Windows 10 – Removing Avast Barnacle-Ware

I had been a loyal Avast Antivirus customer for years with a paid license for 10 machines. However, in the last year or so I had become aware that Windows Defender (free with Microsoft Windows 10) does an excellent job of protecting against malware. Even better, Windows Defender is free. Best of all? Windows Defender does not constantly bombard you with annoying sales popups. I had become quite irritated with Avast. I can sort of understand the free version of something pushing a few advertisements, but the paid version?! Once I pay for something I expect it to just work and otherwise consume as little of my attention as possible.

Picture shows annoying popup from Avast still there after uninstalling the product.

Avast Barnacle-Ware

As such, while recently upgrading machines to Windows 10 (which I am pretty pleased with so far) I had been uninstalling Avast and simply checking to see that Windows Defender was configured and running. But what was this!? On two such machines, I was still getting an aggressive sales popup after fully uninstalling the product!

For me, this behavior is definitely ethically beyond the pale! When I tell a software package to uninstall itself, I expect it to do just that. Software companies that leaves hidden barnacles on my system that continue to pester me to buy stuff after I have asked them to uninstall are definitely “Malware”. Even worse, when I went to the usual places, such as the Control Panel list of software applications, there were no remaining places that I could ask it to uninstall this unwanted harassment barnacle. Looking in Program Files there was no “Avast” directory. They definitely were trying to make it as hard as possible to find and remove this unwanted malware.

Shows how to find file location

Use Task Manager to Find Barnacle’s File Location

The solution was to use Task Manager. Leaving the barnacle window open, I did Ctrl+Alt+Del and started Task Manager. It was easy to find the process for the popup window. Right clicking on that line, I selected “Open file location”

Picture shows hidden Avast Directory

Barnacle-Ware Buried in Common Files

There it was. In order to make the barnacle-ware hard to find, Avast hid it under Common Files in a cryptically named “AV” directory. The solution was simply to delete this directory.

Note that I had this problem on two machines. On one of them I also went into the registry editor and chased down all the occurrences of “Avast” in the registry. This process was tedious because Avast leaves garbage all over the registry. On the other machine I just deleted the offending directory. I have not observed any difference in behavior between the two machines. It should be sufficient to delete the directory containing the Avast barnacle-ware. No need to wade through the registry deleting leftover garbage registry keys.