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Visit Malwarebytes
  • Fast scans
  • User-friendly
  • 14-day premium trial

Malwarebytes Review

Malwarebytes is a fast antivirus that won’t bog down your device. It has a clean interface and useful features, but its lab results aren’t good enough for us to unequivocally recommend it. Read our full Malwarebytes review for details.

Mindy Born
By Mindy Born (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2024-03-13T18:06:51+00:00 Facts checked by Igor Kurtz
Key Takeaways: Malwarebytes Review 2024: Is It a Good Antivirus Program?
  • Malwarebytes is a highly-regarded antivirus software with both free and paid versions.
  • Users praise the service’s security features and ease of use, but report complaints about customer support and subscription auto-renewal
  • Malwarebytes excels if what you need is a free virus scanning software, but alternatives like BitDefender are better for real-time protection.

Facts & Expert Analysis:

  1. Dynamic response to new threats: Malwarebytes identifies emerging threats based on data it collects from devices.
  2. Free and premium versions: Malwarebytes offers both free and premium versions for Mac and Windows systems. The free version doesn’t offer real-time protection but the premium version does, along with scheduled scans and a flash-memory scanner.
  3. Multi-vector protection (MVP) technology: The Malwarebytes Katana engine combines rules-based techniques with behavioral analysis to stop threats at each stage of an attack.
  4. User-friendly interface: Malwarebytes has a user-friendly interface with quick scan times, a logical design and customizable settings.
  5. Identity theft protection: Malwarebytes offers a paid identity theft protection service with real-time monitoring, credit protection and identity recovery.

In this Malwarebytes review, we will look at the service’s antivirus and web protection, as well as its scanning capabilities, which target various forms of malicious software. Available in free and paid versions, it minimizes interference with other malware protection tools. The paid version offers features like scheduled scans, real-time protection and a flash-memory scanner. 

Like some other antivirus software, such as Trend Micro, Malwarebytes responds dynamically to new threats through telemetry data, which is information collected from devices with the goal of understanding their behavior and performance. This helps improve software by identifying and responding to emerging threats based on real-world data.

Malwarebytes offers a free version for Mac and Windows devices that performs well but only runs scans when prompted. Its browser extension is also free and includes an ad cleaner and blocker. Though the paid plans offer versatile apps compatible with most desktop and mobile devices, the pricing recently increased.

The software’s premium plans offer real-time protection and have advanced options for controlling application behavior and addressing security risks in Java applications. Malwarebytes also has specialized protection for Chromebook devices, mobile security and paid plans that offer Privacy VPN. These factors rank it high on our list of best antivirus software.

  • 03/08/2024 Facts checked

    This Malwarebytes review was updated with new facts and information about the service.

What Is Malwarebytes & Who Is It For?

Marcin Kleczynski and Bruce Harrison founded Malwarebytes in 2004 based on Kleczynski’s early experiences learning how to detect and eliminate malware he accidentally downloaded with bootleg computer games. The company was formally incorporated in 2008 and has since grown to employ about 800 people in seven countries.

The company develops tools for individuals and businesses to combat malware, viruses, ransomware, spyware and other online threats. Malwarebytes uses signature-based and behavior-based techniques to detect and eliminate both known and unknown threats with real-time protection, mitigating potential damage from malware.

Signature-based detection involves identifying known malware through specific patterns associated with documented threats, offering effective protection against recognized malware. However, it may be less effective against new or evolving threats without established signatures and may leave users vulnerable to emerging risks.

On the other hand, behavior-based detection identifies malicious behavior without relying on signatures and provides a proactive defense against new or unknown threats. Though this enhances overall security by identifying suspicious activity in real time, occasional false positives may happen. Both systems together provide protection from all angles.

Malwarebytes is best for users who want to conduct on-demand virus scans for free. There are better choices for your main antivirus, as you can see on our best antivirus for Android list.

