Developed by Malwarebytes Inc., a US-based internet-security company, this anti-malware software was first introduced to the world in 2006. It is available both as a free and as a paid product and offers reasonable subscription plans for the regular users. Over 15 years of experience in the field, the team behind Malwarebytes has been perfecting the original “formula” with each new update.
When it comes to anti-malware suits, it is crucial to understand that they aren’t as powerful as the leading antivirus solutions. Think of this product as a new brick wall against online threats, an extra layer of defense that will work alongside a classic antivirus (like Bitdefender or Avast). On its own, Malwarebytes won’t be able to protect you from the most dangerous types of malware.
Again, it doesn’t conflict with other antivirus services and has a rather low system impact. Therefore, our experts strongly recommend installing the free edition to help your main antivirus software deal with all the latest threats. Malwarebytes always targets brand-new threats that even the strongest antiviruses like Kaspersky might fail at detecting.
In this review, we’ll go over the lab test results, run some of our in-house tests, talk about pricing, device compatibility, installation, ease of use, and more. And, we’ll discuss the Premium edition and go over every single additional feature that it brings to the table. Finally, you’ll find a FAQ section where we’ll answer the most popular questions online.
Malwarebytes Pros & Cons
Excels at Locating and Eliminating New Threats
We already mentioned the most significant selling point of Malwarebytes – its exceptional effectiveness against brand-new threats. It uses a different approach to detecting and eliminating malicious files and prevails in zero-day protection. However, as you’ll learn in the Cons section, it isn’t particularly strong in real-world tests. Still, you shouldn’t let that prevent you from at least trying out the free edition.
Malwarebytes can’t replace a traditional antivirus (even though the official website does claim that you’ll be 100% safe with it). At the same time, if you stick with the likes of Kaspersky and neglect cutting-edge anti-malware products like this one, your system won’t be fully protected, and your precious data will be vulnerable.
Friendly, Easy to Use Right from the Start
The dashboard may be a bit “scary” at first, but you’ll get used to it in less than ten minutes. While there are quite a lot of menus, everything is self-explanatory, and you won’t mistake Scans with Reports. If you’re running the Premium Edition, you’ll see Real-Time Protection on the right, including Web, Exploit, Malware, and Ransomware Protection.
And if you’re using the Free Edition, there will be just a big white window offering you to upgrade to Premium (or to try the trial if you haven’t done that yet). Other than that, the two versions are identical and very easy to use. The little buttons-menus on the left gives access to the five major components of Malwarebytes. The list includes dashboard (takes you back to the main screen), Scan (that’s where you run system scans), Quarantine, Reports, and Settings.
One of the Fastest and Most Effective Scans
With the scans, you get three types at your disposal. The Quick Scan here is called the Threat Scan: it takes less than five minutes and goes through startup, Registry, memory, and more. The Hyper Scan takes even less time to complete – 10 seconds, give or take (it only checks the essentials). Finally, the Custom scans allow you to choose which folders, files, and programs to check.
Scheduled checks are only available with Malwarebytes Premium. All the other scans, including Threat, Hyper, and Custom are the same in both versions.
Doesn’t Conflict with other Antivirus Products, Low System Impact
System requirements are very modest, and that is one of this product’s biggest pros. To run it on Apple devices, you’ll need iOS 11 or higher – the user interface is fast, intuitive, and works without any glitches. The Windows users will be pleased to learn that Malwarebytes works with Windows XP (SP3) and higher. However, anti-ransomware protection is only compatible with Wn7 or higher.
The hardware requirements include an 800MHz CPU, 1GB RAM for a 32-bit system (512 for XP), 2GB RAM for a 64-bit system, and 250MB of free hard-drive space. Mac OS 10.10 or higher – that’s what you’ll need to install and use this software on a Mac computer. Any hardware that’s capable of supporting this OS will also be able to “handle” Malwarebytes. Finally, it is fully compatible with Android 4.4 and higher. It supports Chromebooks too. Plus, you won’t have any problems with running this software alongside Kaspersky, Avast, or any other full-weight antivirus. It won’t even ask you to delete an existing product during installation.
