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Malwarebytes Antivirus Review

Malwarebytes Antivirus is a very fast service that, as one of the few of its kind, offers a 14-day trial. However, its lab results disappoint and we're not too sure about its interface, either. Read our full Malwarebytes review for the details.

By Michael V. Wilson
— Last Updated: 2021-02-16T11:42:09+00:00

Malwarebytes was formally founded Jan. 21, 2008, by Marcin Kleczynski and Bruce Harrison. Kleczynski informally started the company while he was living at home with his parents in Chicago in 2004 after the family computer got a virus. Since then, it has grown to over 600 employees in five locations around the world.

Unlike most companies, Malwarebytes lets you download and install the premium, paid version with all the functionality intact for a 14-day free trial. After that, it can only be used to clean infected devices until you purchase the product, but that 14-day trial will give you a taste for what it can do.

In this Malwarebytes review, we’ll look at the installation and use of the package, the available settings, its fast scanning, different levels of protection and the reports it generates for your use. We’ll also cover its pros and a couple of unfortunate cons that keep it from making the list of the best antivirus software.

Alternatives for Malwarebytes Antivirus

Strengths & Weaknesses


  • Fast scanning
  • Easy to install & use
  • Intuitive dashboard & controls
  • 14-day free trial of Premium version


  • No parental controls
  • Browser extensions are separate
  • Latest laboratory review was 2015
  • Failed all but one industry standard test
  • Premium one-device package is expensive


75 % – Good

Malwarebytes has a well-designed and intuitive dashboard. We give it high marks for layout and ease of use. A column down the left side of the screen has “scan,” “quarantine,” “reports” and “settings” categories. In each category, there are tabs across the top for different subdivisions.

The Premium features displayed on the right side of the dashboard show four main protection settings, including ransomware protection, which are set to “on” by default.


Settings are comprised of six tabs: “application,” “protection,” “scan schedule,” “exclusions,” “account details” and “about.” The first two include a button in the upper right corner to restore the default settings. That is a handy tool that some antiviruses hide or tuck into a hard-to-find spot. We like that it is so readily available.


The application tab refers to Malwarebytes, with sections on how it is updated, notification settings, scan priority, language selection, proxy server selection (the default is off), usage and transmission of threat statistics back to the service (the default is on).


“Protection” has settings for web protection, a button for managing the protected applications list and options to add applications to it. There’s also an advanced settings button that brings up a sub-menu for anti-exploit settings for many applications, such as memory protection, application behavior and Java protection.


Malwarebytes doesn’t offer webcam protection like Kaspersky Anti-Virus does, as you can read in our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review. It didn’t even quiz us about the built-in camera on our laptop. Given the burgeoning privacy concerns in the news, that is concerning. The lack of a password manager bothered us, too, as did the lack of online backup services and a file shredder.

It does have real-time protection and ransomware protection.

Malwarebytes Features Overview

Password manager
File shredder
Multi-OS support
Parental control
Disk cleanup
Ransomware protection
Webcam protection
Real-time monitoring
Secure browser
Download protection
Phishing protection
Operating System
Desktop UI
Mobile application
Browser extension
Help Center
Live Chat
24/7 Support
Video Tutorial
Free Plan


90 % – Excellent
Malwarebytes Premium
  • : Full package (1 device)
Malwarebytes Premium 5 Devices
  • : Full package (5 devices)
Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy VPN
  • : Full package + VPN protection (5 devices)

Malwarebytes does something rather unusual among antivirus companies. It gives you a free 14-day trial period of its single-device Premium package with all its features. That gives you a chance to explore and test its functionality without spending anything upfront. After the trial, the Premium features stop working and it functions only as a remedy to clean one infected device.

It is available for Windows, macOS, Chromebook, Android and iOS. Browser extensions aren’t included in the package. Instead, they can be downloaded separately for free on Chrome and Firefox. We would have preferred to see them integrated with the antivirus software, though.


The Premium and Premium For Home packages differ only in the number of devices they protect and the price. For example, Home charges you $20 for each additional device over three. Other than that they’re identical.

With the Premium For Home option, you’re able to mix and match Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, which is only available on the App Store, and Chrome OS. That is a nice touch for those who aren’t burdened by brand name loyalty.

