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Lightweight Antivirus programs.

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#1 Blackcat


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Posted 23 December 2003 - 06:58 AM

Lightweight Antivirus Programs

I have listed 7 commercial AV programs, all of which I have used as primary scanners for varying lengths of time; from over 9 years (KAV) to just over 3 years (Avira AntiVir Premium). For several years I ran most of these scanners on Pentium II/III systems without any noticeable slowdown. Now even with new computers I have stayed with these lightweight AV's.

Overall, all these AntiVirus programs when combined with safe hex should give you excellent protection.

Recommended "light" AV programs;

Commercial - Avira AntiVir Premium; Kaspersky AV; NOD32, Norton AV 2009.

Free - Avira AntiVir Classic, Avast, AVG and Rising AV.

Over 6 years, computer performance, programs and the number/types of malware have changed considerably and therefore my original choices have changed. See the last post in this thread for my present recommendations (December, 2009).

Edited by Blackcat, 03 March 2012 - 09:41 AM.

#2 Blackcat


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Posted 23 December 2003 - 07:47 AM

1. Avira Antivir PersonalEdition Premium v.

Advantages; Well set out, modern GUI. Very lightweight RTM, even when its processes can take up to 50 MB RAM. On-demand speed is very fast and it has very good heuristics. Now has incremental updating of VDF's. Cheap to buy and the "exclusive" Servers and Spyware detection make the Premium a better choice than the Classic version.

IMO, versions 7 & 8 make this the most improved AV of all the vendors in the last 12-24 months. Excellent detection rates now both with ITW and zoo malware. Advanced + rating for its on-demand scanner with zoo malware and an Advanced level rating for its heuristics over on av-comparatives. In recent tests at av-comparatives and av-test.org Avira is now at the top for detection; even beating the mighty KAV. Very large malware database.

Disadvantages; If you have a RAM- limited machine, you may find Avira a little heavy in its requirements compared to some of the other AV's listed here. Big Program/Version updates are still slow even on the "exclusive" Servers and it can give a high number of false positives with the highest heuristic setting. Moreover, there have been recent problems with updating such as the tray icon disappearing. For support you are directed to their official Forums; http://forum.antivir.de/index.php as official support from Avira involves additional payment to the license fee.

Number of virus strains and unwanted programs in database; 1,056,958 ( January, 2008)

Price; 20 Euros ($25); https://shop.antivir...mium/index.html

Main web-site at URL- http://www.avira.com...on_premium.html

2. Kaspersky AntiVirus Personal v.

Advantages; Well set out GUI; shades of Norton/F-Secure. Now consists of 4 main modules; File AV, Proactive Defense (PDM), Web and Mail AV. Relatively moderate memory imprint with two running processes taking up 15-25 MB RAM, but this has very little effect on system performance. IMO, the RTM of version 8 is lighter than any previous KAV versions. Superb virus AND trojan detection and the best unpacking engine. Updates 15-24 times a day! It has been very stable on all my computers here. Because of the GUI and its default settings, it is very suitable for newbies. The PDM (behaviour blocker) blocked over 99.4% of malware in a recent test; http://www.av-compar...V6_PDM_test.PDF

Support at the relatively new official forum is excellent; ably led by Don Pelotas and Lucian Bara; http://forum.kaspersky.com/

But support at Kaspersky UK and IceSystems in the States is also very good



Disadvantages; Not many. Relatively expensive. On full setting, it has a relatively slow scan speed, compared to other AV's, but this is related to its great unpacking engine. Some problems have been reported with the new modules; slowdowns due to the Web AV, problems with third-party firewalls due to KAV 8 acting as a proxy. Further, some users have reported major problems with chkdsk after installing KAV which did not disappear after KAV was uninstalled. The problem seems to be with NTFS-identifiers. These are not used with KAV 8. Occasionally updates can be problematic and indicate that internal testing needs to improve.

Usual Price= $47; Renewal=$30.

Number of records in database- over 949,200 (July, 2008)

3. Command AntiVirus v.4.94.9

Command now called Authentium, has been around for a long time(1986). Mainly pitched as a corporate network scanner but CSAV is very good for home use as well. Incorporates the F-Prot scanning engine.

