Malwarebytes Premium Review: Is It Worth Your Money?

Review star bar, magnifying glass, Malwarebytes logo and a star showing a review score of 6.9

Malwarebytes was initially released in 2006 as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. The product was profiled as a simple “antivirus companion,” designed to remove particularly stubborn infections. Since then, it has developed into a full-blown antivirus package for Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS.

The Malwarebytes free version only offers manual malware scans: you can scan individual files for viruses and other types of malware. Real-time malware protection is reserved for the premium tier. How secure is Malwarebytes Premium? What options does it offer, and is it worth the price? We’ve run a full test on it for you to answer those questions and more!

Image showing Malwarebytes Premium total score review


Malwarebytes Short Review

In general, we are fairly impressed with Malwarebytes’ antivirus software. Malwarebytes Free offers a decent anti-malware scanning program, while Malwarebytes Premium offers additional features.

ProsCons
Offers a free version with malware scanningVPN only included in priciest paid subscription
Supports Windows, iOS, macOS, and AndroidDoesn’t include a built-in firewall
CPU usage can be configured on macOSScans take up a lot of RAM
Scanning is fast and easy to execute

Would you like real-time malware protection in your antivirus program? You’re going to need a subscription to Malwarebytes Premium. Real-time protection shields you from infected websites, malware, ransomware, and advanced exploit attacks.

On top of this, Malwarebytes Premium gives you access to the Malwarebytes VPN. While it’s not the best VPN in the market, it’s a decent service that allows you to mask your real IP address with an IP from a different location. Moreover, you can secure up to 5 devices with a Malwarebytes Premium subscription.

Unfortunately, Malwarebytes was caught up in a privacy scandal recently. To their credit, the company immediately launched an internal investigation and shared its findings with stakeholders. This quick response is certainly a plus in our books.

However, the recent breach is not the only privacy concern. Malwarebytes’ headquarters are located in the United States, which is part of the 5 Eyes alliance: a coalition of countries that freely exchange data with each other. This certainly increases the risk of your data ending up in the hands of various authorities.

Of course, we’ve put Malwarebytes to the test ourselves. In this review, we’re primarily assessing Malwarebytes Premium, which we have tested on a MacBook as well as a Windows PC.

Would you like to get started with this antivirus scanner right away? Click the button below. The service starts at $3.75 a month.

Visit Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes Premium: Specifications and Subscriptions

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the features offered by each Malwarebytes subscription package. For Malwarebytes Premium, the price depends on how many devices you want to secure. If you want the full package for five devices, it will cost you  $6.67 per month ($70.99 billed annually).

FeatureMalwarebytes FreeMalwarebytes Premium (yearly)Malwarebytes Premium Privacy (yearly)
Pricing$0.00$44.99 (1 device – $3.75/month)

$79.99 (5 devices – $6.67/month)

$99.99 ($8.33/month)
Antivirus
Anti-Phishing
Anti-Malware
Anti-Spyware
Real-time Protection
Ad Blocker
URL Filtering
Wi-Fi Security
No-Log VPN
Download LinkGet Malwarebytes FreeGet Malwarebytes PremiumGet Malwarebytes Premium Privacy

As you can see, Malwarebytes Free is feature-light. They only have ad-hoc scanning available and don’t offer any additional virus protection.

The VPN comes with the most expensive package, Malwarebytes Premium Privacy. However, keep in mind that there are better VPNs available for more affordable prices. Malwarebytes is, in the first place, an antivirus program, rather than a VPN provider.


Security: Can Malwarebytes Be Trusted?

Score scale 7.5/10

Malwarebytes Premium is a highly-rated antivirus software program that successfully protects devices from all kinds of threats. While it’s not an exceptional product, it certainly isn’t bad. This is why we give Malwarebytes Premium a 7.5 out of 10 for overall security. Here’s what we took note of:

  • Malwarebytes has a high malware protection percentage, but many false positives.
  • The extra security features are quite limited.
  • Real-time protection is only available on a premium subscription.
  • Malwarebytes doesn’t offer a firewall against online threats.

If you prefer your antivirus software to be straightforward and you don’t want a bunch of extra features, then Malwarebytes is a great pick.

