Virus Protection and Visual Studio


“I have virus protection software X with Y features enabled and I’m trying to get
Visual Studio to do Z but I see error messages instead.  What
can I do?”

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I see this question a LOT about Visual Studio .NET 2002 and 2003.  This
post is an effort to consolidate the answers to these general issues into one location. 

 

Why do these problems exist?

Two reasons:

  1. During the 2002/2003 we never had much focused testing that included virus protection
    software outside of what is installed on the desktops here at Microsoft.   For
    the Whidbey release we are going to push testing with several other virus protection
    suites enabled as well.
  2. Some anti-virus software is overzealous in how they go about their business.  This
    is sometimes good for security, but usability generally finished a distant second
    in these cases.

 

What are the common problems and what can
I do about them?

 

Don’t run script blocking software during
the install of Visual Studio.
  If
you did, ignored warning messages during the install, and you’ve had problems with
VS from the first launch there isn’t much you can do but re-install VS.   Covered
in this
KB article
. For Whidbey we’ll be moving the install away from its reliance on
scripting thus avoiding this issue. 

 

Other Script Blocking Issues: If you got
past the install of VS, but have re-enabled most of the popular script blockers you
may encounter problems that you will need to turn off script blocking to solve. These
problems may not even give you warnings and may just manifest themselves by just shutting
down VS when a user attempts the following. 

  • Creating a project: The project creation wizards rely on scripts that access the file
    system object to create your project on disc.  I’m
    told in Whidbey we’ll again be changing our scripting model to avoid these problems.
  • Adding classes or items to a project. (If you see a trend it’s pretty much anything
    that uses a wizard is most likely using scripting behind the scenes.)
  • Accessing the Start Page features: The start page uses the file system and registry
    to get MRU information in 2002. In 2003 we moved the MRU to be a normal win32 component
    for performance reasons. This also had the effect of removing the script warning whenever
    you start up VS.  You may still see script
    warnings though accessing the “Community Features” of VS 2003 since that relies on
    the 2002 start page code that uses scripts.  In
    Whidbey we’ve replaced/moved most of the start page functionality so it won’t be an
    issue.

The problem with turning off script blocking completely is that there are useful reasons
to enable script blocking.  If your AV
software allows you to be selective you should try to allow the devenv.exe process
to run unfettered and ignore warnings from “VS://” URLs. 

 

Real Time Scan Issues: Virus Scanning
software enabled for “Real-Time” scanning can dramatically effect performance and
sometimes cause apparent hangs during the following operations listed below. The only
solution is to disable the real time scan. Some real time scanners will let you tell
them to ignore files in certain locations which might be a more secure option.

  • Compiling/Building larger projects. See KB
    250670
    or KB
    236399
    .
  • Accessing Projects over source control or network shares.
  • Debugging a project
  • Visual Studio Startup and Shutdown
  • Opening help or help windows
  • Installation
  • Deployment of apps

Other Random Issues:

  • Exceptions when debugging ASP.NET apps? Check
    out this KB Article
    .
  • There is some (less frequently used) anti-virus software that actually modifies the
    name of the running process and or the executable names. If you try to start VS and
    get a warning that it is unable to find a certain file ensure that the running process
    is “devenv.exe” and not that name with random characters inserted in front of the
    process name.  We don’t run very well
    if someone changes the name of our running process. J
  • Real time scans can cause files to appear as changed just after project creation/opening.  The
    solution is to disable the real time scans from touching Visual Studio associated
    files.
  • VS and Kaspersky Antivirus are apparently
    not compatible. See this thread.
  • Some firewall/Proxy server combinations will disable Start Page features and result
    in the message “You must be connected to the internet to use this feature”.  This
    is because the Start Page relies on the MSXML component for content downloads and
    there is an issue with this component that will cause it not to retrieve information
    that you could see with a normal http request to the source. 

If I find more issues I’ll post them here as well.  If
you have run into other similar issues feel free to send them my way. 

Thanks,

            josh

Comments (7)

  1. andy says:

    Just thought I’d mention a bug me and a collegue have noticed when debugging in Visual Studio 2003. Its quite bizarre in that sometimes if you check a debug point half way through debugging, the editor will load a file with the same name from an entirely different project! .. The file isn’t open in another instance of VS, and is definitely not part of the existing opened project. The only reason it seems to open it is because its the same filename (though in an entirely different location).

    Its really quite strange but has happened on more than one occasion now and we can’t find a logical explanation for it. Why on earth would it take it upon itself to open a file from an entirely different project just because you have set a breakpoint while debugging ?

    Anyway, if anyone else has come across this I’d love to hear if you found a resolution. It only happens now and again so a restart seems to fix it (doesn’t it always..).

    Andy.

  2. Rav says:

    The same thing happens to me, don’t know why this is, so annoying and now i can’t get the break point to sit where i want. Even when running it stops of in the new window instead of the window i need! There must be loads of other developers with the same problem. Reported this to MS no luck yet!!!

  3. JobsBlog says:

    RAV: Have you filed a bug on the product feedback center?

  4. Yes, I was one of the testers for the Start Page in Visual Studio 2002 and 2003. There are a LOT of good

  5. sunnf says:

    Automation server can’t create object