AOL and AntiVirus Software?

Antivirus protection is generally one of the must have software products if your computer is connected to the Internet. Commercial programs vary in their effectiveness and cost, but there are also some reasonably good free anti-virus programs available, if you look for them.

There are several organizations that test and rank these programs, one is and another is It takes some time to study the comprehensive reports at, such as this anti-virus test PDF (their latest test as of the date of this post). Another series of anti-virus tests was journaled by in affiliation with

The other day I noted a link titled And The Best Antivirus Is…. The article is based upon a recent AV test report at

As an aside, it’s curious to note the disparities between all three sets of AV software comparisons linked above. Back to’s comparison.

Kapersky Lab’s product is listed as number one, and I’m not particularly surprised based upon previous test results I’ve seen, but the second best ranked product with the same percentage rating is AOL’s Active Virus Shield (AVS). AOL?

As another aside, here’s a different set of free security tools from AOL. Back to AVS. . . .
AOL’s End User License Agreement should give one pause regarding privacy. Will Active Virus Shield‘s tool bar contain adware functionality at some point in time? If so, then my read of the EULA suggests the use of certain types of strict port-blocking stateful-inspection firewalls, unless they’re configured to allow AOL’s potential future ads, would be prohibited.

I decided to give AVS a try. To get the activation key I used one of the ‘spare’ email addresses that I keep for giving out to spam-suspect sites and for online form submissions requiring an email. I decided to try it on a laptop, specifically a HP Omnibook 6000 running Win98se.

The first thing I noted was that AVS came as an msi file: this was somewhat harder to install than a setup executable. Msi files use Windows Installer: it’s a command line Windows program requiring precise syntax. It’s file name is msiexec.exe.

My first few tries failed and one time I received the error, “Incorrect Command Line Parameters”. Once I placed the path to avs.msi in quotes, and also placed a copy of msiexec.exe in the directory where I saved avs.msi, everything went smoothly. This is what I entered in the Start > Run command line dialog that worked:

msiexec /i "C:\my files\downloads\avs.msi"

Make sure the path part of the command (drive:\your path\avs.msi) reflects the directory you chose when you downloaded and saved avs.msi.

If you don’t want to copy msiexec.exe to the download directory and presuming that it’s located in C:\windows\system\, here’s an alternate command line that works:

C:\windows\system\msiexec /i "C:\my files\downloads\avs.msi"

After installing and using AVS for a few hours, the only undesirable operation I’ve noted on the laptop is that the CPU fan runs the entire time AVS is installed, which is pretty much all the time Windows is booted. I find the fan noise irritating on that little machine, but this is probably because it “provides real-time protection against active virus threats.” AVS does have a checkbox to reduce power usage when a portable computer is running on battery power, but it seemed to have no effect on the fan while the computer was plugged into a wall outlet.

The only other !disappointment was that its first scan didn’t find even one virus already existing on that computer! Perhaps this means the other measures I’ve taken to limit malicious activity on that Internet connected machine are working well enough, at least so far.

When I browser-downloaded an EICAR test file, AVS wouldn’t allow me to save the file to the drive until I had turned off file protection because it reported the file as infected. Cool! I then emailed this EICAR file to myself specifically to insure that the POP3 scan was working with the ASCII only email client I use. It was, and no special email client configuration was required!

Unfortunately, the CPU fan noise bothered me so much on the laptop that, after investigating the processes and first reducing their priority, then killing them completely, with the fan dutifully running even after all processes related to it were killed (according to ProcessExplorer), I decided to uninstall AVS. For this I used a third-party uninstaller that watched the installation: Windows standard uninstaller is notorious for leaving some registry and other files behind, in other words, not uninstalling everything. Over time, this leads to registry bloat, decreasing overall system performance.

Other than the fan noise and the EULA issues, I found that AVS was simple to use and operate once I got past the initial installation difficulties. It may be a much more desirable anti-virus solution on a desktop machine with fans farther from the user. It certainly seems to provide ‘active real-time protection’ against web-downloaded files and email threats.


Since I mentioned free anti-virus tools for non-commercial use at the beginning of this post, perhaps I should list the other ones I’m aware of, but please keep in mind that this list is not meant to be comprehensive. For DOS, a long-time classic is F-Prot for DOS. Products for Windows machines specifically: Avira AntiVir, BitDefender, avast! Home, and AVG (both avast! and AVG seem to have during-download email scanning capabilities); as well as ClamAV, an open-source antivirus for UNIX that has been ported to Windows as ClamWin.

