Avast setup highlights why you should always customize installations

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 4, 2015

Whenever I install a program on Windows, the very first thing that I do is check for a customization option.

I have two main reasons for doing so: The first is to make sure I don't miss adware or other unwanted programs offered during installation, the second that I don't install components that are part of the main program that I don't require.

The latest version of Avast Free Antivirus highlights why that is a good precaution.

Please note that Avast is not the only software program that includes a selection of components that you may have no interest in. I use the program as an example to highlight the importance of customizing installations, not to blame Avast for bundling all these components with their program.

Other companies may not even give you as many customization options, if any, when you install their products on your devices.

If you don't select customize during installation of Avast, you end up installing the following components on your system.

  • File Shield
  • Web Shield
  • Mail Shield
  • Browser protection
  • Software Updater
  • Remote Assistance
  • SecureLine
  • Cleanup
  • Rescue Disk
  • Browser Cleanup
  • Home Network Security
  • Passwords

While you may have an understanding of what some of these components do or offer, it is less clear with others.

For instance, what is Home Network Security doing or SecureLine?

Even if you know all the modules, you may not need some of them. You may not need Passwords, a password manager, if you already use a password manager. The same is true for SecureLine, a VPN component, cleanup and browser cleanup, or remote assistance.

Yes, having some of the components installed makes sense. You may want the Rescue Disk for example, or the File and Web Shield components as they may improve protection while using the system.

But that is exactly what the customize option is for; to let you pick the components you need and deselect those you don't.

Avast makes this a little harder than it should be as it does not provide descriptions that help you understand what each component does.

The only option you have when this occurs is to either research a component on the Internet. While you can in theory install it and check it out once it is installed, it not only may require you to remove it again if you find out you don't need it, it may also have other unforeseen consequences depending on what it does.

If you don't select customize, you'd get all twelve components selected by default. These may interfere with other software running on your system in worst case. Some may install browser add-ons that you don't require, others may take over functionality that other software is already being used for.

Side Tip: Avast informs you that it will collect and share data during installation. It won't give you an option to opt-out there, but you can do so once the installation completes. Open the settings of the program with a click on the gear icon, click on Privacy to expand the section on the page, and remove the checkmark from "Participate in data sharing".

Now You: Do you use custom installation options?

Avast setup highlights why you should always customize installations
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Avast setup highlights why you should always customize installations
The article discusses why it is always better to select customize during software installation on Windows devices.

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  1. Anonymous said on November 26, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for the article, Martin.

    I’ve never tried any Avast product but was about to give their Avast Antivirus Free a spin until I read this article. Having to be so careful during installation to avoid all the crapware they include and then to find a way to disable the constant nagging popups that come with their product greatly withered my interest in trying it. I’ve also read elsewhere that their products can sometimes be very difficult to remove from some machines. I’m going to consider other options for my pursuit of antivirus software.

  2. MJS said on November 8, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    A few years back I had been a big proponent of Avast, but each time I “updated” it became more and more of a resource hog, even freezing my system, and also missing alot of things during scans. As with everything I took the custom install option to weed out bloat and it continued to happen. At one point they started aggressively pushing all kinds of junk and clutter, which of course made it even more unreliable, so I happily dumped it and never looked back.

    Been using 360 Total Security since and it is by far the best, most useful and reliable A/V I’ve used; no bloat, no nonsense, no sales assaults, just fast, strong, and reliable. One can only hope companies like Avast eventually see the light and find a new business model (or return to what attracted customers to them initially and brought them success).

  3. wybo said on November 6, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I always use the customize option and as a second pair of “eyes” I use the excellent ‘untick the PUP boxes’ program ‘Unchecky’.

    On different note I use the Avira. So far very happy with it and the nag boxes only pop up when I fire up my devices. So personally I do not find them annoying.

  4. jfjb said on November 5, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    my avast customized install uses three modules: “english”, “file shield” and “web shield”
    in my book, the rest is useless, unless one’s lazy about safe computing, safe internet and… (grin) safe sex
    I may be wrong, says my wife

  5. Pete said on November 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    You only need one component with Avast: File Shield.

    Light and protects you.

  6. Wayfarer said on November 5, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Avast used to be a favourite of mine, but I dropped it a while ago.

    I appreciate the need for providers of ‘free’ software to finance the process somehow – nothing in this life is ever really free. Taanstaafl.

    But – when we decline to install the bundled pups, or worse still walk away from the primary software itself – I have to wonder where the profit lies in software that no-one installs – or is ever going to install.

  7. Neal said on November 4, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Unfortunately That’s the standard for many free AVs, most of new features are addons that try to get you to subscribe to a service. For avast the core protection is only 3 or 4 things really. File shield, web shield, mail shield and maybe secure virtual machines for Avast’s deepscans. Everything else is of questionable in regards to security.

