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Do you guys remember that new PC feel? The feeling when you unbox a brand new desktop or laptop and get it running for the first time? Everything is so new, fresh, and responsive. Our lives online are becoming more and more meaningful and impactful on our lives offline that I’m not going to argue if you tell me that it’s a better feeling than when getting a new car. Just like a new car though, that feeling gradually begins to fade.

Though they’re almost essential, some of the worst offenders in bogging down your Windows machine are actually the applications made to keep your computer safer and faster: those made for security. If you’re a MakeUseOf reader, I trust that you use some form of anti-virus or anti-malware. As operating systems progress, it’s practically being forced upon you.

But do you have to? Is it worth risking the performance to take away that risk of a possible infection? That’s something for you to decide, and I’ll help you do it.

Consider Your Options

There are so many different ways to secure your PC that it’s actually pretty confusing. Maybe you’ve got antivirus software, but no anti-malware. Do you need anti-malware? Is “anti-malware” just a subclass of the antivirus that you already have? What’s the difference between the two anyway?

Over at our Best Windows Software page, we’ve listed many great security applications for you. You can find some of the best anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall options available.


Before making your pick, really analyze what you want. Keep in mind that security applications often do clash with one another. The more you have, the more false positives you’re going to come across also. Using realtime or active protection on more than one security application at once (AVG paired with Malwarebytes, for example) could really cause some issues.

Realtime protection is what is going to slow down your system the most. Keep in mind that a lot of security applications come packaged as a “suite” that contains antivirus, antimalware, and firewall capablities. You’ve really got to consider what you need and how you need to get it.

Respect Your Machine

Let’s say you have a netbook. Do you really want to install NOD32, Malwarebytes, and Comodo Firewall? This anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall are all on the higher end of resource usage. Your little netbook is going to be taking a real beating.

Have some consideration for your PC’s specifications. For a netbook, you may be best just using Avira and Spybot. Avira is a free, lightweight antivirus and Spybot, if run routinely, can protect your browser and system from things you really don’t want. Using Windows firewall and/or a firewall at the router level has never been an issue for me, either. Don’t cripple your machine by fear.

Analyze Your Behavior

Honestly, you can survive online without stockpiling on protection. It all depends on you and what your online habits consist of.

Take into account your history with infections. Don’t be arrogant. Are you someone who is prone to trojans or sticky stuff like that? If so, why do you think that happens? Be careful if you’re addicted to downloads over P2P or torrents. If you’re not confident in your own ability to regulate yourself, then maybe it’s best you let your PC give you a hand. Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG have great realtime protection that can stop you in your tracks. Regularly running Windows Defender, SUPERAntiSpyware, or Malwarebytes can always help as well.

The biggest option to consider is risk vs. reward. By saying that, I’m implying that there is indeed some risk in installing security software, and that risk is a slow, sluggish, and unresponsive PC by fault of not understanding your system’s capabilities or not tweaking these applications as they should be. Don’t run automated scans daily if you aren’t using your computer for anything intensive on a daily basis.

Formulating a perfect, secure atmosphere really requires a strategy from the user. If you don’t want a computer bloated with malware and trojans then I doubt you want a computer that acts like a turtle due to so many resources being eaten up by it protecting you. Consider your options, respect your machine and its resources, analyze your online behavior, and find a balance. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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