How To Use Antivirus Exclusions To Speed Up Yor PC


22.03.2011

As the viruses, spyware and all the malicious software are getting more and more dangerous these days, not having an antivirus program installed on your computer is like doing extreme sports without a helmet. So, it’s very important to have an effective antivirus capable of protecting your PC, but these application have a downside as well, meaning that they significantly slow down the system, and nobody like a computer with slow performances. However, there is a way to make the antivirus programs to consume less resources.

This article will show how to exclude some of the folders in order to reduce the resources consumption, and without causing extra danger for your computer. When an antivirus starts scanning for malware it checks every file one by one. If you exclude some of the folders considered safe, you will make the antivirus’s scan area a little less crowded, thus less resource consumption.

Before beginning, you have to know that you should be very careful because if you modify the default security settings, you might put your computer at risk. So, you have to pay great attention.

The theory is simple. Some apps are writing to the hard drive on a regular basis. And as long as those apps are trusted and present to threats, you should exclude the folders they are writing and reading from. Let’s take a virtual machine as an example. The virtual machine is a software which reads and writes constantly from the hard drive. By excluding the files you will make sure that the antivirus won’t scan the files inside them. Bellow are presented some examples of some of the things that could be excluded:

  • Windows Update Folders

  • Virtual Machine Directories: In case you use VirtualBox or VMware, those locations should be excluded. This is actually what this article suggests, and will do you an important performance boost.

  • Legitimate Music Folders: if you procure your music from legitimate web sites such as Amazon, or you’ve ripped your own CDs, you can exclude the music folder. This action doesn’t apply if you are downloading the music files from unsafe sources, in this case excluding the music folder will be a big mistake.

  • Subversion / TortoiseSVN Folders: sometimes the antivirus might be in conflict with source control project.

  • Photo/Video Folders: If these folders contain photos and videos that you made yourself, you can exclude them because there’s any reason to be scanned. But if you download images and videos from the Internet it’s better to let them be.

Every PC has dozens of different running applications, so it’s not easy to say which one should you work on or not, you have to do it yourself. A good way to do it is by using a program called Process Monitor developed by Sysinternals. This program will help you figure out which apps are reading or writing to your hard drive on a regular basis. This way you can decide if you should exclude them or not depending on how safe they are.

So, start Process Monitor. A window containing the events going on into your system will appear. You have to “uncheck” all of the icons on the right-hand side of the toolbar, but the one called “Show File System Activity”. There will be displayed lots of items, with every access to the file system. From here on, it’s your decision which one you should exclude.

Process Monitor

3 useful tips

  1. What I’m about to say might sound lame, but it’s very important that you perform a complete scan to any files or folders that you download from the Internet, and particularly from sites which contain torrents which are filled with malware.

  2. It’s always better to exclude a particular folder than filenames or file extensions, because if you exclude files, the antivirus will ignore the respective file no matter where it’s located. This could be serious security issue.

  3. You should know that not all the antivirus programs work in the same way. For example, AVG Antivirus is set by default to scan a specific set of file extensions, and files with no extensions. So, the extensions are not scanned, there’s no way to tell if excluding folders will make a difference in terms of performance.

How to exclude files from Microsoft Security Essentials

First of all, Microsoft Security Essentials doesn’t slow down your computer very much, but if you want to make some exclusions anyway it’s very easy. Go to its settings and select Exclude files & locations. In the right side add the folders that you want to exclude.

Microsoft Security Essentials

How to exclude files from AVG Anti-Virus

Start AVG, click tools>Advanced settings…

AVG Anti-Virus

Then select Resident Shield>Advanced Settings where you’ll find a list with the file types that the program is currently scanning. You will remark that AVG scans only file with no extensions.

Advanced AVG Settings

Go to Resident Shield>Excluded items where you can add specific files or folders to exclude from scanning.

Advanced AVG Settings 2

You can use this method for all antivirus applications, because they are similar.

To conclude, I must say again that this folder excluding action can be very risky especially if you don’t know what you are doing. But if you choose to do it anyway, it’s not our fault if you get your computer infected. We only tried to present a solution to make your antivirus to consume less system resources.

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