The Search for Lightest Antivirus

You know what, recently I notice that one cause of a slow PC performance is none other than the antivirus program itself. The problem is we also cannot live without one now (allright, maybe I’m too exaggerating here..) in this internet world, where we are constantly connected to possible threats.

I guess this is one of the reason why Unix machines are more stable and fast. They don’t need antivirus that consume much of the PC memory like the one we have in Windows.

I thought that I might migrate to Linux for this reason, but I can’t do that since I still need 90% of the Windows applications that I use now. So I can’t leave Windows just yet, but how can I remove the antivirus without making me in great danger?

So, that’s where the idea comes to find the lightest antivirus, or to be more accurate, what antivirus that consume less PC resources (CPU and Memory)?

I tried googling for that keyword “lightest antivirus” and found several forum discussions that have people’s opinions about their thought about it.

Most of the people said that the lightest antivirus around is Nod32. But I still look around and tested other antivirus as well.

– Nod32 — http://www.eset.com/products/windows.php
– Kaspersky 6 — http://www.kaspersky.com/kaspersky_anti-virus
– AVG Free Edition — http://free.grisoft.com/
– Avast! — http://www.avast.com
– Antivir PersonalEdition Classic — http://www.free-av.com/

AVG Free Edition

If I’m not wrong the AVG supposedly stop supporting their free antivirus at the end of May 2007. But somehow they changed their mind and continue making updates and even new version of AVG Free Edition. 😀

For me, AVG Free Edition is the winner here. It’s light, it has offline update, and it’s FREE! This seems to good to be true (maybe it is..).

Some people mentioned that AVG got some problem detecting new viruses. Well, from my experience with virus outbreak in my workplace, there was a time where AVG didn’t able to heal a new local virus (a Brontok variant), BUT SO DOES THE OTHER PAID ANTIVIRUS. So I guess, the AVG is still better off since it’s free.

Better yet, they have incremental update so you don’t need to download the whole virus database over and over again like McAfee or Norton Antivirus Update.

The antivirus uses less than 8,000 KB memory in total (AVG run several process for the the on-access scan). During drive scanning it uses only around 20,000 KB. Simply put, it uses half of the memory that McAfee uses. Which is cool…

For me this is my choice of lightest antivirus, both for memory and for my pocket.

Nod32

Like I’ve mentioned earlier, many people in the internet forum mentioned that this Nod32 is the best antivirus around. Small memory and CPU usage, plus great heuristic unknown virus detection and advanced options, makes it a great AV… if only I can use it.

The biggest problem that Nod32 has is, the update is only available through direct connection to internet. No offline update like other antivirus provide is available.

Now, that’s no problem for countries where internet connection is abundant and cheap. But for me in Indonesia where it’s still a few years from now, it’s a big problem.

I didn’t able to test the Nod32 in my PC, so I cannot give much comment accept for the offline update that is not available.

Avast! Home Edition Free

Avast! also come with a free version, making it a competitor of AVG in giving free antivirus software.
I tried the avast! Home Edition Free antivirus and it has a very “futuristic” interface, so much so until I had problems finding which button to click to scan all my harddrives.

Like AVG, the memory usage is also very minimal both during active harddrive scan and on-access scan. Nice..

Unfortunately, I don’t find the avast! home edition is intuitively easy to use like the AVG. The interface that is too beautiful also signalize a more resource consumption than the AVG interface that is simple yet user friendly.

The update for avast! is available to be downloaded for offline update, but I can’t found small incremental update like AVG, so it still can’t beat AVG also here.

Kaspersky 6

The website mentioned that the Kaspersky version 6 is already compatible with Windows Vista. But when my friend installed it in his newly bought Vista notebook, it’s far from working. It even had problem during installation.

Someone from a forum mentioned that Kaspersky is running light on memory. Unfortunately when I tested in my PC, it’s simply not. It’s even a little more memory consumptive compared to McAfee Antivirus Enterprise installed. From the task manager memory usage, it took around 22,000 KB while standby, I wonder how many more will it take during scan process.

So, Kaspersky 6 is totally out from lightest antivirus around.

Conclusion

For me the best light antivirus is very clear here. It’s the AVG Free Edition.
And for several reasons: On-Access and Active Scan Memory and CPU Usage, Update, Good Virus Detection, and Price.

Please keep in mind that this review focus mainly on the resource usage of the antivirus during on-access and active scan. So heuristic virus detection, scan time, and support is not considered much.

Some people in the internet forum mentioned that avast! is an also good free antivirus. Well, maybe, but not for me because AVG certainly beat avast in several aspects.

If you have other comment and opinion, please let me know! 😀

Author: Trijito Santoso

I’m Trijito Santoso, a Seventh-Day Adventist, a medical technology graduate, and a software developer. The reason why I shifted from medical technology to computer science is because I love to create things (design, software, articles, anything), and being a software developer allows me to create things everyday. I’m currently studying Master of Science in Computer Science at Northeastern University, Boston. My Google Profile+

7 thoughts on “The Search for Lightest Antivirus”

  1. yah.. what uve said is right.. avg is a user friendly antivirus with its offline update that makes it a good one specially for those who dont have an internet in their home to update. but for me nod32 is the one i recomend if you have an internet connection in your place because its heuristic analysis in detecting viruses compare to avg is more accurate. thnx for reading…from trix aka wilson..

  2. Which AVG Free that you use? Is it version 7.5 or 8.0? coz i’m using 8.0 and I think it is more resource hungry than the previous one.

  3. Riki, I use AVG Free Version 7 when I wrote this post and I think you are right, the AVG version 8.0 consumes more resources now.

    I will post an update post about the lightest anti virus in 2008, and this time AVG is no longer the best I guess. Now I’m using Avira Antivir and so far I love it.

  4. No offense but.. as of now (Feb. 2009).. avg has turned out to be one of the heaviest anti virus..

    As of now, NOD32, Avira & Avast! are fighting over for the lightest..

  5. chronoboi,
    I agree with you that the AVG 8.5 is far heavier than its 7.5 predecessor.

    However, during the latest test it was still lighter than Avast.

    Anyway, you can read my latest test for lightest anti virus in year 2009. Please kindly give me other comment about it if you have any. 😀

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