photo: Nils Geylen
Grr… I allowed AVG 8 to run a computer scan for viruses earlier. When it came back, it said it had detected 96 threats and automatically removed them all; I didn’t think anything of it because they were just attachments in e-mails in my inbox. Unfortunately, Mozilla Thunderbird stores all of it’s e-mail in one file and some of my spam e-mails had contained viruses inside them. So AVG decided to the entire Inbox file meaning I’ve now essentially lost 4 years of e-mail. Included in those e-mails were all kinds of things including invoices, essays, important e-mails, website login details, letters and university administrative documents. Deleted by AVG, not moved to the Virus Vault.
I’m really annoyed with AVG at the moment. I am very lucky in the fact that I use Google Mail and it archives all e-mail which has been downloaded via POP3 rather than throwing them away as most e-mail services would. So I’ve probably still got copies of most of those e-mails lying around somewhere.
There’s probably a month worth of e-mail in several accounts I need to trawl through to find the ones which I’ve not yet attended to or had previously marked as “to be read”. I have several e-mail accounts for different purposes and Thunderbird downloaded e-mail from them all to compile a big inbox of all new e-mail.
It’s not a catastrophic data loss. I can only thank Google for having a backup. But it could easily have been one. It’s very frustrating: trawling through backups is really the last thing I really want to do right now with exams coming up.
Some antivirus software unfortunately isn’t familiar with Thunderbird, so when it detects a virus in your Inbox, it takes action on the whole file (your entire Inbox) instead of taking action on just one e-mail. For instance, if your antivirus software is set to automatically delete infected messages, it might delete your entire Inbox! This problem is due to a design flaw in certain AV programs, not in Thunderbird, and it is known to occur with Outlook Express and other e-mail programs too.
Apparently AVG7 worked fine with Thunderbird too: it’s AVG8 which introduces the problem where the entire inbox is deleted. I’ve disabled “Automatically heal/remove infections” so in the future hopefully AVG will ask before deleting my inbox. Well, now you know. Safeguard your inbox from AVG8 before you upgrade.