The Bottom Line: We like Malwarebytes Premium for the intuitive nature of its interface and the impressive anti-ransomware and anti-exploit protection.
- Decent anti-ransomware and anti-exploit protection
- Easy to install and quite user friendly
- Offers a free (albeit limited) version of their software
- Detection rates are lower than our top recommended antivirus programs
- The Premium subscription plan is relatively expensive for only 1 device
- The Free version has no real-time protection
- Needs to be used alongside other antivirus programs for full protection
- Resource heavy / negative impact on system performance
Malwarebytes was originally designed to be an added layer of security meant to complement your main antivirus suite. It works to catch pre-existing, brand new, or unknown malware that may have gotten past your primary security program. Malwarebytes excels in detecting and removing all types of malware including trojans, spyware, ransomware, and worms. Although you can’t rely on the free version to be your main protection, the premium version has enough capability to act as your primary security suite.
If you’re looking for some fancy extras such as parental controls, password manager, keylogger, or a file shredder, you won’t find it here. What you’ll get instead is probably the industry’s best in malware protection.
One thing that separates the free version from Malwarebytes Pro is that the former only provides on-demand scanning while the premium edition offers continuous protection against zero-day attacks, ransomware, malware, viruses, and other threats. Malwarebytes “Real-Time Protection” feature provides 4 layers of simultaneous protection: malware protection, ransomware protection, web protection, and exploit protection. This means it is able to detect running programs that may be potentially harmful along with weaknesses in a program or code that hackers can take advantage of. Do you know what the best part is? It does all of that never-ending scanning and protection without slowing down your computer. So yeah, you can binge-watch on Netflix and you won’t even notice the software doing its job in the background!
In addition, Malwarebytes also offers a powerful behavior (heuristic) analysis function to further protect your devices against a plethora of cybersecurity threats. In the old days, antivirus software utilizes signature-based detection to identify threats by comparing codes in an already known virus type against the code in a program. This poses a problem nowadays since hackers are getting really smart and are coming up with new types of viruses every day. This is where Heuristic Analysis comes in handy as it is capable of detecting and deleting or quarantining previously unknown types of malware and viruses.
Malwarebytes also offers three types of scanning options: Threat Scan, Custom Scan, and Hyper Scan. Threat Scan is the most comprehensive scan as it checks places that are most prone to infection such as the Memory, Startup, Registry, and Filesystem Objects. Malwarebytes recommend this for your daily scan and you don’t have to worry because despite it being a full scan, all it takes is about 10 minutes. This is surprisingly fast for a comprehensive scan compared to other antivirus suites that can last for up to an hour.
If you already have a suspicion which file or folder might be infected, you can opt to do the Custom Scan instead. Even though it is not comprehensive, it actually takes double the time of a full scan at around 25 minutes. As you may have already guessed, Hyper Scan is the fastest option at less than 10 seconds as it only checks Memory and Startup Objects. However, it doesn’t detect much so if you have 10 minutes, we recommend doing a full Threat Scan.
Malwarebytes Premium version also includes an Automatic Virus and Program Updates which provides daily information about any suspicious software. You are also able to customize how often you want these updates from an interval of 15 minutes to as long as 14 days. While Malwarebytes Free also offers the same virus and program updates, you will have to check for it manually. If you are the type that easily forgets stuff like what you had for breakfast, you’re better off getting the premium version for its automatic updates.
User Interface and Effect On Performance
Malwarebytes really focuses on the essentials so you won’t get a lot of the usual bells and whistles you’d find in many other antivirus packages. This makes it fuss-free and easy to use which is great if you’re not very techy, to begin with. It does offer one useful feature, a free Browser Guard extension which is available for Chrome and Firefox. This browser extension aims to block ads, tech support scams, trackers, and malicious websites in one single click. And because it’s able to get rid of unwanted ads and other unnecessary content that consumes bandwidth, it makes your browsing experience significantly faster.
Malwarebytes is without a doubt one of the most lightweight anti-malware software in the market at only 250MB compared to other antivirus packages which can go up to 1GB. It installs quickly and easily too with simple instruction that won’t require ringing someone up from the IT department. The overall look is uncluttered and navigation is extremely intuitive and straightforward.
About the Company
Founded in 2008 by Marcin Kleczynski and Bruce Harrison, Malwarebytes is an internet security company that specializes in developing advanced anti-malware and internet security software. They are headquartered in Santa Clara, California with offices in Clearwater, Florida, Tallinn, Estonia, and Cork, Ireland. As of this writing, Malwarebytes has about 500 employees consisting of top malware hunters, software engineers, and security industry veterans.
Unfortunately, it seems like Malwarebytes hasn’t been tested by any known independent testing labs such as AV-Comparatives since 2015. In 2019, it was evaluated by AV-Test but it didn’t fare too well, scoring only 4 out 6 points in protection against malware infections like viruses, Trojan horses, or worms. Performance-wise, it scored 4.5 out of 6 points but did better in terms of usability with perfect 6 points.
Despite the lack of conventional lab test results, Malwarebytes is still pretty much recognized in the industry. Blocking 8 million threats including the newest security threats on the daily, Malwarebytes was named as the Gold Winner in the Cyber Security Vendor Achievement of the Year | 500 – 2,499 Employees category. This was announced during the 15th Annual 2019 Info Security PG’s Global Excellence Awards® by Info Security Products Guide, the industry’s leading information security research and advisory guide.
In the same year, Malwarebytes was also chosen by readers of PCMag as the best brand of security software. Rated first in overall satisfaction and coming out on top as the most recommended security software, Malwarebytes won PCMag’s Business Choice Awards 2019: Internet Security.
Malwarebytes customer support proved to be quite a disappointment though. Unlike other websites where you can see the chat and email buttons as well as contact information on one page, Malwarebytes support page is utterly confusing. Finding the chat option is tricky and once you do find it, it gives an error that says “We apologize our representatives are not available for chat support at this time.” There is an option to create a ticket (again, takes a few pages to navigate and find it) but the turnaround time is too long. There is a community forum as well as a user’s guide page but it’s hard getting answers to your specific question. Several video tutorials are available but even then the content is quite basic and not very helpful either. Overall, it would be nice if Malwarebytes invest more in improving their aftersale support.
Our Verdict: Decent protection and cleanup tool but limited added features
We like Malwarebytes Premium for the intuitive nature of its interface and the impressive anti-ransomware and anti-exploit protection. We definitely recommend trying out the premium version as all Malwarebytes Free does is to run a scan and clean an already infected system. That being said, Malwarebytes do offer a generous 14-day trial of its premium package and 60-day money-back guarantee so you can test all the features and decide if it’s good enough to be your full-time security suite.