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How Antivirus Software Can Slow Down Your Computer

Posted on: 07/26/10

One of the most common complaints about antivirus software is that it can slow down your computer—by quite a bit. We all want to protect our computers from harmful malware, worms and viruses, but does installing antivirus software necessarily mean that your computer will slow down? Must we choose between virus protection and operating speed?

Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why AV software can slow down a PC and see if we can find out:

  • AV software loads each time you boot up - Because AV software needs to load every time you boot up in order to scan and protect your computer, it makes booting seem slow. Imagine if your computer were set to automatically launch Microsoft Office or even Firefox every time you turn the computer on. You can imagine how this might slow down the startup process.
  • AV software often scans all your files upon launch - 10,000 new pieces of malware are created every day. Even if you scanned your computer yesterday and didn't add any new files, your AV software may get automatic updates upon launch. So if there were new viruses discovered by the software since you last booted up (and there usually are quite a few), the software will scan your files again.
  • AV software scan time depends on how much data is on your hard drive - Today's fastest hard drives can read about 125MB per second. If you have 25GB of files, your AV scan can take well over 5 minutes.
  • When AV software is scanning a file, those files are inaccessible to other programs - If you launch a program while your AV software is scanning files from that program, your computer can slow down even more. The program you launched has to wait for the AV software to be done with the files in order to complete its launch.
  • AV software-related slow downs depend on the computer, the operating system and the software itself - Antivirus software uses your computer's processing power and its memory in order to work. If you don't have a powerful processor or a good deal of memory, your computer may slow down dramatically. If you have an older version of Windows, the problem can be even worse. Some AV software can be set to scan only the files you designate, but it means you aren't fully protected.

The good news is that although AV software by necessity does impact computer performance, there is almost always something you can do to help you make it far less noticeable. Simple things such as clearing your temporary folders and Internet cache can contribute to improved performance. Also, removing unnecessary programs at start up can also help.

If you need help with optimizing your computer's performance while still maintaining necessary virus protection, give a Personal Technology Expert a call at 1-800-PC-Support (1-800-727-8776). We can help.

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