A popular question I see is “Does Antivirus Slow Down My Computer” and I’ve been wanting to do a video about this for a long time because it’s been almost 2 years since my last antivirus video so for this one I’ve teamed up with HP and Webroot so I can finally answer this question once and for all and find out how antivirus software really affects a computer’s performance and if it’s even worth having security software on your PC. For this test I wanted to use a laptop that was pretty powerful but also fairly affordable at under $1000. This HP Pavilion Power 15 was a perfect fit. It’s currently $950 on Amazon for this particular model. Let’s go over the specs and features so you can get an idea of what kind of machine this is.
Even though HP doesn’t officially label this as a gaming laptop, I like to label it as a budget gaming laptop because it can easily handle the majority of your gaming and media creation needs with no problem but it doesn’t have that crazy bulky gaming laptop look to it. And it doesn’t have a hefty price tag like actual gaming laptops. It looks like your normal everyday notebook but as the name implies, it packs some power. The exterior and interior of this laptop are pretty much blacked out which gives it a cool stealthy look to it. Inside the laptop there is a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8Ghz processor, and having that kind of CPU will definitely help out when running apps in the background such as an antivirus. It has a relatively fast 7200 rpm 1TB hard drive. I usually always prefer solid state drives over hard disk drives, but for most users who are buying with a budget in mind it almost always makes sense to get a machine with a hard disk drive because they are a still more affordable for the amount of storage space you get in return. And if you do end up getting a hard drive in a laptop, always make sure it’s 7200 rpm because anything lower like 5400 rpm is going to be much slower and it will make you pull your hair out. So at the very least I’m glad this has a 7200 rpm drive in it. It also has 12GB DDR4 RAM inside along with a dedicated AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics card with 2GB of memory which really comes in handy if you are gaming or doing any type of HD video editing on this machine. Even though it’s not 4K, this laptop has a great looking 15.6” WLED-backlit Full HD 1920×1080 anti-glare IPS display which is another highlight for gamers and anyone who watches videos or movies. I actually had 3 different screens up on Saturday with a football game playing on each one, and I really enjoyed the display quality on this HP laptop. The viewing angles were great and it was doing a good job at avoiding frame drops. It’s got a nice full-size keyboard with chicklet style keys that can be backlit which is a useful feature for night owls. It’s sporting dual speakers that have a decent sound, basically the quality of what you can expect out of a laptop in this price range. The trackpad is a nice size and is pretty wide. And last but not least it has an HD webcam, 3 USB ports along with a USB-C port, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port and a media card slot. Now you’re seeing why its slogan is “Creativity by day, high gear by night” because it’s this unique blend of business productivity mixed with performance for basic gaming and digital creation.
So to answer our question “Does Antivirus Slow Down Your Computer” I am using the free PCMark benchmarking test. This tool tests a bunch of different components and scenarios and spits out some scores, and it’s a pretty good indicator of overall system performance. I ran the PCMark test on this HP laptop with no antivirus running and it scored a 3939. What were are going to do now is install and test out Webroot Internet Security Complete then run another PCMark test with Webroot running and see what the second score is compared to the first score.
Before we start talking about antivirus, just know that your best line of defense against viruses start with your own actions. So no matter what antivirus you use I always tell people to follow these basic tips: Always make sure your computer and software are up to date (set Windows to automatically install updates/patches and regularly update your software), always backup your data to a secure offsite location, and don’t click sketchy links/pop-ups/ads (consider using an adblocker). But even if you do all of those things right, it’s still a good idea to have antivirus software as your second line of defense. Antivirus or any type of security software is just there to add that extra bit of protection because it’s still easy to accidentally click on a malicious link or download a malicious app or connect to an unsecured Wifi network.
Literally right before I started working on this video project, my soon to be in-laws called me on a Sunday night and said that they just got a pop-up on their laptop saying that it was talking to them and claiming that their laptop had the Zeus virus and that if they shut off their computer it would wipe out all their data, and their identities would be stolen and all their bank accounts would be hacked. So they were freaking out, and of course this pop-up was just a phishing scam, but for older people who aren’t the most tech savvy when they see a popup like this it genuinely scares them. That’s what these scammers do. They put instant fear into the victims and this causes the victims to make decisions based on emotions, based on fear, which is always a bad thing. So they called the number on the screen thinking that they were calling Microsoft support but really it was a scammer, and they actually talked to him for about 10 minutes, he got them to install software that allowed him to remote into their system, and when he finally told them they would have to purchase software they finally were like “Hold on you’re not getting any money from us.” So that’s when they called me and long story short, it’s all ok now. I cleaned their laptop up and explained to them basically what I said earlier about basic safe computing practices. But that got me thinking, a full security software suite should be able to help in some way to prevent something like that from happening, right? So I’m actually going to try to recreate that scenario and see if Webroot Internet Security Complete can thwart off that phishing scam.
