Author Topic: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?  (Read 855 times)

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Offline DavidGB

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How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« on: June 30, 2019, 12:14:32 AM »
So, I'm new with Avast (Premier), obviously.

After the last update, I scheduled a Smart Scan every evening 11pm.

Just had one, and it came up with an issue in the final Advanced bit (which it didn't last night) - but didn't say what it was or offer me options other than resolve or ignore. I hit Resolve, it did something unknown by me and just gave some message about closing a door. The scan is not in Notifications or Scan History. My other configured scans, Quick and Full, I could (and did) modify settings to tell me about problems and let me choose what to do.

2 Questions:

(a) How do I find out what it just did to resolve whatever it was (and what was whatever it was)?

(b) Is there some way to get get Smart Scan to give me more info about things it finds and what It intends to do to resolve?

Offline DavidR

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2019, 03:12:26 AM »
Well one of the problems is that the Smart Scan doesn't record Scans in the same way as other on-demand scans.  In those scan settings you can have it Generate a Report file. 

This function (Generate a Report file) isn't available in the Smart Scan settings (as far I'm aware) the only way to see this is to actually monitor the scan as it runs.  Which kind of makes a mockery of Avast having given the option to Schedule the Smart Scan.

However, I believe it still generates a text file of the virus scan, Viruses & Malware.txt file in this location C:\ProgramData\AVAST Software\Avast\report\Viruses & Malware.txt

The problem is that there isn't just a simple AV scan being run, there are all the other scans thrown into the mix.
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Offline DavidGB

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2019, 03:54:50 AM »
Ah. I did look in \ProgramData\AVAST Software\Avast\report\, as I saw that being where reports went if reporting was turned on in the other scans while I was going through all the settings and customizing all the scans I could, but there's no file there about or from the Smart Scan, and there is no Viruses & Malware.txt, just reports for each shield and the two other types of scan I've run (Quick and Full), none of which had anything added to them about whatever the Smart Scan did.

I also see that the help pages are out of date: on Smart Scans they say hitting resolve will give me an explanation of what the problem is and options, but that first hitting resolve - after it showing a problem in that final 'Advanced' section but not what the problem was - just caused some action to be taken with no explanation, no choice and just a very unhelpful message about it having closed some unspecified 'door'. And the help pages also say there is a settings section for the Smart Scan under Settings ▸ General ▸ Smart Scan ... but there isn't. The only setting i can find is the one to schedule Smart Scans under Protection > Virus Scans > Custom Scans > Smart Scan > More > Settings.

I was hoping I'd missed something, but it appears not. This is ... disappointing. With the addition of the ability to schedule Smart Scans, I had been thinking this was my ideal security program with every option I wanted available. Now this. And I'm left looking around in Avast and elsewhere trying to find what it has done, either to itself and its settings or to some other program or even Windows 10 settings. REALLY unhappy that it has told me it's found a problem but not told me what it was, and that it has done something without telling me what, and not kept any record I can check. Very not cool.

I suppose if I had had 'debug logging' turned on I'd have had a record. But that's no help now with whatever has already happened; and if it's like most 'debug logging' it would churn out far too much data to be something that is practical to leave on all the time.

I can't see any choice but to unschedule the Smart Scans and not run any more, just schedule other custom scans that give me control, and manually run the other components every now and then.

REALLY disappointing, but I insist on security software that tells me what it finds and lets me choose what to do.

Offline DavidR

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2019, 12:10:51 PM »
Personally on-demand scans in a resident antivirus are much depreciated any active files are scanned.  Much of what would be scanned in on-demand scans are likely to be inactive or inert, like zip files which would be scanned by avast when they were unpacked.

I have never been much of a fan of the Smart Scan, certainly in the avast free version, I feel it is more of a vehicle to offer me paid products. This new Smart Scan I don't think changes that, but the inclusion of the Scheduled element is also flawed. 

When you run the Smart Scan a the end of it the Schedule Smart Scan box is pre-checked, so you need to uncheck that before closing the Smart Scan or it will continue to run scheduled on the default timings.

There needs to be an easy way to access the Smart Scan settings and it isn't in there with the other Scan Settings.  If you go into the AvastUI > Menu > Settings > General > Troubleshooting - scroll down and select 'Open old settings.'  You are now in the General settings again, scroll down and open the Smart Scan option.  In the Scan for viruses, Customise, there are very few options in there and nothing to generate a report.

I do get the file report mentioned before, but I don't know why, possibly historic or if I made changes to its default settings.
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Offline DavidGB

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2019, 03:23:55 PM »
I've had some developments with this, but last night right when I then had to go to bed and couldn't post.

I did find and go through the 'old settings' a few days ago (I've only been running Avast - Premier - for a couple of weeks), but I keep forgetting about them. When I did remember late last night, I found they do fit exactly (at least with respect to the Smart Scan) everything I found in the Avast online Help that I was complaining about not being there in my Avast in my post above. Clearly Avast need to re-do the Help pages either to refer to what is in the now default 'modern' settings, or to add in the need to open the 'old settings' to then find what some of the Help pages refer to.

