How to Keep Microsoft Security Essentials from Slowing Down Your System


Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)  is Gizmo’s Freeware Product of the Year for 2010. Recently, a new version came out and it has a setting that can be very useful to owners of older, slower PCs or netbooks.

Even when an efficient antivirus program does a scan, it can use enough system resources to cause a noticeable slowdown of older machines. Version 2 of MSE has a setting that can cut down the impact that a scan has on the system. The amount of CPU time allocated to the scan can be limited. While it won’t make much difference in a new quad-core machine, it can keep an old single-core system or a netbook from bogging down and allow you to continue to work during a scan. There is a tradeoff—using less CPU time means taking longer to finish a scan.

To configure the settings, open MSE and select the “Settings” tab. As the figure below shows, you can adjust the amount of CPU time devoted to a scan in a drop-down menu. The default setting seems to be 50%. If limiting the CPU is not important in your particular system, remove the check by “Limit CPU usage during scan”. That will speed up your scans.

Microsoft Security Essentials CPU setting

By experimenting with this CPU setting, you should be able to find one that is best for your particular system.

This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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