Does antivirus software slow down the PC? Get all the facts!

Is it time to switch to another antivirus program?

Yes, antivirus software does slow down Windows PCs, but while some programs are barely noticeable, others are much worse. Which antivirus is the best for performance? I'll let you into a secret...

Speed is as important as security with antivirus software. The performance has been measured and there are winners and losers

There are two important issues with security software and one is obviously the effectiveness of the security. The other is the speed - how much it slows down the computer.

All security software slows down the computer to some degree and it is measurable. Sometimes it takes sensitive benchmark software to tell the difference in speed between one product and another, but sometimes the difference is more noticeable.

Your PC may well be secure, but if it runs slowly then it may become irritating. Is it slow? You may have become used to the speed and regard it as normal, but with an alternative security program it might run faster.

The difference between the slowest and the fastest security programs is significant and it is worth switching to a faster program to boost the performance of your PC.

Security software performance tests 2016

Av-Comparatives tests the performance of security software twice a year and the company has released the results for October 2016. You can see the full results at av-comparatives.org.

The fastest three antivirus programs for the PC are:

  • Avira
  • ESET
  • F-Secure

The slowest three antivirus programs for the PC are:

  • Tencent
  • Lavasoft
  • eScan

Read the report, scroll right down to the bottom and there is a nice chart that shows the overall impact on system performance. Avira is the best with the least impact on PC performance and Microsoft (Windows Defender) is rated the worst.

Can you live without antivirus software?

I uninstalled the antivirus software on my PC a long time ago and have been protected only by Windows Defender. I am happy to report that there have been no security problems and Windows Defender works.

Sometimes though, the PC does seem a bit slower than when antivirus software was installed. There is a new Avira Free Security Suite 2017 and since Avira is the top security program for performance, it is being run on one of my PCs to see how it performs.

The best antivirus

Performance isn’t as important as security, but Avira has also been demonstrating good security in AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test too. The September 2016 results are here and from the results chart it looks like Avira had a perfect score, catching 100% of the virus samples. So it has both speed and performance.

Avira Free Antivirus is one of the best performing security programs and the security is good too

Extra software

The Avira Free Security Suite 2017 comes with some extras that you may or may not want. One is a trial of Avira System Speedup. This speed-up and tune-up utility is free only for a short period and then you will need to buy it. If you don’t want it, it can be uninstalled in Programs and Features in the Control Panel.

Avira Phantom VPN is another bundled utility. This provides a VPN for use at Wi-Fi hotspots to make them secure from hackers and anyone trying to spy on your activities. You get 500MB of data for free each month, which isn’t much, but you can enable the VPN just when you need it, such as for online banking.

Pay a small monthly subscription and you get unlimited data. It can be uninstalled if you don’t need it, and you won’t with a home PC that you never use in public..

Avira Connect is a sort of control panel and menu system that provides access to the components in Avira Free Security Suite 2017 and other tools that can be downloaded and installed.

Avira Connect is the control centre for Avira Free Security 2017

Speed and security

So if you want speed and security from your antivirus software, Avira looks like a good choice right now. Security software is constantly evolving and the situation may change in the future, but for now my main PC is running Avira Free Security Suite 2017 (minus the System Speedup trial and Phantom VPN).


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