The Cloudwards Expert Opinion

Malwarebytes’ user-friendly interface and quick scan times have made it a popular antivirus choice. However, it has received poor scores for real-time protection in the past, and in 2023, it scored a 5.5 for protection on AV-TEST. This is a decent score, but is half a point lower than its 2022 score and is worse than Bitdefender’s and F-Secure Antivirus’ scores. 

In AVLab’s November 2023 ‘In the Wild Malware Test’, Malwarebytes Premium demonstrated solid performance. It achieved a 100% block rate, successfully preventing all 245 tested malware samples from executing. However, its remediation time at the post-launch level — the time it takes to detect and resolve security incidents — was longer than others, at 202 seconds.

Despite a slightly long remediation time compared to ESET SMART and F-Secure, Malwarebytes Premium did quite well overall. It excelled in pre-launch detection and showed room for improvement in post-launch incident resolution speed.

We tested the software using the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO) along with the WICAR website to evaluate its protection performance. AMTSO uses comprehensive evaluations to assess antivirus software’s ability to detect threats such as malware downloads, compressed malware, potentially unwanted applications, phishing and cloud protection.

Unfortunately, Malwarebytes fell short in almost all categories and did not detect any infected .zip files. It allowed most of the test files on WICAR to open, stopping only four of the 13 test viruses.

Malwarebytes Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Fast scans
  • User-friendly
  • 14-day premium trial
  • Thorough manual scans
  • Intuitive dashboard

Cons:

  • No built-in firewall
  • No parental controls
  • Pricey one-device package
  • Separate browser extension

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                                                Security Features: Is Malwarebytes Safe?

                                                80 % – Good

                                                Malwarebytes demonstrated strong performance in several independent lab assessments in 2023. It received a perfect score in AVLab’s real-world malware detection tests for the sixth consecutive quarter, with both its Malwarebytes Premium consumer antivirus and its business solutions earning “excellent” badges for blocking 100% of malware.

                                                This performance was attributed to Malwarebytes’ multi-vector protection (MVP) technology, which combines rules-based techniques with behavioral methods to stop threats at every stage of an attack. Malwarebytes employs behavior analysis and machine learning through its Katana engine, detecting malware by analyzing patterns in the data.

                                                The software uses AI-backed intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), which use behavioral analysis, anomaly detection and machine learning to swiftly identify and respond to potential security threats. These advanced systems allow for real-time monitoring and automatically respond to suspicious activity.

                                                Nevertheless, Malwarebytes’ scores on AV-TEST took a downward turn in 2022. The most recent 2023 results for Malwarebytes Premium showed a score of 5.5 out of 6 for performance and protection — down two points from its 2022 scores.

                                                Malwarebytes’ Browser Guard and MWAC web protection blocked 89% of all threats, which is well above the industry average web protection blocking rate of 72%. MRG Effitas, an independent IT research firm, also gave Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection the highest possible score for six consecutive quarters in its antivirus efficacy assessment. 

                                                Malwarebytes’ malware detection includes dark web monitoring, identity theft insurance, social media monitoring and credit monitoring, all of which we’ll explain in more detail below. However, it lacks certain features that other services offer, such as device optimization tools, a firewall and parental controls. 

                                                real time
                                                Real-time virus protection keeps your computer safe on the web.
                                                Real-Time Antivirus Protection

                                                Malwarebytes’ scanner offers both on-demand and real-time protection, and utilizes a large database and heuristic analysis to identify both known and new malware threats. 

                                                The free Browser Guard browser extension is a useful tool that blocks ads, trackers, pop-ups and phishing sites, which are often a vessel to deliver malware. It also stops exploit attacks, which exploit system security flaws to install malware or gain access for other reasons.

                                                Ransomware Protection

                                                Ransomware is a form of cyber extortion that uses malicious software designed to encrypt a user’s files or lock them out of their system and demands a ransom in exchange for restored access. Malwarebytes’ ransomware protection monitors files, apps and websites for signs of ransomware threats.