Advantages; Large trojan and virus database. Has a very quick scanner, the fastest I have ever used, with overall low system imprint. I have had no software conflicts when running this as a primary scanner and it appears very stable. Simple but effective GUI and a nice updater system with specific tray icons notifying you of the nature of the potential update e.g. whether one is available or not. Has a specific e-mail scanner ( but only for Outlook) and a detailed help-file. Support has been very good, with replies within hours. Authentium have their own virus research team and they do not depend upon solely Frisk's updates. Suitable for newbies, particularly with the automated updater. Heuristics have improved very recently with the updated F-Prot engine.

Disadvantages; Sticks up to 6 processes in memory, although these only take up 6MB. Can, therefore, be difficult to set up as a backup scanner, as if some of the processes are disabled, this can lead to system instabilities. Updater system uses Windows Installer and this may confuse newbies initially. A recent updating of the main websites has not been successful, as it is now very difficult to navigate around the sites and they are now definitely favoured towards the corporate user. CSAV is still using the old F-Prot 3 engine and so detection rates have been falling as judged by recent results over at av-test.org. The new version 5 should be released in 2008 and this is badly needed to keep CSAV on par with the "top" AVs.

Malware database- 546,460 (December, 2007)

Price;-$47; URL-http://www.authentium.com/

Edited by Blackcat, 16 July 2008 - 03:12 PM.

#3 Blackcat


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Posted 23 December 2003 - 08:13 AM

4. Dr Web v 4.44.

Another Russian slayer of viruses. Very compact package which only takes up 12MB of hard drive space.

Advantages; On NT systems it places only two processes in memory, for a total of 4-8 MB VM, if you do not use SpiderMail, otherwise another 15 MB. But even with SM, Dr Web is one of the 'lightest' AV's around; probably the lightest I have used in real-time. SpiderMail is a pop3 mail scanner and there is also an excellent plugin for the Bat (if this is your e-mail client). Daily updates, and several/day. The updates are very small with files of only 3-4kB which is great for those of us still restricted to dial-up.

Excellent disinfection of files and a very sound uninstall. Good virus and trojan detection, strong heuristics and the unpacking engine is one of the best. The present version is very stable and the number of false positives is now, in my experience, greatly reduced. Spyware/Adware detection has been added.

There is now a 50% discount off the normal retail price for migration from another AV. One of the cheapest commercial AV's now, particularly with the special Migration offer; 50% migration discount and another 50% discount for renewing the license.

Support which has been patchy in the past is now very good using the ticket system and a "My Dr Web" web page.

Disadvantages; Generally thought to give a high number of false positives due to its strong heuristics, but in nearly 4 years of use I have only ever had 5 false alarms which were very easy to spot. Help-file is still sparse. Protection may be better on non-NT systems, as Spider-netting and scanning of executables by SpiderGuard are absent in Win2000/XP systems. The on-demand scanner is very slow compared to other AV's, but this is due to the unpacking ability of its engine. Detection levels of zoo malware seems to be dropping as it has slipped from an "Advanced" to a "Standard" scanner over on av-comparatives test-site. One of the reasons for this, is the very slow addition of missed samples from the previous test so it looks like more analysts are needed. In fact it has pulled out of the testing on this site for 2008. The engine now is becoming quite old and a new version 5 is still a long way off. Overall, progress is slow with this small AV vendor.

Price; $32; Renewal; $22; 2-Year license=$50. There is however, a 50% discount for migration from another AV; http://buy.drweb.com/togreen/

Virus records database- 281,444 (December, 2007)

New web-site at URL-http://www.drweb.com/

5. F-Prot for Windows

Advantages; Very low system imprint; only 2 running processes taking up 15-33 B VM. Top notch virus detection, particularly zoo viruses and has a very large malware database. Fast scanner speed. There has been a big improvement very recently in heuristic detection and there are now 3 separate heuristic engines. A good install and uninstall. Very good support, both in their Forum and officially from Frisk; quick and reliable. Fast, incremental updating.

