Troubleshoot performance issues for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS

Applies to:

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This topic provides some general steps that can be used to narrow down performance issues related to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS.

Depending on the applications that you're running and your device characteristics, you may experience suboptimal performance when running Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS. In particular, applications or system processes that access many resources over a short timespan can lead to performance issues in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS.

Warning

Before starting, please make sure that other security products are not currently running on the device. Multiple security products may conflict and impact the host performance.

Troubleshoot performance issues using Real-time Protection Statistics

Applies to:

  • Only performance issues related to AV

Real-time protection (RTP) is a feature of Defender for Endpoint on macOS that continuously monitors and protects your device against threats. It consists of file and process monitoring and other heuristics.

The following steps can be used to troubleshoot and mitigate these issues:

  1. Disable real-time protection using one of the following methods and observe whether the performance improves. This approach helps narrow down whether Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS is contributing to the performance issues.

    If your device is not managed by your organization, real-time protection can be disabled using one of the following options:

    • From the user interface. Open Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS and navigate to Manage settings.

       The Manage real-time protection page

    • From the Terminal. For security purposes, this operation requires elevation.

      mdatp config real-time-protection --value disabled
      

      If your device is managed by your organization, real-time protection can be disabled by your administrator using the instructions in Set preferences for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS.

      If the performance problem persists while real-time protection is off, the origin of the problem could be the endpoint detection and response component. In this case, please contact customer support for further instructions and mitigation.

  2. Open Finder and navigate to Applications > Utilities. Open Activity Monitor and analyze which applications are using the resources on your system. Typical examples include software updaters and compilers.

  3. To find the applications that are triggering the most scans, you can use real-time statistics gathered by Defender for Endpoint on Mac.

    Note

    This feature is available in version 100.90.70 or newer. This feature is enabled by default on the Dogfood and InsiderFast channels. If you're using a different update channel, this feature can be enabled from the command line:

    mdatp config real-time-protection-statistics  --value enabled
    

    This feature requires real-time protection to be enabled. To check the status of real-time protection, run the following command:

    mdatp health --field real_time_protection_enabled
    

    Verify that the real_time_protection_enabled entry is true. Otherwise, run the following command to enable it:

    mdatp config real-time-protection --value enabled
    
    Configuration property updated
    

    To collect current statistics, run:

    mdatp diagnostic real-time-protection-statistics --output json > real_time_protection.json
    

    Note

    Using --output json (note the double dash) ensures that the output format is ready for parsing. The output of this command will show all processes and their associated scan activity.

  4. On your Mac system, download the sample Python parser high_cpu_parser.py using the command:

    curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/microsoft/mdatp-xplat/master/linux/diagnostic/high_cpu_parser.py
    

    The output of this command should be similar to the following:

    --2020-11-14 11:27:27-- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/microsoft.
    mdatp-xplat/master/linus/diagnostic/high_cpu_parser.py
    Resolving raw.githubusercontent.com (raw.githubusercontent.com)... 151.101.xxx.xxx
    Connecting to raw.githubusercontent.com (raw.githubusercontent.com)| 151.101.xxx.xxx| :443... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
    Length: 1020 [text/plain]
    Saving to: 'high_cpu_parser.py'
    100%[===========================================>] 1,020    --.-K/s   in
    0s
    
  5. Next, type the following commands:

      chmod +x high_cpu_parser.py
    
      cat real_time_protection.json | python high_cpu_parser.py  > real_time_protection.log
    

    The output of the above is a list of the top contributors to performance issues. The first column is the process identifier (PID), the second column is te process name, and the last column is the number of scanned files, sorted by impact.

    For example, the output of the command will be something like the below:

      ... > python ~/repo/mdatp-xplat/linux/diagnostic/high_cpu_parser.py <~Downloads/output.json | head -n 10
      27432 None 76703
      73467 actool     1249
      73914 xcodebuild 1081
      73873 bash 1050
      27475 None 836
      1    launchd    407
      73468 ibtool     344
      549  telemetryd_v1   325
      4764 None 228
      125  CrashPlanService 164
    

    To improve the performance of Defender for Endpoint on Mac, locate the one with the highest number under the Total files scanned row and add an exclusion for it. For more information, see Configure and validate exclusions for Defender for Endpoint on macOS.

    Note

    The application stores statistics in memory and only keeps track of file activity since it was started and real-time protection was enabled. Processes that were launched before or during periods when real time protection was off are not counted. Additionally, only events which triggered scans are counted.

  6. Configure Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS with exclusions for the processes or disk locations that contribute to the performance issues and re-enable real-time protection.

    See Configure and validate exclusions for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on macOS for details.

Troubleshoot performance issues using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Client Analyzer

Applies to:

  • Performance issues of all available Defender for Endpoint components such as AV and EDR

The Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Client Analyzer (MDECA) can collect traces, logs, and diagnostic information in order to troubleshoot performance issues on onboarded devices on macOS.

Note

  • The Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Client Analyzer tool is regularly used by Microsoft Customer Support Services (CSS) to collect information such as (but not limited to) IP addresses, PC names that will help troubleshoot issues you may be experiencing with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. For more information about our privacy statement, see Microsoft Privacy Statement.
  • As a general best practice, it is recommended to update the  Microsoft Defender for Endpoint agent to latest available version  and confirming that the issue still persists before investigating further.

To run the client analyzer for troubleshooting performance issues, see Run the client analyzer on macOS and Linux.

Note

In case after following the above steps, the performance problem persists, please contact customer support for further instructions and mitigation.

See also