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[Windows] Remove toolbars and unwanted or dangerous addons with avast Browser Cleanup, a portable program
Posted By Ashraf On March 4, 2013 @ 12:41 AM In Windows | 4 Comments
Remember that person who had 12 toolbars installed on their computer ? Yeah, it happens. Even the best of us sometimes accidentally installed toolbars or other unwanted/dangerous addons in our browsers. To help remove these toolbars and undesirable addons, avast — the makers of dotTech favorite avast Free Antivirus  — have released avast Browser Cleanup. Let’s see if it is worth your time.
avast Browser Cleanup scans your browser for undesirable addons, such as toolbars and other annoying, dangerous, or unwanted addons. Once found, it allows you to remove them with a click of a button.
When you first run avast Browser Cleanup, it scans your browser(s). When scanning is finished, your are shown a list of addons (typically toolbars) avast Browser Cleanup considers to be “unclean”. You are then given the option of either removing all those addons with one click or selectively removing the addons.
Aside from that, you can navigate to a listing of all the addons you have installed for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and/or Chrome. From there you can selectively disable (but not remove) any addons you don’t want. By default the addon listings for each browser will only show addons that have a three star rating or longer but you can uncheck the box for “Exclude add-ons with a good rating” to view a list of all installed addons. From there you can also press “Reset browser settings to default values”, which will reset the respective browser’s homepage and search engine to default.
Take note the difference between remove and disable. Remove = delete from browser while disable = turned off but not deleted. You remove “unclean” addons but can only disable all other addons.
Now you must be wondering how does avast Browser Cleanup determines the rating of addons. The rating is based on two factors: avast’s own research and user ratings.
Avast has a handful of criteria which help it determine if an addon is “unclean” or not:
- Tracking data is being sent to some backend servers.
- Annoying ads are displayed, search results are manipulated.
- The Browsers homepage is changed.
- Multiple toolbars get ‘normal’ and require a lot of space inside the browser.
- Users mostly don’t know how to get rid of the toolbars.
- Some of these toolbars prevent the user from uninstalling them.
If an addon is determined to be any of the above, it is marked as “unclean” and you are told to remove it. In other words, avast has built a database of addons it determines to be unclean.
The second factor is crowd-sourced data — user ratings. It isn’t entirely clear how users are submitting ratings of addons but it is clear that the ratings reflect how other users feel about each respective addon. For example, an addon with 2/5 stars is an addon that is disliked by users while an addon with 4/5 stars is liked.
Of course then the question arises: how accurate is the database and crowd-sourced data? Does it accurately identify toolbars and other undesirable addons? As per my tests, yes it does… for the most part.
I don’t have any toolbars or undesirable addons on my computer. I use a minimal amount of addons and all of them are what I considered to be good. However, to test the functionality of avast Browser Cleanup, I went and installed three toolbars that are very popular bundled crapware: Bing Bar, Ask Toolbar, and AVG SafeGuard Toolbar. Between these three toolbars, each browser (IE, Firefox, and Chrome) had an undesirable toolbar installed in it.
Did avast Browser Cleanup properly identify and remove Bing Bar, Ask Toolbar, and AVG Secure Search Security Toolbar? Yep, with one caveat: Bing Bar Helper — a BHQ in Internet Explorer but the the toolbar itself — was not removed. Does this mean avast Browser Cleanup finds and removes every single toolbar in existence today? Probably not seeing as this is a new program and it takes time for the database and crowd-sourced data to build. However, this test does prove that avast Browser Cleanup is off to a good start.
On a similar note, you may notice that less popular addons don’t have an accurate rating. For example, avast Browser Cleanup gives 3/5 stars to Keyscrambler . Keyscrambler is an addon which, in my opinion, desire 5/5 stars not 3/5. These inaccuracies will (should) iron themselves out as avast Browser Cleanup gets more popular and more and more people provide feedback about addons.
Overall, avast Browser Cleanup does what it claims to do. The program is in its infancy so there is room for improvement, particular in regards to addon ratings. However, it is a worthwhile program to have in your stash when the time comes to remove an annoying toolbar or other undesirable addon. The fact that it is portable makes the deal even sweeter.
If you don’t like any of the various toolbar removers dotTech has already reviewed, like Toolbar Cleaner , SlimComputer , and AdwCleaner , then I recommend giving avast Browser Cleaner a try.
Version reviewed: 8.0.1481.5
Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8
Download size: 2.5MB
VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46 
Is it portable? Yes
Article printed from dotTech: http://dottech.org
URL to article: http://dottech.org/99184/windows-review-avast-browser-cleanup/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-03-04_002103.png
 12 toolbars installed on their computer: http://dottech.org/95833/how-is-it-possible-to-install-12-toolbars-in-your-browser-image/
 avast Free Antivirus: http://dottech.org/14151/windows-best-free-antivirus-antimalware-program-microsoft-security-essentials-vs-avira-vs-avast-vs-avg/
 Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-03-04_012411.png
 Keyscrambler: http://dottech.org/7083/one-up-keyloggers-with-keyscrambler/
 Toolbar Cleaner: http://dottech.org/86930/windows-remove-unnecessary-toolbars-add-ons-and-bhos-from-chrome-firefox-and-internet-explorer-with-toolbar-cleaner/
 SlimComputer: http://dottech.org/85117/windows-remove-bloatware-toolbars-and-other-clutter-with-slimcomputer/
 AdwCleaner: http://dottech.org/95989/windows-review-adwcleaner/
 0/46: https://www.virustotal.com/en/file/d7b8fcc6a0ace789b638d701ea95927eb5048fbade25fcff8c000059ab288751/analysis/
 avast Browser Cleanup download: http://files.avast.com/files/tools/avast-browser-cleanup.exe
 homepage: https://support.avast.com/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=1522&nav=0
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