Disable Avast Hardware-Assisted Virtualization [Guide]

Did you think Avast Hardware-Assisted Virtualization could be slowing down your new media player or crashing your favorite game on launch? Yes, it can absolutely do so. It seems like a long shot, but the truth is system-wide changes such as using virtual machines can cause bugs like these in other apps running on your system.

However, you needn’t worry. We have all the details about how and when to enable/disable the Hardware-Assisted Virtualization feature in Avast antivirus.

Virtualization Technology – Concept and Benefits

In computing, when you create a software or virtual version of a real-life (hardware-based) entity, you are using virtualization technology. Things that you could be generating virtually from a sea of electronic 0’s and 1’s could include computer hardware platforms, network servers, or even storage devices.

Why would you do this? Some reasons include reducing costs, improving performance, and making maintenance and data recovery easier. The last two are possible as you only need to replace or migrate a virtual machine in either scenario instead of overhauling the complete hardware.

In addition, application virtualization (especially for apps connected to a network, which include almost all the apps used nowadays) prevents some security issues by keeping them in a restricted sandbox.

Drilling In – Hardware-Assisted Virtualization

When you implement an entire computer platform virtually, you are using a subset of virtualization technology called Hardware Virtualization.

With hardware virtualization, a special software called a hypervisor creates the virtual machine (VM) on the host hardware. It then replicates the behavior of the platform targeted by running the virtual operating system underneath it.

Hardware-Assisted Virtualization (HAV) then further boosts the performance of the VM (Virtual Machine) by providing specific features in the CPU and other hardware components to support virtualization.

Intel added this capacity to its x86 series of processors with its trademarked technology called VT-X. AMD soon followed suit by including its implementation, the AMD-V capability, to its next version of processors starting from 2006.

Avast Hardware-Assisted Virtualization – Benefits and Issues

Avast antivirus is one of the best security products used worldwide. The Avast has a functionality that lets you enjoy better performance and safer antivirus protection if you enable it.

Just suppose you use a machine with hardware-assisted virtualization enabled (with Intel VT-X, or AMD-V for AMD PCs). This feature will employ a VM on top of the hypervisor to provide additional security. As such systems allow for virtualization technology by building unique features in the CPU to support it at the hardware level, they enable the hypervisor to run faster with almost native performance. Hence, enabling Avast HAV improves its performance and brings in efficiency gains.

In addition, it helps add security to your PC. For example, Avast has a feature called SafeZone (available when HAV is enabled) that lets you run a browser in a VM, cutting down on chances of malware infecting the entire system.

However, there is more to it than meets the eye. It could actually be the silent culprit behind many common issues – games crashing, other virtual machines not launching, and some software slowing down.

Do not get into panic mode. We have you covered. Read on to find out how you can fix these problems on your PC easily.

Some issues users report when they enable hardware-assisted virtualization on Avast are true. On the other hand, a few others are mere myths and have no evidence to back them. We will look at both here.

  1. Compatibility Issues

Compatibility issues are a real problem when enabling HAV.

  • Virtual Box and other similar Virtual Machines not running properly:

Some users report problems running other virtual machines smoothly if they have the Avast Hardware Assisted Virtualization feature enabled at the same time. In the thread below, a user says he could not work on his Virtual Box VM for a long time and only later found out the issue was Avast’s hardware virtualization. Others on the post corroborate his experience and report having faced similar issues.

compatibility issues Figure 1. Compatibility Issues with Avast Virtualization

  • Virtualization Causes Crashes While Playing Games

In addition, playing games can be an issue if the feature is enabled. You can see users reporting they could play Unity games only after disabling hardware-assisted virtualization in Avast on their Windows computer.

causes problems in playing games Figure 2. Avast Virtualization Causes Problems in Playing Games

  1. Performance Issues

While enabling HAV brings better performance in the Avast software itself, it slows down some other software if they are running on your computer at the same time.

  • Android Emulator BlueStacks takes a performance hit because of enabling HAV.

Users of BlueStacks, the most popular Android emulator, have reported performance issues because of Avast antivirus. This problem was so common that the company has put out a mini-guide on their website to help people fix it.

faces performance issues Figure 3. BlueStacks Faces Performance Issues Because of Avast

the reason is again Figure 4. The Reason is Again the HAV Feature

  • A famous media player also reports facing lag because of Avast hijacking the Virtualization Technology on the computer.

