Make Avira AntiVir (Free Edition) More Usable

Update: there is also a more recent version of this article here.

logo_antivir.gifFor years now I have used the free edition of AVG Antivirus, but recently I switched to Avira AntiVir (free edition). I still like AVG, but a number of reports (such as this one) show that it suffers in comparison to AntiVir. While my system has not had a virus in a long time, I decided to give AntiVir a whirl.

I like it, for the most part. However, there are a couple of easy hacks improvements that one can make.

Disable the Annoying Popup

The free edition of Avira AntiVir comes with an nagging popup window that rears its ugly head after each update (usually) every day, begging you to consider upgrading to the premium version. The popup is easy to dismiss, but annoying nonetheless. I understand that Avira needs to make money, but every single day is excessive.

Anyway, here is how to disable it:

Windows XP Pro:

  1. Start – Run – Type “secpol.msc”
  2. Click on Software Restriction Policy – go to Action (at the top) – Create New Restriction Policies
  3. Right-click on Additional Rules (on the right) – Choose New Path Rule

new_path_rule.png

4. Now click Browse and find the “avnotify.exe” file (C:\Program File\AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic\)

5. Make sure the security level is set to “Disallowed” and click OK.

Done. What you have done is disallowed the execution of “avnotify.exe”, which should suppress the popup window.

Windows XP Home (and Media Center)

  1. Boot into Safe Mode (repeatedly press F8 after boot)
  2. Login under the Administrator account
  3. Navigate to C:\Program File\AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic\avnotify.exe
  4. Right-click “avnotify” – Go to PropertiesSecurityAdvanced
  5. Look under the Permissions folder for a listing of all the system users. Do the following for all the users:
  6. Edit – Traverse Folder / Execute File – Deny – Click OK
  7. Reboot (into Normal mode) when finished

I don’t have Windows Vista, so I can’t comment on that. If some willing user wants to figure it out and comment below, please feel free.

Make Updates Invisible

By default, when AntiVir updates itself, it will spawn a new (minimized) window that can interrupt any full screen application that you are using, such as a movie or a video game. To change this, set the Display Mode to Invisible.

  1. Launch AntiVir and click the Scheduler tab.
  2. Right-click on Daily Update and choose Edit job
  3. Click Next until you reach the Display Mode screen
  4. Choose Invisible from the drop-down list (see screenshot)

antivir_invisible.png
There. Now AntiVir will no longer interrupt full-screen applications.

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83 thoughts on “Make Avira AntiVir (Free Edition) More Usable

  1. As a Vista Business user, I imagine your secpol.msc method would work, but I used a slightly different approach. Navigate to the Avira program directory (“C:\Program Files\AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic”, in my case), right-click on avnotify.exe, and go to Properties. Go to the Security tab in the window that appears, and hit “Edit…”. In the Permissions window, go through all the users and click “Deny” by “Read & execute”. Then hit OK as many times as necessary and you should be ad-free!

    1. No. Whatever you do, do NOT do that. “avnotify.exe is a process belonging to Avira Internet Security Suite which protects your computer against Internet-bound threats such as spyware and trojans which can be distributed through e-mail or attack directly to the computer allowing unauthorized access to your computer.\r This program is important for the stable and secure running of your computer and should not be terminated.\r”

      http://www.processlibrary.com/directory/files/avnotify/

      1. You can’t always be sure about what these sites say but if it’s true, you want to be safe. The program that manages the ad pop-up may be the same one that tells you if Avira has detected a threat.

      2. Er.. isn’t this the same basic thing that is going on in the original post, though? The tip posted here gives a method to disallow the running of avnotify.exe, and Daniel only posted another method to achieve that.

        You may have a possible point here but if your point is valid, then wouldn’t this whole blog post be a bad idea?

      3. Actually, I confirmed that it is perfectly safe to disable avnotify.exe. I did the EICAR test afterwards and Avira caught it within moments, notifying me in a popup window.

  2. habibbijan, you have done a good job giving detailed information right here. But I can’t follow your instruction to disable the popup in my Windows XP Home edition. I can’t see any option or tab that allow me to choose “Security – Advanced”.

    By the way, do you have any information to disable the popup in Windows 98?

  3. @ Dennis – to do this in XP Home, boot in Safe Mode, log in as an Administrator, then navigate to the avnotify.exe file, right click, and you’ll find a security tab.

  4. Nice! It’s really annoying that pop up.

    Good to know that there is a way to disallow the execution of files you don’t want to run, didn’t know that.

  5. Thanks for the very useful tips. Just another note, some host firewall software are also able to block file execution.

