Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

The fact is 256 MB is not sufficient to run any of the current operating systems. That means that you're in a difficult place.

I have a 256 MB of RAM system. Whatever anti-virus I install, the system is terribly slowed down. Can you suggest an anti-virus that is compatible with 256 MB of RAM? I've tried almost all the anti-virus softwares, the latest being Avira but even that slows down my computer a lot. Can you help?

In this excerpt from Answercast #62, I look at an old machine struggling to run current software.

Anti-virus in an underpowered machine

Probably not, unfortunately. 256 MB used to be a pretty big system - not anymore. I don't know what version of Windows you're running, but even Windows XP will struggle (without any anti-virus software!) on that kind of a system.

Need more RAM

So about the only thing that I can recommend (and recommend strongly) is that you increase the amount of RAM in that machine if it's at all possible.

If it is not, then I really don't have any good alternatives for you short of finding a new machine. The fact is 256 MB is not sufficient to run any of the current operating systems. It just isn't and that means that you're in a hard place.

If you can't upgrade the RAM, you may need to consider upgrading the computer.

Article C5927 - October 17, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


October 18, 2012 8:21 AM

If upgrading the RAM or buying a new computer is not an option and you are still worried about staying secure, I would install Lubuntu linux to that machine and get on with browsing safely. It uses low resources, has good hardware support, and will be up to date and very secure from viruses and malware.

Terry Hollett
October 19, 2012 9:24 AM

Clamwin at will still probably work on lower grade systems but it doesn't have a real time scanner. So you would need to get into the habit of scanning your system and downloads manually.

Dave Simpson
October 19, 2012 10:59 AM

There's an OS out there - DSL - that's available and capable on small machines:

One can download the .iso file and run it off a CD before deciding to use it.

October 19, 2012 12:36 PM

There are a number of Linux distros that will work well with 256mb. Lubuntu, Puppy Linux, etc. Great systems that use few resources.

October 20, 2012 3:57 PM

mkstallings1, it bothers me when people say that this particular Linux distribution (or Linux itself) is secure from viruses (or malware).

The fact is that I don't know of any OS that is secure from viruses, unless they have a bullet-proof scanner built in.

The better phrasing would be "not a target for viruses." The virus and malware makers target particular OS's because of the number of people/ease of infecting the system. That's why most are aimed at Windows OS. More are starting to target Macs now that Mac is getting a respectable toe-hold. I'm sure that in a few years time, they'll be aiming at Linux.

We shouldn't get lazy and think that Linux is secure from them, so that when they do come after Linux, we'll be prepared.

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