Avast Antivirus is one of the most popular computer protection software suites around, and for good reason!
Not only does it offer an incredibly robust free option that has up-to-date spyware and malware databases, but the premium version comes with a slew of extra tools to help keep your computer safe.
One area that can be a point of confusion for Avast security users is the difference between moving files into the Avast Chest versus deleting the file.
The main difference between Avast Chest and delete is that moving a file to the Chest still keeps the file on your computer, but it will be placed in a special folder where it cannot run and cause harm to your computer. Deleting a file will remove it from your computer entirely.
What is the Avast Chest?
The Avast Chest is a safe place that Avast Free Antivirus and Avast Premium Security software offer for storing files the antivirus software has detected and flagged for being potentially harmful to your computer.
Once a file is in quarantine, it is denied write access to your computer, meaning it cannot copy itself and spread around your machine. It also can’t overwrite or delete other software.
This safe place allows you to inspect the file and research it more thoroughly without fear that it might harm your computer.
You may find the Avast Chest will contain items after running a predefined Avast Antivirus scan and picking up a file it deems suspicious. You may also find that files can be detected without your input by Avast Antivirus Shield if you are using the premium version.
Why would I use the Avast Chest over deleting?
You might be thinking that if a file is flagged as a potential threat, then it surely just needs to be deleted.
However, there are quite a few reasons why you may first want to double-check the file before sending it to virus heaven.
The main reason is that antivirus software can oftentimes flag what’s called a “false positive.” This is where an executable file is believed to be malicious, when in fact it’s not. You will find this happens a lot with key generator executables or software plugins with external authenticators.
In these cases, removing them from your computer might cause otherwise working software to suddenly become inoperable.
You will find this commonly happens with software backups, as when an antivirus software suite detects many copies of a single file, it will often believe it to be malware that’s duplicating itself. Therefore, having the opportunity to check that the file it has flagged is safe is extremely helpful.
System critical file protection
Malware likes to target files, processes, and registry entries that are critical to the functioning of your system. This is done purposely so that the act of deleting the malicious file also renders your computer unusable.
One of the benefits of using the Avast Chest is that the quarantined file is simply encrypted and rendered inert, yet it still remains present on your PC so you can actually restore it if needed.
For users of the premium Avast service, you will also be given the option to submit the infected file to the Avast Threat Labs.
This gives you the opportunity to send the file to Avast and have them check the file directly, which is extremely helpful if you have a system critical file being flagged that you believe to be a false positive.
If they give you the OK, then you can simply restore it back, safe in the knowledge it’s clean!
Restoring or deleting the file
Once you have determined that a file is safe to use, you can simply restore the file, and Avast can help you automatically add an exception within the antivirus rules so that particular file won’t be flagged again in the future.
Likewise, if you deem the file to be unsafe, you can safely delete it permanently from within the Virus Chest, which will remove the option to recover deleted files.
What is delete?
Deleting a file is simply removing a file from your system. In Windows, this doesn’t immediately remove the file, as it will just move it to the trash bin, which you will need to open and manually delete.
Although this may seem like the logical thing to do if you believe a file to be a threat, there are a few key differences that don’t make it quite as safe as first using the Avast Chest.
Immediate removal of the file
Once a file has been deleted, it will be completely removed from the system. This can potentially cause an issue if the file in question was a false positive that didn’t need deleting or if it was a system-critical file that was vital to the operation of your computer.
This carries with it the risk of irreparably damaging your computer’s operating system, as malware often likes to directly target system-critical files for that very reason.
The trash bin
When deleting a file the traditional way, it’s not immediately removed from the computer. It first goes into the trash bin, where it needs to be deleted again.
This affords any malware extra time to duplicate itself to another location, so even after you’ve removed it from the trash bin, there could be multiple instances of it elsewhere on your computer.
It’s a different process to quarantining, which will physically encrypt the file and disable it from taking any action until you deem it safe.
But it’s not really gone
Once a file has been removed from the trash bin, it’s still technically not gone. It’s simply no longer displayed within the Windows system, but the data itself is still physically written on the hard disk.
This can afford it the opportunity to be restored on accident by file restoration programs unless you use additional software to purposely overwrite new binary code onto the exact sector that the malicious file was stored in.
This makes it generally a much more unsafe option when compared to the Virus Chest.
What are the differences between Avast Chest and delete?
Although at first glance these processes might seem very similar, some key elements differentiate them from each other that you may want to consider before you manually delete files from your system.
Once a file is placed into the Avast Virus Chest, it’s then encrypted so it cannot write or execute any processes on your machine. This essentially stores it in a totally safe environment where it can pose no further risk to your machine.
On the other hand, deleting a file directly moves it to the trash bin, where it will remain unencrypted and can still be a threat to your system.
Opportunity for inspection
The only way to manually remove the file is to delete it from both the system and then the trash bin. Once that file is gone, there is no way to view or inspect it further to check that it really was a malicious file.
This is different from the Avast Chest, which essentially freezes the file so you can inspect it in detail before deciding whether you deem it malicious or not.
Any files that are in the Avast Virus Chest can be sent to Avast directly for further threat analysis from a trained professional (providing you use their premium service).
This can be extremely helpful if you suspect a file might be a false positive, and they can provide you with the peace of mind that the file is actually safe.
A file that has simply been deleted cannot be inspected further or sent to a professional for analysis.
System critical file protection
As we mentioned, malicious software likes to write itself into system-critical file processes to make itself harder to remove.
By placing these into the Virus Chest, the file is protected but still present on your machine.
If you were to just delete the file completely, it may render your operating system unstable or even completely break it.
Likewise, if you discover that a system critical file is safe, it’s much harder to re-download and replace manually if it has been deleted in a regular manner.
The Virus Chest allows you to simply restore the selected file directly to your hard drive and add an exception for it in the antivirus software so it won’t be flagged again in the future.
The trash bin and chest
Immediately upon detection of a suspicious file, Avast Antivirus will place it in the Virus Chest, rendering it inert so that it can be inspected or deleted at your convenience.
On the other hand, deleting the file manually simply sends it to the trash bin, which affords it the opportunity to duplicate itself and continue to be a threat to your machine.
“True” file deletion
When you delete a file on a computer, it’s not really gone. It’s simply no longer displaying in Windows, but the core binary code is still physically present on the disk, which means that the file can potentially be restored.
When a file is deleted from the Avast Chest, it will purposely write “junk’ binary code over the sector that file was stored in, completely removing any chance to recover the deleted files with data recovery software.
Limited file deletions
By default, Avast Virus Chest only allows you to store up to 26 files with a maximum storage size of 5GB. This may make things like large .ISO files an issue if they become flagged.
You can further adjust the size allocation within the Avast settings to increase it.
Deleting a file manually is limited to the size of the Windows trash bin, which is about 5% of the total size of the volume. This can also be manually increased, but if you delete a file that is over the allocated size, it will immediately permanently delete the file.
Avast Chest vs delete: Are they the same?
While both processes delete a suspected malicious file from your computer, they do so in different ways.
When the Avast Virus Chest quarantines a file, it’s encrypted and protected, and it can then be inspected further, deleted, restored, or sent for further analysis by Avast Threat Detection.
Deleting a file simply moves it to the trash bin, where it will remain unprotected and still a potential threat to your system. You will then need to go and manually delete the file from the trash bin to adequately remove it from your computer.