The Malwarebytes Free Malware software was originally developed to complement other antivirus solutions. Its main purpose was to add an extra layer of protection for your OS and by working alongside main antivirus programs, Malwarebytes was able to effectively detect and remove troublesome and dangerous malware that the main antivirus programs couldn’t.
Nothing has changed one bit for the free version.
Sure, it's one of the best malware detection and prevention programs but as I stated earlier, the free version wasn’t designed to compete with the likes of Avast, Kaspersky, Avira, Norton, Bitdefender, and others.
In other words, it cannot offer enough protection on its own.
However, all this changed when the company, which has been developing malware-hunting products for more than 15 years, came up with a paid version of the program.
With Malwarebytes Premium, you get full-time protection against malware, ransomware attacks, viruses, thorough malware and spyware removal, and other dangerous threats.
In their paid version announcement in 2016, the company stated that “The product was built to provide comprehensive protection against all kinds of online threats so you can finally replace your traditional antivirus.”
An additional benefit of the premium version is that it's perfectly capable of “Scanning your computer up to 4 times faster.”
The company is quite confident that the Malwarebytes premium version is strong enough to be used as standalone antivirus. But is it?
Is Malwarebytes Premium capable of offering the same level of protection against malware, viruses, and other online threats just like the more reputable antivirus programs like Avast, Kaspersky, Norton, BitDefender, or Avira?
Well, you’re just about to find out.
In this article, we take a look at the most important features of the Malwarebytes Premium such as virus protection, malware-crushing and removal, real-time malware and virus protection, levels of protection, and of course, its overall performance, ease of use, pricing, and whether it offers great value for money.
Let's dive right in..
Malwarebytes Review 2020 (A Comprehensive and Unbiased Review)
The Malwarebytes Free Malware software was originally developed to complement other antivirus solutions. Its main purpose was to add an extra layer of protection for your OS and by working alongside main antivirus programs,
1. Malwarebytes Security Features
Malwarebytes is no longer the dedicated and reliable malware scanner it was initially designed to be.
With the premium version, you’re not just getting a powerful malware scanner that rivals most traditional antivirus programs- you're getting a fully functioning, standalone antivirus program with a wide range of top-notch features.
These include real-time protection against malware, ransomware, spyware, viruses, and other dangerous threats, not to mention unwanted program blocking, scan scheduling, adware, automatic updates, and more.
I took the liberty of running Malwarebytes on my PC and the results were pretty impressive.
Installing Malwarebytes gets you a 14-day trial of the premium version with full, real-time protection, unwanted program blocking, adware protection, automatic updates, scan scheduling, and more.
Once the 14-Day Trial elapses, every single feature except the real-time malware protection and removal is disabled immediately.
During the test, I was impressed at how fast and comprehensive the malware detection was. The program was able to quickly detect malware on my computer on the first scan, which luckily turned out to be false positives.
The scans were very fast compared to most traditional antivirus programs and thorough as well.
That said, let's delve deeper into the security features of Malwarebytes.
So what do Malwarebytes do to protect you from real-time internet threats?
Well, Malwarebytes has a real-time protection feature that effectively blocks malware, ransomware, exploits, and even malicious websites.
After a successful installation of the program, you can easily check the real-time protection on the dashboard.
Malwarebytes’ real-time protection is more effective with all the layers of protection turned on. If turned off, it's highly recommended that you turn them on as soon as possible for full, real-time protection.
Ransomware has always been and still is one of the biggest threats for both individuals and organizations.
Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to block access or publish a victim’s sensitive personal data to it unless a specific amount of money is paid as ransom.
One of the most significant selling points of Malwarebytes is its exceptional effectiveness against new online threats like ransomware.
The program has powerful built-in ransomware protection that aims to detect and stop ransomware attacks immediately before they get a chance to infect your device.
NB: Malwarebytes” ransomware protection is not available for PC users with either Windows XP or Windows Vista.
If you want to enjoy complete and real-time protection against ransomware on your computer, be sure to upgrade to the latest Windows version.
Malwarebytes excels at detecting and stopping malware in real-time before it becomes a huge threat to your device.
It uses a different approach in detecting and eliminating any malicious files and prevails in zero-day protection.
Additionally, Malwarebytes also detects and catches non-malware code like Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). Although PUPs are not exactly harmful to your computer, they may significantly reduce the performance of your device or even inject malicious code into your device.
A good example is hackers using adware to install cryptocurrency miners inside your machine without your knowledge.
Web and Exploits Protection
Malwarebytes Premium also provides the best defense against malware, viruses, ransomware, and hackers through enhanced real-time web and exploits protection.
