Stuck in the Avast SafeZone

Here’s another post that I hope may help someone else to solve a problem that took me a couple of hours to get to the bottom of.

My kids share a very basic laptop, on which I installed Avast! free version as the anti-virus solution (with which I am generally very pleased). However, whilst playing with the gadgets, one of the kids managed to get the machine into the SafeZone, and there it seemed stuck: both “Switch back” and “Turn off SafeZone” briefly exit but immediately return to the SafeZone.

I found that others have had this problem, but the suggestions I found did not help in my case. I really didn’t want to un-install and re-install Avast, and so I hunted around a bit for an alternative fix. Here’s what I found.

The problem may be at least partly due to the SafeZone Browser not being part of the free version.

My solution requires being able to successfully enter Windows Safe Mode (e.g. F8 during boot), and so might not help everyone. Therefore you might also like to take a look at the other articles I found on the Avast forum and on TechArena.

Some of the suggestions did not help in my case as the laptop in question is very basic, and does not appear to have a virtualisation setting in the BIOS (e.g. F2 during boot).

For me, the problem appeared to be due to the Avast Gadget installed in the Windows SideBar on a Windows 7 machine.


Boot into Windows SafeMode (perhaps with Networking, if you wish to use your Web Browser).

Open Windows Explorer (e.g. <Windows>+E).

Navigate to the directory / folder

C:\Users\<YourProfile>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\

noting that AppData will be hidden by default.

Open the file


in Notepad. (Also, make a copy of this file, just in case.)

Search for a

[Section <N>]

with a mention of


Note the number, and delete the entire section.

Now look in the


section, and delete just the line


If <K> is not the last value, the other entries may need to be renumbered to keep the sequence contiguous (but I don’t know).

Now you should be able to restart the machine, and it should be ‘cured’.

Here’s are example extracts from my file:


; ...

[Section 2]
; ...

[Section 4]
; ...

[Section 5]
; ...

[Section 6]
; ...

[Section 7]

The lines in red were the ones I deleted. (I also deleted a line from the [Hashes] section, but that reappeared.)



9 Responses to “Stuck in the Avast SafeZone”

  1. Danny Says:

    Thanks for this info. Helped me out!

    This is a real annoying issue and I am dissapointed with Avast for this glaring bug.

    I was literally “locked” from doing anything, and I am annoyed that Avast overrode my administrative priviliges without properly informing me of this capability.

  2. hamish Says:

    As an alternative – I have been really happy with Microsoft Security Essentials – it hasn’t given me any problems (yet) 🙂

  3. kiran Says:

    Thanks…it worked..!!!!!

  4. Goofy929 Says:

    I did Ctrl+Alt+Delete and Log off + cancel logg of and it worked^^

  5. Sylvia Says:

    I had the same problem this morning – so frustrating until I found this blog/site using our old computer!
    I corrected it this way;
    Safe Mode Networking
    Go to Control Panel to uninstall
    Avast progamme;
    I got 3 options; Uninstall, Change or Repair
    I chose Repair (being cautious) and it worked!!
    Thanks and I hope this helps someone else!

  6. avast_hater Says:

    What a bloody cheek for Avast to impose that on it’s users without so much as asking if you want their crap or not!

  7. maz Says:

    you could just open avast progam then click tools icon then safe zone then untick box in lower left corner.

  8. Denis R. Says:

    How do you open avast program when you are in the safe zone app and there is nothing to click on?

  9. carolinalana Says:

    I also tried ctrl alt del and logging off after that, and it worked!

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