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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    Is your free AV tool a 'resource pig?'




    TOP STORY

    Is your free AV tool a 'resource pig?'


    By Fred Langa

    A reader's complaint about Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) spurred head-to-head comparison tests of AV-software resource usage.

    I put six popular, free antivirus tools through their paces and measured their impact on startup and shutdown times, disk space, and RAM use.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/is-your-free-av-tool-a-resource-pig/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Tracey Capen; 2012-02-15 at 18:42.

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  3. #2
    New Lounger
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    I switched to MSE after using ZoneAlarm for years. I've found it unobtrusive and effective, and I'm glad to be free of ZA.

  4. #3
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    A very nicely done series of tests. I've been a MSE exponent for quite awhile. Only issue I've seen is when people don't uninstall other antivirus and have 2 on the same PC.
    That's like having 2 women in the same house - constant bickering!

  5. #4
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Quick critique:
    "And on most systems, it has little effect on system resources."
    Incorrect, most systems are still running XP - not W7 SP1. As such, many will be running with much lower hardware capabilities and speed. MSE runs a restricted set of functions on XP and this OS is where many of the complaints have arisen.

    The article does not touch upon a number of other scenarios where MSE has been criticized in the past:
    Mobile users - many mobile users do NOT want their OS to become unusable for the first 10-15 minutes when they attempt to connect to base, check emails on the move from Starbucks or McDonalds because MSE is hogging the bandwidth with massive updates.
    'Part-time' users/2nd computers: some machines that are only used for a few hours several times each week often do NOT receive regular updates.

    Testing on a fresh, perfectly clean OS in a VM is NOT a real world, real computer scenario by any stretch of the imagination.

    No mention of checking update file sizes over any time span; this can be make or break for some users, 80MB per day vs 16MB makes a big difference to those on slower connections and/or those with a restricted free download quota.

  6. #5
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    ClamWin has no real-time scanner

    From the homepage of ClamWin:
    Please note that
    ClamWin Free Antivirus does not
    include an on-access real-time scanner. You need to
    manually
    scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware.


    So there is no background application running for this AntiVirus -- and hence it could have no impact on the startup time, shutdown time or the RAM usage?

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by balu View Post
    So there is no background application running for this AntiVirus -- and hence it could have no impact on the startup time, shutdown time or the RAM usage?
    Well, it shouldn't have a negative impact; but as it had the fastest startup and shutdown times, the only apparent anomaly in the table of figures is why ClamWin would use more RAM than Avast.

    And, hey, Fred did say "ClamWin is unique"

    Bruce

  8. #7
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    I have been using MSE for some time now and it doesn't impact on my p.c. in any noticable way. I have it running on 3 machines and we don't have any problems.In fact I am having trouble getting CA's latest version virus checker to run properly on my latest WIN7 PC and I have dropped it, after using CA for years. In fact after contacting CA's help desk re this problem I was asked to allow one of their technicians to take over my p.c. remotely so that they could "make changes to my setup and fix the problem ....". Needless to say that won't ever happen.

  9. #8
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    Mse

    Thank you Fred - You did just what I need by conducting clearly explained tests that I just don't have the time or expertise to do and then giving results that I can understand so that I can decide for myself what's best for me to do.

  10. #9
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    Thanks, Good write up on the free AV products. I too found ClamAV to be very light on resources and fast on machine startup, but that is the deal with AmazonWS that it keeps calling out to? I was seeing tons of traffic on my firewall for AmazonServices and all originating from an .exe on the ClamAV folder, did not like that one bit, so I removed.

  11. #10
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Fred, why does MSE only use 1MB of RAM, or was that an error ...

  12. #11
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Even systems that are still running Windows XP, MSE will be far better in terms of system resources usage, then many many other AV software solutions out there.

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  14. #12
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Surely that depends on the resources you look at, this report doesn't cover them all, also, many of the competitors in the free for XP category might offer greater coverage, better configuration, more and easier to access feedback (for those that require it - see configuration), more frequent and smaller updates, ...

  15. #13
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Since when is ClamWin "a relatively new product"? Their website says "ClamWin Free Antivirus 0.87.1 released Wednesday, 16 November 2005" as their earliest entry, and most certainly it didn't start at version 0.87.1!

    Did Fred not glance at Wikipedia, where he would have found that ClamWin is the graphical/Windows interface for ClamAV, which has been running on Linux and many other operating systems for years and years - with rather poor virus detection results?

    It's one thing recommending an AV product because it uses marginally fewer resources than another one - but surely the primary function of an AV product is to trap viruses!
    BATcher

    If it wasn't for the weather, Great Britain would be a silent nation.

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  17. #14
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    Microsoft Essentials

    Over the past years, I've used several of the free antivirus programs. I found MSE to be by far the the best. It is very fast on boot up, scan, and shutdown as supported by Fred's test. The updates are very timely. I switched to it because of Fred's recommendation. I started using it when it was first introduced by Microsoft. Here's a comment from a friend who uses it too: "Having been through Norton, AVG, and several others, I find MS Security Essentials the least problematic and best to date." This has been my experience with the same products.

    I'm not sure where the person who wrote the letter about MSE got his opinion, but I assume he's never used the other products.

  18. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BATcher View Post
    Did Fred not glance at Wikipedia, where he would have found that ClamWin is the graphical/Windows interface for ClamAV, which has been running on Linux and many other operating systems for years and years - with rather poor virus detection results?
    And that on-access real-time scanning for ClamWin and has been in development for more than six years.

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