The program stops real-time exploits by shielding vulnerable operating systems and software from exploit attacks.
Usually, such exploits are often harder to detect and stop by traditional antivirus programs due to their complicated and evasive nature.
Malwarebytes also does a great job protecting your machine against malicious websites by blocking IP addresses that are known to be unsafe. This form of protection shields you from infamous online threats like phishing or websites that serve as malware.
During our test, Malwarebytes did quite well in recognizing and quickly blocking phishing websites.
NB: The free version of Malwarebytes does not offer the Real-Time Protection feature.
So it might not be a good idea to use it as standalone antivirus. Use it alongside powerful antivirus programs like Avast, BitDefender, Kaspersky, Norton, and more.
In addition to reliable real-time protection against malware and viruses, Malwarebytes also utilizes Signature-Based Detection.
Signature-based detection is a methodology that is used by many cybersecurity agencies to detect malware that has previously been discovered on the internet and cataloged as part of a database.
A simpler explanation of signature-based detection is that Malwarebytes uses unique bits of codes and sets of data to target malware and dangerous viruses that have previously infected other devices.
Malwarebytes also uses advanced behavior or heuristic analysis to detect potential threats.
The analysis looks into a program’s relevant factors such as behavior and structure to identify and halt previously unknown viruses and malware.
Real-Time Protection Verdict:
Although it’s a well-known fact that top antiviruses are dedicated to offering real-time protection while incorporating heuristic analysis for optimal performance, Malwarebytes seems so heavily invested in these features and this is quite clear from its ability to prevent and effectively eradicate any potential threats.
2. Scanning for Malware and Viruses
We’ve already concluded that Malwarebytes does a pretty good job handling threats. However, we still don’t know how it behaves during scanning.
This may seem unimportant but I can assure you that learning how it behaves while scanning is just as important.
Scanning your computer with Malwarebytes Premium helps to detect and eliminate any malware, viruses, Trojans, potentially unwanted programs, and even detect any potential exploits in your system or software.
Frequent scanning of says at least once a week is highly recommended, even though you have real-time protection activated.
Three scanning methods are available for Windows users. They include;
Threat Scan-This is the most comprehensive scan and thoroughly scans all the places where malware is most likely to be hiding. These areas include the Memory, Registry, Startup, and Filesystem Objects. It's typically recommended as your daily scan
Custom Scan- With the custom scan, you have the option of checking specific areas on your computer. For example, if you suspect the registry has been infected, you can pick this area for a custom scan
Hyper Scan- The Hyper Scan quickly checks Memory and Startup Objects for any active malware threats. In case a threat is detected, it's recommended that you run a Threat Scan
I run all the three scanning options (not simultaneously) and was quite impressed at how incredibly fast they were.
I thought I was going to wait forever but surprising, it only took less than 8 minutes to run a complete Threat Scan.
The Threat Scan, which is the most recommended type of scan, was able to identify 38 potential threats on my PC.
Luckily, these turned out to be false-positives as all the flagged files were actually from genuine pieces of software and files that have never caused any issue on my device.
Even though there were no actual threats, I found it quite impressive that Malwarebytes was taking the malware threat a little bit more seriously than I gave it credit for. This might be beneficial in the detection of real threats in future scans.
The Hyper Scan was even faster- took around 10 seconds. This of course has to do with the fact that the Hyper Scan is designed to be quick and only checks a few places- the Memory and Startup Objects.
Of course, don’t expect this scan to be as effective as the Threat Scan. That’s why a daily Threat Scan is highly recommended if you want to keep your computer safe from harmful malware, viruses, and Trojans.
I also tried the Custom Scan which comprehensively checks the Registry, Memory, and Startup, not to mention enabling you to customize the treatment of Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) and Modifications (PUMs).
The scan also tries to identify root-kits.
I found the Custom-Scan to be more comprehensive and therefore took a longer period to complete.
The scan did find an issue with a few of the files but luckily, this turned out to be a false-positive as well.
Below is a clear diagram of the Malwarebytes Premium scan progress. While most antivirus programs just show the number of scanned files, Malwarebytes breaks down the scan into various steps so you can easily monitor the progress and have an idea of what’s being scanned in real-time.
The scans begin by checking whether there is an available latest version of the program and finalizes the scan by performing a Heuristics Analysis which detects and protects against threats and makes sure those threats cannot reassemble themselves.
3. Independent Lab Test
Malwarebytes performed pretty well in the protection against zero-day malware attacks, inclusive of web and email threats according to the independent research lab test, AV-Test.
According to the test, Malwarebytes Premium 3.7.1 scored an impressive 100% success rate on protection against zero-day malware attacks in the April 2019 report.
