Antivirus software provider ESET describes its security solution “Smart Security 4” as “High scanning speed with low memory demands ensures your computers does not slow down.” In this blog post, we’ll determine if ESET’s security suite really is that lightweight and will explain what kind of performance impact you can expect.
This test is the latest addition to our ongoing series about the impact of security suites on PC performance. So far, we’ve tested Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 and AVG Internet Security 2011, among others. You can check out our benchmark comparison for a complete overview.
ESET Smart Security 4
ESET Smart Security, the big brother of NOD32, comes with an integrated firewall and network protection, and is a highly respected security suite. With this solution, you’ll get your usual antivirus and antispyware modules, built-in web and email protection, as well as the personal firewall mentioned above. In theory, all of these modules should have a significant effect on performance, however, ESET claims its software is lightweight PC protection so let’s see how it stacks up!
As always, we installed the solution on our test bed, ran 20 performance tests, and compared the results to our original PC with no security suite installed. Keep in mind that we’re not trying to deter you away from running a security suite (or any standalone antivirus product), we’re simply trying to help you make the right choice if performance is an important factor for you.
Timecode 00:00:00 – Scenario starts/Boot performance
These results aren’t bad at all. XPerf didn’t cause a significant delay in boot time— it took the desktop, Skype and Live Messenger only a few seconds later than normal to appear and XPerf didn’t show an increase in boot time. According to XPerf, the entire boot process finished in exactly 181 seconds with or without ESET Smart Security. This is how all other performance suites should handle boot performance.
Timecode 00:10:00 – Resource check
Smart Security 4 added two services (ESET HTTP Servicer and ESET Service) and two processes, amounting to a total memory usage of about 62 MB. That leaves plenty of room for Windows and your applications, even on systems with only 2 GB of memory (or less).
Timecode 00:11:30 – Browser start
This is getting old: every security solution has added another second to Google Chrome’s launch which is not significant given that all subsequent starts were much faster. Smart Security 4 didn’t make any difference here.
Timecode 00:12:30 – Launching Outlook
Good news! While Smart Security added two seconds to the time needed to launch Outlook, subsequent launches clocked in at exactly two seconds, so this delay is nothing to worry about. Overall performance in Outlook didn’t suffer at all—opening mails, using the search indexer, or adding large attachments didn’t take any longer than before.
Timecode 00:14:30 – Opening an 8 MB photo in PhotoImpact
Loading up PhotoImpact took two seconds longer than usual with ESET Smart Security 4 installed. Its real-time protection probably interfered with the hundreds of file operations going on at the same time, but only in a minor way. Applying the filters took exactly 18 seconds in both cases which speaks volumes for ESET.
Timecode 00:16:30 – Opening up a PowerDirector project
ESET Smart Security didn’t delay the startup of PowerDirector which is interesting since this is where most of its competitors failed by literally doubling the startup times. Converting our little HD clip into an SD format didn’t take a second longer, despite Smart Security being active in the background. More good results!
Timecode 00:19:30 – Converting a large (220 MB) MP3 file into AAC with iTunes
Converting audio files puts your CPU and hard disk under heavy stress, so this is the perfect condition to determine what kind of impact a security solution has on PC performance. ESET Smart Security hit a home run here. It only added nine seconds to the overall conversion time. In fact, we barely noticed that the security suite was already running.
Timecode 00:30:30 – Copying a large file over a network
Smart Security 4 comes with an extensive two-way firewall for all your incoming and outgoing network and Internet connections. Copying the 180 MB file over our Wi-Fi network took exactly 50 seconds and that didn’t change even with ESETs security suite installed.
Timecode 00:35:00 – Large File Extraction
The RAR file we copied above contains over 350 files, spread over 12 directories. WinRAR took about 30 seconds without any security solution installed to uncompress this data. Thanks to its little resource utilization, Smart Security added exactly two seconds to the process.
Timecode 00:38:00 – Cinebench Results
(More points equals better performance)
Cinebench shows what your graphics card and your processor are capable of. We’re happy to report that Smart Security didn’t interfere with all of the complex calculations and simultaneous renderings.
Timecode 00:47:00 – PCMark Results
(More points equals better performance)
PCMark Vantage showed an ever so slight decrease in overall performance. While the gaming benchmark didn’t suffer at all, which is great news for our gamers out there, the productivity test did come out with a bit of a performance drop. Upon closer examination, we found that file input/output operations slowed down a bit which is probably related to the antivirus engine checking all the different file transfers.
Performance results: ESET Smart Security 4
Overall, we think that Smart Security 4 keeps its promise. In most of our tests, we found that ESET either didn’t cause any slowdown at all or when there was a performance impact in some of our tests, it was pretty insignificant. We’ve even worked with Smart Security 4 enabled for a full week and noticed that only some applications launched with a bit of a delay (about 1–2 seconds). Basically, we couldn’t tell that a full-blown security suite was running in the background. This is quite an achievement. We give ESET two thumbs up!
5 Responses to “Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 7 – ESET Smart Security 4)”
- Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 1 – Introduction) » 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 9 – F-Secure Internet Security 2011) » TuneUp Blog about Windows