My computer is similar to yours, except it is two years older. There are two programs that I use that might make your system easier to use.
1) ProcessHacker2 shows all processes running on the machine. It allows you to suspend, terminate, and restart (among other things) any process running, especially multiple instances as you encountered.
2) Waterfox (search using your favorite Search Engine) is a 64-bit version of Firefox and uses the same add-ons and themes. It is not found at the FF home page, but does update searches just like FF. If you Bookmark the Waterfox home page, you can access new versions should the automatic update not function correctly.
I encountered problems with the Avast! program update 9.0.2016. It did not install properly and hung-up my computer. Deleting, downloading a fresh copy, and reinstalling solved the problem.
The problems with Avast on my PC amount to Predictive Heuristics and Reputation Services. Two general Antivirus Sensitivity settings can be adjusted or those enhanced features can be unchecked entirely. Both of the enhanced sensitvity settings need to be unchecked for my MSE-4 to update (Win 7 Home 64-bits) or to receive and install some MS Updates. I'm in my Ubuntu partition right now, so I am not able to specify the exact Antivirus Settings in question.
It is the File Shields which scan the updates and some dowloaded files. There is a Reputation Service which prevents downloading any "unusual" or "infrequent" download. Both of these file-based services are a pain in the neck.
For browser and Internet Connection issues, it is the Web Shields which need to be muted. Especially the Reputation Services and the features which prevent connecting to rogue web sites. There are (at least) two different types of Avast Reputation Services. One is statistical (based on user experiences, however that is measured), while the other is heuristic (based on behavior algorithms). Both are a pain in the neck.
Overall, Avast gets high marks for trying to protect my PC. But not so high for allowing me to USE my PC!
I used Waterfox for a time but they were not updating it reliably so I shifted back to Firefox.
I use ESET NOD32. Its a paid AV but I've been much happier with it than the free AV's I've used or helped others with. It's not caused problems, has warned me off of problem sites, and has been very reliable. I've landed on a few infections but have not been infected since installing it.
I encountered the same problem with Waterfox. When I brought up its Homepage, I noticed newer versions were available. That is why I suggested Bookmarking the Homepage and checking for updates if Waterfox doesn't do it automatically. Eventually, they will have it working as well as FF.
If everyone re-reads Post #8, they will see that it was a Bluetooth conflict for the OP and not because of Avast.
I've never had a problem with Avast on Vista Home Premium or Ultimate. I have had problems with Microsoft updates - especially .NET - I've learned that doing the .NET hotfixes last, every patch Tuesday, has been more successful. Something in the last months updates was slowly degrading IE-9 and after the last patch Tuesday, even FireFox and Comodo Dragon were crashing constantly. Oddly enough, simply re-installing IE-9 solved all these problems! The only remaining problem was getting my password manager to work on IE-9, but this has always been an intermittent problem anyway.
I have not even had to turn off Avast's shields during updates during MS updates. However, I use the free one, and don't have the firewall enabled as a result. I like that firewall, but it is too invasive to allow DRM to operate, and consequently it preempts me from enjoying my premium content. I simple reverted back to the free version, and all has been well every since. Avast has never caused a problem on any of my clients installations either; but then Avast is a warrior, and when it gets in a fight with a particularly nasty agent, things can go very wrong. I attribute this to the GMER technology use to remove root kits. MBAP by Malware Bytes Anti-malware Premium, has a new heuristic engine that can prevent malware coded rootkits, and if one is already present in the system, MBAR is a better tool to safely remove them. However most of my clients can't afford to buy anything even when MBAM used to be a life time license; so consequently Avast has had to be the front line of protection for many of them. I look at it this, way - If they have anything to lose, at all, then backing up their system, and using these tools, is better than being pwned, even if they temporarily lose the operating system or the rarely occasional hard drive.
I had a similar problem in Dec 2013 and posted it here. I haven't seen Malwarebytes mentioned but
my issue was Malwarebytes Anti Exploit Beta software time expired..I had forgotten it was installed
and certainly didn't realize there was an expiration time. It keep two computers browsers from opening.