This was a significant improvement from the March report where the anti-malware program had a 99.3% success rate out of the 277 samples tested.
Overall, the scores were pretty good as the industry average is 99.3%.
Malwarebytes Premium however performed a little bit poorly on the detection of widespread and prevalent malware in the 6572 samples tested with just 99.5% in both March and April against the industry average of 100%.
But don’t let this discourage you. The most important thing is that Malwarebytes Premium has a pretty high success rate (100%) when it comes to protection against zero-day malware attacks.
This itself is a clear indicator that this anti-malware program is just as strong as some of the leading antiviruses.
4. Browser Guard
Malwarebytes Browser Guard is a free extension that is specially designed to bring the protection of Malwarebytes directly to your Chrome or Firefox browser.
The extension will provide you with a safe and fast browsing experience by blocking web pages that contain malicious malware while blocking third-party ads and other unwanted content, thus significantly increasing the rate at which web pages load- up to 4 times faster.
That’s not all there is to the Browser Guard extension.
It also does a great job identifying and stopping browser lockers, browser hijackers, and other malicious tactics that tech support scammers use to con you out of your hard-earned money.
Additionally, this extension protects your online privacy by blocking and certain websites that are known to compromise users’ online safety while removing annoying clickbait ads.
I did test it out on both my Chrome and Firefox browser for a few days and found it’s a performance very impressive.
Both browsers experienced a significant improvement in speed and I also experienced much fewer browser freezes.
The extension has around 300,000 installations with a 4.1 rating so it seems to do its job right.
Although the Browser Guard extension is not intended to replace Real-Time Protection provided by Malwarebytes Premium, it does serve as an excellent additional layer of security for your web browser and computer.
5. Automatic Virus and Program Updates
If you’ve already installed Malwarebytes, it's highly recommended that you upgrade to the latest version of the program as soon as it becomes available.
Upgrades usually include new feature improvements, new features, as well as fixes for any known issues.
By default, the premium version checks for updates every single hour as long as the “Automatically Check for Updates” button remains On. You have the option of adjusting the frequency of automatic updates to any interval between 15 mins and 14 days.
The free version however does not offer automatic updates. You'll have to update the program manually whenever an Upgrade Available notification is displayed.
This is one reason why you should never use the Malwarebytes free version as a standalone antivirus since with manual updates, you'll most likely delay upgrading and this of course puts your computer at a huge risk.
6. Malwarebytes Plans and Pricing
Malwarebytes offers three main plans to its users;
Premium Paid Plan
With the free plan, you get a 14-day trial period of its single device Premium Package which includes all the important features.
The 14-day trial allows you to test and explore the Malwarebytes Premium functionality without spending a single dime upfront.
If you’re happy with the results, you can choose to purchase the paid plan. Once the 14 days are over, all the premium features will immediately stop working and you'll be automatically downgraded to the free version.
The free version is only useful for getting rid of malware that may have already infected your computer.
That’s why you should not use it as a standalone antivirus and instead use it alongside powerful and independent antiviruses like Norton, Avast, BitDefender, Avira, and others.
If you decide to purchase the premium version, you'll also get a 60-Day Money-Back Guarantee, which is quite generous as most antivirus plans offer a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee only.
During those 60 days, you can request a complete refund if not fully satisfied with the product.
Premium Paid Plan
If you’re happy with the product after running the 14-day trial of Malwarebytes, you can upgrade the premium version which offers real-time protection from malware, viruses, Trojans, and virus with up to four layers of simultaneous protection
The Malwarebytes Premium plan is available in three main packages;
- One-Year Plan for 1 Device at $39.99
- One-Year Plan for up to 5 Devices at $79.99
- One-Year Plan which Includes Privacy for 5 devices at $99.99
The $39.99 plan is suitable for personal use as it can only be used on a single device. The $79.99 plan is suitable for home use where there are more devices.
As you can see, the only difference between these two plans is the number of devices.
You can purchase protection for up to 10 devices. Of course, the more devices you want to be protected, the bigger the discount you'll get.
For example, you'll only pay $129.99 for 1-Year protection of up to 10 devices.
Malwarebytes also offers a 1-Year plan for the premium package inclusive of a VPN package that provides unmatched online privacy.
At the price of $99.99, you will get an additional VPN service that will greatly enhance your online privacy by creating a virtual IP address so your real IP address is not visible on the internet, encrypting your WiFi connection, and even hiding your actual location by letting you choose your preferred Geolocation. This is quite a good deal for the price.
NB: Unlike the free version which is only available for Windows and iOS, the Malwarebytes Premium version can be used on a wide range of operating systems including Windows, Chromebook, macOS, Android, and iOS.