The business versions have advanced features, including application hardening, exploit mitigation, payload analysis, anomaly detection, machine learning, asset management and more. Pricing starts at $119.97 for the basic business package, then it’s customized after that based on your requirements and number of devices to be protected.


85 % – Very Good

The initial download and installation are quick and easy. Malwarebytes’ website includes simple instructions that give you a head’s up on what to do without insulting your intelligence. The process is intuitive enough that you won’t need the instructions, though.


Once installed, the initial scan only took three minutes and 46 seconds to check 173,193 objects on our machine. Other antivirus packages we tested on the same test machine took over an hour. That said, its speed came at the expense of 100 percent CPU utilization during the scan. It dipped once to around 75 percent then went right back up.

As a test, we launched another application during the scan and Malwarebytes gave up the CPU time to let it run normally, demonstrating that it is not a resource hog. It is willing to share. This gives you the best of both worlds: a fast scan when it is running alone, plus the security of knowing it won’t slow down other applications if they are running simultaneously.

The report generated after each scan is simple and easy to read. It has all the information you need on two tabs. The first is a one-page summary. The advanced tab shows you how many objects were scanned, whether it was manual or scheduled, elapsed time and scan options. An export button lets you copy the report to the clipboard or a text file for future reference.


Quarantined files, such as potentially unwanted programs, are held harmless, waiting for you to restore them or deleted them if they are, in fact, unwanted. The settings let you configure what to do with quarantined files.

A two-step exclusion process gives you the options to exclude particular websites, applications, files or previously-detected exploits from being detected in future scans. Again, the interface is quick and intuitive.


25 % – Terrible

Malwarebytes fell down in this area. Since 2015, it hasn’t been tested in any of the three labs we use. That’s an eternity in the computer world.

Malwarebytes has combined its remediation software with its antivirus package since then. The closest thing left to it is if you let the free Premium package lapse after the 14-day trial. Every feature except the remediation feature is disabled after that.

We also use the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization to check feature settings and the Wicar website to gauge protection performance.

Amtso runs antivirus software through a thorough check of its ability to handle the download of malware, compressed malware, potentially unwanted applications, phishing, and cloud protection. Malwarebytes failed on all of them. We tested it with several types of infected zip files and it didn’t catch any of them.

Windows Defender, which we’d disabled, pulled a Dracula on us and came back to life to catch two of the infected files that Malwarebytes said were okay.

Wicar conducts most the same tests, with the addition of a trojan website that Malwarebytes caught and blocked us from accessing. That was the only test it passed.


Amtso and Wicar use an industry standard EICAR antivirus test file that is universally agreed upon to be used in testing. The file is harmless. It is only used to help users verify that their antivirus software is correctly configured and working. We let Malwarebytes install with its default settings and it missed everything but one trojan. That kind of performance is unacceptable.

That said, Malwarebytes is intended for cleanup more than anything else. On that front, it’s an excellent program. However, for real-time scanning, we recommend you stick with our top-rated provider, Bitdefender (read our Bitdefender Antivirus review).


50 % – Poor

Malwarebytes doesn’t have good support on its website. We found videos, along with options for chat and telephone support, but the results weren’t impressive. We clicked the chat button and received a mostly blank screen telling us the representatives weren’t available.


Clicking the “contact support” button wasn’t much better.


It led us to a screen where we were prompted to create a help desk ticket with no indication of how long it would take to receive a response. We opted not to waste our time because help desk turnaround generally averages one to two days with most companies.

There is a community forum, but navigating forums can be a daunting task when you’re looking for an answer to a specific question. The videos we found are basic and don’t go into much detail. They’re mainly there for installation and using the software. Given the intuitive nature of the interface, they are mostly redundant.

The Verdict

Malwarebytes has a wonderful interface, a lot of features, a good price structure and an innovative setup allowing you to test the entire working package for free for 14 days. What drags it down is the poor test performance and substandard customer support. Lab testing is almost nil and it failed our performance testing except for finding one trojan on a test website.

In all fairness, the company may have chosen to opt out of using the EICAR antivirus test file for its software. Since the file is harmless, that doesn’t hurt anything. We weren’t able to contact the company to ask about it, though, so in the absence of contrary information, we have to take the test results at face value.

What do you think of Malwarebytes? Does it work for you? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

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23 thoughts on “Malwarebytes Antivirus”

  1. Hey, I really do like your website and I trust it more than something like PCMag. However, Malwarebytes is supposed to be run alongside Windows Defender. So can you post results using both Malwarebytes and Windows defender running together?

