In round three of our performance comparison of antivirus suites, we ask the question: Do security solutions, such as antivirus tools or full-blown security suites, slow down our PC? Last week, we tested the impact Microsoft Security Essentials had on PC performance.
This week, take on one of the oldest solutions on the market—Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2011. Although Norton was hugely popular in the 1990s, the early 2000s didn’t fare as well for the product line. Norton’s antivirus solution became too bloated and noticeably slowed down PCs, largely due to too many protection mechanisms. As we point out in part one of this series, the latest version of Norton Internet Security promises to be much faster, with minimal impact on PC performance. The product even features a performance tab that pops up to report when and why NIS is consuming resources (for example, during virus detection).
Let’s see if Norton 2011 delivers on its speed promise!
Timecode 00:00:00 – Scenario starts: boot performance
Norton Internet Security caused an annoying delay in boot-up delay and also caused both Skype and Live Messenger to start more than a minute later than before the package was installed. That’s not good. Xperf also showed a notable 40-second delay which reflects the other delays we uncovered. This is probably caused by Norton’s firewall and virus services.
Timecode 00:10:00 – Resource check
The 2011 version of NIS scored excellently as compared to earlier versions of NIS. The difference of 71 MB of total memory consumed is fantastic. That is less memory than your average browser eats up with just a handful of tabs open. NIS also added a few processes (such as ccSvcHst.exe) that upon close observation did not result in any significant performance impact and remained at relatively “normal” levels.
Timecode 00:11:30 – Browser start
Each time I repeated this test, I noticed a small decrease in Chrome’s startup time. However, the delay was typically only one second. That’s not much, and it’s definitely a small price to pay for secure surfing and downloading. In my opinion, this was a very positive result.
Timecode 00:12:30 – Launch Outlook
Norton added a small antispam plug-in that delayed Outlook’s launch by three seconds. I don’t understand why this antispam plug-in takes a whole three seconds to launch when the huge mail client needs just five seconds:
Timecode 00:14:30 – Open a 8 MB photo in PhotoImpact
Norton didn’t have any effect on PhotoImpact: The program launch plus the loading of the photo took exactly 14 seconds. No matter how many times I ran this test, the startup and filter results remained identical. Perfect score for Norton Internet Security 2011!
Timecode 00:16:30 – Open a PowerDirector project
Ouch, this one hurt! Firing up my video editing project in PowerDirector took a whopping 17 seconds longer with Norton. For some reason, NIS 2011 needed to check all the files (such as video files, audio files, jpgs) that my project included before handing them over to PowerDirector. Unfortunately, the antivirus engine did not remember these files, so even after the fifth repeat of this test, launching PowerDirector still took about 17 seconds longer with NIS. On the other hand, the conversion itself did not suffer at all from the antivirus overhead.
Timecode 00:19:30 – Convert a large (220 MB) MP3 file into AAC with iTunes
Perfect score, again. While last week’s test found that Microsoft Security Essentials added a couple of seconds to iTunes, Norton Internet Security 2011 had no noticeable impact.
Timecode 00:30:30 – Copy a large file over a network
The results are impressively close! It’s important to note that the first time I copied the file over the network, it took about one minute and 20 seconds. This is most likely because the antivirus engine needed to check all the files. But after it remembered them, two subsequent file copy tests were as fast as they used to be before NIS 2011 was installed at about 50 seconds. So on average, the transfer time came out at about 60 seconds. Very good.
Timecode 00:35:00 – Extract a large file
The very same effect occurred when extracting files as when copying a large file over a network. The first time, WinRAR needed 59 seconds to extract the files. On each repeat, it only needed 30 seconds to complete the operation. The average of all of the tests clocked in at about 40 seconds.
Timecode 00:38:00 – Get Cinebench results
(More points equals better performance)
What’s there to say, except: nice. No difference at all.
Timecode 00:47:00 – Get PCMark results
(More points equals better performance)
Given the fact that PCMark has a slight margin of error, I came away from this test impressed. Again, there was almost no impact on performance! NIS 2011 seems to be adept at running in the background, while still keeping your system secure.
Results: Norton Internet Security 2011
NIS 2011 surprised me. It has gotten more effective, fast, and has a small footprint on your system resources. I personally had not looked at this security solution for years, but 2011 is the first version I’d recommend—not only for its good antivirus engine, but also for its improved resource management. What I didn’t like, however, was the way NIS needs a significant amount of time to check files initially before adding them to its “I know these files, they’re ok”-list. Also, the delay in boot time was just unacceptable.
Compare these findings with last week’s performance check of Windows Security Essentials! Also, keep an eye out for our next blog post. We’re going to check out Kaspersky’s Internet Security Suite and see how it impacts PC resources and speed.
16 Responses to “Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 3 – Norton Internet Security 2011)”
- Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 1 – Introduction) » TuneUp Blog about Windows
- Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 4 – Kaspersky Internet Security 2011) » TuneUp Blog about Windows
- Performance Shoot-Out: Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? » TuneUp Blog about Windows
- Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 5 – AVG Internet Security 2011) » TuneUp Blog about Windows
- Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 9 – F-Secure Internet Security 2011) » TuneUp Blog about Windows