                                                It looks for unauthorized attempts to encrypt files, identifies suspicious behavior in applications and scans websites for potential malicious activity. The anti-ransomware scanner employs heuristics, behavioral analysis and signature-based detection to identify and address potential threats, providing a multi-layered defense against ransomware attacks.

                                                Identity Theft Protection

                                                Malwarebytes’ identity theft protection is a paid add-on service with real-time monitoring and credit protection. The service includes credit monitoring and reporting, which help users keep track of their credit activity and detect any suspicious transactions.

                                                It also includes live agent-supported identity recovery. Agents assist by providing personalized support to users who have experienced identity theft. This can involve guiding the person through the process of recovering their identity, assisting with the necessary paperwork or speaking with relevant authorities or institutions on the user’s behalf.

                                                Identity protection includes up to $2 million in insurance with the Malwarebytes Ultimate plan and $1 million with the Advanced or Essential plan. Features include “identity monitoring and alerts,” which focuses on detecting illegal trading of personal information; “credit monitoring and reporting,” which tracks changes in credit activity; and “identity recovery and resolution,” which involves the process of recovering from identity theft. 

                                                Social Media Monitoring

                                                Social media monitoring actively scans your social media accounts for signs of unauthorized access or unusual activity, promptly alerting you to protect your social accounts from potential hacking attempts. This is a fantastic tool for anyone who relies on social media for their business. This feature is included in the Advanced and Ultimate packages.

                                                privacy vpn
                                                Malwarebytes Privacy VPN is a basic VPN, but it uses the WireGuard protocol.
                                                Privacy VPN

                                                Privacy VPN uses the secure and fast WireGuard VPN protocol to keep your data encrypted and safe. It has more than 500 servers in more than 40 countries. Many of these servers are in North America, which isn’t surprising given that Malwarebytes’ headquarters is in the U.S.

                                                The U.S. is part of the Five Eyes alliance, which is a network of five countries that share intelligence, conduct surveillance and exchange information to enhance security efforts. No third parties have yet audited the VPN’s a strict no-logs policy, so there is no way to know for sure whether it’s actually keeping logs. 

                                                for chromebook
                                                Malwarebytes Chromebook protection is available in the Google Play Store.
                                                Anti-Exploit Protection

                                                Malwarebytes’ “anti-exploit” is a security tool that safeguards against exploit attacks that target software vulnerabilities. It works by monitoring applications like web browsers, PDF readers and Microsoft Office; identifying suspicious behavior; and preventing attempts to exploit potential vulnerabilities. The feature proactively stops both known and unknown (zero-day) exploits.

                                                This feature is particularly beneficial for businesses. It enables centralized management and visibility of all endpoints, allowing remote protection for companies of various sizes. 

                                                Malwarebytes Premium Features

                                                Malwarebytes Free was good enough to make our list of the best free antivirus software, but it primarily serves as a malware scanner and removal tool that detects viruses, ransomware, spyware, adware and trojans. Malwarebytes Premium adds real-time malware protection, scheduled scans, anti-exploits, anti-ransomware and Privacy VPN. 

                                                The Browser Guard web browser extension is available for free no matter which plan you use. You can download it for free from the Malwarebytes website, and it comes bundled with all of the paid plans.

                                                Malwarebytes welcome screen
                                                Everything is laid out clearly in Malwarebytes’ user interface.

                                                Malwarebytes Features Overview

                                                $3.75 / month(All Plans)
                                                Review
                                                Features
                                                Password manager
                                                File shredder
                                                Multi-OS support
                                                Parental control
                                                Disk cleanup
                                                VPN
                                                Profiles
                                                Protection
                                                Ransomware protection
                                                Webcam protection
                                                Real-time monitoring
                                                Secure browser
                                                Download protection
                                                Phishing protection
                                                Firewall
                                                Operating System
                                                Windows
                                                macOS
                                                Linux
                                                Android
                                                iOS
                                                Usability
                                                Desktop UI
                                                Mobile application
                                                Browser extension
                                                Support
                                                Help Center
                                                Forum
                                                Live Chat
                                                Phone
                                                Email
                                                24/7 Support
                                                Video Tutorial
                                                Misc
                                                Free Plan

                                                User-Friendliness & Hands-on Testing

                                                80 % – Good

                                                Malwarebytes has a user-friendly interface and well-organized design. The installation process is straightforward, guiding users through each step with clear instructions. The software’s navigation is intuitive, with the main features labeled for easy scanning and adjustment. The logical design extends to the categories in the settings menu.