    1. Hi Brent, thanks for commenting and the compliment. Thing is, though, that we prefer to judge things independently, because some people disengage Windows Defender or have other software, etc. Hope that explains it.

  2. I think you guys missed something, namely that Malwarebytes does not include in its database “test files” and the like, it only includes actual malware that can do actual harm or other less well-known test files. ANY antivirus can detect EICAR, and Malwarebytes is much more than capable of doing this, your trojan is one of the few test files that malwarebytes has in its database. You should either edit this review accordingly or simply redo the “Protection” section, because not doing so is pure misinformation and defamation to say the least. You should test it with fresh, actual malware, which is the true test of protection. I am new to this site and I’m not sure if it is biased or not, but if it is supposedly unbiased, changing this review to make it more representative of the product you’re reviewing in the aspects I’ve mentioned is fundamental. Cheers!

    1. Hi,

      We rely heavily on third party labs to get accurate test information about how well an antivirus performs. In our mind, attempting to test with real malware when it might not be updated in the database or might not be a current threat to machines is misinformation. That said, finding lab results for Malwarebytes is spotty. The most recent lab data we gathered is from MRG-Effitas in its Q4 2017 analysis ( in which Malwarebytes performed worse than 15 of the 18 antiviruses tested. Our EICAR test is to test the basic functionality of the antivirus, because, as you mentioned, ANY antivirus can detect it.

  3. I agree that is seems impossible to get any real support. My premium version stopped working. I reported this & never received any help. I give them a zero stars raating.

  4. I have been running Malwarebytes on multiple machines for years, both lifetime licences and subscription. Malwarebytes wants to rid itself of the lifetime licences and is doing so by blacklisting licenses and saying product was purchased from an unauthorized reseller. Bad move Malwarebytes. I have permanently removed Malwarebytes from all of my machines.

  5. I began using the free trial period of Malwarebytes but now they keep sending me pop up ads about their premium software. But when I click on the end user license agreement area, I get no response. Malwarebytes doesn’t want me to know what I’m signing up for. Hence, I will continue to run the free software until they fix the problem.

  6. I purchased a licensed version on Amazon I believe, prior to the one year expiration date, I attempted to renew it, but Malwarebytes didn’t recognize and had no record of me, my account or the license. I ‘created’ a ‘ticket’ and they never responded. Now it keeps trying to get me to use their ‘free’ version. Thanks, but no thanks. Great name though. ‘Cause Malware bites.

  7. After purchasing the premium Malwarebytes program and uploading it only my computer, I received a call from their customer care representative who proceeded to run the program and told me I need to go to an apple store and purchase a $500 gift card and give him the activation code. And he assured me I could go back and get a refund for the gift card afterwards. I came to realize this isn’t just a useless program but an outright fraudulent scam of a company attempting to defraud the public through illegal and despicable means.

    1. Hi Zack, I think you got scammed by a third party that somehow got a hold of your phone number. While we’re not crazy about Malwarebytes at Cloudwards, we doubt they’d stoop so low. If this scammer ever had access to your computer, please run another scan, of another program (AVG is free) and make sure he didn’t infect it.

    2. I got that $500 gift card message too — it’s a scam. My screen posted a huge red warning “From Microsoft” that if I X-out of the page, my files will be erased. It’s a slick scam and I fell for it, but thankfully didn’t send the gift card info. I later learned that Microsoft NEVER posts a warning, so this $500 gift card thing is a total scam…glad you didn’t fall for it!

  8. I subscribe to Malwarebytes; it scans every day and every day I am given the choice of either ignoring or removing the same 130 items. All I want to know is why we go thru the same routine every day. I called customer service , but after endless questions am transferred to technician who wants access to my computer. Don’t like that and I don’t like that the company has no respect for my time. Surely there is somebody who can answer a blasted question before demanding access to my computer.

  9. I bought many licences from broken computers, keys were sold over ebay legally. Still it looks like a scam, they all stop working after a while. Malwarebytes works good together with another antivirus software. It blocks webattacks all the time and works as a complement with the main antivirus software. If there are some other antimalware softwares that can work paralell with the antivius without taking out the other one, please let me know! Malwarebytes are a bit too expensive but has saved my pc from many attacks that my norton internet secutity did not detect while working.

