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Do I really need to uninstall these programs to update my anti-virus?

Question: I have Avira AntiVir Personal, free edition on Vista. I was recently offered a new improved Avira program and accepted because I like all of my security software to be as up-to-date as possible. When I tried to install the new version, I was told to uninstall two programs that I’ve had for some years: Spybot Search and Destroy and Trusteer Rapport. I assume that this means uninstalling those programs permanently rather than just while the new Avira is installed. So I declined to continue with the installation of the new Avira. Was this sensible? Spybot and Rapport both seem like excellent products and it’s counterintuitive to uninstall them both for the sake of the better version of Avira. What do you think the problem is? Should I look for an alternative free spyware program that is compatible?

Whenever you have a concern about installation, it’s always sensible to cancel and do a little research.

Avira is actually an anti-virus product. These days, they seem to be adding things to the utility to make it more like an anti-spyware product. I suspect that that’s why the installation asked you to uninstall the other programs.

Still, your scenario is interesting and there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Let’s talk about why Avira wants you to uninstall the other programs and what your options are.

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Multiple anti-malware tools

There are definitely potential issues when you install multiple products of the same type of program, like two anti-virus or two anti-spyware programs, on your machine.

Both of these types of programs typically have real-time scanning ability, which would be turned on by default when you installed them. The result is that it’s likely that two anti-virus products scanning in real-time at the same time might bump into each other and cause some problems. The same goes for anti-spyware tools.

Both Trusteer and Spybot are anti-spyware products. I’m not as familiar with Trusteer, but Spybot is very reputable.

As I said in the beginning of this article, Avira is primarily an anti-virus tool that has apparently added anti-spyware functionality as well. As a result it could now come into conflict with not only other anti-virus programs, but anti-spyware tools as well.

If Avira provides anti-spyware functionality, you simply may not need Trusteer or Spybot. On the other hand, you’ve been using Trusteer and Spybot for some time. Do you really need Avira to provide that same functionality?

Why Avira wants you to uninstall Spybot and Trusteer

For whatever reason, let’s say that the answer to that last question is yes. That brings us to the problem that you’re having with installation.

Tug of WarNow, some set-up programs are just overcautious. Avira’s set-up program may be able to detect anti-spyware tools already on your machine and simply direct you to uninstall them just in case there is a conflict.

But once everything is installed, it’s possible that Avira might not conflict with Trusteer or Spybot. It might work fine. We just don’t know.

Why would Avira want you to uninstall? They may have very good reasons for it. Avira might just be saying this in case you actually do have multiple products installed. If something goes wrong, they can blame the problem on the other product or the fact that you installed multiple products on your machine.

Options with multiple anti-malware tools

This may sound complex or confusing, but now that we’ve looked at the reasons why this is happening, let’s talk about your options moving forward. It really boils down to three possible approaches that you could take from this point.

The first is you could do as Avira suggests; you uninstall Spybot and Trusteer and simply rely on Avira to provide both your anti-virus and your anti-spyware functionality.

I don’t have a lot of information on Avira’s anti-spyware capabilities, but the product has been around for a long time and they are recommended by other folks that I do trust. I don’t really have too much concern leaving it that way.

Another approach is to do what you suggested. Uninstall those two programs, install Avira, and then reinstall Spybot and Trusteer. Again, it may cause problems, but it may not. You’ll have to watch out for issues, like programs reporting false positives (like viruses when there are none) or crashing, once everything is installed.

And finally, the bottom line is to switch from Avira to a dedicated anti-virus program. That way, you could leave your existing anti-spyware tools in place. It’s an option, but I don’t know that this is necessary.

If you do end up going down with this third route, I’d send you to my article, “What security software do you recommend?” If you read that, you’ll find that Avira is listed there as well.

So, those are the options in your scenario. Like I said, it’s fairly confusing. If I were in your shoes right now,  my advice is to do as they suggest and see how it goes.

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9 comments on “Do I really need to uninstall these programs to update my anti-virus?”

  1. Leo,
    I wonder if Avira’s software would detect a “portable” version of Spybot? I doubt they would be able to do this. In any event, it can be on a USB removable drive.

    I use the “portable” version of any software package if such exists. It seems to avoid conflicts with other similar packages.
    I have never seen comments from anyone that the portable version lacked functionality that the installed version had. Are you aware of any?

    • Avira shouldn’t complain about a portable antimalware program. In fact it shouldn’t complain about another installed antimalware program as long as it isn’t scanning for malware in live mode. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it won’t complain.

  2. Some years ago, I often read that, unlike antivirus software, it was safe to install more than one antispyware software with real-time protection. Consequently, I installed Webroot SpySweeper – even though I already had Norton Internet Security suite on my PC. No problem. Lately, the recent versions of NIS have advised me, during the annual subscription renewal process, to allow NIS to uninstall SpySweeper before continuing with the renewal. I have always skipped this step and kept SpySweeper. So far, running NIS and SpySweeper concurrently has caused no conflict. Maybe, just maybe, I got lucky with the NIS-SpySweeper combination. (Earlier this year, Webroot discontinued support for its SpySweeper product. Plus, it seems like there are fewer and fewer true antispyware-only software. So this issue regarding having two real-time protecting antispyware installed may become moot.)

  3. I have used avira for 5years….no problems,I removed spybot & ad-aware the same time…more disc space and never a prolem with any virus,spyware etc. Jerry H.

  4. The way a lot of anti-malware programs operate these days, they are likely to spot each other as ‘false positives’. I have Spybot S&D and AVG on my machine, and S&D often second-guesses AVG when it tries to change something.
    I am content with this added level of hoop-jumping, because S&D has saved me in the past from malware attempting to change registry entries.

  5. I had Emsisoft Anti-Malware and Malwarebytes already on my desktop Windows 7 Pro, and purchased Avira Antivirus (2013). Avira told me to first remove the two “incompatible” programs mentioned, before installing Avira. I went ahead and installed Avira anyway, then on all three programs, I excluded the other two. There has never been a conflict and the three security programs have been working well together for nine months now. QED Thank you Leo for an excellent newsletter.

  6. I am loosing trust in Avira, ask toolbar with new update and my PC getting seriously infected never happened before with avira. Thinking of changing to mse but I heard mse cannot detect most new viruses is it true?


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