Best Antivirus Startup Times Tested

By June 24, 2016blog

IT-Security testing experts claim that some of the best antivirus software products do not heavily slow down a Windows PC. We wanted to have our own take on the subject based on complaints from our customers according to which computer startup times in some cases slow down dramatically after an active antivirus shield has been enabled.

Methodology:

For this battery of tests, we have measured how long it takes for some of the best antivirus software to load and how much they affect the actual startup time of a freshly installed Windows 10 operating system.

The Startup Timer test tool included in the upcoming jv16 PowerTools 2017 Release Candidate 1 was used to measure the impact on startup after each of the active security solutions has been enabled. A series of 5 subsequent system reboots have been made in order for jv16 PowerTools 2017 to record the startup times related to each system boot.

Products tested for best antivirus startup time:

  • Kasperksy Internet Security
  • Bitdefender Internet Security
  • Qihoo 360 Total Security
  • Bonus test: Heimdal FREE

Main findings:

  • Out of the top 3 best antivirus products tested, 2 of them caused an increase of at least 10% in the average startup time.
  • The highest increase in average startup time was registered by Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 (+20 seconds in average startup time)
  • Kaspersky Internet Security had a medium impact on system startup time, with an average of +13 seconds added to the time needed by Windows and all the automatically starting programs to fully load.
  • The lowest impact on system startup time, despite its integration of the Bitdefender virus detection engine as a secondary malware engine was recorded by Qihoo 360 Total Security. The Chinese internet security suite added an average of only +4 seconds to the Windows 10 full startup time.
  • Bonus test result: even if this product is not supposed to replace any fully-fledged antivirus solution, we also tested the security alternative provided by Heimdal Security. Heimdal builds industry-leading patch management, financial security and data protection software. Their Windows 10 compatible security agent Heimdal FREE added +5 seconds to the average Windows 10 startup time.

Best antivirus performance endurance test

In a study published in 2015, Independent IT-Security Institute AV-TEST GmbH reffered to the following 5 test sections as the “Real-World Test”, as all the tested operations are typically performed daily multiple times by users:

1. Downloading files from the Internet
2. Launching websites
3. Installing applications
4. Opening applications, including a file
5. Copying files

Our complementary approach to testing some of the best antivirus products is that to believe PC users tend to become unhappy about their computer’s performance once their system’s startup time increases.

In anticipation to the public release of jv16 PowerTools 2017 – Release Candidate 1, which includes a brand new tool called Startup Timer, measuring the impact that the best antivirus software may have on a PC’s startup time was something that we could not ignore.

Choosing the best performing antivirus products to test

We decided to look especially towards the winners of the aforementioned performance endurance test. The products from Kaspersky, Bitdefender and Qihoo caused the lowest overall load on a Windows PC according to AV-TEST – The Independent IT-Security Institute.

best-antivirus-av-test-results

As a bonus out-of-the-box Startup Timer test, we decided to see how well Heimdal FREE and its active shield against ransomware & malicious content affects the system startup time. Considering its second generation anti-malware engine is enabled at system startup, we wanted to satisfy the curiosity of knowing how much the very light Heimdal FREE actually impacts the system startup time compared to the heavyweight champions from the internet security suite category.

Technical details of the test procedures and environment

Initial steps used in the testing process on Windows 10, with all updates applied:

  • Installed jv16 PowerTools 2017 Release Candidate 1
  • Enabled the Startup Timer of jv16 PowerTools 2017
  • Rebooted & waited for Windows to fully load x 5

Once these steps were done, we saved the test system snapshot as a reference point and recorded the average system startup time as a base figure to compare to after each of the tested antivirus engines has been installed and enabled. As a base reference point for average system startup times we took note of the data provided by the Startup Timer in the Summary panel:

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startup-summary_base-220616

All of the tests were run on a virtual computer based on the Oracle VM VirtualBox virtualization technology version 5.0.22 (r108108). In all of the tests, the host computer running the virtual testing environment was a system running Intel Core i5-2500k CPU with 4 logical CPU cores in total operating at 3.30 GHz with 8 GB of RAM and with a 1 TB HDD system disk running Linux Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with all the updates installed.

Tests were performed using a virtual computer running Windows 10 Pro with a base memory of 4096 MB (RAM), with two logical CPU cores and 50 GB of hard disk space. Windows updates were disabled for the test environment to ensure the system was not changed during the testing period.

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startup-times_base-220616

During all of the test sessions the Startup Optimizer tool included with jv16 PowerTools was disabled as it would by default allow any of the given engines to automatically start without any delay.

Reputable security products are whitelisted by jv16 PowerTools 2017 so that the Startup Optimizer cannot affect their startup sequence, unless the end-user configures jv16 PowerTools 2017 – Startup Optimizer otherwise.

For the purposes of this research, we did not want our Startup Optimizer technology to have any chance of influencing the test results.

Best Antivirus Startup Timer Test#1: Kaspersky Internet Security

best antivirus kaspersky internet security installed 220616
After Kaspersky Internet Security was installed and updated, the following simple test steps were carried out:

  • Reboot & wait for Windows to fully load x 5

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startups_kaspersky-220616

After 5 subsequent reboots, we took note of the startup time needed for the operating system to be fully loaded. The longest startup time needed on the test system with Kaspersky Internet Security installed was 164 seconds. The shortest startup time was 105 seconds.

