The Firestorm/Phoenix Wiki has a load of handy information for solving Second Life technical problems. I noticed today that they updated their wiki page on Anti-virus programs. See: Whitelisting the Viewer in Anti Virus Software.
They tell you how to handle; Avast, AVG, Kaspersky, McAFee, Norton, and PC Tools Spyware Doctor.
They don’t say anything about speed gains or risk.
Anti-virus software can place a heavy load on your computer. The result is you lose Frames per Second (FPS). Not all anti-virus programs are the same. PC Magazine did a review of anti-virus programs for 2012: The Best Antivirus for 2012.
PC Magazine doesn’t say anything about performance. Most reviewers seem to consider the only performance criteria to be whether a program can find the virus. While that is important, it seems some anti-virus programmers have taken the approach that all the computer ever needs to do is defend against viruses.
Finding a review where someone actually checks computer performance is next to impossible. There does seem to be a consensus that Norton is the absolute worst for impacting computer performance. That may be a bit biased. But, from personal experience I have to agree and Avast, AVG, Kaspersky, and McAFee are not far behind. However, AV-Test runs tests and publishes the results. Their site has pretty low search placement so you have to know about them to find them: AV-TEST Reports. The problem is one apparently has to buy the detailed reports.
The only way to see how much your anti-virus is actually impacting Second Life, is to turn it off and try running Second Life. To make your tests more objective and safer, close every running program. Browsers and email programs most definitely need to be closed as they are the doorways many Trojans and viruses use. So, close them before turning off your anti-virus.
Another layer of protection is your firewall. With your anti-virus off having the firewall active isn’t going to skew your test results. If turning off your anti-virus turns off your firewall, make sure you have all the Windows updates installed FIRST. Visit Windows Update or open Windows’ Help & Support and find the link displayed or search on ‘update’ to find it. Or you can type Windows Update into your Start Search.
With your anti-virus on and then again with it off visit a region like Pooley or Furball. Both have few objects in them and are usually deserted. If they aren’t deserted, one of the nearby regions will be. Let the region load and use your Viewer Statistics to get your FPS. (Ctrl-Shift-1) Do one check at ground level. Then open the World Map and tp up to 3,000 meters. Type 3000 in to the last value in the location field in the map and hit teleport. Next you need to hit FLY to stay there long enough to get a FPS value.
If there is a significant difference your FPS, you need to tune your anti-virus or consider another anti-virus program.
To turn off your anti-virus look in your Tool try in the bottom right corner of the screen. Your anti-virus should place an icon there. Right click it and look for something about disabling it.
You can help your Second Life viewer out by white-listing it. Most Anti-virus programs have a white-list or exemptions list. Exempt the viewer’s main EXE file, slplugin.exe, and slvoice.exe. All are in the folder where your viewer is installed. Also white list the Second Life folders in Local (caches) and Roaming. If you want a bit more protection only white-list the Logs, user_settings, and [avatar_names] in Roaming.
C:\Users\[windows_login_id]\AppData\[Local or Romaing]\Secondlife\
Another speed trick is to move the cache off the C: drive. Wherever you put it, remember to white-lust that location in your anti-virus. This works because your computer is probably limited to 3mb/sec of data transfer per drive. New computers hit a limit at 6mb/sec if you have fast drives. With the 3mb/sec systems you can effectively get 6mb because Windows uses the C: drive for temporary files and memory swaps. With the viewer caching to another drive you have more transfer bandwidth to the hard drives. You won’t see much speed up from this ‘other drive’ trick in FPS but you should see faster texture rez.
There are risks to using a Second Life viewer. However, most risks are not from viruses or Trojans in the viewer or Second Life. One can get a virus or Trojan from the various media channels used in the viewer and that is where the major risks are. Music and video channels may be Trojans that send your viewer to an infection site. The WebKit that the viewer uses for an internal web browser is not as resistant to viruses and Trojans as Chrome or Firefox are. So, you may get sent to or otherwise end up on an infected site.
The textures, meshes, scripts, and other assets downloaded from the Lab are safe. Music and video comes from third party sites and those sites can present a risk. So, white-listing your SL cache is a low risk change. White-listing the WebKit’s cache in Roaming is a much higher risk.
For this reason you may want to be more specific in white-listing parts of your Roaming\Secondlife folder.