                                                After installation, the initial scan scoured our computer in just under three minutes, which is a lot faster than many other antivirus providers. Malwarebytes goes easy on system resources and will relinquish CPU resources if another application is launched at the same time. This means that users won’t experience any lag in web browsing or while using other apps.

                                                The scan report is easy to read, presenting comprehensive information in two tabs. There is a concise one-page summary and an “advanced” tab with scan details. If any threats are found in a scan, they will be quarantined. These files are held securely, and users can click a labeled button to restore or delete them. 

                                                The settings menu allows users to customize preferences for websites, applications, files or previously deleted exploits.

                                                How to Install Malwarebytes

                                                Malwarebytes’s installation wizard will guide you through the setup process. Here are the steps:

                                                1. Download Malwarebytes

                                                  Head to malwarebytes.com and click “get started for free” to download Malwarebytes. This will download the .exe file. Next, navigate to wherever downloads save on your device and run the MBSetup.ext file to launch the setup wizard.

                                                  download from website
                                                2. Launch Setup

                                                  You will be asked whether you want to allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. Click “yes” to launch the setup wizard. Either choose “install” or click “advanced options” to adjust the language or change where the Malwarebytes software will download.

                                                  Installing Malwarebytes
                                                3. Choose Malwarebytes Personal or Business

                                                  Choose between a personal and business Malwarebytes plan. Both have the same functionality, but there are optional add-ons for business plans. Once you choose, you will be redirected to the Malwarebytes scanning page and can run your first Malwarebytes scan.

                                                  choose personal
                                                How to Set Up & Use Malwarebytes
                                                1. Configure the General Settings

                                                  You can configure how Malwarebytes interacts with your system in the “general settings” tab. There are options to change the language, choose whether to give manual scans priority over other apps and much more. You can also choose how you receive notifications and adjust the security settings.

                                                  iPhone settings
                                                2. Configure Content Blocking

                                                  You can fully customize the content you want the antivirus to block, such as ads and scams, through the settings. There is also an option to curate an allow list if Malwarebytes blocks a site that you know is safe and that you want to allow in the future.

                                                  allow list
                                                3. Choose Whether to Allow Browser Guard

                                                  Malwarebytes’ Browser Guard blocks ads and websites that may compromise your online safety. It allows you to customize protection settings for all websites you visit with your browser.

                                                  add browser guard notice
                                                Malwarebytes on Desktop: macOS & Windows Apps
                                                Custom scan
                                                Malwarebytes uses heuristic analysis to flag new malware
                                                threats that aren’t in its database yet.

                                                The Windows version of Malwarebytes has a few more features than the Mac version does. It includes brute force protection, which comes automatically enabled and can be disabled in the “security” tab. It blocks hackers from trying to guess your login information by detecting and thwarting repeated login attempts. 

                                                There’s also uninstall protection, which blocks malware from disabling your Malwarebytes security product. It ensures that malware can’t interfere with or remove Malwarebytes’ protective measures.

                                                malwarebytes scanner mac
                                                Most Malwarebytes scans are complete in less than 30 seconds.

                                                The macOS Premium version has real-time protection and automatic updates, and blocks adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) just like the Windows version does. However, unlike for the Windows version, no independent tests like the ones that AV-TEST or AV-Comparatives run have been conducted for the Mac version.

                                                Many antivirus providers do not participate in independent testing for macOS, with two notable exceptions being ESET and Avast. If you have a Mac and want to see independent test results for your chosen antivirus, either of these may be a better choice. Read our full ESET NOD32 review and our Avast Pro review for more.