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startup-summary_kaspersky-220616

In order to rank Kaspersky Internet Security in our tests, we used the data provided by Startup Timer – Summary after a total of 10 system reboots:

  • 5 reboots with only a fresh copy of Windows 10 and jv16 PowerTools 2017 installed
  • 5 reboots with jv16 PowerTools 2017 and Kaspersky Internet Security installed

On average, Kaspersky Internet Security added 13 seconds to the test system startup time.

Best Antivirus Startup Timer Test#2: Bitdefender Internet Security 2016

best antivirus bitdefender total security installed 220616

After Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 was installed and updated, the following simple test steps were carried out:

  • Reboot & wait for Windows to fully load x 5

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startups-bitdefender-220616

After 5 subsequent reboots, we took note of the startup time needed for the operating system to be fully loaded. The longest startup time needed on the test system with Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 installed was 156 seconds. The shortest startup time was 140 seconds.

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startup-summary-bitdefender-220616

In order to rank Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 in our tests, we used the data provided by Startup Timer – Summary after a total of 10 system reboots:

  • 5 reboots with only a fresh copy of Windows 10 and jv16 PowerTools 2017 installed
  • 5 reboots with jv16 PowerTools 2017 and Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 installed

On average, Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 added 20 seconds to the test system startup time.

Best Antivirus Startup Timer Test#3: Qihoo 360 Total Security

best antivirus qihoo total security installed 220616

After Qihoo 360 Total Security was installed and updated, the following simple test steps were carried out:

  • Reboot & wait for Windows to fully load x 5

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startups_qihoo-220616

After 5 subsequent reboots, we took note of the startup time needed for the operating system to be fully loaded. The longest startup time needed on the test system with Qihoo 360 Total Security installed was 153 seconds. The shortest startup time was 81 seconds.

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startup-summary_qihoo-220616

In order to rank Qihoo 360 Total Security in our tests, we used the data provided by Startup Timer – Summary after a total of 10 system reboots:

  • 5 reboots with only a fresh copy of Windows 10 and jv16 PowerTools 2017 installed
  • 5 reboots with jv16 PowerTools 2017 and Qihoo 360 Total Security installed

On average, Qihoo 360 Total Security added 4 seconds to the test system startup time.

Best Antivirus Supplement Startup Timer Test#4: Heimdal FREE

best antivirus heimdal security installed 220616
After Heimdal FREE was installed and updated, the following simple test steps were carried out:

  • Reboot & wait for Windows to fully load x 5

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startups_heimdal-220616
After 5 subsequent reboots, we took note of the startup time needed for the operating system to be fully loaded. The longest startup time needed on the test system with Heimdal FREE installed was 169 seconds. The shortest startup time was 68 seconds.

jv16-pt-2017-rc1-startup-summary_heimdal-220616
In order to rank Heimdal FREE in our tests, we used the data provided by Startup Timer – Summary after a total of 10 system reboots:

  • 5 reboots with only a fresh copy of Windows 10 and jv16 PowerTools 2017 installed
  • 5 reboots with jv16 PowerTools 2017 and Heimdal FREE installed

On average, Heimdal FREE added 5 seconds to the test system startup time.

Limitations of the test method

As a result of our tests, we sometimes receive inquiries from users arriving at totally different results in their own tests. This may indeed occur for special configurations and particular hardware and software combinations. Those who are uncertain whether the fastest software is right for them ought to try the following first: create a Windows 10 system backup, then load the test software and try everything out yourself. If something doesn’t quite perform the way it should, then you simply revert to the backup.

Do it yourself: best antivirus startup test

The purpose of our test cases is for the actual test scenarios to be as efficient as possible for every case study while simple enough for even our end-users to be able to reproduce them using the PC system utilities available in jv16 PowerTools. In some particular test cases, we may use 3rd party tools such as well known benchmarking software. For the purpose of this test, we used only the Startup Timer built into a private build of jv16 PowerTools 2017 – Release Candidate 1, which is due to be released on our forum for public testing.

Note: jv16 PowerTools is a commercial software product. The above link will download the free trial version. There are no bundled software, no adware, no spyware, and no hidden surprises. Always backup your computer before using jv16 PowerTools or any other similar software.

Conclusions

As a result of this battery of tests we learned that even some of the top most antivirus products on the market have some degree of impact on the overall performance of your computer, ranging from delays manifested at file system operation or while downloading files to more time being added to the duration of your system’s startup.

The highest increase in average startup time was registered by Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 (+20 seconds in average startup time) while the lowest increase in average startup time was registered on the test system that had Qihoo 360 Total Security installed. Even if Kaspersky Internet Security had only a medium impact on the speed of the test system’s startup, the +13 seconds added represent an increase of more than 10% to the average duration of the test system’s startup time, which in some cases may be considerable, especially on systems running multiple automatically starting programs.

While Heimdal FREE is known to be a good antivirus supplement, we also tested the impact on system startup made by this product. Our partners at Heimdal Security build industry-leading patch management, financial security and data protection software.

The Windows 10 compatible security agent Heimdal FREE added +5 seconds to the average Windows 10 startup time, making it a good choice as an antivirus supplement when looking to protect against second generation malware that most antivirus products can’t detect in a timely manner.

Looking to clean and speedup your computer? Click here for step by step instructions on how to download and install jv16 PowerTools as a free 60 days (fully functional) trial version.

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