That Viruses & Malware.txt file you mentioned and I said I didn't have is, I see, a report, by default switched off, but which one can turn on in the 'old settings' Smart Scan options, specifically for reports for the virus and malware scan part of a Smart Scan. I don't have the file because the option to turn it on was set to off in those old settings, and I missed it when going through all the settings, new and old, and turning on the report options for the other scans which ARE in the new settings. BUT it only covers the Malware scan step of the Smart Scan, not the other parts of the Smart Scan, so it wouldn't have helped in this case even if turned on.

But something unexpected happened when I decided to run another Smart Scan just to check on something just before I went to bed last night, which has made me pretty sure I actually ran into a bug with the scheduled Smart Scan I posted about in this thread rather than the deliberate poor design I assumed and complained about in the posts above. I haven't understood exactly what that final 'advanced issues' part of the scan actually covers, and was wondering if some text popped up during that part of the scan saying what was being checked each moment, like it does with the Viruses and Malware part, and I just hadn't noticed, so I ran another Smart Scan to see - and found it doesn't. But what was really unexpected was that it found an issue again - unexpected because it hadn't found anything on any other Smart Scan over the last two weeks since installation before last night's scheduled Smart scan, and supposedly that Smart Scan fixed the whatever-the-unkown issue was it found, so I wasn't expecting it to find anything. But on this manually started Smart Scan, at the end of the 'Advanced Issues' part I got the same alert type page as on the scheduled smart scan, and the same line about having found an 'open door' to a more advanced threat. But whereas on the scheduled Smart Scan there had been nothing below that other than the 'resolve' and 'ignore' buttons, THIS time there was a box specifying exactly what the issue was. It had found a file (which it named) it thought had sensitive data in that wasn't set to be covered by the Sensitive Data shield. And whereas it still did not say what 'resolve' would do, pretty obviously it would add it to the covered list in the Sensitive Data Shield - which it duly did after I clicked 'resolve'.

So, clearly it is NOT the case that Smart Scan 'advanced issue' scans do not, by design, tell me what found problems actually are as I had assumed after the scheduled Smart Scan and its completely uninformative warning. Instead, I now conclude that what happened at the end of the scheduled Smart Scan was I encountered a bug in the Smart Scan. Unfortunately the lack of a Smart Scan report or log leaves me unable to choose between two possibilities for the bug. Either (a) the first, scheduled Smart Scan found the SAME problem as the second on demand one - the unprotected sensitive document - but a bug prevented it from completing the result page with the part specifying the problem, and the 'resolve' action then actually failed without saying so; or (b) the first, scheduled Smart Scan found a DIFFERENT problem than the second on demand one, but a bug prevented it from specifying that problem in the result page. I'm inclined to guess it's the former, and it's also possible the bug only manifests in scheduled Smart Scans, not on demand ones. But that is only a guess on the current evidence.

Either way, there's a bug; and the lack of an option to produce Smart Scan reports for all the scan phases other than the virus and malware check makes it hard to diagnose. Avast really SHOULD add options to generate reports for every Smart Scan phase.

Hm. I suppose that if I remove that document from the Sensitive Data Shield protected document list, then change the schedule for the Smart Scan to get another scheduled scan, I might be able to see if I can replicate the results. If I can, it would show that the scheduled Smart Scan advanced issue found is the same unprotected document as found by the on demand scan, and that the bug is specifically with scheduled Smart Scans. I'll try that a bit later, and if I can replicate the problem I'll switch to reporting it in the thread about the latest release.

Offline DavidGB

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2019, 03:33:46 PM »
As a BTW, I  am also rather puzzled about the Smart Scan finding an unprotected sensitive document during the 'advanced issues' part of its scan. I did run the Sensitive Data Shield scan some days ago after buying Avast Premier, and it found and added to its protection list a (very few) documents. The one found last night by the Smart Scan has been where it is for years, and the entire Smart Scan, let alone just the advanced issues part, takes much less time than the Sensitive Data Shield scan (which I ran again last night after the Smart Scans). So if the much longer Sensitive Data Shield scan missed this document, how come the much shorter Smart Scan advanced issue scan found it? Or the quite a few other Smart Scans I've run on demand?

Offline DavidR

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2019, 05:45:51 PM »
Good that you have finally found a means to generate the report.  Unfortunately as I mentioned this doesn't include the other modules in the Smart Scan, effectively forcing the user not to run it scheduled.  What I don't know, is what happens if something is found in the scan that ordinarily required user input to progress.  By now I guess you have noticed I don't think the Smart (NOT) Scan is worth the hassle.

The Advanced issues as I have said:
Quote from: DavidR
I have never been much of a fan of the Smart Scan, certainly in the avast free version, I feel it is more of a vehicle to offer me paid products.
This may well include paid versions of avast if those Advanced Options aren't included in the paid version the user has. 