The biggest advantage of F-Prot is if you have several computers; the Home license covers up to 5 of them; unbeatable value.

Disadvantages; F-Prot still seems a relatively bare-bones scanner despite the latest version release. The RTM still only scans ALL files and I have found this version a little heavier than F-Prot 3. The configuration options of the Guard are still very few and the program is still relatively poor at spyware detection. The automatic updater has been unreliable for me on dial-up as it does not always check at the set times. Further, at the present time there is no choice of either updating or upgrading the program when updates are available; which again is a pain on dial-up. There is no discount for renewing the annual license and email and browser protection are only available for Outlook and IE. Signature updates could be more frequent, generally only daily, particularly when compared to other AVs. Support on the Forum has been very patchy of late and reflects the small team over at Frisk.

Forum at URL-http://forum.f-prot.com/

Price= $29; Renewal=$29;

Malware Database- 1,031,634 (July, 2008)


Edited by Blackcat, 16 July 2008 - 02:49 PM.

#4 Blackcat


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Posted 23 December 2003 - 09:01 AM

6. NOD32 v 3.0.669.0 .

Advantages; Fast on-demand scanner and 100% ITW detection of viruses over at Virus Bulletin for several years now ( it's number 1 in the ranking). NOD has a low system impact, only 2 running processes in memory using 19-35mB. It has an excellent, easy to use GUI and there is good support over at Wilders, particularly by the very able Blackspear and HiTech_boy. There have been big changes throughout version 2/3's release, including better trojan detection, spyware detection, improved heuristics, a better unpacking engine, an HTTP scanner and a separate scanner, DMON, for Office files. One of the most improved Antivirus programs of late. Frequent updates. One of the best heuristic AV scanners with very few false positives. Now has Anti-Stealth technology and is Vista compatible.

Disadvantages; Being a small company, Eset's direct support can be patchy and some problems can take a long time to resolve. As opposed to most other AV's, it relies heavily on heuristics rather than signatures, and total database is unknown outside the Company. At times the Servers can give problems, particularly during large updates and the message is given that the program is up to-date when in fact the Servers are maxed out! Adds malware on a priority basis, so if new threat is not detected heuristically, users can be waiting longer for a fix compared to other AV's. In NOD 3 the HTTP filtering has been moved to a proxy which breaks firewall and adblocking setups. For this reason and several others, lots of users have reverted back to version 2.

Price= $39;Renewal=$28


7. VBA32 v. .

This AV from Belarus has been around since 1997 but is very new to the "English" market

Advantages; Only 1 running process taking up about 21MB memory. Very lightweight, and if the "Scan only new files" is selected, the RTM runs even lighter. Now has a background scanner to cover this potentially weaker protection setting. Very strong heuristics, confirmed by a recent test over at av-comparatives. Very stable. Support from Belarus and the official forum have been superb. New additions to database are added at a very fast rate. Updates are very small and incremental.

Disadvantages; Has yet to be entered at a range of AV testing sites so its detection rate is at the present time not very clear. However, recent tests over at av-comparatives ( August, 2006 and February, 2007) suggests that zoo malware detection by the on-demand scanner is behind most of the better known commercial AV's. Also can give a high number of false positives with the highest heuristic settings, ( but this setting is not the default and is not recommended for general use ). On-demand scanning is very slow, when compared to other AV's, even when thorough mode is not selected. GUI could be better set out, and is a little rough in places and it has no scheduler. Problems with obtaining a demo/trial-key have been reported with emails not getting through.

Forum is excellent for quick replies with Dan_M and Mitya being particularly helpful; URL-http://vba32.de/wbb2/index.php



Other AV Considerations

All of the AV programs I have listed are commercial software, as in general they offer better protection than the free alternatives and much better support.

However, there are a number of freeware products, AntiVir, AVG, Avast and Rising AV which are definitely worth considering as alternatives. At the present time, however, I would not recommend AntiVir Classic as IME, their Servers are not as available or as fast as the Premium Servers; a fact which is magnified when on dial-up.

