Why I Just Uninstalled Ad-Aware

I recently uninstalled Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Antivirus. As part of the uninstall process, it suddenly took me to a page on Lavasoft’s web site asking me about what made me uninstall their product.

I consider that kind of rude and unexpected, but since I was uninstalling the product specifically because of my deep dissatisfaction with it, I decided I’d do the company a favor by filling out their feedback survey, from the link at the bottom of the page. On the second of 3 screens, it asked me to “Please explain the reason why you have uninstalled Ad-Aware”.

In a fit of brutal honesty, I wrote this:

It kept annoying me, even when it hadn’t detected anything. It should be unobtrusive, not constantly saying, “Hey, I’m installed! I’m guarding you against stuff! Oh, and hey, I just downloaded new threat definitions! Do I get a cookie now, huh, huh? Please pay attention to me!”

Obviously, it is pretty heartfelt. Whether you consider it justified or too-snarky, it’s still a genuine user reaction, and one that led to an uninstallation born of frustration and aggravation. (Ironically, I suspect Ad-Aware’s ridiculous level of own-horn-tooting was an attempt to keep users from abandoning the app on the basis that “it never does anything”. Still, if that was the idea, it sure failed, at least in my case.)

If you’re making software, consider when and how it should annoy the user — if ever at all. Mostly, you should aspire for your software to get out of the users’ way — preferably, to the point that your users no longer even notice the software itself.

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