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Do Antivirus Suites Impact Your PC's Performance?

Standby Time

The funny thing about standby time as a performance metric is that it’s commonly cited, yet infrequently relevant. Think about it. How often do you actually command your system to enter standby mode and then sit around waiting for it to happen? You don’t. Much more often, your system will slip into standby or hibernation as a result of power saving during prolonged idle time—when no one is present and waiting for the process to complete.

Still, standby is generally held up as another indicator of system impact, so we ran the tests.

Here we see a bit more differentiation than in our boot time results. Again, GFI turns in the best score of the group, still somehow beating our clean configuration. Now, though, McAfee and Microsoft also slip in ahead of our AV-free system. Symantec barely registers a slight impact, and Kaspersky and AVG come in close together at the back of the pack.

Despite there being a 28% variance from first to last place in this group, we’re not sure how much emphasis to place on this as a statement about overall performance. A positive or negative range of only nine seconds on a relatively slow system disk is fairly minor no matter how you look at it.

  • dogman_1234
    Regardless what anyone says: Using McAfee is like using a Glad garbage bag as a condom.
    Reply
  • Martell77
    I've been using Trend Micros AV since y2k and haven't had a reason to switch. Because of the systems my clients have I never recommend Norton or McAfee and if they have it I always recemmend they switch. Its truely amazing how the performance of their systems increases after getting rid of those AVs, especially Norton.
    Reply
  • soccerdocks
    On the scanning time page there is an error in the second graph. It also says first run.

    Also, the timing of this article was excellent. I had just been doing some research about what anti-virus software I should switch to, mainly based on performance, but I guess I just got all the information I needed.
    Reply
  • compton
    Some of the results seem mysterious, like all the times the no-AV configuration scored lower in many tests than it should be faster in. Is it possible that using the Wildfire as the system drive instead of the platter would have eliminated this behavior? In general, I hope there is a second part to this that does include SSD runs. I would think any advantage AV products have vs. the no-AV config would evaporate.

    I stopped using AV products on my personal systems back in 2003. Norton back then was god-awful on a Pentium 4 systems, seemingly crushing the life out of a system. Even with a first generation WD Raptor 36GB my P4 2.6 would choke not only with Norton, but also McAfee. I might not use AV software, but I do put it on my family members' systems when it doesn't kill performance. In that respect these modern solutions seem much better.
    Reply
  • ChiefTexas_82
    On my Pentium D I have to run McAfee when I'm gone for a good while or sleeping as my computer slows to a crawl during the scan. Even bringing up the menus to stop the scan take way too long.
    Reply
  • darkstar845
    Why didn't they test this on a computer with average specs? The 8gb ram and very fast CPU might be offsetting the impact that the AVs put on the computer.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Thanks for this. I remember the bad old days when AV could make software builds take several times longer.
    Reply
  • cdhollan
    While my comment is completely tangential, but my inner chemical engineer can't resist making a small correction in what is otherwise a great article:

    >>Apparently, this is somewhat like saying you can boil water at 230 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 260 degrees. As long as the water is at 212 degrees or higher, no one really cares.
    Reply
  • rottingsheep
    installing vipre speeds up your computer?
    i think something is wrong with your numbers.
    Reply
  • Amazed ESET is not being tested considering it sells itself on its performance over the competition while maintaining the same levels of protection.....
    Reply