Thunderbird:Testing:Antivirus Related Performance Issues
Please add information about your experience with antivirus software (create a wiki account, and select edit).
SymptomsMild to severe performance problems.
WARNING: Your AV software probably has worked fine for ages in previous versions of Thunderbird. That's not a guarantee for current or future versions of the AV or Thunderbord. It can easily NOT work properly now with a newer Thunderbird - even if Thunderbird is the only software affected, even if your AV version did not change. You must explicitly test by disable/enable of AV to determine the effect on Thunderbird. The quickest way to test, is to start Windows in safe mode.
Example problem areas:
- Opening a message
- Downloading new messages
- Moving messages to a different folder
- Opening file attachments
- Initial mailbox indexing when upgrading to 3.0.1 from a previous version
- Replying to a message / Sending a message
- Displaying a message
- Images not displaying. Sometimes anti-virus programs block images in HTML emails and sometimes malware installs bogus System Proxies which block or slow down all internet connections including sending and receiving email, images in email and web browsing
Problem Antivirus and Anti-Malware Packages
To test if the Antivirus and Anti-Malware software is causing a problem, disable it temporarily. For permanent solution of the problem you may need to disable parts of the software, change to different software, or exclude folder locations from scanning, which typically will be %appdata%\thunderbird\profiles **However, if you altered Thunderbird accounts to put mail somewhere on disk other than the standard profile location, you will need to also exclude those nonstandard locations.
Problems have been reported with:
- AdAware 
- AGNITUM Security Suite Pro 
- AGNITUM Outpost firewall 
- AVAST Free Antivirus 2014 ed 
- Avira antivirus  (slow),  (blocks compact)
- Bitdefender  (solved by reinstalling BD)
- BullGuard bug 537769 and  (see BullGuard solution below)
- Cloudmark Desktopone 
- Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Guard option ; Nov2010 TB and Emsisoft forum post indicates slowness may have been around since TB 3 days
- Emsisoft Online Armor firewall - thunderbird must be set as a "trusted" program  
- Eset NOD32 bug 541197 (Bug report), [getsatisfaction report]
Repeated attempts to create huge temporary file during message synchronization due to Eset NOD32 causes slow gloda indexing
- F-Prot (see Solution for F-Prot Antivirus below)
- Kaspersky 
- Malaware free AV 
- McAfee bug 544684 shutdown hang, slow startup, bug 1015437 Slow getting mail
- Microsoft Security Essentials aka MSE (Settings | Excluded Files & Folders | add your profile folder, typically c:\users\-your-user-name-\appdata\roaming\thunderbird **)       bug 621083 Bug 839908
- Panda Cloud Anti Virus Free v 2. Installed but it interfered with sending emails. Thunderbird v 24.3.0 said it could not access the temp directory although the outgoing emails were there. Thus the mail was not sent. No apparent tweaks worked. When Panda uninstalled, Thunderbird was back to normal.
- pctools internet security 2011 bug 610106
- Secunia PSI  (User Contributed Notes)
- as of January 11, 2012,by default Secunia PS 2.0 forces an update to English rather than localized Thunderbird ; WORKAROUND from secunia: "To change this, the user can double-click the program entry in the Scan Results and then choose the preferred language in the drop-down menu. We are aware that this approach may not be the most intuitive for our users and we are currently treating it as a bug. I have taken the freedom to quote your email to "bump up" our bug report and I have also raised the severity of the bug."
- Sophos  - Instructions for Sophos (untested)
- Spamfighter - due to a possible bug in Spamfighter (like Kaspersky it's not following the rules for Thunderbird add-ons), after each 3.1 upgrade you have to repair it or reinstall it; GS1, GS2 (see Spamfighter solution below)
- Symantec Norton Antivirus.    (Exclusion instructions)
- THE SHIELD bug 542156 (Bug report)
- Symantec Norton Security Suite/NSS (offered through Comcast) *firewall* caused crash bug 598662 (Bug report)
- Virusbuster [getsatisfaction report]
- Web Sweeper bug 534823 (Bug report)
- Trend Micro Instructions to exclude, getsatisfaction report,
bug 534823 (Bug report)
- (Others wanted, please add)
Also, several products have caused pop download errors or slowness if incoming mail is scanned 
Unaffected Antivrus Packages
The following programs have generally been observed as working well with Thunderbird (but not proof that these products can't have problems):
- AVG Antivirus - (revised) from  "[AVG] are no longer going to support the Thunderbird plugin because of the frequent updates of Thunderbird." And you may see problems with older versions (like 9.0.830). AVG may cause slow downloading of pop mail . and AVG 9.0 may slow down sending with TB 3.1.x if set to scan outgoing messages) .
