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October 16th, 2009
October 16th, 2009

Security Software Battles Might Degrade Performance

Using multiple anti-virus and security applications may cripple your system

I recently got the challenge to try and fix a PC that was running at about half speed. After several deep scans confirmed there were no naughty viruses or malware lurking around, we eventually found that it was the security software itself that was a large part of the problem...

The Symptom
What was happening, as it turned out, is that the user had 5 separate security and monitoring packages installed, and they were all battling for system resources with each other, trying to scan the same thing at the same time. They also had a large number of temp files that they were all battling for access to - working the hard drive (the slowest part of any system) to the ground.

The Misconception
In a world dominated with the fear of having your system abused by naughty software; more and more users are loading on the protective software one after the other, each time they see the next best ´total security´ solution. Following a friends recommendation here, or new web article there. In the end it´s a bit like putting about 8 or 10 extra dead-bolts on your front door - sure it might do more to keep a crook out but it´s going to take you 10 mins every time you want to open your own door. To take that analogy even further - all those locks might even weaken the door frame and make it easier for the crook to just kick in the door anyway.

Best Practices
In the grand scheme of things most evil software enters a computer through user error (sorry users, but it´s true) We are our own worst enemy! The anti-virus software might save you when you make that goof, but not always and more does not equate to better. What you really want is to have one good security application or several that only do a single task so they are not battling with each other. Pick something you trust and install it. If you want to change to something else then change, don´t add.

Ok, I know you´re going to ask - what do I recommend... It depends - a lot, on who are are and what you do. I know what works for me, but I couldn´t possible make a single recommendation that would cover home, business, desktop, laptop, power and non-power users alike.

Just ensure that you don´t have two competing security solutions on your machine and you should see a noticeable performance improvement. IF you want a specific recommendation drop in a comment with your specific needs and system and we´ll see what might work best for you particular case.

Our Example User´s Solution
We removed all the security software they had installed and replaced it with the latest version of just one anti-virus application and another anti-spyware application. In their case (Windows Vista) we also disabled the windows sidebar and deleted all those temp files. They were back up to normal speed and left smiling.

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