  10. Malwarebytes has unfortunately gone down hill. It’s ok to some degree for a 2nd scanner, but I would not trust it to be my only line of defense, and what I have seen online, it’s not good with ransomware. Just my 2 cents.

  11. I have been using Malwarebytes for oner a year and am quite satisfied, until renewal time. I asked for an annual renewal and received acknowledgement that it had been done and an activation email would follow. This happened however after getting my credit card statement, there had been 2 payments, one for $42.79 and the other for $42.89. Their online advertised price is $39.99. The problem is I was charged a total of roughly. $85. Their advertised online price is $39.99. The problem is I was charged $42 for the subscription and $42 for the activation. Totally misleading. I have been communicating with them to resolve the issue for about a week but no refund yet. While Malwarebytes may be a good service I would be very careful dealing with them if you pay online.

  12. I use Malwarebytes Premium on four different computers, both Macs and a PC. I use it alongside AV software as an additional protection and have found it works really well, particularly at stopping Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs). On my elderly dad’s PC, it has stopped multiple dubious apps being downloaded which his AV previously missed. Great as extra security, especially for naive users, but would always use in conjunction with a full AV package. As for the folks who were asked for $500? You were scammed by a fake company. I’d report it to the real Malwarebytes as I’m sure they’d be interested in following up…

  13. It is not an antivirus but paranoid. On a freshly installed Windows, it found 127 threats and that I have not yet turned on real-time protection. I checked the VirusTotal online service, and the result is that none of the files pose any threat. Deleted, I will look for something else.

  14. What I don’t seem to understand is, what exactly makes Malwarebytes stand out amongst the other antivirus software? Most antivirus software I’ve used is (as Lion k said) Paranoid – detecting false threats. All I think is that they only have different interfaces, and If I were to choose one, it will be because of the interface – if it’s user-friendly.

  15. Definition of malware: “noun
    software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.” I installed malwarebytes on the recommendation of Apple Support. I’ve already let them know my opinion of their recommendation. First off, Malwarebytes does not support scanning external hard drives on Macs. Their convoluted excuse is that Time Machine should not be scanned. But I don’t use my external HD for time machine. Another part of their excuse was that it was virtually impossible for an antivirus or malware to get installed on an external HD. Needless to say, I found numerous articles that contradict this claim. All I wanted was for my external HD to be scanned. So seeing as this was not possible, I proceeded to uninstall malwarebytes from my macbook pro. I used the malwarebytes uninstall feature. After that I checked the HD for any malwarebytes files because I have no faith in most tech vendors. As I expected there was a file left in the stagedExtensions folder that could not be removed because it was required by Mac OS. I found it remarkable that my Mac OS could suddenly not function in a stable manner without a file that was only installed on it yesterday after having functioned just fine for over a year without it. I called Apple Support and their only solution offered was to do a restore OR completely reinstall my Mac OS. So, my sum experience with Malwarebytes is that it claimed it could not do basic scanning functionality of an external HD for what I view as highly dubious reasons and when I decided to remove it because of this lack of functionality, it could not be completely removed. It would not let me remove it. If that’s not unauthorized (see malware definition above), I don’t know what is. Thankfully, I was able to find multiple antivirus and anti malware products that provided my basic functionality requirements.

  16. Every time the computer has started a message appears that real-time protection is disabled. So mevery time I have to enable real-time protection. This is very annoying. I don’t recommend Malwarebytes.

  17. I’ve been a PC tech since ’83. We had to learn x86 to be able to work on a PC back then. I’ve used Malwarebytes since it came out and now recommend it to all my clients. NONE has ever had a problem with it, neither have I. I remember Norton when Peter ran it, I won’t have their software on my machines now. Same goes for AVG and Kaspersky, all have failed me in the past. MWB never has. That pretty much sums up my opinion of antivirus software.

  18. Malwarebytes was installed on my computer by my repair tech when I took it in for an unrelated problem (dead power supply). He recommended it highly. However, it gobbled up 3 gig of my monthly 5 gig of data in a mere TWO WEEKS of premium service. I’m sure it’s an excellent program for people with unlimited data plans and urban broadband who live on You-tube and streaming. But if you normally use very little data and pay based on use, this program will use more of your allowance than you do and is overkill for your risk exposure.

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