Edited by Ken, February, 2007.

11 thoughts on “AOL and AntiVirus Software?

  1. I send AOL my email addresses 4 times and no activation code was recieved! Any comments?

  2. I seem to recall having the same problem before writing the post. I believe I waited a day or two and tried again, that time successfully.

  3. I would love to tell you this and this is a great feeling that people like you has this time to devoted to help them out for any issues that would happen with any free download. Seriously I did not have a moment to drop out or give up on this avira antivirus giving by aol but then you are the one could help me out nobody else neither aol support team but you THANK YOU SO MUCH’

  4. Amazingly, after a few months, AOL’s AVS has produced absolutely no annoyance for me at all – except that there is no option to “Ignore” Trusted or Riskware items.
    Regarding the above stated hiccups, I habitually use the Start Run Box to install everything, which is handy to remind me of recent events. There you can browse to, and Run, the installation file, by making the MSI visible when you allow it to – show all files. It doesn’t need switches or quotes.
    The ToolBar is not compulsory during install and is separately un-installable later if you wish. The AVS program itself will un-install, considering AOL, extremely efficiently. No real need for third party apps for the tiny bit that’s left. But, you won’t need to trash-it unless something better comes along or we are no longer able to re-register after the first free 12 months allocated.
    The delay in receiving emails is to be expected considering the popularity of the Kaspersky element – for FREE. All we need to bring AVS up to the level of the complete Internet Security package of “KIS 6” is to add a couple of extra freebies, or, Agnitum’s very comprehensive Outpost to really wrap the box up tight.
    While AVS is free, a duo with Outpost is very reasonable, cost wise. – – – ATM.

    PS. AOL didn’t even send me a – Happy New Year. What a delight!!!!

  5. Hi techy, glad you found it helpful!

    PasserBy, Thanks. Your install method presumably works fine so long as there are ‘file associations’ for msi files, but if not, like in my machine’s case, an error is returned.

    I figured association errors probably happened to others. One can spend a lot of time trying to track all these little issues down, research how to install them on an officially-obsoleted or no-longer-supported OS (which otherwise works well enough for many uses), or one can just get the job done with the command line.

    Why msiexec.exe didn’t install file associations on its install is curious.

  6. PPS.

    I’m guessing that the continuous fan thing was mostly because the laptop was running Win98se, which would suggest the machine was a little oldish, and down on grunt. But, this is a good way to test the ability of software, and it would seem that AVS held its end up very well. Most other top rated software in todays world would not even look at it.

    I hate to say it, but it looks like AOL has scored a PLUS – Finally.

    Thanks to Ken for relating his experience – well done.

  7. I have emailed AOL several times for my code. My software i installed and my PC is running constantly on the net without protection.
    So why advertise if you canot deliver a simple request from a client.

  8. For all of you having trouble with the download, why not reread the last paragraph of the article? Or, more importantly, the second paragraph?

  9. Ken____ Comment #8
    That’s a bit like *leading a horse to water*….. ;)

    anees____ Comment #7
    You’re obviously *very careful* about what you do with your PC. Try checking your ISP’s, or your own, Spam Filter settings. Better still, create a special account just for AOL with, for example, not with HotMail, but preferably Yahoo or SpamGroumet. It is very easy, and safe, especially if you’re concerned about AOL’s history.

    I have obtained several Email Registrations for my clan, with a delay between 30 minutes and 30 hours. The wave of popular demand varies and probably won’t end until almost the whole worlds has been converted.

    The only installation problem I’ve come across is, AVS gives an incompatibility message if an illegitimate version of Kaspersky’s AntiHacker is already installed. Otherwise, it is so, so, incredibly easy to get up and running. If anyone has difficulty, it is surely not AVS that is to blame. Look deeper, or dare I say, READ more carefully.

  10. Hi all.
    I just downloaded this AOL Kapersky anti virus, I recieved my CD key also from AOL but for some reason everytime i try to open my avs.msi file i get a small screen from windows installer saying

    This installation package could not be opened.
    Contact the application vendor to verify that this is a valid Windows Installer package.

    Any help here please?
    Im using a toshiba satellite p100-240 if that matters at all.

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