AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 - AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 supports Windows XP, Vista, and 7. It requires an Intel Pentium 1.5 GHz or faster process with 512 MB of RAM and a whopping 950 MB of free disk space.

The initial download file was a meager 3.71MB, but an additional 53.7MB was downloaded during the install. After the eight minute installation, a reboot wasn’t required. But it took another two minutes to analyze and update, including a 65.8MB virus definition update.

I was surprised to see 10 processes for AVG:

  •  avgui.exe (AVG User Interface) 11,280K
  • avgwdsvc.exe  (AVG Watchdog Service) 13,200K
  • avgtray.exe (AVG Tray Monitor) 9,784K
  • avgnsx.exe (AVG Online Shield Service) 236K
  • avgidsagent.exe (AVG Identity Protection Service) 12,816K
  • vprot.exe (VProtect Application for SafeSearch) 6,528K
  • sidebar.exe (to run the desktop gadget) 10,644K
  • avgrsx.exe (AVG Resident Shield Service) 400K and 15,500K during scanning
  • avgcsrvx.exe (AVG Scanning Core Module – Server Part) 336K and 7,000K during scanning
  • avgscanx.exe (AVG Command-line Scanning Utility) 9,716 K during scanning only

Sitting at idle these totaled about 65,224K of memory usage. During the whole computer scan I ran (a quick scan isn’t offered), the total memory usage increased to around 96,704K with CPU usage 10 percent to 20 percent. It took 68 minutes to scan 1,030,702 items.

In the scanning settings I found you can adjust how quickly each scan type completes. The faster it scans, the more system resources it uses. You can specify the speed (low, medium, and high) or it can automatically adjust itself depending upon available resources.


AVG 2012

Microsoft Security Essentials - Lastly, I reviewed Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) version 2.1. It supports Windows XP SP3 with a 500 MHz or higher processor and 256 MB of RAM. It supports Windows Vista SP1 or SP2 and Windows 7 with a 1.0 GHz or higher processor and 1 GB of RAM. For all versions, it requires 200 MB of free disk space.

The download file was a small 7.69MB with a quick 25 second download. The installation only took about three minutes, but then required a reboot. Though the virus definition update itself was small and quick, it took a few minutes for it to automatically update and activate the real-time protection.

I saw just three running processes for MSE:

  • Msseces.exe (Microsoft Security Client User Interface) 13,480K
  • NisSrv.exe (Microsoft Network Inspection System) 2,300K
  • MsMpEng.exe (Antimalware Service Executable) 60,564K and 65,000K during scanning

At idle, the three processes were using about 76,344K of memory. During the quick scan, it only increased to 80,780K and the CPU usage ranged 15 percent to 25 percent, which took about 10 minutes and scanned 7600 items.

In the settings you can set the max CPU usage during scans from 10 percent to 100 percent (50 percent is the default). You can also set it to only start a scheduled scan when the computer is not in use.



The Results

Out of the four programs I reviewed, avast! Free Antivirus 6 had the lowest resource consumption. COMODO Internet Security 5.5 was close in regards to the memory usage, but had the most sporadic and highest CPU usage. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 and Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) are in a fairly close tie between the worst in consumption. AVG had a lower idle memory usage, but a higher scanning usage than MSE.

When choosing an antivirus program you’ll also want to take other things, like features, into consideration rather than just the resource consumption. COMODO and avast provide the most features, with COMODO offering slightly more due to the integrated firewall. AVG and MSE offer about the same amount of basic protection, but AVG gives you more customization options. Also keep in mind, if your computer is for business use you’re limited to using either Comodo Internet Security Microsoft Security Essentials.

Eric Geier is the founder of NoWiresSecurity, which helps businesses easily protect their Wi-Fi networks with the Enterprise mode of WPA/WPA2 security. He is also a freelance tech writer. Become a Twitter follower or use the RSS feed to keep up with his writings.