Any of the AV programs I have listed will give you good protection and just as important they will keep your computer up to speed. After all what's the point of using the 'best' AV detector on the market if it brings your machine(s) to a standstill. All of these AV's have run without any slowdowns on my computers and are particularly recommended for the older system. But don't forget to trial the AV first as it may be incompatible with your software/hardware.

Of the AV's listed, I have generally tweaked the settings to try and obtain the best results for balancing performance and protection. NOD32 and AntiVir are the only AV's in real-time that showed virtually no performance slowdown when set to scan ALL files. All other AV Guards were set to scan by extension/format or to process new or changed files only as an ALL file setting would show a slight slowdown.

But remember, an Antivirus program is only one part of your layered defense system. Even then, common sense, a good firewall, a non-IE browser, a sandBox and/or a HIPS can reduce the risk of threats considerably. Overall, any AV by itself cannot give you TOTAL protection.

Safe Surfing.

Edited by Blackcat, 16 July 2008 - 03:22 PM.

#5 Blackcat


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Posted 01 May 2004 - 09:31 PM

I am just trying the gold release of KAV 5 on one of my older boxes- 400mHz, 192mB Ram and it is running very smoothly without any slowdowns so far.

So maybe the new KAV is suitable for low-spec computers? But still too early to recommend it without any reservations.

Start up may be very slow and this has been reported on many computers. This may be related to the new memory scanning feature in KAV 5, which was not present in earlier versions. Once up and running THEN it is very light even with the recommended default settings.

New maintenance pack out in October may resolve this problem.

Edited by Blackcat, 26 September 2004 - 02:53 PM.

#6 bellgamin


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Posted 13 May 2004 - 01:53 AM

QUOTE (Blackcat @ Dec 22 2003, 10:13 PM)
3. Dr Web. Reboot necessary on updating of virus definitions.

Price; $29http://www.dials.ru/english/

Reboot after update of definitions is no longer required. SpIDer may give the impression that a reboot is needed because it does not immediately display the new signature date when you right click on the Spider & then click "About." However, the update IS done immediately, as you can readily tell by running the DRW scanner & clicking on "Help" then "About." Idiosyncratic, wot?

Also, the top-of-the-line Workstation version {aka "PRO version"} can be had from DRW's US agent for only $24.95

QUOTE (Blackcat @ Dec 22 2003, 10:13 PM)
3. NOD32Version 2 has an excellent, easy to use GUI and there is good support over at Wilders.

Actually it was the NOD32 forum at Wilders that scared me away from trying NOD32. After I read down through several threads, I detected an off & on pattern of problems that either went unanswered for quite a while, or where the *solution* was to reinstall NOD32 &/or uninstall various other programs, first one then the other, to locate possible conflicts.

I am not one who enjoys tinkering around to get a program to run properly. I use DrWeb for my main AV, & F-prot for second opinion. Both of these AV's are rock-stable and play nicely with anything & everything.

This analysis by Blackcat is excellent. I hope he updates it from time to time.


#7 Blackcat


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Posted 13 May 2004 - 07:53 PM

Hi Bellgamin

Nice to see you around again!!!!!

Sometime in the future I will update this thread. At the present time, I am trying out KAV 5 on a low-spec machine with no problems at all so far.

With KAV 5 just released, a new F-Prot and Command due soon and with NOD due a new HTTP scanner, there will be plenty to update.

I agree that NOD support at Wilders can be patchy at times but compared to other 'support forums' it is very good, particularly for newbies.

I am looking forward to the new F-Prot for Windows and hoping that Dr Web in the not too distant future will put out a new version ( a better VirusChaser!!!!).

Any news on the 'new' AntiVir?

#8 drumul


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Posted 07 August 2004 - 01:13 PM

Any idea as to RAV AntiVirus and BitDefender ? It seems they are tops as well but I was wondering how much of resourses hungry they are....Which one of the following results should we trust ?