The Malwarebytes Browser Extensions which act as supplemental security for your device is not included in the premium package.
They can be easily downloaded separately completely free on both Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Malwarebytes Business Plan- Real-Time Protection for your Business
Malwarebytes offers various business plans that feature advanced features including application hardening, anomaly detection, exploit mitigation, payload analysis, machine learning, asset management, and many others.
The basic Business package starts at $119.97 per year for 3 devices. It's then customized depending on the number of devices you need protected as well as your set requirements.
Malwarebytes offers three different comprehensive business plans. They include;
- Malwarebytes for Teams
- Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection
- Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection and Response
Let’s discuss in detail each one of the Malwarebytes Business Plans;
Malwarebytes for Teams
Malwarebytes for Teams is the most affordable package and protects up to 20 devices, making it a suitable option for small, growing businesses.
It protects your business’s files and important data which reduces the risk of ransomware attacks (a common issue with small businesses), keeps all the devices in your office running smoothly, makes security a team effort by allowing your employees to manage security from their office devices, and even provides a truly convenient all-in-one security solution for all of your office devices.
These include Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, and iOS (available on the Apple App Store)
Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection
The Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection gets you all the features in Malwarebytes for Teams package in addition to asset management, centralized cloud management, endpoint group management, security policies, discovery and deployment tool, threat visibility dashboards, and more.
Endpoint Protection is specially designed to block malware before it infects the endpoint and to remove malware that has managed to successfully evade defenses.
This package covers from 10 devices up to an unlimited number of devices for $699.90 billed annually.
Malwarebytes Endpoint Detection and Response
The Endpoint Detection and Response package gets you every other feature in the other two plans as well as endpoint detection and response (EDR Capabilities) which include Ransomware Rollback, Suspicious Activity detection, as well as Granular Endpoint Isolation.
This particular is the most expensive of the three as it costs $849.90 billed every year and supports 10 devices up to an unlimited number of devices.
7. Malwarebytes Set Up, User Interface, and Ease of Use
Download and Installation
The initial download and installation of Malwarebytes are pretty quick, easy, and hassle-free. The entire process won't take more than 5 minutes.
Malwarebytes does give a step-by-step guide on how to proceed with the download-installation procedure. The entire process is pretty simple though and you probably won’t need the instructions.
The process is also straightforward and you won't even need to give out your email address or install any extra components to enjoy the full functionality of the program.
It's also very easy to find the Free 14-Day Trial and you won't even need to provide your email address to get it.
The overall look of the Malwarebytes Dashboard is basic and functional. The dashboard is intuitive and easy to navigate.
The dashboard looks the same for both the free and paid version.
However, with the free version, you won't see the Real-Time Protection features including Malware, Ransomware, Web, and Exploit Protection. You will only see “Premium Only” written right next to these options.
Navigation happens from the left side with the options for the primary dashboard.
This is the section that indicates whether you’re protected or not, including a Scan button. If you’re running the free version, you’ll see an “Upgrade Now” button right above the Scan Now button.
Still, on the left section, you’ll see a column with a total of 5 categories including Dashboard, Scan, Quarantine, Reports, and the program’s Settings.
The Dashboard is pretty easy to navigate and brings you to the main page of the app. The Scan section is where you run and even schedule scans.
The Quarantine section is kind of a storage for potential malware and other threats found during scans. Here, you can either choose to restore them if they are false positive or delete them if they are serious threats.
The Reports section displays all the scans you’ve performed, the number of threats detected, the scan date, and scan time.
The Advanced section of the Reports category shows the total number of items scanned, whether the scans were manual or scheduled, the number of threats detected during the scan, and time elapsed during the scan.
The Settings section lets you easily customize the programs according to your preferences or requirements.
The dashboard is user-friendly so customizing the program shouldn’t be much of a hassle.
8. Malwarebytes Mobile App
Malwarebytes helps to safeguard your mobile experience through their Android and iOS Apps. Both apps are completely free and can be downloaded on Google Playstore for Android devices and Apple Store for iOS Devices.
The free mobile app provides enhanced protection for your mobile devices and also protects you against annoying internet scams.
Malwarebytes also provides a premium version of the mobile app which comes with a free 30-day premium trial for both Android and IOS devices.
The premium Android version protects your mobile device from online threats like malware, ransomware, and scams while also detecting phishing URLs on the Chrome Browser.
The app also runs a comprehensive audit for all of your device’s apps, showing you a list of apps that can access your personal information, apps that have taken control of your hardware,
The Premium IOS version protects you from malicious sites, online scams, and also blocks calls from known and suspected scammers.
