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I've been given a relatively decent new laptop at Work. I really thought it would help speeding development up, especially build times and the like. The problem is that our company runs Mcafee antivirus and it is slowing my machine down to a halt. My harddrive is almost always active even when I'm doing nothing. It seems to be doing some kind of real time scan. I run no antivirus at home and haven't had any problems in years as I know not to do anything stupid like download attachments that I'm not expecting etc. Also, the corporate firewall is pretty strict so I believe that would make it even harder to obtain a virus.

How would you convince the IT department to relax AV settings for you?

edit: As many people have pointed out, the chance of getting them to turn it off is slim to non so I've changed the subject from disable to relaxing settings.

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closed as off topic by Jetti, Karl Bielefeldt, Caleb, FinnNk, ChrisF Oct 27 '11 at 15:09

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You can't and you shouldn't. –  Rig Oct 27 '11 at 14:11
Check out this article: lennybacon.com/2010/10/18/… . It has a list of folders which could be excluded from scanning for optimal development experience. Perhaps you could instead request the folder exclusions rather than a complete shut-off? –  Jesse C. Slicer Oct 27 '11 at 14:30
AH! McCrappy. We switched from Symantec Antivirus to McAfee a couple of years ago and immediately noticed that our PCs were slower. It's like having an "un-turbo" button (for those that remember the "turbo" button from the 80s/early 90s...) –  MetalMikester Oct 27 '11 at 15:04
You can't, you shouldn't, BUT you CAN probably go a long way to prevent the AV from bugging you (yes, Sophos, you big hog, I'm looking at you). Personally, while I understand the reason for it and the need for IT departments to be strict (otherwise it's mayhem), I've almost always removed or circumvented any sort of monitoring and tracking software on my workstations at one point or another. The same went for anti-virus software. They are just an annoyance when they aren't needed. Google from home and get rid of the thing (at your own risk of contamination and of corporate back-lash). –  haylem Oct 27 '11 at 15:07
What you can do is also ask them to flag a specific folder to not be scanner. That's the case in some companies, and allows you to put your development workspaces in there so the AV doesn't react to every single little change. –  haylem Oct 27 '11 at 15:08

8 Answers 8

You probably won't convince IT of that. However, there may be another solution. When I used McAfee at a different job I found that it drag production to a halt with my Java projects and Eclipse. It turned out it was a setting in McAfee that told it to "scan archive files", which included .jar files. So it was CONSTANTLY scanning my project files and even the Eclipse .jar files. CPU was constantly going to 100% and it was always churning away at something.

I was able to convince IT to disable that setting for me.

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It might work to convince IT to disable scanning for your "development" folders too! Lots of file changes there, but all of them under your control and not likely a vector for virus infection. –  Joris Timmermans Oct 27 '11 at 14:18
@MadKeithV: That's exactly what we have: we have a folder that isn't scanned. That's where all the software development goes. –  David Thornley Oct 27 '11 at 14:23
That sounds like a great way to go over disabling completely, –  Jason Dean Oct 27 '11 at 14:23
+1 for the problem with scanning Eclipse jar files. I had this problem with McAfee and it would take 15 minutes to start up. IT support were fairly relaxed about removing this directory from the scan tree. –  ʎəʞo uɐɪ Oct 27 '11 at 14:58
The version of McAfee we used to use allowed you to specify file types to ignore. Adding ".java", ".jar" and ".xml" to that list made a huge difference. –  TMN Oct 27 '11 at 14:58

I think you'd have a much easier time convincing your company to buy you a much more powerful laptop with a SSD than to turn off virus scanning. In my experience, IT departments are completely paranoid about virus scanning, and for good reason, especially about laptops that can be taken it offsite, where the company firewall won't help.

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+1 for the correct remark about laptops, even though I'm usually actually in the same camp as Cody. –  Joris Timmermans Oct 27 '11 at 14:17
My new laptop has an SSD, and it made all the difference. I don't even notice McAfee raping my system anymore. –  John Kraft Oct 27 '11 at 14:17
Unless your company is setup to bill your department rather than come out of it's own budget, good luck getting them to spend on an SSD. I had trouble one time even getting them to let me keep a second monitor with a laptop. They are also watching their budget, which those fast computers developers think they need keep coming out of. –  Bill Leeper Oct 27 '11 at 14:21

Point out that the medicine is doing more harm than the disease. IT requires a virus scanner so that you don't get a virus that will slow your machine down to a crawl and prevent you from working. But they've got their scanner set so high that it's slowing your machine down to a crawl and preventing you from working. Perhaps next they'll pre-emptively wipe your hard disk to prevent a virus from doing the same?

Find a reasonable person in IT (hopefully that's most of them). Demonstrate the problem. Explain that you understand the need for virus protection, but that the current method is causing more problems than it's preventing. Suggest ways to remedy the issue while still addressing their virus protection concerns.

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Is it a persistent background process or a full-system scan? If it's a scheduled scan, you could ask them to change the schedule so that it doesn't start until 3 AM. Also, scheduling a late-night scan (maybe on a weekly basis) might also help convince them to relax some of the real-time settings, if they know that you're going to have regular deep scans. And if you leave your system off at the scheduled time, most AVs will just start the scheduled scan immediately when the system starts up again. Some of this is based on my own experience at work. ;)

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Only thing I could think of would be to explain (and show) how it's slowing you down (resulting in lost productivity). However, asking to not have A/V is like driving without a seatbelt (ridiculous seatbelt laws notwithstanding): You don't need it 99% of the time but if that 1% comes along, you're screwed without one.

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You are not going to convince IT to do this. They don't know you from Jane in accounting that opens every single attachment she gets.

We had a similar problem, the key is to get a sympathetic ear on the IT side. Don't ask to get it removed, you will just be seen as troublesome by IT and get crapped on (been there).

So when you talk with IT or open a ticket, tell them as above, the anti virus settings are too aggressive for your system and are going crazy on Eclipse and your project. You would like them to assist you in setting up some exclusions on certain folders, the folders where the code you write is stored and where a known approved application is.

If they continue to give you flak, you will need to escalate through your manager if he/she is supportive or keep going over their head until you get someone that cares. I really don't think they are paying all that money to sit and watch anti-virus run.

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Having an open network and closed network isn't exactly all that great either. Considering the open network now requires ANY media to be encrytped and because of legacy support the closed network os is Windows XP, do the math. –  Ramhound Oct 27 '11 at 16:33

You need two environments.

Mcafee blocks my local machine from sending out emails in some cases. This makes me unable to test any emailer functions on our network. Giving IT a specific problem to address that is a blocking factor for your job is the best you can do IMO. They worked with me a few hours and finally got some programs unblocked, but it's still a problem.

Ultimately, the issue here is that we do not have a test environment for developers. There should be a zone that is off the main network where developers can work freely in their own little black box.

You simply can't have a computer that is both meant for hardcore dev and also functions as your main connection to network access such as Email and Intranet. At a security level, this is an oxymoron. Consider virtualization for cost effectiveness.

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One option - which some virus scanners offer, and I'm pretty sure McAfee is one of them - is to exclude certain directories from the scan.

When I was working at a place where everybody was being moved to a laptop (with similar consequences to what you're describing), I managed to convince the IT department to exempt the directories containing my workspaces (ie, code, binaries etc) from the virus scan. That made a huge difference to performance.

Most bigger companies (aka ones that are big enough to have an IT department) seem to be extremely reluctant to purchase higher spec machines for developers, which includes SSDs or more RAM because they have a corporate standard that works well for the rest of the company and haven't twigged that it's holding back the developers (or the additional effort necessary simply cannot be accomodated/conflicts with their goals).

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