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Viruses and App overload killing PC speeds

After years of worms and trojans acting as the pervading forms of PC malware, evidence suggests viruses are making a comeback. Recent research from TuneUp has shown just how severely viruses can affect the performance of PC speeds, with infected devices taking up to nine times as long to perform basic tasks and battery life massively depleted.

Further tests carried out by TuneUp have also demonstrated the debilitating effects that ‘app overload' can have on our devices. As the proliferation of apps continues unabated, we are unwittingly hampering PC performance by weighing down our devices with software we may not need.

The low speed of PC performance is often an indication of a virus and malware threat, according to TuneUp technical expert, Sandro Villinger.

“Security risks and hacking remain top concerns for many home PC and laptop users,” said Villinger. “Increasingly we are witnessing a rise in virus and malware attack globally, and it’s essential that consumers remain alert at all times when it comes to protecting their devices and personal data.”

This viewpoint is shared by Tim Rains, a Microsoft security expert. According to his blog, the popularity of the humble virus had been overtaken in recent times by malware such as Trojans and worms, but it now appears to be making something of a comeback.

“For several years viruses seemed to be out of favor with attackers as they used other categories of threats to attack systems,” Rains wrote. By the end of 2012 however, he and his team saw viruses leap from five per cent to 7.8 per cent of global malware.

While most people are aware of the security threat posed by viruses, they can also be a massive drain on the computing power of, PCs, laptops and netbooks. Instead of scanning your hard drive for sensitive information, some viruses instead simply stay out of view, using up massive CPU resources and slowing the machine to a crawl.

Infected machines up to 9 times slower on basic tasks.

New research, carried out by TuneUp, shows that basic tasks can take up to nine times longer on virus-infected machines.

“Viruses are no longer limited to being annoying pop-ups or PC crashers,” says Sandro Villinger, technical product consultant at TuneUp. “Some of them just sit on your system, completely silent and don’t do anything except slow it down.”

“If your anti-virus software isn’t up-to-par, and your computer is running slowly, don’t just assume you need a new computer. Chances are, it’s working perfectly fine, but it’s a virus that is negatively impacting performance,” Villinger added.

One test performed by TuneUp involved converting a MP3 audiobook file to AAC using iTunes. On the virus-free laptop, this took 71 seconds. The same machine, infected with a virus, took 642 seconds. Battery life was also substantially affected, the “clean” machine lasting 229 minutes on a full charge compared to just 96 minutes for the infected device.

Previous tests carried out by TuneUp have examined how overloading your computer with apps can also have a significant impact on the speed of your PC. They compared the performance of a computer with just the most basic amount of apps, against one on which 200 popular programs had been installed. The results were dramatic.

Boot-up time on the “clean” PC was 82 seconds, taking just 11 seconds to shutdown. This compares with 426 seconds boot-up time for the “overloaded” machine.  Under the weight of 200 apps, it was unable to shutdown properly, freezing in all but one attempt. On the single occasion it did shutdown successfully, it took exactly 150 seconds.

Kitguru says: Always ensure you have a good antivirus client installed, one that doesn't hog a lot of CPU time.

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