Comes With a Relatively Capable Free Edition
It might not be the most feature-packed free anti-malware tool on the market, but it is quite good at what it does. It’s important to note that Malwarebytes Free is only compatible with Microsoft Windows and iOS. So, if you own a Mac computer or an Android Smartphone, you’ll have to upgrade to Premium. In many ways, it is perfect for an iOS mobile device, as it has a low system impact and is decent against ransomware. Go to the App Store to get the free version for your iPhone or iPad.
Strong Against Exploits and Ransomware
In many ways, ransomware and exploits are the biggest challenges for antivirus/anti-malware software these days. With Malwarebytes, you get powerful anti-exploit and anti-ransomware protection with the paid edition. Plus, you can change the settings in the main menu to make both modules work better. A quick note: it gets pretty technical the further you go into the settings, which is why we recommend against touching settings you don’t know.
Leave everything on default unless you’ve got some knowledge and know the difference between VB Scripting and Heap Spraying Enforcement. Anti-ransomware capabilities are also quite impressive. While it might not be the most effective algorithm on the market, when working side-by-side with traditional antivirus, it will be highly effective.
Weak Against Malware, Poor Lab Test Results
As for the recent tests, AV-test, one of the biggest third parties, ranked this software back in February 2020. On the bright side, Malwarebytes got 6 points in Usability. However, its points in Protection and Performance are quite average – 4.5 and 4, relatively. In turn, AV-Comparatives were testing antivirus solutions for the Android OS, and Malwarebytes detected and eliminated 87% of the planted threats.
While that was a relatively stable result, it only earned it the 58th place (out of 200). In our team’s in-house tests, we used AMTSO and Wicar to check real-world performance. AMTSO is quite a thorough tool that evaluates an antivirus based on protection against malware, spyware, phishing, and other threats. Sadly, Malwarebytes failed – miserably.
Wicar also puts most products through a harsh series of tests, and we weren’t satisfied with the results at all. When we deliberately planted a package of infected zip archives, Malwarebytes acted like nothing ever happened and stayed idle. To put things into perspective, Microsoft’s built-in Defender dealt with all these malicious archives in a matter of seconds.
The only test that Malwarebytes did pass was the anti-ransomware test. These lab results prove once again that this software is not for real-time protection. But this software is good at detecting brand-new threats and eliminating malware that’s planted deep inside the system.
No Real-Time Protection in Free Version
Malwarebytes Free isn’t a particularly feature-packed service. It doesn’t offer any speedup-cleanup tools to boost performance. While you will get access to Premium-level features during the 14-day trial, after that, you’ll either have to pay or downgrade to the free version. Cleaning up an already-infected desktop computer/mobile device – that’s all it is capable of.
Yes, forget about real-time protection, automatic updates, safe browsing, scheduled scans, and more. Malwarebytes free is as stripped down as they come and doesn’t have any “fancy” additional tools to attract regular users. The good news is – there are no annoying ad pop-ups which can ruin the whole experience by pushing you to upgrade to Premium.
Premium Edition Isn’t Affordable
The 1-year/1-device plan could be a bit cheaper, especially considering how competitively-priced most of its rivals are. Long-term subscriptions do cost much less, not to mention there are handsome discounts that make Malwarebytes affordable. However, most people only see the default subscription plan, and in this case, it’s the $39.99 package (1-device/1-year).
To put things into perspective, Kaspersky Anti-Virus costs only $29.99 and protects three PCs for one full year. For $39.99, you can get the Internet Security suite. Bitdefender’s entry-level plan costs the same as Kaspersky (~30 dollars); 360 Total Security won’t charge more than $20 for its 1-year subscription. That’s precisely why we put this into the Cons section: Premium is affordable if you commit to it, but the yearly plan is rather expensive.