Security testing: How does Malwarebytes Premium perform?

AV-Comparatives is a renowned antivirus testing organization that runs regular evaluations. In their most recent set of testing (February – June 2022), Malwarebytes scored a 99.9% protection rate on Windows. Of the 725 malware-infected files, Malwarebytes detected 724.

On the downside, the antivirus also had a lot of false positives — legitimate software that gets flagged as malicious. In total, 44 legitimate files were marked as malware, which is why Malwarebytes received a lower score for accuracy.

Malwarebytes also performs well on Android. They had a malware protection rate of 99.3% and only 7 false positives. Still, this number is higher than for other antivirus solutions such as Avast (4), AVG (3), Bitdefender (0), and Kaspersky (0).

Unfortunately, AV-Comparatives doesn’t include Malwarebytes in its macOS testing.

Malwarebytes scanning

Generally, the Malwarebytes scanning process is speedy and straightforward.

With Malwarebytes Free, you can only run manual scans. On Malwarebytes Premium, it is possible to schedule automatic scans.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, overview of scans

To start a threat scan manually, simply click the “Scan” button in the app. You can select which threats Malwarebytes has to detect. You can also choose between a full scan or a quick scan.

After the threat scan process is completed, a scan report is created. You can access any past reports by clicking the “Reports” tab.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, Scanner reports tab

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, Scan report summary

Infected files are instantly neutralized and placed in the Malwarebytes quarantine section. From there, you can delete the files or, if you’re sure the file is safe, restore it to its original location. It’s also possible to add these false positives to the Allow list — that way, Malwarebytes won’t place them in quarantine in future scans.

To schedule a scan, click the “Scanner” icon on the home screen of the app, followed by “Scan Scheduler.” Here, you can schedule automated scans for specific days and times.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, Scan scheduler

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, Schedule a scan

Scans are relatively fast and do not impact system performance much. However, unlike other antivirus scanners, Malwarebytes doesn’t offer the option to only scan specific folders: you need to scan the entire system every time.

Real-time protection

Exclusive to Malwarebytes Premium is real-time malware protection. This creates different layers of protection:

  • Web protection: Malwarebytes will block a variety of online threats, including scams and spam messages, as well as phishing websites and ransomware.
  • Malware and PUP protection: Blocks viruses, adware, and potentially unwanted programs (PUP).
  • Ransomware protection: This is special protection against ransomware, which can lock and take files hostage.
  • Exploit protection: Malwarebytes claims to protect you against malware that abuses vulnerabilities in your system. However, elsewhere they claim this only applies to potentially malicious attachments in your Outlook desktop app.

In the settings, you can also enable malware protection against brute force attacks. This software prevents non-authorized users from getting access to your device.

Malwarebytes Browser Guard

Malwarebytes offers a free browser extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox, called Browser Guard. The Browser Guard extension aims to protect against ads and trackers, phishing and malware-hosting URLs, tech support scams, and other online attacks.

We tested both the Google Chrome and the Firefox version of Browser Guard. For our own website, Malwarebytes didn’t have to delete any trackers since VPNOverview doesn’t use them. We also tested Speedtest.net, on which Malwarebytes deleted 34 trackers and ads.

Why is it useful to have an ad blocker? Browser Guard makes webpages appear cleaner and load faster. Unwanted content is blocked. Moreover, it identifies and stops browser hijackers.


Privacy: How Does Malwarebytes Handle Your Data?

Score showing 5 out of 10 on the scale

Antivirus software companies are not often known for their great privacy policies. Malwarebytes is no exception. Overall, we give them a 5 out of 10 for privacy. This is based on the following conclusions:

  • The VPN is pretty basic.
  • Malwarebytes logs a lot of personal data it doesn’t really need.
  • Data is shared with third parties, without users knowing.

Malwarebytes Privacy VPN

A virtual private network encrypts your data and reroutes your internet traffic via an external server. This hides your real IP address and location, which is why you can use a VPN to get around geo-restrictions, such as streaming a foreign Netflix library. On top of that, a VPN makes you more anonymous online.

