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Issue #693 – Publication Week: November 1-7, 2020

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Q: How do I delete Avast overseer from C:/Program Files/Common Files/avast software/overseer? Have run Avast Free for years. last several months have encountered duplicate desktop shortcuts for Avast about 3-4 minutes after startup is complete. I can delete the shortcut but it always returns on the next startup. I have disabled/deleted Overseer from Task Manager. Finally disabled the Avast Emergency Update entry in Task manager, and apparently resolved the problem. Really have no need for Overseer and attempted to delete it.  However, it fails even though logged in as an Administrator/Owner with password. Indications are I don’t have administrator permission for that location. Any thoughts, ideas, actions, etc. greatly appreciated. Have benefited from your assistance in the past. Thanks for any considerations.

– Corwin D.
Mary Esther, Florida

A: Issues similar to this are the main reason why I started recommending people away from the McAfee anti-malware suite.  So, I’m rather disappointed to see Avast also leaving behind junk after it’s been uninstalled.  In this geek’s opinion, there’s a certain level of underhandedness in an uninstaller neglecting to remove everything that the corresponding installer put on your system.  At the very least, it looks bad and reflects poorly on the software vendor.  At the worst, it calls my trust for that vendor into question.

Avast’s so-called Overseer is a support program that is intended to keep tabs on any installed Avast products.  It checks to see whether Avast Antivirus is running, and initiates repairs if not.  It’s also capable of detecting corrupted installations of Avast, and repairing them.  Overseer has a small footprint, and negligible impact on your PC’s performance.  All-in-all, it’s a useful little application, assuming, that is, that you’re actually running Avast, and haven’t decided to uninstall it.  At that point, it becomes an undesirable piece of software that hasn’t really got any business on your computer.

You got the location right for where the executable resides.  You even got most of the removal process right, but I think you may have missed one step in there, that prevents the deletion.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that it re-enables itself the next time you restart your computer.

To prep for the deletion of Overseer, log in using your Administrator account, and perform the following steps: Click the Windows “Start” button. In the search box, type “Task Scheduler”.  Don’t confuse this with Task Manager – they are two distinct functions.  In the search results find Task Scheduler, and click “Open” to launch it.  Once the Task Scheduler window opens, in the left-hand navigation pane, drill down to Task Scheduler->Task Scheduler Library->Avast Software.  Select Overseer and click Disable, then click Delete. 

It’s very important that you delete the scheduled task for running Overseer after disabling the program.  Neglecting to do this step is likely what’s stopping you from being able to remove it from your system. It’s not a permission issue, it’s a file access conflict.  Windows won’t delete the file because it is assigned to a scheduled task. Once you’ve deleted that task, you should be able to navigate to C:\Program Files\Common Files\AVAST Software and remove the entire Overseer folder without any problems.

It’s worth noting here that another popular free antivirus suite, AVG, also implements an Overseer application.  Like Avast, it too gets left behind when its parent is uninstalled, and it also runs as a scheduled task, very much like Avast.  You can get rid of it by following the above steps, but rather than drilling down to Avast in the Task Scheduler, drill down to Task Scheduler->Task Scheduler Library->AVG instead.  Of course, the path to the Overseer executable will also be slightly different, but I have every confidence that my Geek-readers are smart enough to find it.

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