- ANTIVIR 9 seems to work with Thunderbird 3 - from klint: "ANTIVIR 9 (Free version) runs fine, but ... there is no specific MAIL protection activated in the free version I have. I'm using the global protection to protect me from anything that could be launched from a mail."
- ESET NOD32 version 8 appears to cause no issues. Although the security suite is another matter.
- (Others wanted, please add)
Configuration Notes and Solutions for specific Anti Virus products
AVG can not scan SSL connections and requires you to set it up as a proxy and place the mail settings in AVG and pointers to the proxy in Thunderbird. AVG offers instructions here
McAfee has had major problems with Thunderbird causing crashes and poor performance, "Not Responding", "Unresponsive Script", etc. (For example , , bug 592303). We recommend you do all of the following:
- Disable/delete McAfee Anti-Spam Thunderbird Extension in Tools | Addons | Extensions(It is safe to remove, and is absolutely not needed for good virus protection)
- Disable email attachment scanning (it individually scans all emails which slows down Thunderbird) - Uncheck Email attachments under Real Time Scanning > Settings > Scan these attachments and locations
- Disable scanning of Thunderbird files and folders (by default McAfee is NOT supposed to scan them):
- Right click on systray icon
- "On-Access Scan properties ..."
- "All processes", "Exclusions"
- "Exclusions ..."
- Add the "Thunderbird" and "Thunderbird Profile" folders and subfolders. Folder names must finish with a backslash. Also, if you have customized account locations for mail, exclude your custom folder locations.
- Write/Call McAfee support to inform them of your difficulty
- TB update fails and you get a 7-Zip Access Denied error when downloading a new version or updating. McAfee VirusScan Enterprise + AntiSpyware Enterprise 8.8. per the advice in this thread
If all above options fail, you may need to remove/replace McAfee.
- Even with the above changes disabling various features you ARE still protected from viruses by McAfee's other protection features. (quote from McAfee) "you do not need to worry, as the Real Time Scan is [still] turned on it will scan all the files and attachments and will alert you if there is any infection."
- But you know Thunderbird worked fine for years, with product X (eg McAfee). Until now. So isn't the recent breakage a problem in Thunderbird? Answer: No, typically not. In general software terms, an unchanged product X can to do bad things to product Y. And products like antivirus and firewalls are often tightly coupled to details in the software (eg Thunderbird) they are trying to protect or control - and that also makes them susceptible to breakage or incompatibility from said updates. It is therefore the case that it's up to product X's responsibility to fix the problem.
When TLS and SSL protocols are used, e-mail scanning either cannot scan e-mails or may block them entirely. To solve this issue, reconfigure E-mail scanning to listen to the standard unencrypted port (110) or to any unused port Fprot support article here.
Thunderbird 3.0.1 was painfully slow for me on my 2.4 GHz core 2 duo until I took the following steps:
Disabled Global Indexing:
- Click “Tools” menu
- Click “Options...” menu item
- Click “Advanced” tab
4) Uncheck “Enabled Global Search and Indexer”
Add a special exclusion to Antivirus software that covers the directory in the profile where TB stores its mailbox files. In my case the software was F-Prot so the steps were:
- Open F-Prot Interface
- Click “Virus Scanners”
- Click “Exclusions” under the advanced heading
- Click “Folder...”
- Type “C:\Users\$Username$\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird”
- Check “Also include subfolders”
- Click “OK”
Note that the path to thunderbird's mailbox files varies with each OS, and exception instructions are specific to your virus scanner.
My theory is this: It looks like Thunderbird 3.0.0 and above generates a huge number of file open, seek or read events causing the virus scanner to scan the mailbox files over and over again. This only seems to affect scanners that ignore file extensions and scan all files. This could be proved if someone has some IO monitoring tools and can observe how TB interacts with the mailbox files.
Avast 2015 Causes Warnings about invalid mail server certificates when sending and receiving e-mails
Avast describe the cause thus "The Mail Shield in Avast 2015 uses advanced scanning method for incoming and outgoing e-mails over SSL/TLS secured connections", the reality is they perform a man in the middle hack of your connection using SSL certificates by making themselves a top level certifying authority. As Thunderbird like all quality mail client maintains it's own certificate store the Avast hack does not work. There are instructions on the avast site explaining how to make then a trusted certifying authority.
