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Here's how much security software can slow down your PC

One of the main complaints that people express about security software is that it harms the performance of their PC. But how much of an effect does it really have?

Independent testing organisation AV-Comparatives (opens in new tab) has conducted a test of 20 leading security products for Windows to assess their impact. Tests were performed on a 64-bit Intel Core i5 machine with Windows 8.1.

Performance was assessed on a number of tasks; file copying, archiving and unarchiving, installing and uninstalling applications, launching applications, and downloading files. These results were used to provide an AV-C score for each product. Researchers also ran the industry standard PC Mark 8 benchmark test and combined this with the AV-C results to come up with an overall impact score.

Based on these scores, the top five with least effect on system performance were; Avast with an impact score of 4.1, Emsisoft on 4.2, Avira on 7.6, Kaspersky Lab on 9.3 and AVG on 12.5. The poorest performers were Quick Heal and ThreatTrack both on a score of 25.7.

The researchers point out that other factors such as the age of the hardware, how up to date the software is, and the content and fragmentation state of the hard disk can have an impact on real-world performance.

The test doesn't cover how effective the protection provided is either so you'd have to compare the results with AV-Comparatives Real World Protection (opens in new tab) and File Detection (opens in new tab) tests to find the best balance of performance and protection. Some of the best performers here don't do as well in the other tests.

You can download the full report (opens in new tab) with details of the results for all 20 products along with the methodology used from the AV-Comparatives site.

Photo Credit: m00osfoto (opens in new tab)/Shutterstock (opens in new tab)

Ian Barker worked in information technology before discovering that writing about computers was easier than fixing them. He has worked for a staff writer on a range of computer magazines including PC Extreme, was editor of PC Utilities, and has written for TechRadar, BetaNews, IT Pro Portal, and LatestGadgets.