Thursday, September 02, 2010

SOFTWARE: Now About Avast! ....

Gilda Radner played a character named Emily Litella on Saturday Night Live who would rage stupidly about this and that during the news segment, only to find out she'd misheard/misinterpreted something about the subject. She'd pause for effect, turn to a different camera and squeek out, “Never mind.”

I dumped Avast! yesterday as my home anti-virus of choice. Yah, that's the one I extolled in the preceding post and had used for much of the last two or three years. I hated doing it and it's cost me a day's work today recovering from the changeover (and it ain't over yet). I'm unhappy and I need to vent out a warning.

IF you are getting regular failure-to-connect messages from your desktop-based email program, and are using Avast!, try turning off the email shield (coming and going) and see if that fixes your problem. Doesn't matter which email program you are using. I use venerable old Eudora and I've read this problem CAN haunt Outlook, Thunderbird and even, in one case, Hotmail, which is a webmail program. It obviously doesn't happen to everybody using the latest v5.x from Avast. But if you DO have the unhappy honour of having the issue where connection is about a 1 in 5 chance of successfully coming off, you are flat out of luck. The folks at Avast seem impervious to cries of outrage over the issue. I added my name and info to that list. No response thus far. [EDIT] I can find no trace of that posting today.

Having read the various newsgroup posts on the matter, I knew getting it fixed in the near term was against the odds. Thus, I looked at four options: [1] I could simply turn off Avast's email protection and hope the regular system scanner would catch things when I tried to access any file that came in that way. [2] I could send my last remaining email account to get filtered through GMail, thus eliminating likely bad crap before it got to me, thus allowing me to continue using Avast! [3] I could continue playing the game of roulette and hoped my requests for downloading and uploading would hit the jackpot and let me through (15 times in a ten minute span came up loser at one stretch). Or [4] I could switch.

Guess which one I did. Of course I switched. I have a way of letting anger take over my life at times. So, I uninstalled Avast! (Thank you Revo Uninstaller). Then I opted to install Avira, which is more or less in the trio of free anti-virus products, along with AVG and Avast that have a big chunk of that market. If you can call it a market. Plus, Avira had outscored Avast on the latest set of tests of the various AV test labs.  So, why NOT switch? I knew AVG had become bigger and bloated, so I was left with Avira.

And, while Avira MIGHT be more complete in the sleuthing department, it's a major PITA. The initial install process was a bit easier than Avast!, although it had a disconcerting habit of showing two 'active' dialog windows at a time, one of which had a finish button WHILE the other one was still installing. Then, it started doing all kinds of scans right off the top and discovered LOTS more than either Avast or ESet's on-line scanner had. It took off msiexec.exe and mshat.exe off to quarantine immediately. And since then, I can't install any MSI files, even after re-installing Installer 4.5 via AutoPatcher to overwrite/update/add back the files Avira disposed of.

I went through the configuration settings with a fine-toothed comb. Not every screen was intuitive but I DID like the options provided. I especially liked the scanning scheduler, save for finer control on the actual start time of the complete system scan. I was relatively favourably impressed at that point.

But today, I've come unhinged. Avira checks my floppy drive ONCE A MINUTE. And apparently from what I have read, I can't do anything software-wise about that infernal grinding of the read heads. I finally stuck a disk into the drive just to shut it up!!!!! That alone would be cause for me to dunkirk Avira. But the constant scanning and coming up with stuff is bugging me too. When it scans and finds something, you can click on details and it puts up ANOTHER scanning window showing 30 percent done. A little while later, yet another window opens up and you have the file there with Move to Quarantine all set up to go … and no obvious way to do something alternatively. RIGHT-CLICK on the action and you get those alternatives. But it's just too much mental wear and tear. Even trying to restore from quarantine is a bother that seems to actually fail, because the file (a copy, as it turns out) stays right there in quarantine.

Avira is obviously a good program but it bugs me about as much as it is possible to bug me, when it comes to 'free' software. As I mentioned in a newsgroup posting at Avast, “It's hard to crab about a free software program, but …” Oh, and that was the last straw. I couldn't find Avira's newsgroups. And I tried. Hard. My time with Avira is at an end.

I now have to change choice [4] above to switch to AVG. Which I am loathe to do. I'm leaning towards choice [2] since I've moved my tertiary and specialist email accounts over to being filtered and handled by GMail. GMail itself is my secondary account, while Eudora handles the account which I use for family, friends and clients. My three tertiary accounts handle Book-related emails, On-Line Sports Prediction Game emails and my On-Line Purchases. The specialist accounts deal with Delphi, Newsletters and with buying stuff. It's all quite organized for me. And now, all of it, save my main account, is under one tent. Might it be time to make the last remaining big switch?

I'm going to sleep on it tonight. I'm ticked off with Avast for making me do all of this stuff. I'm ticked off at Avira for not being what I wanted it to be. And I'm ticked off at the world that continues to throw roadblocks when I've worked hard enough lately to get a few passes from Murphy.

Check back here in the next 48 hours or so to see what I did.

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