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Web Page Load Time

Do Antivirus Suites Impact Your PC's Performance?

We have PCMark for our synthetic tests, so we wanted to use three real, commonly traveled, and highly stuffed Web pages for our assessment of AV impact on real-time browsing. As you might expect, pages can vary considerably in how they integrate third-party elements, such as hosted video and banner ads. We suggest considering all three result sets together.

We can only make a few general statements in looking over these charts. First, we see that the clean configuration is almost always the fastest. This is to be expected. Only once, on the Disney home page, does a single product slip in with a slightly faster score, and we attribute this to temporary Internet congestion slightly skewing our clean config numbers.

Of the three charts, we prefer the Wall Street Journal results as being the pattern that most fit our expectations. It may be that Microsoft puts the least effort into advance page scanning and so reports back the fastest results of the AV contestants. We can debate whether the other products are simply slower and more cumbersome or if they do a more thorough job of applying reputation analysis and other factors to provide advance warning to users if needed. Either way, we like seeing that the AV products are doing something.

Is a 10-second slow-down worth worrying about? Yes. Believe it or not, a 10-second delay experienced 100 times in the course of a day means more than 16 extra minutes of sitting around waiting for pages to load. That’s an entire break time broken up so minutely that you have no time to actually enjoy the break. On the other hand, consider the potential time lost and heartbreak gained by picking up malware from an unscreened site. We’ll take the 16-minute loss and hope AV vendors can improve their scanning algorithms in the future.

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