- Excels at locating and eliminating new threats
- Friendly, easy to use right from the start
- One of the fastest and most effective scans
- Doesn’t conflict with other antivirus products, low system impact
- Comes with a relatively capable free edition
- Strong against exploits and ransomware
- Weak against malware, poor lab test results
- Free edition doesn’t provide real-time protection
- Premium edition isn’t particularly affordable
Malwarebytes Pricing Information
There is only one paid plan available with Malwarebytes – the Premium package. But, it’s quite versatile and allows the potential customers to “fine-tune” it to their liking. You can pick the number of devices you want to be protected by this anti-malware product and the duration of the subscription. Let us take a closer look at the plans right now:
- 1-Year plan – $39.99
- 2-Year plan – $59.99, 25% discount
These are the 1-device plans. If you need protection for several desktop computers and mobile devices, we highly recommend checking out the 3-, 5-, and 10-device plans. The reason – they also provide generous discounts and allow saving a substantial amount of money. In our opinion, the package that simultaneously covers five connections is the best one, as it offers a perfect value:
- 3-Device plan – $59.99, 50% discount
- 5-Device plan – $79.99, 60% discount
- 10-Device plan – $129.99, 67% discount
As you can see, Malwarebytes’ pricing policy is user-oriented, and the company offers one of the best discounts on the market. Compared to the prices of similar anti-malware software, it is one step ahead. It’s important to note that you are free to activate your license on any device at any time. However, regardless of when you activate it, the terms of the license start the second you make a purchase.
In other words, Malwarebytes won’t wait for you to start using it to initiate the countdown to the end of the license. A quick note: due to strict Apple restrictions, you can’t buy the Premium plan for your iOS device. It is only available on the App Store; so, if you’re only looking for iOS protection, there’s no need in paying for Premium. Here are the iOS plans:
- 1-Month plan – $1.49
- 1-Year plan – $11.99, 33% discount
You’ll be charged to your iTunes account by the end of the 30-day trial period.
Malwarebytes Free Version
According to official statistics, Malwarebytes is installed 247K+ times every day that shows exactly how popular it is. We already mentioned that it is quite feature-packed and will be a great addition to your antivirus software. On its own, it can remove spyware and malware, mainly all the advanced, brand-new threats. The engine is working 24/7, always running through the system and looking for any signs of trouble.
That allows it to stay on top of things and to stop malware in real time even before it can start causing damage to your OS. It is one of the most significant advantages of Malwarebytes over the traditional antiviruses like Kaspersky, Avast, Bitdefender, and others. Sadly, real-time protection is only available for Premium. The Malwarebytes Free download procedure is straightforward, and you’ll be done with installation in a matter of minutes.
Just go to the official website and hit the big green button that says “Free Download” – that’s pretty much it! The system will automatically start downloading the installation file to your drive. What you should do next is start the launcher, follow its instructions, and wait until the software is installed. During installation, you’ll be asked to tell whether this is a Work or a Personal computer.
Another big downside of the free version – it is not available on Android and Mac. To be able to protect MacOS X or Android, you’ll need to upgrade to Premium – there’s no other way around this. Plus, Malwarebytes Free can only be used on one single device. If you download it through the official website, you’ll get the Win app; again, iOS is available exclusively on the App Store.
Malwarebytes Trial Version and Money-Back Guarantee
Along with the free version, users can also take advantage of a 14-day trial version. It gives access to all the functions of Malwarebytes Premium. However, once the trial is over, you’ll be automatically charged for the paid edition. For iOS, the company offers a 30-day trial; again, after those 30 days, you’ll be charged. To cancel the renewal of a subscription, you’ll need to go to the account settings.
For Win, Mac, and Android, log into the official website. For iOS, log into your iTunes account – you can’t cancel the subscription through the Malwarebytes website, as that’s not where the purchases are made. And don’t forget that there’s also a 60-day Money-Back Guarantee that, again, gives access to Premium without any limitations.
Money-back guarantee means that you can get a complete refund during this period (60 days). It doesn’t matter why you want your money back – you’ll get a 100% refund regardless. It doesn’t apply to renewal subscriptions: a refund is only available for new subscriptions of the consumer (Home) products. The best way to get a refund (or to cancel an active subscription) is to contact support.
Malwarebytes Coupons and Discounts
If you’re looking for coupons and discounts to save some money on Malwarebytes Premium, there are several legit websites for that. The list includes I-funbox.com, Couponslasher.com, Groupon.com, and more. However, we advise against doing that, as it might be harder to get a refund if you purchased a package from a third party. It would be best to look for discounts on the company’s official website.
