Balancing Security and Performance for the Teams Client
When it comes to antivirus software, it’s important to maintain a balance between system security and the usability and performance of applications. AV software can inspect literally everything that happens on a workstation in an attempt to detect and disinfect any potential threat as soon as it appears. Antivirus activity can consumes many CPU cycles and cause delays when applications access heavily-used (“hot”) files, which is why Microsoft recommends excluding some system files from scanning. ISVs make the same sort of recommendation for important files used by their products (here’s an example from CommVault).
Which brings me to the Teams client and the files that it depends on, notably locally cached data. The Teams client is not known for its swift performance and low memory use. In fact, just like Outlook desktop was accused of being a “fat pig” in its heyday, the Teams client is often referred to in similar pejorative terms. To be fair to the Teams developers, although the desktop client seemed to have an unlimited appetite for memory in the past, that demand has been trimmed recently. It’s still not a slim client, but it’s definitely not as fat as it used to be.
Excluding Important Teams Files from Windows Defender
In any case, when complaining that the Teams desktop client occasionally “stuttered” especially when the client retrieved older chats for display, it was suggested to me that I should consider excluding some important Teams files and folders from antivirus scanning. I use Windows Defender on all my PCs, so the exclusions are handled through system settings (Figure 1). Other antivirus products handle exclusions in a different manner.
The suggested files and folders to exclude are:
- Teams.exe (the Teams executable).
- Update.exe (the executable that updates the Teams client).
- %Appdata%\Microsoft\Teams (the Teams root data folder, which includes the Cache folder)
- %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Teams (where Teams stores files for updates in the Packages folder)
I’ve been running with these exclusions for a couple of weeks and although I cannot say that I have noticed any great increase in performance, I can likewise say that I haven’t seen any problems either. It still takes a little time for the client to retrieve and display old chats, but my unscientific perception is that the display is smoother.
The decision about how to balance security and performance is yours. In my case, I’m happy to run with these exclusions in place. Your views are invited!
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