  6. Hello, thanks for the tip. I use Windows Vista Business, and I want to confirm that I was able to use the Windows XP Pro tip successfully. I didn’t bother using the alternative method posted by Daniel because I had no need to.

  7. Greetings folks.

    Thanks for these excellent reviews.

    The easiest method for disabling that pop-up is extremely simple and does not require any of the steps mentioned above.

    Simply go to the Avira program folder and find the avnotify.exe file.

    RIGHT-click over that file and click on “Rename”

    Then simply change the last letter of the “.exe” to something else – I use “x” – so it now looks like this : avnotify.exx

    Done! No more pop-ups!

    Best wishes and enjoy.

    Dr. Mac

  8. Dr Macs advice wont work as avnotify.exe will be replaced by any update if its detected as missing or has changed as the AV self checks itself (as it should) using MD5 hashes of its components, it will retrieve any missing or damaged files on update

    stick with the security-permissions method of denial as this works

    and i agree if it wasnt for the aggressive popup advertising nags there would be no need to take these steps

  9. Thanks
    I was going to uninstall Avira because of its daily annoying update screen & I got your tips just in time.

  10. Dr. Mac’s suggestion works but he left out one vital step.
    You must create a new folder and name the folder avnotify.exe

    To recap, follow these easy steps for quick and easy removal of the annoying update screen.

    1- Go to the Avira program folder and find the avnotify.exe file.

    2- RIGHT-click over that file and click on “Rename”

    3- Rename the file anything you want (ex. avnotify.exe.old )

    4- Create a new folder and name the folder avnotify.exe

  11. Unfortunately this method no longer works, at least on XP Home (my system). I disabled the permissions in Safe Mode, and then when I did a test update the next time, it downloaded a new copy of the avnotify.exe file, this one presumably with full permissions!

    This really sucks that they adapted the latest version to be able to do that. Especially because even if I can get my firewall (COMODO) to block avnotify, a message still pops up and says the process is necessary, blah blah blah, but if you don’t want to see it anymore check this checkbox–and there IS NO checkbox!

    So effective, I’m stuck with this now.

    Anyone have any other strategies? I like Avira overall but this is a real nag.

  12. Some say – renaming and using folder won’t work – http://www.iceteks.com/forums/index.php?s=62c7d841aacf83c303f55a6962d117ea&showtopic=5057&st=0&#entry38883

    If you run anti Vir (anti virus with umbrella icon) you probably notice how you get this annoying advertisement popup every time it updates.

    This is run by the avnotify.exe program that resides in it’s installation folder. Unfortunatly its not as easy as deleting it or replacing it with a custom app, as it gets rewritten each time! I even tried to create a folder with the same name, as folders cannot be deleted in the same way as files from a program point of view – but it renamed it!

    So here’s what you do:

    -Go to start.
    -Settings
    -Control panel
    -Administrative tools
    -Local security policy (If you want to get fancy, you can probably do this through a domain policy if you are on a domain)
    – Software restriction policies
    – Right click additional Rules
    – Select new path rule
    – Browse to the avnotify.exe program and set to restrict.

    Try to go open that file and you should get an error that execution has been disabled for this file.

    This will stop the annoying popup

  13. Does this not circumvent the EULA?

    The licensee is not authorized without the written express permission of Avira, to change, translate, retro-develop, decompile or disassemble the Software, or to create works derived from the Software or the documentation, or to reproduce, translate, change or create works derived from the documentation , insofar as this is not absolutely necessary within the context of contractual use. Understand that Avira has the right to terminate your software without notice in the case of substantial violations of contractual obligations

  14. Yes, I’m pretty sure it does violate the agreement.
    However, I believe Avira won’t be so eager to “terminate your software” instantly… they have quite enough customers shutting down their popup systems not to bother about them.

  15. No, this doesn’t violate the agreement. When you disallow a program to launch, it doesn’t mean you ‘change, translate, retro-develop, decompile or disassemble the software’. So it’s completely legal. Of course, Avira can always try to fix this ‘bug’ by incorpating the popups in the normal process, but as long as they don’t, this works fine, and Avira Free is the best free antivirus available. :)

  16. Or, you could disable the popup the simple way and actually pay for the damn app.

    You want the free version – you get the problem, pay for it and it goes away. This “tip” is no different to cracking a game or any other method of piracy.

  17. On XP home, if you already have administrator rights to the computer you are using (and you likely do*), this method is a heck of a lot quicker:

    Open a Command Prompt and type the following,
    cacls “C:\\Program File\\AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic\\avnotify.exe” /d Administrator

    Press Y when it asks “Are you sure?”

