Truth or myth: does antivirus affect PC performance?

does antivirus affect PC performance

The Internet is full of dangers. Increasingly. Therefore, the first thing we must do when we start a computer, before connecting to the Internet, is to install a security layer: the antivirus . This program is responsible for controlling everything that happens on our PC while we work with it, detecting possible malicious files, or computer attacks, and blocking them to be safe. However, it has always been said that using an antivirus makes the PC slow down, and that the added security is not worth it. Is it true, or is it one of the many myths that circulate about computing?

Any program that runs in the background on the PC consumes computer resources. These programs always have to use a certain amount of RAM memory, in addition to “stealing” CPU cycles to keep running. The more active the process, the more processor cycles it uses, and that makes other programs have to wait (milliseconds) to be able to carry out their tasks.

Windows Defender en Windows 11

Antiviruses consume, but not as much as it seems

Like other programs, the antivirus is constantly running in the background . And, therefore, it will always consume resources. And, in addition, it is one of the types of program that will use the most resources while it is running in the background, mainly because it always has priority over other processes, since, to be able to protect ourselves correctly, it must always be alert. The antivirus never stops, not even while we play (although in these cases it can reduce its priority), and, depending on the power of the PC, we can notice more or less the impact of this program on our computer.

In any case, the cost of antivirus resources is not always the same, and when the computer is at rest, or we are making normal use of it, it consumes less resources than, for example, in the cases that we are going to see below.

When the antivirus uses more resources

Depending on what we are doing with the computer, the antivirus must act in one way or another. For example, listening to music or watching a movie is not the same as downloading files or installing programs.

Some of the times when the antivirus consumes more CPU and RAM are:

  • Copy files to PC or from PC to another device.
  • Compress and decompress files.
  • Install programs.
  • Run programs.
  • Download files from the Internet.
  • Browse the net (to detect fraudulent or dangerous websites).

Kaspersky total security

Anyway, the antivirus is not always going to consume many CPU cycles when we carry out these tasks. Generally, these security programs have a white list where they add their own rules (for example, reliable programs) so that, although the first time it does analyze them thoroughly, the following times, as long as it has not been modified, this program runs without need to analyze it from scratch again.

Choose your security solution carefully

Although all antivirus will always consume PC resources, not all will do it in the same way. There will always be the typical ” lightweight antivirus ” that stand out for having a low consumption of resources (such as Windows Defender, which only fails when installing and opening new programs), and others, such as Avira, Malwarebytes or Total Defense that stand out, precisely, for what contrary.

Of course, it is vital to never uninstall the antivirus to gain performance . As we have seen, the expenditure of resources is minimal, being moderate only when performing some actions. And the security that we gain in exchange for assuming this expenditure of resources is immense.

Of course, portable antiviruses don’t run in the background. This helps us to reduce the consumption of CPU and RAM of the PC, but it does not protect us constantly. We cannot rely on them for our security, only use them to supplement it.