                                                malwarebytes mac install
                                                Malwarebytes is compatible with most operating systems.

                                                The Windows version is designed to work with Windows 7 or higher, while the Mac version is compatible with macOS 10.12 or higher. Both require an active internet connection for protection and product updates.

                                                Malwarebytes on Mobile: Android & iOS Apps
                                                iPhone tidy up
                                                Malwarebytes manages quick yet thorough scans on mobile devices.

                                                Malwarebytes for iOS is designed to block scams and secure Apple smartphones and tablets. It does not include a malware scanner, as iOS has strict security measures in place and the App Store’s walled garden approach makes it difficult for malware to infect iOS devices. 

                                                Malwarebytes for Android aggressively detects fake texts, phishing links, malicious sites and annoying ad trackers just like the iOS version does, but it also includes a malware scanner. As with the desktop versions of the app, the free version for mobile has significantly reduced functionality and does not include real-time protection.

                                                Malwarebytes Browser Guard Extension

                                                Malwarebytes’ Browser Guard works similarly on both Mac and PC. It provides solid ad, scam and tracker blocking.The Browser Guard extension is compatible with Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari (MacOS 12.0 or higher), and is available for free with a subscription on both Windows and macOS. 

                                                The extension can detect potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), suspicious domains and credit card skimmers. User testimonials have noted its effectiveness in preventing tech support scams and its unobtrusive nature. We found that it does slightly slow down webpage loading, particularly in Firefox.

                                                Malwarebytes Pricing: How Much Does Malwarebytes Cost?

                                                80 % – Good

                                                Malwarebytes doesn’t get full points for pricing because it lacks some features like parental controls, and it doesn’t come cheap. However, it does have a 14-day premium trial for Windows and macOS that does not require credit card details to set up. 

                                                After the free trial, if you don’t purchase a premium subscription, the service will revert to basic antivirus protection (manual scanning only and no real-time protection). 

                                                Pricing Plan Breakdown

                                                Malwarebytes offers two Standard plans. One covers a single device for $5 per month, billed annually at $59.99, and the other covers three devices for per month, billed annually at . This plan gives you antivirus and anti-malware protection, Privacy VPN and Malwarebytes’ free Browser Guard browser extension.

                                                There are also two options for the Plus plans, both of which come bundled with Privacy VPN. Coverage for three devices is per month, billed annually at , or you can protect five devices for per month, billed annually at .

                                                Malwarebytes also has business editions tailored to the specific problems facing enterprise systems, such as anomaly detection, machine learning, asset management and more. Pricing begins at $69.90 per endpoint for basic features and goes up to $119 per endpoint for all features, including website content filtering and managed detection.

                                                Basic Security
                                                • *Price for 1 device
                                                Security + VPN
                                                • *Price for 1 device
                                                Complete Protection
                                                • *Price for 1 device; renewal price: $239.99
                                                Malwarebytes for Teams
                                                • *Price for 3 devices. Price depends on the number of devices (up to 20 devices), and the type of plan: 1, 2, or 3-year subscription plan options are available.
                                                Malwarebytes Free Antivirus Version

                                                Malwarebytes has a free plan with basic features. If you sign up for the 14-day free trial of its premium service, you can continue to run scans once the trial expires but without real-time protection. The free version will only scan your device when prompted.

                                                There is a 60-day money-back guarantee for personal plans. In order to claim it, you must log in to your Malwarebytes account and cancel auto-renewal. Then, send a ticket to customer service to request a refund via email or chat.

                                                Malwarebytes Customer Support

                                                25 % – Terrible

                                                Malwarebytes’ customer support is fairly lackluster. It does have an extensive knowledgebase and community forums, but these are only useful to a point. There is also an email ticketing system and live chat. 

                                                The live chat requires users to sign in and navigate a very persistent bot that requests customer information. Users must repeatedly ask for an agent to bypass this. Email support is only available to Premium clients. When we submitted a question, we were automatically directed to articles on the subject in question and still hadn’t received a direct email reply two days later.