While driver conflicts were found to be at fault here, the issues raised with Avast and its overly-tight "hardened" settings deserve their own thread. More folks have Avast issues than have driver issues.
Originally Posted by Sudo15
Maybe not the case in this thread, but a frequent set of issues.
In addition to resolving the Bluetooth driver issue, I (and others in this thread) would recommend removing Avast and replacing it with something less likely to cause future issues.
For the last decade the only time I've had a problem with Avast, was because someone installed it on an infected machine, and the obvious warfare that resulted was devastating to the client. Blaming Avast for that seems ignorant to me. The only other major problem has been folks trying to run two real time anti-virus schemes at the same time. A lot of folks don't know MSE is an anti-virus solution, as well as Windows Defender on Window 8 and they try to run them concurrently. Well of course this will mess up the operating system in a very real way. Anytime I have clients that have something to lose, like their bank site account, or online credit card shopping; I recommend the best blended defenses they can get free or paid, either one. My recommendation if they run free Windows solutions, is to be sure and run online purely as a limited rights user, and only use the administrator account for maintenance only. That they password protect and disable the hidden administrator account that is in every version of Windows; that they use good solutions that protect you during an SSL session. These include kernel space solutions like Rapport by Trusteer, MBAP, and a password manager that is resistant to malware manipulation that uses full encryption. If they obey these rather simple rules and also keep all system OS and applications updated religiously, they should be about as safe as you can get.
So Ninite or File Hippo can be a big help in this area, as well as an occasional check with Secunia PSI for any end of life applications. I also like to cross check with Avast's software updater, because sometimes it disagrees with the other solutions, and is found to be correct. There again, if a person just can't get along with Avast, and they follow the other rules, then I can't see any harm coming, but every time I've looked into this, for a client, I've found a conflict with some application that was causing more problems than just a conflict with Avast, and that application was removed from the machine permanently. I'm one of these stubborn techs that isn't satisfied with easy solutions by simply black listing something someone had irrational fears about, I find the reason behind the problem. If the client doesn't mind a complete wipe and reinstall for the sake of expediency, then I'm okay with that, but I've actually bought hard drives from clients to replace with a new one, just so I could study what was actually causing the problems. The overwhelming majority of the time, I've found an offending application that is either a PUP, or should have been banned from the PC world, or there is something running in the MBR as a back door or other root kit. Lately the big problems have been APT (Advanced Persistent Threats). I can't blame any AV solution for having problems with these, as the criminals have quite literally advanced beyond the capabilities of any of the major players to completely thwart their machinations. The way I figure it, is that it is a God send they were having trouble, or the APT would NEVER have been discovered!!!
Someone else raised this earlier and I have not seen any response yet - why did the problem persist after using an image to revert to a state before the problem happened?
I was wondering that myself, maybe something auto-updated right after the restoration.
Originally Posted by beethoven
That would be my best guess at the moment too.
Originally Posted by wavy
I have run into malware that could survive a complete factory reinstall, so I assume an image could be subverted too. For these problems, I had to resort to running the OEM diagnostic for the hard drive, and then use Darik's Boot and Nuke to wipe the drive.
That is a pretty rare event, so I wouldn't be looking for that as of yet.
I went through a similar exercise some months back. Various software problems were occurring (much more than browser difficulties). Like you, I also keep backup images. Restoring older backups led to observation of the same kinds of problems, which had not been present when those backups were made. I tried all kinds of things, including restoring and booting while disconnected from the network. I turned off auto-updating to for every piece of software that would allow it. Google Chrome and Google Earth do not allow disabling auto-updating, so I removed them. Reconnecting to the net, I still had problems. Played with Event Viewer. And on, and on, following many of the suggestions given above. I even tried an upgrade repair (which failed).
Eventually I found that the problem was bad memory. You must use Memtest86 or Memtest86+. You can find these free on the net. They are also included on diagnostic disks provided by many PC vendors. The built-in Windows memory checker is insufficient. It will say your memory is good when it isn't. That is probably because it does not run enough kinds of tests. Now I check my RAM quarterly. If something is acting up, I check the RAM first.
Good luck solving your problem.