Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How can I stop my anti-virus software from filling up my hard drive with updates?


I searched, but I couldn’t find any other question of this nature. It
affects anti-virus software, free or requiring a fee after a certain

The problem is having to update the security definitions which are up in the
megabytes. I have to run my computer on a daily basis or else if allowed to
accumulate, this will take lots of time to install them. Every day about 3 to 4
megabytes must be installed. The question is don’t these updates keep using
disk space? I’m running out of space trying to keep up with them. Isn’t this
true? Thanks for anything you say.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #14
, I talk about reputable anti-virus software updates and the
space it should be taking up on your machine

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Space for virus definitions

In general, (since you haven’t mentioned what software you’re running), the
updates that you get replace (they do not augment, but they
replace) the updates from the previous day or from the previous accumulation
of updates.

So what that means is that no, they shouldn’t be taking significantly more

Well written anti-malware tools

I say that as a general rule of thumb.

Of course, anti-virus programs (specific anti-virus programs) can certainly
be written not to behave this way. They could certainly be accumulating lots
and lots of updates in an inefficient way.

My experience with most of the reputable tools, (most of the tools that I
recommend) is that the updates
they download do not keep adding up forever. They do a way that minimizes
the incremental amount of space they take up to be only enough for the updates
that are truly new; the information that is truly new.

If you’re downloading three to four megabytes every day, my guess is you’ve
probably got three to four megabytes of updates on that machine. You’ll not
have three one day and six the next, nine the next. You’ll have a set of
updates that takes somewhere around three to four megabytes.

Where is my disk space going?

Where your disk space is going is potentially a different question.

I would point you at a couple of articles on my site:”Where is my disk space
” being one of them. That will help you identify what’s eating the
disk space on your hard drive.

I strongly suspect (unless you have a very poorly written anti-malware tool)
it is not because of an accumulation of anti-malware tool updates.

End of Answercast #14 Back to – Audio Segment

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

1 thought on “How can I stop my anti-virus software from filling up my hard drive with updates?”

  1. Whenever I open my Pictures I get all these images I did not put in. There is a bunch!!!
    What can I do To stop this??
    Sincerely,Mary Palmer


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.