Or in your case the NOT so Smart Scan isn't recognising you have the Sensitive Data included.  The Smart Scan needs a greater flexibility in its settings and ease of accessibility to said settings.

Finally, Avast need to have a bloody good sort out of this UI, in its current incarnation it is all over the place, the Main UI, the Open old settings option and the bloody secret geek:area.

The whole thing is a mess and not intuitive.

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Offline alanb

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2019, 08:18:40 PM »
Quote
The whole thing is a mess and not intuitive.

Seconded, Dave, in spades!

Offline DavidGB

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2019, 04:28:07 AM »
Good that you have finally found a means to generate the report.  Unfortunately as I mentioned this doesn't include the other modules in the Smart Scan, effectively forcing the user not to run it scheduled.  What I don't know, is what happens if something is found in the scan that ordinarily required user input to progress.

Well, the first one after I scheduled it was the only one that found anything, and when it started I noticed and opened the UI to watch the progress, so when it found something I had the same experience as if I had run it manually - it stopped (although that was the last part of the scan anyway) with the result screen saying it had found something in the Advanced issues scan - but this was the time it didn't tell me what, which i now presume was a bug - and waited for me to hit resolve or ignore, just as with the manual scan I did afterwards, with the difference that that one did tell me what it found above the resolve and ignore buttons.

I have actually let it go on doing the scheduled Smart Scans for now. It hasn't found anything, but if it did ... when the scheduled scan starts, and if the normal UI is closed, a small window opens above the notification area, saying it's doing the Smart scan, with a progress bar and a button that, if pressed, opens the full UI on the normal Smart Scan page showing it in progress. If you DON'T press it, then that little window stays open to the end of the scan, and the message changes to say the scan has finished, and the button now says results; pressing it again opens the full UI, on the scan page showing all parts done and ready to step through with the confirmations of each part being fine. I only left it there for a couple of minutes after the scan before pressing the results button, but I had the impression that small Window would have just gone on sitting there. I therefore presume that if it DID find something that needed user input, that small window down by the notification bar would have a message about there being a problem, with the button again opening the full UI at the appropriate page of the Smart Scan to see the problem and resolve or ignore. I suppose the little window might have resolve and ignore buttons itself for those not interested in the details, but I doubt it. Of course it will partly depend on what 'Perform automatic action' options the user has ticked or unticked (I've unticked every one I can find, because I always want to see any problems and make my choice about actions).


Quote
  By now I guess you have noticed I don't think the Smart (NOT) Scan is worth the hassle.

The Advanced issues as I have said:
Quote from: DavidR
I have never been much of a fan of the Smart Scan, certainly in the avast free version, I feel it is more of a vehicle to offer me paid products.
This may well include paid versions of avast if those Advanced Options aren't included in the paid version the user has.

I have Premier, and the upselling runs from limited to none, depending on options set and components installed. If you install premium modules not included in the license - e.g with me the Cleanup module - then you can end up clicking on something that just produces an advert. But then you can uninstall that module. The biggest potential nag is for the SecureLine VPN. Not having it, with default settings, produces a permanent rather large and visible banner about your IP address being visible, and a resolve button that goes to getting SecureLine VPN, at the bottom of the Status page, and a final 'but your privacy still has issues' as a final page of scan results. But unticking Settings>General>Data settings>'show offers for our other products' gets rid of those. So, at least with Premier, not installing (or uninstalling) modules for things not included with Premier, and unticking that one setting essentially stops the whole vehicle to offer more paid products.


Quote
Or in your case the NOT so Smart Scan isn't recognising you have the Sensitive Data included.

That wasn't exactly the problem. A few days before i had done the whole scan for sensitive data thing, and it found a (very) few documents, which I then duly set to be protected.

The problem found by at least the Smart Scan I did manually after the scheduled one - and probably found by the scheduled oen, although it didn't say what it was due to presumed bug - was that it somehow found another a file it thought was sensitive that wasn't one of the ones found and secured by the original sensitive document scan. So it didn't find one it should have known was secured - this was another document entirely. And it was a perfectly valid document for it to flag up as 'sensitive data'. My puzzlement is how did the short 'advanced issues' part of the Smart Scan find a document that was missed by the much longer original Sensitive Data scan.

Quote
  The Smart Scan needs a greater flexibility in its settings and ease of accessibility to said settings.


They certainly shouldn't be buried in the 'old settings' most users probably will never notice.

Offline DavidR

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Re: How can I find what a Smart Scan just did?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2019, 11:12:26 AM »
@ DavidGB

I don't know if this is a setting that you have found and unchecked, it relates to Promotions (upselling) in paid versions.  AvastUI > Menu > Settings > Privacy there are two options that you should be able to uncheck.  I don't know if these ads/promotions options would be honoured in the Smart Scan or not.

As you say ensure that you have any components that aren't included in your Premier version installation are removed or they could generate promotions/upselling in the Smart Scan.
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