    *If you are limited user, you still likely own the computer. So preface the earlier command with:

    runas /u:Administrator

    (or use a different admin account) You may have to type in your password.

  18. The tip for vista doesn’t work anymore. After the next update, the file gets replaced and permissions are back the way they were before.

  19. I love your nerdy goodness!!! I was researching other free antivir programs as the pop up annoyed me so much then only to read that Avira is still the best. This fix has solved all my problems and kept me with the best antivi.

  20. @Chris –

    [QUOTE]Or, you could disable the popup the simple way and actually pay for the damn app.

    You want the free version – you get the problem, pay for it and it goes away. This “tip” is no different to cracking a game or any other method of piracy.[/QUOTE]

    The tip offered in the article is in no way akin to piracy. To suggest otherwise is pure ignorance. Piracy is deliberately bypassing a method of verification used by the makers of commercial software. For instance, if Avira did NOT offer a free version, and someone were to download the trial version of Avira Premium, then hack it so that it no longer has any limitations, that is piracy.

    However, simply implementing a security policy to prevent an executable from running is not piracy. It is a feature of Windows that exists for one purpose: security. If the makers of Avira AntiVir Personal Edition choose to run that nag screen under the avnotify.exe process and not under the main process, then implementing a security policy to prevent the avnotify.exe process from starting is NOT piracy. It does NOT violate any terms in their EULA for the free personal edition and you are not reverse engineering any form of DRM or payment verification.

    If people want the extra features of Avira Premium, then by all means, pay for it. However, if someone simply wants to use the free version of Avira without the annoying nag screen, and they use the method listed in the article above, they are not “pirates”.

    If they hex edited the avnotify.exe app to remove the nag screens altogether, then that IS a violation of the EULA and that is wrong. But that is not what is being discussed here.

  21. If your plans are NO ANNOYING AT ALL from avira, consider uncheck the “Show notice if the virus definition file is out of date” box, under the “General > Security” tab, inside the configuration window. Don’t forget to check “Expert mode” (on top) to see this tab.

  22. hi! i like the idea of disabling the popup but my problem is that i can’t update avira so now im infected by a virus. i downloaded a vdf of it but avira says something like its not licensed so it cannot be installed in the system. i want to update my antivirus coz i know thats the only way to truly protect my pc in the latest pc viruses nowadays. can anyone help me abt that?

  23. the restriction change still works for me in windows XP Pro.

    Joyce,
    dont know why you cant update, but why dont you try (temporarily) using trend’s housecall http://housecall65.trendmicro.com/

    its free, online, and has the latest definitions. Once you are free of virus/malware problems than you might be able to figure out why you arent able to update or manually install updated definitions.

  24. Is avnotify.exe the thing that pops up several times a day to tell me I didn’t update for 3 days? Very annoying. I’ve changed the update option to once a week.
    Now I remembering why I ditched this AV years ago. 1) the nag messages. 2) Several times after update I had problems booting the computer or starting the AV.

  25. This popup is annoying. I hate it when a company resorts to fear mongering to get you to upgrade. If you really WERE in “danger” because you did not have the Super Duper Ultra Plus Premium version, then the software would be u-s-e-l-e-s-s.

    Anyway, what gives a software vendor the right to change the security and file permissions of the computer YOU own? Just a rant here but it just seems plain wrong for the program to be allowed to change file permissions after you have set them, possible putting your computer at risk. God knows how many other file permissions it has mucked with.

  26. For XP Home users, you can use the tool “filesecpatch” (do a search for it) to add the security tab to file properties without booting into safe mode.

  27. I tried the Windows XP pro way, and it worked fine. However, I tried Daniel’s alternative way and it accomplishes the same thing. I left it on Daniel’s because that way if I, or anyone else decides to remove the software, any modifications will be in the program and hence, get deleted as well.

    Hope this helps anyone decided what to do.

    bigghands

  28. An easy way to reset the permissions on avnotify.exe after a definition update is to create a batch script that uses cacls (or icacls if you’re using Vista) to apply the permissions to the file for you. For example, after Avira updates, I run a script to contains the following:

    cacls “C:\Program Files\Avira\AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic\avnotify.exe” /e /d Everyone

    or for Vista it’s:

    icacls “C:\Program Files\Avira\AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic\avnotify.exe” /deny Everyone:F

    In Vista, this needs to run as Admin.

    I just create a text file, copy the command into the file and save it to my desktop as ‘fixnotify.cmd’.

    Hope this helps!

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