We’re continuing with our security solution performance benchmark series. In this fifth blog post, we’ll discuss AVG Internet Security (IS) 2011. (Stay tuned—we’ll also put AVG Free under our microscope in coming weeks.)
In case you’re new to our blog, here’s a quick synopsis of our series. Over the past few months we’ve been comparing the impact of various antivirus solutions on PC performance. We’ve tested Microsoft Security Essentials, Norton Internet Security 2011 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2011—and the results have been mixed. While most of the security solutions significantly delayed PC start-up times, only a few actually had a significant impact on day-to-day performance.
Compared to the other security solutions we tested, AVG doesn’t really talk about its performance impact on PCs. Is this a good sign or not?
We once again restored our trusted test rig to its original state (fully configured but without any antivirus products installed), then installed AVG IS 2011 on it. We then applied the latest updates and downloaded the most recent virus and spam signatures.
Since AVG IS 2011 required an initial test, we let it do its work and then regularly used the PC over the course of a couple of days—with multiple reboots in between. Finally, we performed the benchmarks several times, and got the following, quite interesting, results!
Timecode 00:00:00 – Scenario Starts / Boot Performance
This is a record—but a very bad one. AVG slowed the boot process down to an absolute crawl. Windows was stuck at the “Welcome” log-on screen for one minute and 20 seconds, which was longer than the performance times from some of AVG’s competition. And it only gets worse—Live Messenger launched three and a half minutes into the boot process, while Skype got to that point in just over three minutes. Kaspersky, for example, did much better by delaying both start-up processes only by 30 and 60 seconds respectively.
Microsoft’s Xperf took more than four minutes (a 25% increase) to complete. It became clear to me that the delay was caused by a high number of processes, services and drivers. AVG launches several different filters, putting additional stress on the CPU and hard disk. No wonder the boot process takes forever…
Timecode 00:10:00 – Resource Check
Task Manager showed very good results for AVG IS 2011 in terms of total memory usage; the software consumed about 80 MB in total. However, I noticed that there were a total of 11 AVG-related processes that were active simultaneously. (Not all of the AVG-related processes accounted for the approximately 80 MB, but additional, invisible AVG services made up the remainder). Although they’re not running all of the time, they add up to a lot of background activity—and affect Windows’ ability to multitask.
Timecode 00:11:30 – Browser Start
Not much happened on the browser front. Basically, AVG IS 2011—like all of the antivirus solutions we tested—delayed the launch of Google Chrome slightly. One second isn’t much, but it’s a noticeable delay for some.
Timecode 00:12:30 – Launch Outlook
Our e-mail client needed more than twice as much time to launch. Even subsequent (therefore cached) program launches were significantly slower than before. I need to work productively, and this kind of delay is inexcusable; while I realize that some of AVG IS 2011′s e-mail plug-ins help me to be secure, the competition managed to keep their footprints much smaller.
Timecode 00:14:30 – Open PhotoImpact
Another crash landing! Applying a filter to a simple photo took almost twice as long with AVG’s security solution installed. Just to be on the safe side, I also performed this test using other photos and editing suites—but the results were equally bad.
Timecode 00:16:30 – Open PowerDirector
Surprise, surprise. Converting an HD clip into standard definition (AVI format) didn’t suffer from AVG’s additional load and background applications, though start-up time did suffer quite a bit. I just don’t understand why any security solution needs to impact a program that I launch regularly.
Timecode 00:19:30 – Convert MP3 File
I’ve encountered this kind of delay with a couple of other security products. The total conversion process for a rather large audio track always takes just slightly longer than usual. This time, though, performance didn’t suffer as badly as it did with the other antivirus solutions like Kaspersky.
Timecode 00:30:30 – Large File Copy
Our network file operation also didn’t suffer severely with AVG IS 2011 installed. An average delay of about 10 seconds isn’t a catastrophe when transferring a 180 MB file. It will, however, become a problem if you’re regularly transferring thousands and thousands of MB across your network. We haven’t yet come across a solution that didn’t impact this particular test.
Timecode 00:35:00 – Large File Extraction
Ouch! Only Norton Internet Security 2011 managed to delay the extraction (in which we used WinRAR) by a longer time, 10 seconds—only one second more than this week’s test subject.
Timecode 00:38:00 – Cinebench Results
(More points equals better performance)
Like most of the other security solutions, AVG didn’t have any impact on Cinebench. All of its tests are heavily CPU- and GPU-based. Luckily, there wasn’t even the slightest decrease in rendering speed.
Timecode 00:47:00 – PCMark Results
(More points equals better performance)
PCMark took a significant hit this time; the average Gaming Suite score dropped by about 200 points. If you’re a gamer, this is a significant decrease in frames per second (FPS) and could mean the difference between smooth and a stuttering gameplay. In addition, the Productivity Suite score, which represents the speed of dozens of typical day-to-day tasks, came out noticeably lower than before.
Performance Results: AVG Internet Security 2011
While we don’t judge any product in terms of its effectiveness against intruders, we can make a fair statement about AVG IS 2011′s performance in terms of resources—it’s the security solution that eats the most resources of any we have tested up to this point. Since the results were the worst we’ve encountered so far, we repeated our benchmarks a couple of extra times just to be on the safe side! However, with each test we noticed the same degree of performance loss, especially when it came to booting the system and launching applications.
Have any questions? The TuneUp Blog team will also be publishing a comparison chart for our readers.
26 Responses to “Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 5 – AVG Internet Security 2011)”
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