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HELP FILE: A Surprise Anti-Virus Upgrade

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, May 31, 2009

QMy copy of Webroot's anti-spyware software just installed a new anti-virus program without warning me -- even though I already have one active, and adding a second one invites all sorts of problems. Nice trick . . .

AThis reader was happy with Webroot's Spy Sweeper, but he was a lot less happy when his copy of this widely used, $29.95 spyware remover installed extra software on his computer without giving him a heads-up.

Webroot publicist MacLean Guthrie wrote that the Boulder, Colo., company wanted to give some of its customers a chance to try its $39.95 Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware for free. "We conducted testing to ensure our product runs well alongside antivirus protection from other major vendors, and we've been rolling out the upgrade in small batches so we can pay close attention to support needs like this instance," she wrote.

Guthrie added that users who don't want extra virus protection can turn off that feature or contact Webroot's tech support for help. The reader in question chose the second option and said a company rep talked him through a downgrade to the old software.

In this case, no long-term harm was done. But Webroot is pushing its luck to expect every Windows system to tolerate this kind of modification. It should change this update so customers know what's coming and can decline it upfront.Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.

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