AntiVirus Detection Percentage:

#9 Blackcat


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Posted 07 August 2004 - 04:21 PM

Welcome drumel,

Not too sure why you posted these PERSONAL test results here and my view on these results have already been posted; http://forum.gladiat...showtopic=17136

As to RAV and BitDefender on resource usage. I have used them both in the past and RAV was a great standalone AV, which as long as you did not accept the default monitor settings ( ALL files) it took up very little memory/resources.

Since RAV was taken over by Microsoft, its engine is now only present in eXtendia's AVK Pro. In this AV, if the RAV engine is set as the main Monitor, it again takes up very little memory so is ideal for the older computer.

BitDefender, however, is a little more resource hungry but it has an excellent RTM. The Standard version is less demanding than the Professional version. Overall, you may need a more 'newer' computer to run this one as your primary scanner.

As to which Test to believe. I do not have much faith in any ONE testing site but look for results over a NUMBER of different sites over at least 12-24 months to guage the detection abilities of a particular AV product. Further, I take into account the views of people ( in forums like this one ) who seem to have more expertise and knowledge in this area than I do. Then I hope to make a balanced decision!

#10 Changlinn


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Posted 21 September 2004 - 11:59 PM

I know this thread is a little old, but just found it while googling for some answers.
Why didn't anyone mention grisofts AVG, it rocks.

Advantages: good heuristics, good signatures, usually a couple a week, it is free for personal use, can set scheduled scans, outlook/oe plugin, not very memory intesive 2processes for a total of 3mb.

Updates can be a bit large though, ranging from 500k-3mb, interface can be confusing, you can schedule daily scans in one screen and the time has to be done in another screen... the control centre needs to be selected in the install which is pretty strange. Updates aren't pushed out they are user driven, so if you don't change the settings it is set to update by default every 14days...

Been using AVG on several computers, also roll it out to customers due to the nill cost for them, never had a problem with it missing viruses

#11 toadbee


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Posted 22 September 2004 - 12:28 AM

Good call Changlinn ;)

We were waiting for you to come around thats all :)

Really there is no reason it wasn't listed. Although when AVG pro went to Version 7, there were questions as to whether or not they would ever include their new technologies into the free version. BUT, just recently they've started beta testing publicly the next generation free version. So keep your eyes out for that - it may be some real good stuff

Have a look here if you haven't

#12 Blackcat


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Posted 26 September 2004 - 02:40 PM

Only reason it was not included in the original post was that I was not familiar with the program and I did not know any expert users to ask at the time. Therefore, any advantages/disadvantages of this AV would be pure speculation on my part.

A good choice for average, safe surfers.

Thanks for your input.

#13 Hunter


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Posted 26 March 2005 - 06:20 PM

Thread edited by Blackcat on Mar 26 2005, 08:53 AM


Thank you Blackcat Wave.gif

#14 stidyup


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Posted 01 April 2005 - 10:00 AM

Another good scanner for old PC's is Sophos the retiring 3.xx version has worked well on some of the older PC's in our dept.

The worst PC I have Sophos running on is a 200mhz CPU with 50mb of ram, Sophos makes very little impact on system resources.

The only downside with Sophos is that it's purely aimed at the commercial sector so if your a company with old PC's it's worth considering. However if your a employee of company that user's Sophos the EULA states that employees can use it at home free of charge.

The 3.xx version as I said is retiring and has been replaced by the new 4.5 for NT/9x and V5 for XP. My first impression is that the new versions are just as light on system resources as it's 3.xx predecessor. Once I've road tested the new versions for several weeks I'll post back with another analyses.

#15 Blackcat


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Posted 03 April 2005 - 04:18 PM

There are a number of Corporate AV programs that maybe suitable for the older computer. McAfee and Norton Corporate Editions, IME, are much lighter than their Home versions.

Sophos can be obtained in the UK as a single-version on CD, but at >?100, this is not a suitable choice for most users.

Although Sophos may be a lightweight scanner, I would still like the emphasis on the AV programs here to be on Home products which are affordable and can be easily obtained.

However, I am grateful for your observations on this AV and look forward to your anaysis of the latest version, which has the "New Genotype? virus detection technology".