First of all, you won’t find better deals elsewhere. As we discussed in Price and Plans, Malwarebytes is quite generous that way. Secondly, unless you’re careful, you may end up in the hands of scammers that will take your money and never send any proper licenses.
Malwarebytes Extra Features
Now that we’ve discussed all the strong and weak sides of Malwarebytes let us take a quick look at the Premium-exclusive features. It doesn’t add any optimization/tune-up tools, and you won’t get a VPN with the paid edition. It does provide real-time protection against malware, spyware, ransomware, and other types of attacks, though. Here is a full and detailed list of all the advantages of Malwarebytes Premium:
Protection Against New Threats
The built-in anti-malware engine locates and eliminates malicious activity in real-time. Scans run 24/7, which means it will protect your OS against emerging threats without you even knowing about it. Rootkits, spyware, and malware – those are the threats with which Malwarebytes deals.
Brand-new ransomware is capable of holding precious files on your computer “hostage” until you pay the cybercriminal. Malwarebytes is good at detecting never-seen-before threats and preventing them from taking over the OS. This approach is highly proactive and focuses on blocking ransomware before it has a chance of causing damage.
Phishing is when a user is lured into a scam website that looks exactly like a legit one. And, the second he/she enters a password/login, the hackers use the credentials to steal money and sensitive data. Malwarebytes Premium also protects against crypto jacking: that’s when mining software is planted into the computer to mine cryptocurrency (like Bitcoins) using the local hardware.
Protection Against Fraudulent Links
You can stop worrying about accidentally following malicious links. With Malwarebytes, you’ll be protected from infected advertising, downloading malware, and more. Along with anti-ransomware and anti-phishing, this module is one of the most critical features of the Premium edition.
If you don’t want anything to bother you while you’re enjoying a video game, switch to the Play Mode. That will stop any pop-ups, scheduled scans, and updates in Malwarebytes that could interfere with the experience in any way. Plus, background processes will be minimized, freeing up more resources for the game. The system will still be protected, of course.
Malwarebytes Browser Guard
Ads and ad trackers are the most prominent “non-lethal” threats online. They are known to reduce the bandwidth, clatter the screen, and, quite frankly, annoy the users. And then there are the “tech support” pop-ups that claim your computer is in danger and they can help you. The good news is – there are dozens of decent ad-blockers on the Internet, and the Browser Guard is one of the best offers on the market.
It is available for free on the Malwarebytes official website. Just download it, install it as an extension (for Chrome or Firefox), and enjoy! By blocking all the ads, scammers, trackers, and such, the Browser Guard is capable of significantly improving your experience with Firefox/Chrome. The best thing about this blocker – it doesn’t have any impact on the system and works fully autonomously.
How to Install
Modern-day antivirus/anti-malware software is, mostly, very user-friendly and straightforward so that even novices can use it. There are no significant differences between the four platforms. Just go to the official website and hit the big green button that says “Free Download” – that’s pretty much it! The system will automatically start downloading the installation file to your drive.
What you should do next is start the launcher, follow its instructions, and wait until the software is installed. During installation, you’ll be asked to tell whether this is a Work or a Personal computer. The process takes less than three minutes and doesn’t put a strain on system resources.
Summing up, we want to say once again that Malwarebytes only lives up to its full potential when used alongside a traditional antivirus. On its own, this anti-malware software isn’t capable of protecting against a wide range of online threats. Its specialty is brand-new, never-seen-before malware that even the biggest names in the industry might miss because it’s not in their databases yet.
The user-friendly, intuitive interface, the low system impact, and the attractive discounts are this product’s biggest selling points. The scans are fast and thorough, the free edition is on par with rivals, and it can work quietly in the background, never bothering the user. The downsides include weak lab test results and lack of real-time protection with Malwarebytes free.
Still, we recommend taking advantage of the free trial and checking Premium in real-world tests. If you end up liking its performance and how it works alongside your Kaspersky, Bitdefender, or Avast, then it might be a useful tool for you. Cybercriminals are evolving, and so are their hacking techniques. For always staying one step ahead and keeping online threats at bay, Malwarebytes will be a solid pick.