The Android app seems to be missing the Calls Block feature that is found in the IOS app as well as a Text Message Filtering feature that dumps suspected scam text messages into a junk tab inside your message app, which is a bummer.
On the flip side, one important thing I noticed is that both the Android and IOS Malwarebytes apps do not have an anti-theft feature- a crucial feature that is commonly found in most top antiviruses.
The anti-theft tool does a great job protecting your mobile device against theft or loss so it's such a shame that Malwarebytes has decided to skip on this important tool.
9. Malwarebytes Customer Support
In terms of customer support, I have to say that Malwarebytes leaves a lot to be desired. Although the official website does provide Live Chat Support and a Phone Number, I wasn’t impressed one bit by their support.
Their live chat support is available from Monday to Friday 8 am-11 pm UTC. This simply means that if you need help fixing a certain issue during the weekend, no help will be coming your way.
Their live support was a little bit disappointing as well. I had to wait for quite a long time before getting a chat representative.
Luckily, the chat agent was very helpful and I was truly impressed by their level of expertise and professionalism.
Their phone support wasn’t very good either as I had to wait in line to be served for quite a while.
Malwarebytes also offers an email customer support system which also leaves a lot to be desired. I had to wait a few days before getting a response from them, which was truly frustrating and disappointing.
There is also a Malwarebytes community forum with plenty of questions from users and answers.
I found it very helpful though many users won’t appreciate the hassle of sorting through numerous topics just to find a solution to their problem.
And finally, there is a User’s Guide where you will find comprehensive tutorials and guides on various questions and fixes regarding the program. The guide is quite comprehensive and very easy to understand.
Overall, Malwarebytes’s customer support is a little bit disappointing and I hope that they are working on making some major improvements.
10. Malwarebytes Antivirus Compatibility and System Requirements
The latest version of Malwarebytes (version 4), is compatible with Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, and IOS devices.
For Windows users, Malwarebytes supports Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or higher.
For Chromebook users, make sure you’ve installed Chrome OS with Google Play access.
For Mac users, Malwarebytes is compatible with OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) or higher.
For Android mobile users, Android 4.4 KitKat or higher is required while Apple Mobile device users are required to install IOS 11 or higher.
11. Malwarebytes Antivirus- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will the Malwarebytes Free Version Protect my Device?
The simple answer is No.
The free version of Malwarebytes will not provide enough protection for your device. Sure, it allows you to scan for threats on your device but when it comes to real-time protection, you're better off with Malwarebytes Premium.
The good news is that you can use the free version alongside a powerful antivirus program like Norton, Avast, Avira, BitDefender, and others. Otherwise, avoid using it as a standalone antivirus as it won't offer the much-needed protection for your device.
You might want to try out the Malwarebytes 14-Day Premium trial to see if it’s the right choice. If it is, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans.
Do I Still Need Antivirus Software If I Have Malwarebytes?
If you’re using the free version, then you need to have an antivirus software as the free version will not provide real-time protection like a standalone antivirus will.
However, if you’re using the premium version, then you won’t need your traditional antivirus software any longer.
The Malwarebytes Premium version is designed to be a complete standalone antivirus that can offer the same protection and feature as other traditional antivirus programs.
Is Malwarebytes Safe?
Yes, Malwarebytes is completely safe to use. It’s meant to protect your device, not harm it in any way.
Will Malwarebytes Scan my Device Automatically?
Yes. Malwarebytes will scan for malware and other online threats automatically on your device. You just need to make sure that the “Automatic Scan” button is active.
You even have the option of scheduling the specific time when you want the program to scan your device using the Scheduled Scans tab.
How Do I Activate the Premium Version of Malwarebytes?
After purchasing one of the paid plans of Malwarebytes, simply launch the app and click on “Activate License” which is located on the top-right of the dashboard.
Under “License Key”, enter your key and then click “Activate” if you’re using Windows or click “Activate License” if you’re using Mac.
Once Malwarebytes Premium is activated on Windows, Premium will immediately display in the top-left corner of the program.
Malwarebytes will immediately turn on all the Real-Time Protection layers after license activation.
Malwarebytes Review- Final Verdict
Malwarebytes may not offer the best customer support to its users but as far as online security is concerned, it sure does deliver exceptional, top-notch performance.
With all the four layers of real-time protection activated, your device or devices are fully protected from malware, viruses, ransomware, and any other online threats.
It has a user-friendly interface, plenty of features, reasonable pricing, and of course, excellent performance that makes it one of the best antivirus programs in the industry.
Remember that the free Malwarebytes version is only good if it’s used alongside powerful antivirus software. That’s why I recommend upgrading to the premium version to enjoy real-time protection.