Let’s quickly go over why I think this security software a good choice for this test. First, it’s affordable, currently only $36 on Amazon for a 5-device 1-year license. For an all-in-one security software solution, that’s a pretty good deal. Second, it’s gotten great reviews not only from customers on Amazon but from the professional testers at PCMag who gave it an “Excellent” rating.
Webroot claims it installs 8x faster than its average competitor so let’s see how fast this installs on the HP Pavilion Power 15 laptop. The process is simple, just visit the Webroot download page and it will download a small file then just run the installer. Total install time: 3:30. 2:16 of which was used for the initial scan so it only took about 1:15 to download and install on the HP Pavilion Power 15. All of its main features should address everything that I’ve discussed so far. So:
Security: It guards your personal information by blocking the latest malware and phishing attacks. It scans billions of apps, files, and websites continuously to determine what is safe online. It has comprehensive, real-time protection against the latest threats. It provides login protection by encrypting passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers. It even gives you an option of mobile security to protect your smartphone or tablet.
Speed: It has fast scans with no abrasive interruptions. It’s cloud-based so it automatically stays up-to-date in real-time and doesn’t bog down your computer. Compared to its average competitor, Webroot claims it is 35x smaller, can scan 60x faster, and uses 15x less memory. So if this is all true then it should keep users safe without slowing them down which is the key for this video.
Backup: It comes with 25GB of secure online storage to backup your important data.
Now do not try this next thing at home. I’m going to see if Webroot Internet Security Complete can prevent malware by doing a simple test. Hey Cortana “Search Yahoo.com for free Facebook game download”. I figured that’s a great way to find a malicious site so if we click on one of these sketchy search results and of course it takes us to a scam and asks us to download a piece of malicious software. And there you go Webroot has instantly detected that this is an unsafe site and tells us to take us back to safety. That’s exactly what we wanted to see. It kept us safe in an unobtrusive way. I think that gets a thumbs up from me.
Now finally let’s see what the PCMark score is when we leave Webroot running during the benchmark test. Ok the test is complete and it has scored a 3878. So it took a very tiny hit, only a 61 point difference which is about a 1.5% impact based on the original score of 3939. So that brings us back to our main question: Does Antivirus slow down your computer? Well it honestly depends on what kind of antivirus or security software you are using. Obviously a computer’s performance will be at least somewhat affected by any active antivirus running in the background but the big question is does the antivirus slow down your computer in a such a way that negatively impacts the user’s experience? With something like Webroot Internet Security Complete as you’ve seen, one of its main selling points is how lightweight and unobtrusive it’s designed to be. So the best advice is: Yes it’s always a good idea to run antivirus, but try to make sure that antivirus is not going to take up a lot of your computer’s resources. And if it does, it’s always nice to have a powerful enough machine like this HP Pavilion Power 15 to handle it so that you get a good balance of protection and performance for what you’re trying to do specifically on your computer.
In my opinion, BitDefender offers the best free and premium antivirus applications for Windows in 2015. BitDefender Free Edition has everything you’d want in a free antivirus: hassle-free installation, easy-to-use and simple interface, quiet and unobtrusive, lightweight and optimized, real-time protection, and strong threat prevention. It’s a top-ranked antivirus that consistently gets rated as one of the best antivirus programs by security companies each year.
Most people can feel safe with the free edition, but if you’re less tech-savvy and want the peace of mind of having the most complete protection for your Windows computer then BitDefender Total Security 2015 is a solid choice when you want a premium antivirus. It gives you everything you need to keep your computer and data protected if you don’t know much about safe computing and safe web browsing.
MalwareBytes is a free anti-malware program that every Windows user should have installed. The free version features an on-demand scanner that does a great job at finding and removing malware such as worms, Trojans, rootkits, spyware, adware and other threats that can slip by your typical antivirus program.
It’s a smart move to have this installed as a second line of defense along with your main antivirus program. You can run a weekly scan to make sure your system is clean. They also offer a premium version for just $24.95 per year that can be used as your main antivirus and anti-malware program if you’d like.
Avast Free Antivirus is a great alternative if you don’t want to use BitDefender. Avast has gained popularity and is known as one of the best free antivirus applications available. Many people swear by it. However, it’s not my favorite because it’s a little too annoying and obtrusive for my taste (default sounds, noises, and pop-ups). However, it does offer strong protection for Windows computers and gets my vote as my 3rd best free antivirus program for 2015.
More Tips to Stay Safe
Don’t install software from random websites. If you install software, make sure it’s from a trusted source.