LDPlayer users also claim their software took a hit when they enabled Avast HAV on their PC. Disabling this feature helped fix the issue, and LDPlayer could then use the available capacity of the CPU for better performance.

HAV disabled by default

Figure 5. LDPLayer also faces performance issues because of Avast.

ldplayer asks users to disable

Figure 6. LDPlayer asks users to disable Avast Hardware-Assisted Virtualization feature to solve the lag issue.

  1. Myth Bursting – Does Avast Virtualization Introduce a Security Issue on Your PC

HAV (in the general sense, not specific to Avast) can cause security issues if a special malware called rootkit makes its way into the hypervisor. However, toggling the “Enable Hardware-Assisted Virtualization” setting inside the Avast antivirus App does not cause any particular threat.

The reason is that disabling this feature optionally is only a mechanism of telling Avast not to use your computer’s Virtualization Technology (VT-X on Intel and AMD-V on AMD). It does not turn off the functionality for the entire system.

Rootkits can infect your system through the hypervisor if you turn on hardware virtualization on your PC. However, this rootkit malware is only a theoretical kind of threat in the context of the HAV feature. The reason is that the malware already requires extremely high privileges to infiltrate your PC. If such an agent gets in, it probably got through some deeper system-wide security loophole, not because you enabled virtualization in Avast.

Further, the hypervisor pretends to be real hardware to the virtual operating system running underneath it. It only provides it with native performance by supporting it on the chip level in the CPU.

Hence, it does not matter to your computer’s security if you enable or disable this feature. You will not face any additional security problem by disabling Avast hardware Assisted Virtualization. If anything, you might create an extra security threat by not letting Windows use the feature in its HyperV sandbox.

Disable Avast Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Via “Settings” To Fix The Issue

If the virtualization feature in Avast causes some of the genuine issues mentioned above, you need to configure settings to fix the problem.

Some versions of Avast turn on HAV by default, while some do not. Read the documentation for your version to know if it turns on the setting by default.

We provide a mini tutorial for disabling Avast Hardware-Assisted Virtualization from the troubleshooting options on a Windows PC below:

  1. Open Avast Antivirus Menu by clicking on the option in the top right-hand corner.

avast antivirus home screen Figure 7. Select Menu on the Avast Home Screen

  1. Select Settings from the list that appears.

select settings Figure 8. Select Settings From the List

  1. Next, go to troubleshooting
  2. At this point, you can Uncheck “Enable Hardware-Assisted Virtualization” to Turn Off the feature.
  3. Finally, you need to shut down and boot your system to execute the change you made in the setting above.

Congratulations on making it till here! You now know everything about the confusing Avast Hardware Assist Virtualization feature. With the information in our post, you can now enable or disable it depending on your needs, other apps installed, and your system’s behavior. Doing so means you get the best of both worlds – use it when the feature is of help to you, and turn it off when it causes issues.

Next, there is a little FAQs section to clear out any further questions you may have.

FAQs:

Q. How do I disable hardware-assisted virtualization in Avast?

You need to navigate to the “Troubleshooting” section in Avast antivirus Settings. Here, you can uncheck the “Enable Hardware-Assisted Virtualization” box and restart your computer to disable the feature.

Q. What does hardware-assisted virtualization do?

You can run a virtual machine on your computer by using hypervisor software (like Virtual Box). The hypervisor pretends to be real hardware to the OS underneath to enable the use of virtualization. HAV then improves the performance and security of your virtual machine by enabling support through hardware features in the CPU. Intel x86 architecture processors include this functionality as VT-X, while AMD chips call their implementation AMD-V.

Q. Is it safe to disable HAV?

Yes, it is safe to disable it. This functionality is prone to a particular threat by a special kind of malware called rootkit which can sit very deep in your OS near the hardware. Hence, you can gain some security by disabling it. (Note that this differs from turning off Avast Hardware Assisted Virtualisation from the settings inside the software. This feature in Avast poses no security threat. Check out the relevant section in the post above to find out more.) Some companies like Sony turn off hardware assisted virtualization when they ship their laptops because of this security issue.

Q. Is HAV good?

Yes. It boosts system performance, enables robust data recovery, and saves resources. However, it shows the best results when used in a hybrid model with software-based virtualization (technically called paravirtualization). Alone, it hasn’t shown any proven results for speeding up the system.