Does Antivirus Slow Down Your Internet?

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

The unfortunate reality of any antivirus software is that, yes, it will slow down your computer system. Apps use up resources that could be used elsewhere. However, just how much decrease in speed can vary from one program to the next. Sometimes it’s so slight that you don’t even notice, other programs can make your device nearly unusable.

If you’re struggling with internet speed and think your antivirus may be to blame, don’t jump to conclusions. Several factors determine how fast your computer can perform. A better understanding of your security suite and other elements will help you diagnose the problem and find a remedy.

How Antivirus Works

Security suites require processing power as they continuously work in the background. The apps perform regular scans, which inspect every file in the system for known malware.

There are three scan types, and most premium software titles engage 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 to as much as 40%. However, other causes for computer slowdown exist, many of which are easy to fix.

Other Potential Causes

Before you uninstall your antivirus, check for the following issues:

Unidentified Malware

Malware is the number one cause of speed issues. While antivirus software will flag most infections, some can sneak in by changing their 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.

Browser Add-ons

Ad blockers, spell checkers, 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 it could be the cause of the slowdown.

Internet Provider (ISP)

If this is the first time you’ve experienced lagging with your internet, the problem could be outside your computer. ISPs can experience server trouble, which causes issues for all users. Call your provider to ensure they aren’t experiencing a widespread slowdown.

Hard Drive Issues

Once your hard drive’s memory is nearly full, it causes lag within the system, including internet speed. Similarly, internal hard drives tend to degrade with age. You can check its health 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 Internet

If you’ve confirmed that your security suite is the cause of the problem, then it’s still not time to throw it out. Before you pay for another version, 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 make your internet faster. 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 you aren’t using the computer, such as late at night or when you’re at work.
  • Delete files if your internal drive is full. Computers need space to work so filling up your hard drive will slow it down.

While these tactics may grant you more speed, it’s also worth reconsidering your antivirus provider. Some of the best options offer high speeds with a low price tag.

Fast Antivirus Options

The overall speed of an antivirus suite is determined by five main factors, which include slowdown when accessing websites, downloading apps, launching and installing software, and copying files.

The following programs ranked high in our reviews:

Avira Antivirus Pro

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 >>>

BitDefender Internet Security

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

See BitDefender Deals >>>

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast free antivirus suite offers all the essential protection and 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 options for a low price tag.

See Avast Deals >>>

It’s important to note that fast antivirus software doesn’t guarantee high-quality protection. Less system slowdown could be because the app doesn’t perform regular or thorough scans. It’s not worth sacrificing security for speed.

Use 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 products work 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.

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.