Using a custom screensaver is one of the great joys of using a personal computer and allows you to personalize your machine in a plethora of ways. Screensaver software suites, such as Wallpaper Engine or Mystify Screensaver, are more popular than ever as the customization options keep becoming more elaborate and interesting.
Unfortunately, users of custom screensavers (or in some cases, even the default Windows ones) will often find their antivirus software disabling the screensaver for no apparent reason.
This had led users to a lot of confusion, as they don’t understand why it disables their screensaver or how to get it back.
Today we’re going to clear things up and explain both how this issue occurs and how to fix it!
Why is Avast screensaver not working?
The first thing to clarify is that both screensaver and wallpaper applications technically work as individual pieces of software. Even though we commonly associate it with just being a part of Windows, it’s actually a small program that is subject to control and interception from antivirus software like anything else.
Likewise, with dedicated screensaver software like Wallpaper Engine, this is still a separate process that is subject to being flagged (even if incorrectly) as a virus or malware by Avast.
Here’s a rundown of the main culprits that are going to prevent your screensaver from not working, and then we’ll run through how to fix them so it can’t be disabled again.
Avast Screensaver scan
This is one of the most common causes that will prevent your screensaver from working.
The Avast Screensaver scan is essentially a convenient way to do a scheduled scan. Whenever your computer has been idle and the screensaver kicks in, Avast will start to scan your computer because it knows that you are not using it at that moment.
However, whether due to bugs or false positives, it’s very easy for the files associated with the AvastSS process to disable the screensaver from launching unless you manually click it yourself.
There are a few ways to address this issue and can range from manually addressing the avastSS.scr files in the System 32 folder, to update the software, as this was a known bug on earlier versions of Avast.
Avast is not up to date
Over the years, the Avast developers have mentioned multiple times that sometimes the screensaver not working is simply due to an internal bug within the software.
This is not something you as a user can address. It’s up to Avast to issue an update that fixes it.
Fortunately, they usually do address it, and many of these common bugs can be worked out by updating your Avast software suite to the latest version.
Avast Antivirus targeting third-party software
This applies primarily to users who are not using the Screensaver scan option but are using third-party software such as Wallpaper Engine to handle their screensaver.
Because the software needs to request access to your Windows screensaver in order to overwrite it with your custom one, Avast Virus Scan is very quick to pick up on this and claim it is a virus.
In this scenario, we can manually add an exception within Avast so this is no longer an issue.
Avast Firewall intercepting files
In a similar fashion to the antivirus, many screensaver software suites use the internet in order to populate their screensaver library with files that are collected from the host server of the software provider.
Because this is essentially downloading small files to your system, it’s then susceptible to interception and blockage by Avast Firewall.
We must once again add a rule within the Avast firewall software to allow this process to pass through unhindered.
How to fix Avast screensaver not working
Now that we’ve established that a screensaver is usually a separate running process that can be flagged as a virus or blocked by a firewall due to data transfer, we can then go about fixing it like regular software.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do that.
Remove, replace or repair avastSS.scr
Avast Screensaver scan is a special option that tells Avast to scan your machine only when the screensaver is enabled.
Some users have reported issues with the process file associated with this feature called avastSS.scr.
To fix this issue, manually navigate using the file explorer to C:\Windows\System32\avastSS.scr and delete the avastSS.scr file.
Once this is complete, head into the Windows control panel, click “Uninstall a program,” and find Avast on the list. Highlight Avast, and click the repair option.
This will scan Avast software for any missing files and re-download a fresh, working copy of the file from the Avast server.
Manually select screensaver through Avast
Oftentimes, if there is no screensaver selected within the Avast software, it doesn’t matter what you select on Windows or any other screensaver software. It will simply appear as a black screen.
To select a screensaver within Avast directly, use the following steps:
- Navigate to “Scan” within Avast.
- Click “Details.”
- Chose the settings option.
- Choose the “SS” tab (screensaver).
- Here, you can pick the screensaver that Avast should use when performing its scan.
One of the main causes of Avast having some kind of conflict with your computer’s screensaver is that it’s not up to date.
Fortunately, manually updating Avast is exceptionally easy. Simply open Avast and click on Settings. Then, select “Update” and click on the update button, which is located next to the program (instead of virus definitions, which won’t actually update the software itself).
Let this run, and the updated software may fix the issue.
Add an exception with Avast Antivirus
As some screensaver software such as Wallpaper Engine can be falsely flagged by Avast as a virus, adding an exception to that particular piece of software will allow the program to work unhindered by Avast.
To add an exception, follow these steps:
- Within Avast, navigate to Menu, and then Settings.
- Click on General and then Exceptions.
- Click the “Add Advanced Exception” button.
- You will then be given an option to define what kind of exception you want; select “Program.”
- Then, browse to the .exe file of the screensaver software you are using and click “Add exception.”
Avast Antivirus will no longer be able to block that software from operating.
Allow a new rule with Avast Firewall
Many third-party screensavers require a connection to the internet, as they use files hosted on a server to populate their selection of screensavers. This internet traffic can sometimes be blocked by Avast Firewall, so we need to add a new rule that tells Avast Firewall to ignore this.
Open Avast and navigate to Protection and then Firewall. Click the settings icon in the top right, indicated by a small gear icon. Click on “View firewall rules” and select the application rules tab.
From here, you need to click “Add new rule,” in which you will select the relevant software associated with your screensaver and tell the firewall to “Ignore” it.
This will allow that software to use the internet unimpeded, which may help it function properly.