Avast! 4 setup hints

Avast free version registration or annual re-registration

Go to here and register, they will email you a license key. If you have registered before, there is no way to "renew" your key, if you lose it or it expires, just register again, and get a new key.

A tutorial slide show is available here with extremely detailed instructions on how to update the license key. Alternately, the following instructions should work.
Copy the key out of the email into the clipboard, and start up the Avast! antivirus program. During the initial memory scan, there is an option to install a new registration key. Click that link, and paste in the key from the clipboard.

Be sure to preserve the key for future re-installations and include the date you obtained it, so you'll know when you need a new key.

Elimination of popups when mail server times out

Click the Avast icon in the system tray. If there is a button labeled "Details" at the bottom of the dialog, click it. Choose "Internet Mail" from the icons at the left edge of the "Details" dialog. Then click the "Customize" button which brings up the "Resident task settings" dialog. From there, choose the "Advanced" tab. Look for the "Timeout for Internet communication(s)". It should be checked, and 120 seconds is a good timeout, usually. But from the radio buttons just below, choose "shutdown connection" rather than the default "ask" choice, to avoid dialog boxes popping when the the mail server(s) cannot be reached (which is usually a transient condition). OK out of all the dialogs.

Automatic updates

Avast can update its virus database automatically when an internet connection is available. This is the default setting. It checks every 4 hours, when an internet connection is available, and if it is not, as soon afterwards as possible, when a connection becomes available.

Avast can also update the program itself automatically. This is not the default setting (because it could take a fair amount of time on a dialup connection). Rather the default is to detect the availability of an update, and ask the user if it should be done now or later. If you like things to be automatic, and especially if you use an always-on connection, you should set this setting to automatic also.

Both the above settings can be found by running the Avast user interface program (right click the Avast system tray icon, and choose "Start Avast! Antivirus"), on the Settings menu, choose Settings, then Update (Basic). On that dialog, there are the 3 choices for each of the above settings, and also a link to perform updates immediately (manually). The details button shows the date of the last update performed (and provides other options).

It is important to update the virus database regularly, but if you use a slow dialup, and frequently check email only, you might not want to get "stuck" doing an update. If you choose to set these options to "manual", be sure to perform the manual updates on a regular schedule, no less than weekly if you use Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and/or Outlook, and no less than monthly if you never use those programs.

Merging icons

Avast places two icons in the system tray, both circular, one contains an "a" and one contains an "i". You can right click on the one that contains an "i" and choose "merge icon" which will put its menu into a submenu on the "a" icon. Generally you never use the "i" icon anyway, so making it go away is good.

Zone Alarm settings for Avast

Avast may report, during installations, that it is incompatible with ZoneAlarm. However, it is really just incompatible with ZoneAlarm Pro, not Free ZoneAlarm, so you can ignore that incompatibility warning.

security alert When ZoneAlarm notices that Avast! has updated itself, it will show security alerts such as this. These should always be responded to by checking the "remember this" box, and then clicking "Allow". Not checking "remember this" will result in the alert showing up repeatedly, and not clicking "Allow" will cause Avast! to quit working, which will also cause email to quit working.

zone alarm program control But if email seems not to be working, and you think maybe it was a result of accidentally telling ZoneAlarm to block Avast, you can check, by:

1) double click the ZA icon in the system tray to open ZoneAlarm.
2) click on "Program Control" on the left edge of the ZA window.
3) click on "Programs" tab on the top right of the ZA window
4) likely Avast stuff will be close to the top of the sorted list of programs there, and the following programs should all have two green checkmarks in the "Access" column, and blue question marks in the Server column:

avast! antivirus service
avast! antivirus Update
avast! e-Mail Scanner Service
avast! Web Scanner

The avast! service GUI component should have 4 blue question marks.

That should be all of the entries for avast! (On Windows 9x, there might be fewer Avast processes, but the idea is the same; this list is from Windows 2000 but seems to be the same on XP also.)