There are several competing free antivirus programs out there today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
At the time of writing this post, I’m suggesting that you use the Free/Basic edition of Avast! Antivirus because, in addition to providing reliable free virus security, it has one of the smallest impacts on your computer’s speed. I think you’ll agree that this is a very important consideration. (NB: There is also a free edition of AVG AntiVirus, which also performs well). Update, 2013/11/13: It is our perception that Avast!’s efforts to coerce you into buying its paid services have increased, lately. This may not be true (Read: Don’t sue PFC, Avast!). But, for some users, you may instead enjoy AVG Free‘s reduce pestering, or Microsoft Security Essentials‘ pester-free experience. That being said, Avast! does a great job protecting folks from viruses. So we’ll keep this tutorial up for those who choose to go with Avast!
Some of you may be asking, “What about the other antivirus that’s already on my computer?”. There are lots of fine antivirus programs available. But some cost a good chunk money, while others are very bulky, and slow down your computer’s performance. How rude!
So, consider uninstalling those bulky expensive anti-virus programs. First, though, we want to be sure that Avast! is installed and running. Then we can get rid of your old anti-virus program.
Here are some points to remember before we start.
There may be some things about this process which will feel new and unfamiliar. You may encounter feelings of fear or frustration. Remember two things:
As you install a new program, you are learning commonly-performed tasks, which are laying the foundation for your future computer use. They may feel new, but they will soon become familiar, and you will start to feel more like a master.
Second, you’re not alone. If you run into difficulty with this tutorial, remember that you can e-mail email@example.com with questions, or post on our Facebook wall.
But please do give it a try, on your own, first! It should be a very empowering experience.
This tutorial should will take you anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes.
Okay, take a deep breath. Here we go. :)
Tutorial: Installing New Anti-Virus Software
Some preamble: Every program on your computer – whether it’s Internet Explorer, or McAfee Antivirus, or Solitaire – is actually made up of a group of files on your computer, which run together at the same time, and create the stunning programs that we see and use every day.
When we install new programs, we’re adding new files to our computer, and then telling Windows what these new files are, and how it should use them.
These new files that we’re adding have to come from somewhere.
The two most basic sources are an installation CD/setup CD, or the internet.
In our tutorial, we’re going to download the files from the internet.
Thankfully they’re all packaged up together into one single file – the Installation program. This is fairly standard, these days. And thank goodness.
All you need to do is download the file to your computer, double click on it, and an “installation wizard” will help you install everything into the right places.
Let’s get started.
1. Download the Installation program for Avast Antivirus
Our first step, then, is to download the Avast! Antivirus installation program. It will contain all of the new files we need to get Avast! up and running.
To download the file, click once on the following link:
This will make a blank page in Internet Explorer, with the following box at the bottom:
The box is telling us a few things.
On the top line, we see the name of the file (avast_free_antivirus_setup.exe), how big it is (89.3 megabytes), and where it’s coming from (perfectfitcomputers.ca).
On the next line, you can see the Windows security shield. Whenever you see this shield, you are being given an opportunity to consider how safe your current action is. Usually it has a nice plain-text explanation of the situation. In this case, you can see that it’s saying “This type if file could harm your computer”.
Remember that you didn’t get this shield when downloading the Body Scan mp3 sound file. That’s because mp3 sound files can only do one thing – they can be played. In this case, however, you are downloading an .exe program file. Program files with .exe extensions can do just about anything! They can be something good, like Solitaire, or something bad, like a virus.
Don’t be scared. Just think of this in a real life way… If you got a package, and you didn’t know its contents, you’d probably want to know who sent it to you. The same thing is true here. You should ask yourself “Who is this .exe program file coming from?”.
You can find out by going back to the top line. You can see that the file is coming from perfectfitcomputers.ca. Do you know and trust these people? (“These people” are me, by the way). If you do, then you can go ahead and click on Save, to download the installation program.
