Can Antivirus Slow Down Your Computer?

We all want to protect our computer from viruses and cyberattacks. After all, it contains our most sensitive information – credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, important documents and pictures, and more. But sometimes safeguarding our information at the expense of a slow computer doesn’t seem to be worth the frustration. The constant freezing, CTRL+ALT+Delete-ing, and restarting could drive a person to throw their computer out the window. Many go on to blame their antivirus for their sluggish computer. But is your antivirus really the one slowing down your computer? The answer to that is a bit complex.

How an antivirus can affect your computer’s performance:

An antivirus works in several ways to protect your computer from viruses. It scans files and programs to ensure they are clean of malware and other harmful threats. The scans can be done in real-time or whenever you decide. If you go for weekly scans for instance, the process can take hours during which working on the computer can be a nightmare. When the scans run in the background, they might slow down the computer, but not by much. Our best suggestion is to run the scans at night so that the antivirus has little to no effect on your computer speed.

Other reasons your computer might be slow:

  1. Startup and background programs

Probably the most common cause for slowing down your computer is having too many programs running during startups. While an antivirus or firewall programs are crucial for startup, other programs such as Microsoft Office or iTunes can be easily accessed when needed and should be removed from being allowed to open at startup. Booting takes forever, and your computer becomes so slow with these programs running in the background.

How to remove startup programs:

Windows 8 & 10: Windows key+X –> Task Manager –> Startup tab–> right-click on the programs you want to remove, then select ‘Disable’.

Windows 7 and older: Click the ‘Start’ button –>System Configuration–> Startup tab–>uncheck the programs you don’t want to start during startup.

  1. Operating System

A new operating system (or staying up to date with existing ones) is necessary to have your computer run smoothly. But new operating systems (OS) on an old computer can have a big impact on why your computer may be running slow.

  1. Unwanted Services

On many Windows operating systems, there is a ‘Services’ section that highlights the internal software services that serve the hardware, drives, and apps on the PC. For example, if you’re not using a printer but have printer services, having those services enabled can add to slowing down your computer when they are not even needed. We suggest you disable any services you are not currently using.

  1. Unwanted Programs

Computers come with pre-installed programs that you may not even use or need, usually without our awareness. These programs can take up a lot of memory space thus slowing your computer down. Free up some memory space by removing these programs. You can even see how much memory each program uses so that you can start by removing the ones that take up the most space. Just be careful not to remove any programs that you think you don’t need but are actually crucial to your computer’s well-being. Do some research or consult with an expert before removing these programs.

  1. Malware

Malware, which includes viruses, adware, spyware and more, is seriously harmful to your computer. Aside from exposing your sensitive information to hackers, disrupting your computer operations, and causing frequent freezing and crashing, malware can seriously slow your computer down, making it almost impossible to make any use of it at all. The solution? Install an easy to use comprehensive antivirus protection software, such as ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, ZoneAlarm’s most powerful security suite.

  1. Insufficient Memory

If your hard drive is almost full, your computer may slow down by about 50%. But your hard drive can be nearly empty and your memory may still be full. It’s called RAM (random access memory), and it gets full when you run too many programs at once.

How to fix insufficient memory:

  1. Delete unnecessary programs, files, and images from your computer.
  2. Move your data to cloud storage or an external hard drive to free up some space.
  3. Go to Task Manager (PC) or Activity Monitor (Mac) and close any unneeded programs that are running.
  1. Hardware Issues

Your hard drive may be corrupt, slowing your computer down. You can run ScanDisk, HDD health, or an equivalent program to check for your hard drive’s physical health. Should you discover any issues, you may wish to change the hard drive.

While antivirus can have some impact on your computer’s speed, it is most certainly not the only factor or even a prominent factor in most computer slowdowns. On the contrary, having antivirus software such as ZoneAlarm Extreme Security helps fight against various factors responsible for slowing a computer down. You can also boost your computer’s speed with System Checkup. Following the tips from this post can help you increase the speed of your computer without jeopardizing your antivirus.

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