendations and social networking
Show avast! recommendation features and Show social networking features set menu items and options displayed in avast! user interface. If you disable these, Recommend and Market items disappear from avast! menus, but Market can still be accessed through a large button. Not much of a loss, really.
avast! Free Antivirus 8 settings backups are good for enforcing same settings across several computers or restoring custom settings after re-installation.
To create a backup, click Maintenance tab on the left and then click Back up settings.
In the avast! Back Up Settings window, leave all items checked and click Continue.
In the standard Windows Save As dialog, select a good location for your settings backup and click Save. Then click OK in success dialog.
To import or restore settings later, click the Restore settings button in Settings Backup section.
In standard Windows dialog, locate and click the settings backup file. Then click Open. In avast! Restore Settings window, ensure all items have been selected and click Continue.
A success dialog appears. Click OK and be aware that some settings take effect only after you restart your computer.
avast! Troubleshooting - resetting the program to its defaults
If you have ran into configuration problems so deep that you cannot sort them out, you can restore program defaults. Open Troubleshooting tab, click to expand the Restore factory defaults section and then click Reset now.
avast! verifies your action. Click Yes if you are sure you want to reset settings to their default values.
Again, some settings will take effect only after you restart your computer. Click OK.
Close avast! Settings window by clicking OK button in the lower right corner.
While most default settings for avast! Free Antivirus 8 Real-Time Shields are fine, there is one very specific setting that should be changed - avast! is sometimes unable to remove malicious files in certain archive types (aka compressed files, compressed folders) and therefore you might get unnecessary warnings about this. Let's be straightforward - if an archive contains some malware that can't be removed, you should not unpack/uncompress it anyway, so let avast! remove the malicious file in the first place.
In avast! user interface (main window), open Security tab from top menu. Then expand Antivirus tab on the left and open File System Shield tab.
This will display the shield's current status and statistics graph. Click Settings on the right.
Next, click Actions tab on the left. In Options section, under Processing of infected archives, click to activate the Try to remove only the packed file; if it fails, remove the containing archive option. Since you're here, open AutoSandbox tab from the left and change its mode from Auto to Ask. This will keep you out of trouble with older, unsigned programs. Read more about configuring and using AutoSandbox in this article.
Click OK to close the File System Shield Settings window. Please do not fiddle with other settings here!
Then repeat the same process with the following avast! Real-Time Shields:
- Mail Shield
- P2P Shield
- IM Shield
Move on to page 2 of this article to find out how to automate avast! Free Antivirus 8, check logs and Virus Chest, use Desktop Gadget and see which messages require immediate action.