Do Antivirus Suites Impact Your PC's Performance?

Boot Time

This was our first experience testing with Windows Performance Analysis tools. No doubt, this is old news to software developers, but for us, it was a great opportunity to dig into the individual software traces that happen during regular operations. For those who think that Microsoft gives short shrift to things like boot-up time, know that the company has devoted ample effort to making sure that OEMs have such tools and know-how to use them. A system builder has the power to see exactly how this or that bit of pre-installed code impacts other traces and where stalls are happening at the millisecond scale. Whether builders make effective use of these tools is a different story.

We ran this test three times, but there was no getting around the data before us: our clean config was the slowest for boot-up. Every AV product seemed to somehow accelerate the booting process. Perhaps this is somehow done with caching? We don’t know, but the average improvement over clean running was about 15 seconds.

GFI alone pulls ahead of the pack, shaving nearly 30 seconds off of our AV-free boot times. The other five contenders are statistically in a dead heat.

Note that we discovered an “aggressive boot time” setting in Symantec’s options, which is disabled by default. This default setting is what we reported above, but then we ran a second set of data with the option changed from “off” to “aggressive.” The resulting average time was 165.131 seconds—virtually no difference from the disabled score. If that’s the case, what is this feature doing, why is it disabled, and what does “aggressive” mean here?