I've been struggling with figuring out why my Windows 7 x64 Pro PC has been lagging so badly lately. It began with programs taking forever to launch, windows explorer taking a long time to display context menus and open folders, etc. However, this behavior only occurred the first time I opened a program or executed a task. If I closed and reopened the same program, it would launch immediately the second time. It's been occurring for some time but can't remember exactly when it began or what version of ZA I was on at the time, but it was recently so it's safe to say version 13...
At first I presumed it was my graphics driver, which had given me problems in the past, but I quickly ruled that out. Next I suspected it may be a problem with my system SSD drive. Checkdisk was clean as well as scans done through my SSD firmware. But the symptoms were almost identical to that of a failing hard drive. So, I continued on with imaging my SSD, doing a secure erase, and then restoring the image. No change. I figured instead of doing the ZA clean and reinstall dance again I'd just format and reinstall Windows completely to be 100% my system files hadn't become corrupted. However, once I reinstalled ZA on a fresh Windows installation, the strange behavior began again.
Being a fresh install, I immediately focused on ZA. I tried disabling every feature one at a time in ZA. Keylogger, on-access scanning, and so on. I eventually stumbled across the "Real-Time Cloud Protection" option under anti-virus advanced settings and disable that. Restart required. Logged into windows and everything was back to normal! Start menu, context menus, launching programs, browsing folders, running installers/uninstallers, they were are snappy and responsive once again.
It's only been an hour or so since discovering this, but I haven't noticed any "hangs" since. This has consumed my entire week, and it seems as if it was all due to a single check box in ZA. I'm not sure what the real-tme cloud protection does exactly on a communication level with ZA servers, but it definitely had an impact on my PC.