BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2005

  

 

BOOT CAMP 365 (22/02/05)

THE TROUBLE WITH AVG…

 

I have been recommending the AVG Free Edition virus scanner virtually since it first appeared in late 2001 and to date it has provided safe, reliable and effective protection for countless millions of PC users, comparable with the best commercial programs. I know for a fact that many Daily Telegraph readers are using it since well over half of all the emails we receive include the telltale ‘Checked by AVG’ message at the bottom.          

 

In October 2004 Grisoft, the Czech company that developed AVG, announced that it would be withdrawing support for version 6 on December 31st and replacing it with version 7 (in fact support for V6 was extended until mid February) and that’s when the problems began. Since AVG7 was released we have received hundreds of emails and letters from readers experiencing problems.

 

AVG7 is much more sophisticated than its predecessor, for most users the transition went smoothly and it continues to do an excellent job, however, for some the new program has caused more than its fair share of teething troubles.

 

The majority of problems fall into three distinct categories: downloading virus updates, sending and receiving emails and conflicts with other programs. Fortunately most glitches are relatively minor in nature and easily fixed and in a moment we’ll look at the most common ones, but for the small number of users that simply can’t get on with it we’ll round off this week with details of another free virus scanner (see Tip of the Week).

 

Grisoft became a victim of its own success and clearly didn’t anticipate the huge volume of traffic AVG7 would generate. For much of January 2005 its server was overloaded most mornings as several million PCs around the world tried to log on to the website to download the latest virus signature files and updates. It didn’t help that several updates were quite large, over 4Mb in some cases, and this caused a lot of frustration as the update window apparently froze or stubbornly refused to complete the download.

 

AVG7 is set to check for updates in the morning or when the PC first goes online. The trick is to change the ‘Scheduler’ time to late morning or the afternoon. To do that double click on the AVG icon in the System Tray, click the Scheduler icon then in the bottom left hand corner click the Scheduled Tasks button. Highlight ‘Update Plan…’then the Edit Schedule button, choose a later time on the ‘Check Daily’ drop-down menu and uncheck ‘If Internet connection is not available…’. 

 

You can also update AVG7 manually at any time by right clicking on the System Tray icon. Select Check for Updates, click the Internet button and in most cases the download will proceed normally. Grisoft are well aware of the problem and it is working to increase the number of servers. The situation has improved in the past couple of weeks but if you are still having problems the answer is to be patient and not to worry if your virus file is only a day or two out of date.

 

The new email scanner in AVG7 is a genuinely worthwhile feature but it can do some odd things like ‘bounce’ messages, fail to send emails or display odd error messages. Most of the time this is due to Firewall settings or Spam filters like MailWasher. For general information concerning email problems have a look at:

http://free.grisoft.com/doc/5/lng/us/tpl/v5/nid/752#5463

There’s a useful document showing how to configure the XP and Zone Alarm Pro firewalls at: http://free.grisoft.com/doc/2/lng/us/tpl/v5 (the link to the pdf document is at the bottom of the page) and there’s more help with MailWasher issues in the Grisoft forum at: http://forum.grisoft.cz/freeforum/read.php?8,

419,page=1,backpage=63

For most other problems the place to start is the main forum page at: http://forum.grisoft.cz/freeforum/

 

By default AVG7 ‘certifies’ that incoming mail has been checked for viruses and this puts an attachment icon next to messages in the Outlook Express Inbox. There is no attachment and you can switch this irritating feature off by opening the AVG Control Centre, select the Email scanner icon, click the Properties button in the bottom left hand corner of the page, then Configure on the Plugins tab and deselect the ‘Certify Mail’ box under Check incoming mail.

 

In general AVG7 gets on well with most other programs and conflicts are thankfully quite rare, in fact only one serious problem has arisen with some older versions of Easy CD Creator. There is a link to a patch that users are advised to download and install, which you will find at:

http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php/doc/5443/lng/us/tpl/v5

 

Some users have reported problems trying to run AVG7 on PCs that have other anti-virus programs installed. The general advice is that you should only have one virus scanner on your PC as they can flag up each other’s signature files as potential virus infections.

 

Windows 95 users may find that some vital ‘DCOM’ (Distributed Component Object Model) files are missing and AVG will not run. The missing files can be downloaded from the Microsoft website at:

www.microsoft.com/com/dcom/dcom95/download.asp.

 

Next week – Caught on (Web) camera

 

JARGON FILTER

 

PATCH

A program or file intended to fix or work around a problem in a software application

 

SIGNATURE FILE

Inert samples of computer code used to identify viruses, worms, spyware and Trojans

 

SYSTEM TRAY

The area on the Windows Taskbar, next to the desktop clock, displaying icons of running programs that are usually loaded when Windows boots up

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

If you fancy trying something different and baulk at the cost (and in some cases even bigger problems) associated with some commercial offerings then have a look at Avast! This is another freeware program and Avast! 4 Free Home Edition (also available for Linux PCs) provides the same level of protection as rival programs, it features an email scanner, frequently updated signature database and is easy to install and configure. It’s compatible with all versions of Windows and the download (around 8.5Mb) can be found at: www.avast.com/. While you are on the Avast site have a look at its new free virus ‘cleaner’ tool; there are more details at: www.avast.com/eng/avast_cleaner.html

 

 

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