Recall that, when saving our Body Scan to the Desktop, I asked you to click on the arrow beside Save, and choose “Save As”. That’s because we wanted to specifically choose to have the Body Scan mp3 file on the desktop, so that you can easily access it any time.
In this case, though, we really only need to access this installation program once. Its only purpose is to put the new Avast! files on your computer.
So let’s not put it on the desktop. Let’s just click Save, which will save the file to the Downloads folder on your computer. So click Save now.
The box will now change, and will tell you that the installation program is downloading.
You can see the progress as the installation program downloads. The installation program is fairly large, so it may take some time to download, depending on how fast your connection to the internet is. This may be a good time to put on the kettle, or change the laundry over.
Once the download is complete, the box will change to this:
This new box is telling you, “Now the installation program is downloaded to your computer. Do you want to run the installation program now?”.
And indeed we do. So, click on the Run button.
That will bring you to Step 2.
2. Run the Installation Program for Avast!
There are a few things to really pay attention to, in this step. Think of it as another Lumosity Attention game.
We want to use Avast! Free antivirus. However, the Avast! company also offers a full version of their program, which has more features, but costs money. We don’t want that.
There are a few times during the installation when Avast! will try to convince you to go with the full-version program. You’ve got to have your wits about you during these moments, and be sure to stick with the free (or “basic”) program.
Don’t worry, I’ll explain this all, as we go along.
One you click on the Run button, the installation program starts.
The first thing you will see is the Avast logo:
After a few moments, you’ll see the first screen of the Installation Program wizard. It looks like this:
There are a few things we want to do on this screen.
First and foremost, we want to go down to the bottom and click beside “Yes, also install the Google Chrome web browser”.
This should remove the checkmark from this box, as well as the checkmark from the box below it.
The screen should now look like this:
Perfect! Now, click on the large blue button that says Express Install (Install with default settings).
This will start the automatic installation process.
The next few minutes will just involve watching. A good opportunity to sip the tea you might have made during the download.
The first thing the installation program does is create a system restore point.
This is a handy Windows safety feature. It means that, if something goes wrong and Windows starts misbehaving, we can always say “Go back to the way things were before I installed Avast!”.
As the screen says, this could take a while.
The installation program will now put all the new files onto your computer.
Remember that you don’t need to click on anything during this process. Just watch. See below:
Remember to resist the temptation to click, even if the installation appears to be 100% complete.
Soon, the screen will change.
Avast! will start tan initial scan of your computer.
Again, you don’t need to do anything but watch.
This scan will take a few moments. The screen will look like this:
Once the scan is complete, then the installation program is finished!
You will get this screen:
Well done! That was a big task; I hope it went smoothly, and that you feel great about it.
Now, we have successfully installed Avast! onto our computer.
Click on the Finish button to exit the installation program.
There’s a little bit more work to be done to get Avast! working at its best. So let’s do those things now.
3. Register your copy of Avast!
After you click on Finish, it will appear that the computer is doing nothing for a few moments. Please be patient and avoid the urge to click. :)
You’ll soon get a box come up in the middle of your screen that looks like this:
Again, just wait and watch this screen. It will take you to a new screen automatically, very soon.
The next screen looks like this:
Click on the big Register button.
You may find that, after clicking this button, nothing seems to be happening.
Just be very patient. It may take 2 or 3 minutes before you get the next screen. Resist the temptation to click on anything & “help”. :)
Finally, you should be presented with the Registration screen, where you can Register the program.
When we register, we extend the current free licence from 30 days to a full year, absolutely free.
The registration screen should look like this:
Now, at the risk of overcomplicating this tutorial, I feel ethically obliged to give you a choice, at this point.
You can do one of two things:
1. Fill in the blank fields for First Name, Last Name, Your Email, and Country, with your own actual name and email address.
This information will be sent to avast!, who will then have your email address on file. You may receive some emails from them, from time to time, in the future.
