Scrivener slow to open on Windows 10 with Windows Defender AV

This isn’t so much a request for technical support as an observation/head’s up since I found the cause for the problem.

When I click the icon to open Scrivener it takes a ridiculously long time to open. Like sometimes from 30 seconds to a full minute on a gaming computer with a fast SSD and it’s even worse on my Surface Pro 3 since it’s slower.

The problem turns out to be the fact I was running Windows Defender as my antivirus and its file scanner runs while the program opens at 100% CPU and 100% disk access and won’t let Scrivener open until it’s done. I switched to the free McAfee provided by my ISP and it opens in less than half the time. (And I used to be an IT person and I never thought I’d be praising McAfee as being the faster option, but there you go.)

If there’s a reason behind this problem, like needing to have a security certificate to let Windows know the program is OK to open without such a reigerous scan that might be something to look into. I mostly posted this as a head’s up to the developers and users having this problem.

I an uncertain regarding your assessment! On a Windows 10 machine with less power than yours, and antivirus, scrivener opens in < 1 second. So, I’m thinking that it is not only opening scrivener, but also opening some project. What happens if you set Scrivener to open to the opening screen and request a project.

In other words, is it scrivener that is slow to open, or the project you have opening automatically which is slow? Would a small simple other project cause the same issue? Could there be something in the project which is causing the problem?

Or, since your scrivener document is unlikely to contain a newly form virus, perhaps you can whitelist your Scrivener document folders from you anti-virus.

This may be tied into your SmartScreen settings:

On my copy of Windows 10 + Fall Creator’s Update + latest updates, I use native Defender and have none of the issues reported by others about slowdowns. Here’s what my settings look like:

All System Settings, Update & Security, Windows Defender, Windows Defender Security Center
App & browser control:
Check apps and files: Warn
SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge: Warn
SmartScreen for Windows Store apps: Warn
Exploit protection: default settings

Also, when I download the Scrivener installer, I make sure to right-click on it in Windows Explorer, select Properties, and click the “Unblock” button before I install it. I forgot to do that once early on, and had all sorts of laggy issues with Scrivener that I couldn’t troubleshoot. I uninstalled Scrivener and removed its installation directory, rebooted, unblocked the installer, and re-installed – no more issues.

I also run the installer by right-clicking Run as Administrator.

I would be interested to see if you see any beneficial effects, because I just hate to see another Windows user running anything McAfee puts out. Bad enough I have to suffer it on my work machine.

As a pointless aside, I once asked a group of about 20 computer consultants what the difference between McAfee antivirus and a regular virus was.

The agreed upon answer was that a regular virus was easier to get rid of.

On my WIndows 10 Pro 64 bit AMD 8350 8 core 4Ghz 16GB RAM Samsung 860 EVO SSD system running Windows Defender…

Scrivener launch (to New Project screen)
6 seconds first time
3 seconds thereafter (cached to RAM first time)

Subsequent open, from Open Recent, of existing significant project having lots of hierarchy and items
25 seconds first time
8 seconds thereafter (cached to RAM first time).

So, apparently Windows Defender slows down the machine terribly. My machine is no where near as powerful as yours, though it uses SSD and I store documents locally, but Scrivener opens to the new project screen in <1 second and opens a not horribly small project (many sections > 100 pages), in about 1 second.
Windows 10 1709.

I use Nod32 from Eset as my antivirus, though I have Windows Defender security running and checking things, I don’t think it does any realtime protection, leaving that to nod32. If you are using realtime protection, can you whitelist folders?

I experimented a bit with Windows Defender settings and confirm that it (default settings) does result in some slowdown, perhaps doubling launch/load times. But those times are still in seconds and I wouldn’t call them “terrible”. Given that I only launch/load once or very few times per day (I lean to multi-hour Scrivener sessions) and that all such after initial launch/load benefit from RAM cacheing, that works for me. I can exclude the Scrivener app and project folders (and did temporarily for sake of this experiment), but am not going to on an ongoing basis.

I don’t have timings from my previous hard drive with Norton setup to compare with… other than I know that switching from hard drive to SSD has resulted in major speedups.

The question is “what price security?”. After years of using McAfee in the workplace and Norton at home, I’ve opted to forego them in favor of Windows Defender, based in part on my experience with the others and in part on some expressing concern about the amount of hacks and “attack surface” that third party antivirus products add to Windows.

Different strokes for different folks.

Is there a place I cat get the most recent beta?

Try this thread in the Windows Beta forum:

I’m use AVG for stable

I use Emisoft’s Antimalware as my protection of choice.

I get similar time to launch on the first time with a similar system (two Samsung 850 EVOs in RAID0 on an Intel Core i7 4770K with a Z87 chipset and 32GB RAM), but 25 seconds is beyond ridiculous for such a tiny program and data set. While it’s launching Windows Defender is using more disk access and CPU time than Scrivener itself (or anything else, really) for 20 of those 25 seconds. I also use DazStudio, which loads an EXE that’s many times larger than Scrivener, uses more than 2 GB of RAM with an empty project and checks the existence of hundreds of thousands of data files on launch and it takes less time. It also gets scanned less aggressively by Windows Defender.

I’ve turned off WD scanning the Scrivener folder and the folder containing my Scrivener work files and the time-to-launch hasn’t changed at all.

Do remember that Scrivener is not a native Windows application. It is developed and compiled using the Qt5 framework, so when it launches, it has to pull in the relevant bits of that framework as well (which is not small, last I looked). Without the Qt5 framework, though, the Windows version would probably still lack a lot of core functionality (like Scriveneings view) that is has at any stage at all.

Or presumably Qt4 if they’re running 1.9.x



I have the same problem, but found a workaround.
Scrivener itself starts in less then 1 second, but opening any trivial document takes ~27 seconds.
I did not manage to ameliorate the problem by fiddling around with defender.
However: When not connected to the Internet, all is perfectly fast.
Workaround: going temporarily offline while starting up scrivener works for me here.
May be this helps understanding whats going on and find a real fix ?

If this was the issue nearly any large, complex cross-platform program would have similar issues and Scrivener is unique on my system of having this problem. Origin from Electronic Arts also uses Qt and doesn’t take nearly as long nor does it get the attention from the AV that Scrivener does. For that matter video games built on cross-platform engines, Daz Studio and Photoshop CC don’t get hammered by the AV scanner and they’re all built on non-native toolkits.

It does load faster to the new project screen and opens projects faster once they’re picked. I couldn’t reproduce the online element of that, plus I do a lot of writing on a desktop so disconnecting the Internet isn’t as simple as clicking “airplane mode.” (Give me a clacky full-sized mechanical keyboard over a laptop’s mushy membrane keyboard with weird layout any day.) Other people on Microsoft’s support forum have noticed behavior that’s related to that behavior where several subsystems of Windows 10, including Windows Defender, hits 100% on CPU and disk when a laptop is connected to the Internet after being off for more than overnight. I’m sure it’s related somehow.

Ultimately, this is Microsoft’s problem because some aspect of how Scrivener works sets off a false alarm of being suspicious which is why I asked in the original post if there’s some kind of certification process that could be an issue. I seem to recall, it’s similar to Apple’s Code Signing on Macintosh where it’s little more than a formality at compile time that gives a program less scrutiny from the security subsystems.

I may have identified the issue. Scrivener is digitally signed in Windows, but uses the SHA-1 algorithm which Microsoft has specifically stated is no longer valid starting January 1, 2017. That’s probably what flags Scrivener for extra attention.

For what it’s worth SHA-1 has been broken for more than a decade against nation-state level actors and these days is considered uselessly weak.

I’ll submit this as a bug.