As I write this, my laptop is loading Intellij Idea, restoring a database and untarring a 1.5gb directory. Everything takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Generally, I feel this machine performs slowly for a 4gb-dual-core-2+ghz machine; it feels just "like any old laptop".

Anti-virus, Anti-speed?

On-access anti-virus scan seems the main culprit. It feels like someone has replaced a sprinter's track shoes with knee-high rubber boots (i.e. 'wellies'). In theory IT has configured on-access scan to exclude my highly used developer directorie (i.e. projects main directory and IDE working directory), but I don't really have means to control it nor monitor it. Only IT can configure anti virus.


This is a company-issued laptop, with IT-managed core software: specifically McAffee "on-access antivirus software."

  • -Windows xp pro SP latest
  • 7200 rpm disk
  • 4gb of ram (yes, the OS can only access 3gb)
  • McAffee Onaccess scan: Note that it "excludes" my "projets" and "Idea directory"

Already Done

I've done the following

  • run Soluto software to remove all the unneeded services (e.g. Amazon Downloader, Java updater, etc.)
  • Defragment weekly
  • try to keep my hard drive at 20% unused
  • McAffee excludes my Projects and IDE home directory (in theory it should not drag down my compiles or deploys. )


  • Can you recommend any other steps?
  • Would upgrading to 64-bit OS, e.g. windows 7 help the cause?
  • Can you recommend any other monitoring best practices?

I'd think about moving to linux and a faster filesystem, but need to run a sql server instance and outlook.

  • 1
    Norton and McAfee are the two worst AV packages in my book. They seem to sap at least 1/2 the computing power of any computer they touch. Have you tried removing that and see what kind of difference it makes? – Chris S Aug 6 '10 at 17:13
  • 2
    Thanks. "IT-controlled" means I can't remove/disable/circumvent etc the anti-virus, even with a local admin account. "Exclusions" are the IT-approved solutions. – Anonymous Aug 6 '10 at 17:25
  • The AV's are indeed slowing things but i havent meet any notebook that can handle too much stress on it ... and i do have a hell of a notebook dell.com/us/en/dfh/notebooks/xpsnb_m2010/… (custom ed with top resources) yet it always let me out on most proccessing things when i really need it while multitasking. – Prix Aug 6 '10 at 17:30
  • Much more than half. I ran the portable apps version of firefox (under XP)on both my work machine (Core 2 Duo 1.86ghz) and my personal laptop (1st gen Pentium M 1.7ghz, 1.5GB RAM) and 200 tabs open much quicker on the laptop. The desktop cpu ought to be 25% faster (at least, bigger cache, faster clock, better arch) and two cores, but the reverse is true, noticeably slower (probably not half the speed, but clearly slower). After boot, work is using 500MB, laptop 128MB. Work runs McAfee, Marimba, one or two other things. – Ronald Pottol Aug 6 '10 at 18:11

The hard disk is typically the slowest component in a computer (aside from the user). Try to keep the disk at less than 50% full or use a usb drive or flash drive to store some data. If you do use an external disk or flash drive, make sure it's fast (some disks and flash drives are faster than others even though they have the same ratings).

Ask IT to change your disk drive to a SSD drive. I'm sure your IT dept is very receptive to requests for "faster and more".

  • 1
    "I'm sure your IT dept is very receptive to requests for "faster and more"." -- Very funny! – duffbeer703 Aug 6 '10 at 19:08
  • 1
    Yes why wouldn't they? If the machine is too slow you can't do your job, tell your manager the money the company is wasting on having you use sub-par hardware and software... – Oskar Duveborn Aug 6 '10 at 19:22

McCrappy is an awful piece of software. Some things to check:

  • Make sure that the AV isn't applying DAT file updates during the day. There is a bug that has been open for over a year that makes this process very painful. Update manually or overnight.
  • Windows 7 seems to be better in every way over Windows XP. I'd suggest trying a PC with 7.
  • Ask to disable on access scan and do daily full scans instead.
  • Look for other enterprise apps that may be slowing things down.
  • Disable Windows Search.
  • Exclude the Windows directory tree from on-access scanning.
  • If you have admin rights, you may be able to disable some of the McAfee services.
  • Run everything in a VM without AV

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.