Choosing the least memory intensive antivirus solution is not an easy task, especially when there are a lot of options in the market, all promising protection at the highest levels with no compromises made towards computer speed. From my own experience, and from those of others, I’ve learned that only some products care about computer resources when implementing defensive solutions.

Although some big names in the industry have managed to create powerful products, that keep the system far away from any attacker, we’ve seen that in some cases the power needed to protect the computer disrupts the navigation experience, which is undesirable, at the least. So, today, we are about to venture and discover the most appropriate antivirus solutions that consume small hardware resources and manage not to slow the computer, at least distinctively.

Antivirus software with low resource footprints


Before presenting the options, you must first be aware of some key aspects and basic elements. An antivirus relies on hardware, like any other software installed on a computer, to run and on other elements to process the information. The complexity and the level of the antivirus, describes how much resources it needs to run all of its algorithm.

On the other hand, good developers can optimize the software to consume fewer resources than others, thus drastically downsizing memory requirements and processor load.

Avast (Free & Pro)


Avast scored great in our quest for finding the best free antivirus for 2012, and one of the top reasons for the high score was its low resource usage while protecting the PC. You get top notch protection on your computer, emails, downloads and IMs. And its powerful heuristics engine allows it to find almost every virus around. All these without hogging down your PC.

Microsoft Security Essentials (Free)


Microsoft has strongly ramped up their security game and have improved the Security Essentials software over the past few years. It’s effective, incredibly easy to use, free to download and is perfectly integrated with Windows operating system. This helps a great deal in reducing its memory footprint. For someone looking for a basic security suite, MSE is an ideal candidate.

PC Tools AntiVirus v9.1 (free)

PC Tools AntiVirus 9.1 is the latest protection tool by a company partnering with Symantec and known for its defensive solutions. The software is capable of protecting the PC against usual viruses, worms and Trojans, using a rapid updating system and a real-time scan known as IntelliGuard. The PC Tools solution also comes with an advanced functionality tool that allows scanning and removing boot sector viruses. Also, from what we’ve seen until now, it’s one of the lightest protection solution on the market. It only requires a computer with 256 MB of RAM to function, and a processor with just 300 MHz.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013


Surprised? Don’t be. Kaspersky is one of the toughest names on the market. After being a satisfied customer for the past two years, I consider Kaspersky as the Rambo of all security tools: merciless with its enemies. Kaspersky, in general, is able to remove some Windows-files if requested by the user and gets very angry when you try to shut down protection for good, if you don’t know how to do it properly.

Specifically, Anti-Virus 2013 can be considered as a first level defense and a lighter version of more advanced tools, such as Internet Security or Pure. But, without question, is a good tool to have and one that treats computer resources nicely, without burdening and slowing the system down.

Above all presented, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 is optimized to have a low impact on network activity and other processes overall, like installing new programs, launching web browsers and others. In addition, the solution comes with a Gaming mode that will surely prove helpful.

Other worthy options

There are also other names that worth taking a look at. The following list has been ordered by resource optimization, with the top names being the most friendly:


  • Norton Antivirus 2013 – one of the most popular antivirus software. It has improved loads in terms of low memory footprint in recent years.
  • Eset Nod 32 – Another popular security suite with low memory footprint.
  • Spyware Terminator 2012: coming in two versions, one free and one paid, the Terminator is a light defensive solution which will protect you against usual threats.
  • BitDefender Internet Security 2013: one of the best solutions I’ve experienced in a while, BIS 2013 is a highly advanced protection tool that protects the computer pretty much against any known threats.
  • Avira Antivirus – another popular free antivirus which has relatively low idle memory usage and extremely fast launch time, but struggles with peak memory usage

General Tip to Reduce Memory Usage of Anti-virus

Irrespective of what antivirus you currently have, you can relatively increase its performance by excluding certain folders with write-heavy operations, i.e files and folders that are writing to the hard-drive constantly. Here’s a few examples of some things you may consider excluding:

  • Virtual Machine Directories like VMware or VirtualBox
  • Subversion / TortoiseSVN Folders
  • Personal Photo/Video Folders
  • Personal music folders
  • Windows Update Folders
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