    I have the pro version from their giveaway and I only use what I explained about before and their sandboxed safezone browser which you can get something similar yourself by using a free program like Sandboxie.

    Also if you are using the free version you can turn on silent/gaming mode to stop all notifications including advertisement pop ups. The only problem is stop all notification including virus warnings. Last time I used the free version, Avast greyed out the option to disable the ads, so silent/gaming seems to be the only option, although imperfect, to stop the ads.

  8. Mike said on November 4, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    I highly suggest installing the Unchecky service ( http://unchecky.com/ ) to help prevent accidental installation of additional unwanted offers.

    On a side note, although I used to, I personally don’t recommend Avast as a security product because of its anti-consumer movement towards bundling increasing amounts of “premium services” (read crapware). Currently I’m running Avira with “BGP Killer” to eliminate the premium-upgrade nagscreens because its consumer practices have stayed fairly clean and it’s detection rates are excellent. Unfortunately it’s currently pretty unlikely to find good free antivirus software that isn’t making a move towards “premium service bundling” or worse, privacy-infringing data-mining like Qihoo 360. While free products like ClamAV will always be good choices for on-demand scanning, especially coupled with a cloud service like HerdProtect or even BitDefender 60-Second Virus Scanner, it’s still nice to have efficient heuristic real-time scanning.

  9. jj said on November 4, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I used to use Avast, and yes you are right about using the custom install method. I always use custom install when it is available. However I stopped using Avast because it renders Windows System Restore unusable. Yes Windows System Restore will go through all the steps, but upon reboot it says that the restore was not successful. I have tried disabling self protection, tried from safe mode, but whatever I try Windows System restore will not work with Avast. I even sent Avast an email asking what I am doing wrong, but I was met with silence, no answer! So now I use AVG Free and Windows System Restore now works. Yes I know AVG is not as good as Avast, and yes I still make a clone of Windows, but sometimes I just want to use System Restore instead of a complete revert with Macrium Reflect. This problem has been bugging me from XP, 7, 8, 8.1 and now 10. Just recently did I find out that it was Avast causing the problem all these years.

    1. MattHall said on July 19, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      I too have been using Avast for years and never realised the issue with System Restore was caused by Avast.
      I can usually get System Restore to go back a few restore points but beyond that it always fails to restore.
      When I load new software I always use the custom option if one is available. Avast has installed PUPs for years and each version seems to introduce more of them. At least you appear to be able to stop most of them installing along with Avast.

    2. fokka said on November 5, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      that explains my previous trouble with system restore, thanks for the heads up!

    3. Oxa said on November 5, 2015 at 7:36 am

      Hmm…I’ve been using Avast for years and have never had a problem with system restore.

  10. jasray said on November 4, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Users may want to check for piles of leftover files and registry entries if they are installing and uninstalling Avast along with all of the other mentioned AV Suites. AVG provides an uninstaller, but the tool leaves as much garbage behind as if using the program uninstaller. Yes, even if Revo or Geek or Absolute or any other uninstaller was used, I found thousands of folders and keys leftover from any one installation. Panda free uninstalled relatively well with only a few items remaining. My gosh! Avast sound like a nightmare. I wouldn’t even want to see what may be left. Maybe complete a system restore or something. Ironically, ClamAV found, detected, and removed more “viral” infections than any other program.

    1. batman said on November 4, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      If referring to my post, i reverted back to a clean image with macrium reflect.

  11. batman said on November 4, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Tried a lot of av suites yesterday looking for one with a good firewall, avast was one of them.
    well, avast sure asked me if i wanted to let me browser use the internet, but while I pondered to answer yes or no, the page was nicely let to load. When i then answered no, my browser was happily let to continue browse.

    i tried avast, bitdefender, bullguard, trend,secura, quickheal, g-data and they either mess your system up, are bloated or feel like they are made by kids, for kids all with horrible guis.
    Only good ones are eset and kaspersky.

    sorry for the off topic rant :)

    1. Dukislav said on November 5, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Try Comodo Internet Security:


  12. JobC said on November 4, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    I almost always choose the customize option. For the reasons you shared and also, because often there are optional items that won’t get installed without doing it. Language packs, Accessories and Tools have been commonly omitted unless you customize the install.

  13. Davin Peterson said on November 4, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Some free software will install browser toolbars or other software you don’t need. So, don’t be so fast to click next on installations. I always click customize or advanced installation.

  14. insanelyapple said on November 4, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    I’m personally no longer using it since they changed terms of use in way that allowed them to use scan results whatever they like but thank you for pointing that important step during installation of this suite.

    And as you can see, they turned into same bloatware as Nero once did.

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