                                                fb support
                                                Malwarebytes’ FB support doesn’t seem to be active.

                                                Theoretically, there is support through Facebook. However, when we submitted a question during support hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST), we received a message directing us back to the Malwarebytes support page. The company has an Instagram account, but messaging is inactive there as well.

                                                Live Chat Support Speed & Quality

                                                Users need to provide customer information in order to get an agent involved in Malwarebytes’ live chat option. There is a tedious information retrieval process that the chatbot does not allow users to bypass. Once we signed in and made it past the chatbot, we found the representative to be knowledgeable and our questions were answered within a couple of minutes.

                                                Malwarebytes vs Other Antivirus Software

                                                Malwarebytes has solid detection rates of nearly 99% for zero-day and prevalent malware. It also has a user-friendly interface and minimal CPU usage. This simplicity makes it easy to use without system slowdown. Users might find other antivirus programs like McAfee more complex to navigate and slow to use. For more, see our Bitdefender vs McAfee antivirus review or our full McAfee Total Protection review.

                                                Malwarebytes does lack a firewall and parental controls. Bitdefender provides a more comprehensive security solution and includes real-time protection in its free version, whereas Malwarebytes does not. For more, read our full Bitdefender review. Avast is another antivirus that includes real-time protection in its free version. To see which of these alternatives is better, read our Bitdefender vs Avast review.

                                                Community Feedback: Malwarebytes Reviews on Reddit & Social Media

                                                Community feedback on Malwarebytes is varied but largely positive in relation to malware protection and scanning. Many users have noted that it’s a good idea to use the free version for manual scans in conjunction with another service such as Bitdefender or Microsoft Defender.

                                                On Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs, users praised the service’s effectiveness but noted issues with the customer service and subscription auto-renewal. On our own site, reader Peter Palino noted Malwarebytes’ reliability and stated that they recommend the service to clients, while Jack Bauch criticized Malwarebytes for not supporting external hardware scanning on Mac.

                                                The Verdict: Is Malwarebytes a Good Antivirus Program?

                                                Malwarebytes has a user-friendly interface, quick scan times and unique multi-vector protection (MVP) technology. The software uses both signature-based and behavior-based techniques, and does the job of real-world malware detection well. Browser Guard is effective, blocking 89% of threats, which surpasses the industry average for a browser extension.

                                                However, we have concerns about Malwarebytes’ overall lab test scores, which showed a noticeable decrease in protection scores on the AV-TEST site in 2023 compared to 2022. The absence of a built-in firewall and parental controls is another drawback. It is also worth noting that Malwarebytes has increased the price of its premium plans. 

                                                All in all, Malwarebytes’ free version performs useful scans, but Bitdefender, ESET or Norton Security may be better premium options. Have you encountered any challenges with Malwarebytes? How does Malwarebytes compare to other antivirus solutions you’ve used? Please share your experiences and recommendations below. Thank you for reading!

                                                FAQ: Malwarebytes Antivirus Review

                                                • Yes, after initially installing Malwarebytes, users receive a 14-day trial of Malwarebytes Premium. If the trial period expires with no upgrade, the software reverts to the free version.

                                                • The cheapest Malwarebytes Premium plan is $44.99 per year for one device, which is more expensive than Bitdefender or Norton. We think it’s worthwhile to use Malwarebytes for free manual scans and Bitdefender, Norton or ESET for real-time antivirus protection. See our Bitdefender vs Norton antivirus review for more.

                                                • Yes, you can trust Malwarebytes. The premium version prevents malware in real time, stops ransomware from infecting your system and prevents you from accidentally visiting malicious websites. Both the free and premium versions of Malwarebytes will remove existing malware from your computer or smartphone.

                                                • Yes, Malwarebytes does remove malware. It scans your system using signature-based detection to identify known threats and heuristic analysis to find new, unknown threats. It then quarantines the threat and gives you the option to remove it.

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