Does Antivirus Slow Down Your Internet?

Eric C.
BY: Eric C.
Posted: August 30, 2018

The unfortunate reality is that because antivirus programs use up resources that could be used elsewhere, all of them will slow down your computer system in one way or another.

However, just how much of an impact an antivirus has on the speed of your device will vary from one program to the next. Some programs will be so light on computer resources that you won’t even notice it, while other programs can make your device nearly unusable.

If you’re struggling with internet speed, you shouldn’t automatically blame your antivirus. A better understanding of your security suite and how it works will help you diagnose the problem and find a remedy. Several factors determine how fast your computer can perform which we’ll discuss below. 

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How Antivirus Programs Work

How Antivirus Programs Work

An antivirus program performs regular scans, which inspect files in your computer system for known malware. They require processing power as they work continuously in the background.

There are three types of scans, and most premium antivirus programs use all of them—taking up even more resources. But this triple-layer protection is necessary to ensure the highest possible detection rate.

  • Specific detection looks for known malware types by searching for particular features within files
  • General detection searches for known malware families containing a combined codebase
  • Heuristic detection tries to protect against new iterations of malware by scanning for suspicious behavior

It’s not uncommon for antivirus software to spike CPU usage as high as 40 percent. However, other causes for computer slowdown exists, many of which are easy to fix.

Potential Causes of PC Slowdown

Potential Causes of PC SlowdownBefore you uninstall your antivirus, check for the following issues that could be a reason for your computer’s sudden slowdown:

1. Unidentified Malware

Malware is the number one cause of computer slowdown. While antivirus software will flag most infections, some can sneak in by changing your antivirus program’s settings. If your internet is slow, your browser homepage has re-directed, or new toolbars have appeared, then hidden malware is most likely the problem.

To rectify this, you should run a full system scan to identify and remove the threats.

2. Browser Add-ons

Ad-blockers, spell checkers, and browser firewalls are useful add-ons, but they put extra demands on your server and slow down your connection. If you’ve accidentally accumulated a long list of browser tools, then this could be the cause of the slowdown.

3. Your Internet Provider (ISP)

If this is the first time you’ve experienced internet speed issues, the problem could be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Call your provider to ensure they aren’t experiencing a widespread slowdown.

4. Hard Drive Issues

When your hard drive’s memory fills up, it causes a lag within the system which can affect your internet speed. Similarly, internal hard drives tend to degrade with age. You can check the health of your hardware by looking at the S.M.A.R.T status in Disk Utilities (Mac) or using the Command Prompt (PC).

Tricks to Speed up your Device

Tricks to Speed up your Device

If you’ve gone through all of the potential reasons above and confirmed that it is actually your security suite that’s the cause of the problem, it’s still not time to throw it out. Before you pay for another antivirus, you can try these quick tricks to speed up your computer:

  • Check CPU usage via the Task Manager (PC) or Activity Monitor (Mac.) This platform allows you to see what’s using the most resources. Close any programs you don’t need to increase speed.
  • Empty your web cache to speed up the internet. Cookies automatically download from websites and store data about your web activity. However, they’re not necessary and take up considerable space.
  • Edit your antivirus settings so it only scans when you aren’t using the computer, such as late at night or while you’re at work.
  • Delete files if your internal drive is full. Computers need space to work so creating space will speed it up.

While these tactics may grant you more speed, if the issue hasn’t been resolved it may be worth reconsidering your antivirus provider. Some of the best options offer high speeds with a low price tag.

The Three Fastest Antivirus Programs

The Three Fastest Antivirus Programs

The overall speed of an antivirus suite is determined by five main factors:

  1. Accessing websites
  2. Downloading apps
  3. Launching software
  4. Installing software
  5. Copying files

The following programs ranked highest amongst these five categories in our reviews:

1. Avira Antivirus ProThe Three Fastest Antivirus Programs

Antivirus Pro has proven itself as one of the fastest antivirus suites on the market. It ranked higher than the industry average in all the crucial speed test factors.

See Avira Deals >>>

2. BitDefender Internet Security

The Three Fastest Antivirus Programs

BitDefender Internet Security offers improved protection and additional privacy tools. Despite the added features, it was still faster than the average in all speed elements, except when launching websites.

See BitDefender Deals >>>

3. Avast Free Antivirus

The Three Fastest Antivirus Programs

Avast Free Antivirus was faster in three-out-of-the-five speed factors. Although there is still some slowdown when opening websites and apps, it remains one of the fastest of the low-cost antivirus programs on the market.

See Avast Deals >>>

It’s important to note that fast antivirus software doesn’t always equal high-quality protection. Less system slowdown could be because the antivirus doesn’t perform regular or thorough scans, so always be sure to do your research before you commit.

Use a High-Speed Antivirus for Minimal Slowdown

Your security software is there to keep you safe, not cause endless frustration. Unfortunately, the nature of these programs means they will always have some impact on your system. High-quality antivirus providers work hard to create lightweight apps that still provide premium protection.

If you’re experiencing system slowdown, investigate other causes first. Then, if you still see no improvement, think about investing in a faster antivirus program. But remember, fast antivirus software doesn’t guarantee high-quality protection, so it’s not worth sacrificing security just for speed.

About the Author

Eric C.
Eric C.

Eric is a professional copywriter with over 7 years of experience writing on marketing and tech topics. In recent years, he has focused heavily on the rapidly developing security, fintech, and cryptocurrency industries.