Quite a lot, if not most of the commercial or free antivirus and internet security packages around today have some sort of option to set a password to prevent the program settings from being changed by another user. This can help protect the computer from other people disabling the real-time protection or changing the general settings of the software, and even to prevent against unauthorized uninstallation. But it can also be an issue if there’s a problem with the password that has been set.
Over time, one or two of our forum members have reported that they’ve experienced a strange problem with changing the settings in Avast Antivirus/Internet Security because it’s asking for a password which they are convinced they did not set manually themselves. It is still unknown why or how the Avast software manages to password protect itself on rare occasions when no one else has the access to the computer in question and the only user did not set the password.
The above image shows the password authorization window when a user tries to access a protected area. Avast has several different areas of its program that can be protected including general program access, settings, protection, scanning, updates and access to the virus chest. Trying to access any one of those selected for protection will dim the screen and pop up the window.
An attempt has been made to enter a protected area of avast! (Program settings). This may be a legitimate action, but could also be the result of a malware attack.
Do you want to continue?”
Normally a password protected antivirus cannot be uninstalled without the correct password, but if you somehow manage to uninstall and reinstall the program, you may still find the password is still present. To try and track down a way around this issue, we did some monitoring and analyzing of avast!, and eventually found out how to completely remove its password without knowing the actual current password.
The password in avast! is unsurprisingly encrypted and stored in the aswResp.dat file. All you need to do is to delete the file which is located in:
or for XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\AVAST Software\Avast\
But there’s a catch, you cannot delete the file using the normal Windows method because antivirus programs normally prevent manipulation of their files and registry entries, and avast! does the same thing here with aswResp.dat. Even using the popular file deleting Unlocker utility will not get rid of it while avast! is running, and you can’t disable the self-defense module because it’s password protected!
A Quick and Easy Solution
If you just want to get this problem sorted out as quickly as possible, you’ll be pleased to know that we have created a Windows utility that does the seemingly impossible task of deleting the avast! aswResp.dat password file while it’s still in use. Most of the popular locked file unlocking tools cannot do this, including Unlocker mentioned above, even after a system reboot. Our tool makes use of the one unlocking program that can actually remove this file, IObit Unlocker.
The program is simple to use and you just launch it to delete the aswResp.dat password file, it doesn’t matter if you have the main avast! window open or not, the file will be deleted. A confirmation box will confirm the success, and you should now be able to access all the areas disabled by the password. Simple as that. The Avast Password Remover tool works on Windows XP and above and 32-bit or 64-bit systems. If you have any suggestions or bug reports, you can leave them in the comments.
Some Manual Solutions
Another method is to do delete the .dat file from Windows Safe Mode. avast! and just about all other antivirus products are not active in Safe Mode, hence the file is not protected from manipulation. To boot into Safe Mode, restart your computer and start tapping the F8 key until you see Advanced Boot Options. Select Safe Mode from the list and hit enter. If you can’t get to Safe Mode yourself, there are some tools around that can do it easily for you.
When you’re in Safe Mode, simultaneously press Win key+R to bring up the Run window, type the following and hit enter.
Or for Windows XP:
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\application data\AVAST Software\Avast
Delete or move the aswResp.dat file to another location.
You will need to enable showing of hidden files in Folder Options first if your Windows isn’t already configured that way. Go to Control Panel -> Folder Options -> View tab -> select “Show hidden files, folders, or drives”.
This second manual method is actually similar to using our automated tool, and that is to use the only piece of software we know that can delete the avast! aswResp.dat file while the antivirus software has it protected and doesn’t need extra steps like a reboot or using Safe Mode.
To use IObit Unlocker just install it and right click on the aswResp.dat file in the avast! folder listed above. Then select “Unlock & delete”. The aswResp.dat file is instantly deleted and you can immediately access the avast! Settings. Although sometimes the it looks like the file hasn’t been removed, you can still access the avast! settings. You can also add the file from the Unlocker tool’s main window, just select the Add button and locate it. The installer version of IObit Unlocker has adware during the install, but a portable version is now available from PortableApps.com.