The advantage of giving your real information is that, in one year’s time, you’ll get a friendly email reminder from avast, telling you it’s time to renew your free licence with them, for another year.
This is the option I recommend. Avast! Shouldn’t bother you with too many emails, and it will make your life easier in one year’s time.
2. Fill in the blank fields for First Name, Last Name, Your Email, and Country, with a fake name and email address. Any old address will do. Something like firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do this, you will still activate the program for a full year, but you will keep your real email private, by not be giving out your real email to avast!.
However, in one year’s time, you will not get an email from avast! that let’s you renew your licence. You’d either have to do the whole installation process all over again, or choose a different antivirus program and install it.
No matter which of these two options you choose, be sure to fill in each of these four fields.
Skip over the “Please let us know” section with the 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 scale, and click on the green Register for free license button.
That will take you to the following screen, where avast! will tempt you to try the full-cost version for free.
Do not be tempted by the big green button. Pressing this would install a 30-day trial similar to the McAfee trial you have on your computer now.
You may be asking yourself “Why is this screen so confusing”? The short answer is: on purpose. They’re trying to trick you into getting the 30-day trial. All the companies do it. It’s horrible, if you ask me. But, the good news is, you’re smart enough to not be affected by this type of trickery.
Instead of clicking on the green button, you should click on the less-enticing “Stay with basic protection” link beneath it. See the picture below:
Good. Now Avast is fully installed, registered, and ready to go for 365 days.
Now, to finish up, we want to change a few settings in Avast!
4. Change some settings in Avast! (Optional)
Finally, There are a few key settings in Avast! which you might like to change.
I’ll show you how to do that now.
Let’s start by opening the Avast! dashboard. Look for the new avast! icon on your desktop. Find it, and double-click on it with the mouse.
It should look like this:
After a few moment, you should see the avast! Dashboard. It looks like this:
Now we want to click once on “SETTINGS”, in the top right corner of this window.
Look at this picture below to help you find this:
When you click on Settings, avast! will bring up the Settings Window.
On the left side of this window, you can see a list of the different settings you can change: Settings like Basic, Updates, Cloud Services, Popups, etc.
I recommend you change some of the settings:
Click once on Updates, in the list on the left, to be taken to the Updates settings. (See below)
In the Updates settings screen, under “PROGRAM”, change your settings from “Ask when an update is available” to “Automatic update”, by clicking once on “Automatic update”.
This will keep the program up to date, without you having to do anything.
Now, go back over to the list on the left, and click once on Popups.
You should now see the Popup settings.
Click once on “Show monthly security reports”, to remove the checkmark beside it (unless you really want to see these reports; I don’t find them terribly useful).
Good. That’s done.
Now, going back to our list on the left side, click once on Sounds.
This will open the Sounds setting.
In this screen, you can choose to enable or disable sounds. If they are enabled, you will hear a voice say things like “Virus database has been updated”, every once in a while.
If you like that, then you don’t need to change any settings here.
If you don’t like that, then click once on “Enable avast! sounds”, to remove the checkmark from the box.
Alright. Those are all the settings that I suggest you change.
Now you can click on “OK” at the bottom of that window.
This will take you back to the Avast! Dashboard.
We’re now fully configured and ready to go. You can close the Avast! Dashboard, by clicking on the X in the corner of its window. (See below).
5. Allow Avast! To be used by Internet Explorer
Avast includes an Internet Explorer “add-on”, which checks each web page you visit.
If it knows the page to have a bad reputation (because it spreads viruses, or spam), it will tell you so.
But we need to let Internet Explorer know that we personally approve of this add-on.
The next time you use Internet Explorer, you’ll probably get the following box at the bottom of the screen:
Click once on Enable, and you’re done.
Done-done. This is the end of Tutorial 3!
If you made it this far, congratulations. I know this process involves a lot of screens, and – I’m sure – a lot of patience. Thanks for the taking the time to give it a try.
As always, let me know how it goes.
You know how to get in touch with me, and you are welcome to do so. :)