Anecdotal evidence only, no definitive testing has been done. Love if it if somebody could find the time to do some thorough AVAST and TB testing!
Avast Blocks Sending and Receiving
- From Jeff Hines on GS:
My problem was Avast antivirus, once I stopped the service and restarted(virus program ect) thunderbird was once again working perfectly. Its a ssl cache problem within AVAST, not thunderbird. Learned from trying to eliminate avast from list of what may be interfering with thunderbird 3.1.2
AVAST blocks images in HTML email
- 2004 thread in Avast forum (solved by shutting down AVAST for a day and restarting).
"So I guess my problem's solved. I just wish I knew what happened. All I did was shut down the mail protection for a day, then restarted it. I didn't change a single setting in Mozilla Mail (didn't even open the options tab). Very strange, but I'm happy now!"
"Yeah, OK, so I uninstalled Avast, restarted the computer, launched TB and voila. Images are now loading when I click "Show Remote Content". "
- Problem: "expanding or collapsing items (subfolders, accounts) in the Folders display often locks up TB completely and the progam goes into Not responding state. OS is Windows Vista Home Premium SP2"
- Solution: Upgrade to Version 9: "Bullguard asked me to upgrade from Version 8 to the beta version of Verion 9 of their product. This does seem to have resolved the issue. I am now running with their Spamfilter 9.0 enabled and (fingers crossed) everything seems OK."
To quote the Nortons support article "The email scanning feature in your Norton product cannot scan emails from the accounts that are configured for SSL. Email scanning can only scan emails from the accounts that are configured for POP3 and SMTP" Source page here This would mean that IMAP mail accounts are also not scanned, regardless of the connection security.
Nortons products have a number of exceptions, but the SONAR is the one usually refered to by suggestions that you create a exception in Thunderbird as a result of slowness. The Norton support forum has instruction here
The Global Search & Indexer
In regards to performance issues with antivirus software ... The global search & indexer normally only has impact during the initial indexing process. Performance of this feature should be acceptable after initial indexing is complete. The time needed for initial indexing normally varies from a few hours to a day, depending on the total size of all your messages.
The initial indexing process, performed upon upgrading from a prior version of Thunderbird, may be sped up by disabling on demand antivirus scanning of the Thunderbird mailbox files.
Bogus Windows System Proxies Left by Malware (noticed after MalWareBytes scan)
Malware (usually found only on Windows systems but could be on any system e.g. Mac or Linux; it's just much rarer for Mac and Windows systems) can install a bogus Internet access proxy.This proxy can slow down Thunderbird and other programs that access the Internet with the symptoms being "couldn't connect to proxy" errors, slow sending and receiving of email and images not being displayed in HTML emails.
- don't think this is a MalwareBytes problem but you never know!
"FInally! Got the answer from support at AVIRA, which wouldn't update for me. (also, THunderbird wouldn't "connect to proxy").
I went to Internet Explorer -- tools-- internet options-- connections-- LAN settings. There, I unchecked "Use proxy server;..." Voila! it all works. Avira updates, Thunderbird shows images, Java updates. It all works again.
Apparently, when you do a full system scan with MalWareBytes, it puts that on for you to keep the computer from dialing out, but it doesn't uncheck it for you afterwards. How many of you use MalWareBytes? It's a good program, but check the LAN settings after scanning."
Solution: Disable Windows System Proxies
Internet Explorer | tools | internet options | connections | LAN settings and then uncheck "Use proxy server"
Solution for Spamfighter
After every upgrade you have to do the following. There seem to be two solutions from http://community.spamfighter.com/forums/p/237/888.aspx:
- In Start Menu | Repair Spamfighter; when repair is finished restart computer and then Spamfighter Toolbar will be back!! OR
- more drastic solution:
- Close Thunderbird.
- Go to Start -> All Programs -> Fighters -> SPAMfighter -> Modify SPAMfighter.
- Click Next twice.
- Click on the box next to Toolbar for Mozilla Thunderbird and select Entire feature will be installed on local hard drive.
- Click Install and let the installation run.
- When you next open Thunderbird SPAMfighter will be back again
- http://support.mayfirst.org/ticket/1660 (Discussion about Thunderbird performance)
- AntiVirus Program causing Thunderbird Lag (mozillazine.org)
- General notes about AV Software and Thunderbird (mozillazine.org)