The Malwarebytes Premium Privacy subscription includes a VPN. You can also purchase the Malwarebytes Privacy VPN separately. While the service is decent, it’s not outstanding in any way.

The server network is pretty limited, with just over 400 server locations in 30 countries. By comparison, NordVPN offers 5,400 servers in 60 countries (for $3.29 a month), while Surfshark offers more than 3,200 servers in over 100 countries (for $2.30 a month).

In terms of security, Malwarebytes Privacy VPN uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption, as well as a kill switch and a split-tunneling feature. When it comes to data, however, we are less impressed.

Malwarebytes Privacy VPN collects a concerning amount of user data, despite calling itself a “no log” VPN. This data includes device ID, browser type, internet service provider, and geographic location. Because Malwarebytes is located in the United States, all this data is easily attainable by the American intelligence services.

Malwarebytes’ privacy policy

Malwarebytes’ transparency about the data it collects and for what purpose is commendable. When it comes to how much the company knows about you, Malwarebytes doesn’t attempt to mislead you. The privacy policy is easy to understand and details every aspect of information that’s stored. This includes the following:

  • Which software you use
  • Your geographical location, based on your IP address
  • Type of network connection
  • Internet service provider
  • System processes on your device
  • Operating system
  • Language settings on PC
  • Device processor and type of file storage
  • Information from Windows Security and Action Center, including security settings
  • Information on other Malwarebytes programs you use
  • How you use Malwarebytes products
  • A Malwarebytes-generated device ID
  • Licensing data
  • Network information
  • Details on detected malware, programs, and exploits (considering the high number of false positives, Malwarebytes also stores information about legitimate software)
  • Account and domain names (when brute force attack protection is enabled)
  • Content and sender of (spam) texts, information on non-spam text messages is deleted

While Malwarebytes claims all this information is collected for a reason, we doubt whether they really need it. For example, one of their justifications for data collection is to detect patterns in malware attacks. Any user who’s just looking to protect their own device doesn’t benefit from this.

Moreover, as we see with Surfshark One Antivirus, this data is not necessary to keep the antivirus software functioning.

When it comes to third-party access, Malwarebytes generally doesn’t share this information with just anyone. However, information is shared with its service providers, Amazon Web Services and Google Analytics. On top of this, the company will share your data with government authorities and private parties, when they deem this necessary. They are not obliged to inform you. Justifications for data exchange include:

  • Judicial procedures
  • Legal requests, including warrants and subpoenas
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Preventing illegal or unethical activity

Malwarebytes’ privacy scandals

In January 2021, Malwarebytes was reportedly targeted as part of a nation-state attack utilizing SolarWinds software. In a blog post, the company wrote, “While Malwarebytes does not use SolarWinds, we, like many other companies were recently targeted by the same threat actor.”

The post also claimed that the hacker only “gained access to a limited subset of internal company emails,” a finding made in internal investigations. This would imply user data remained untouched.


Usability: How User-Friendly is Malwarebytes Antivirus?

Score scale 8.5/10

Malwarebytes has all the hallmarks of an antivirus software solution that’s been around for some time. It is easy to download and cancel. There’s a free trial period, as well as a money-back guarantee. On top of that, the website and apps are easy on the eyes and a breeze to navigate.

For this reason, the antivirus scanner gets an 8.5 out of 10 when it comes to usability. Here are a couple of points to take note of:

  • The installation process is easy and straightforward.
  • The app is well-organized and offers great extras for advanced users.
  • There’s a free trial period and a money-back guarantee.
  • Malwarebytes does not have a live chat.

How do I install Malwarebytes Premium?

The Malwarebytes website is clean and well-structured. The homepage gives some basic information about the antivirus software and instantly shows you how to get Malwarebytes Free, which includes a 14-day free trial of Malwarebytes Premium. You can also view the pricing of the Premium plans and subscribe to one of those directly.

From the homepage, you can download Malwarebytes easily by using the “Free Download” button. Then, it’s just a case of following a few simple steps:

  1. Run the installation file on your device to install Malwarebytes.
  2. Follow the installation wizard. If you’re using a Mac, you’ll likely need to input your system password. Malwarebytes should launch automatically once it’s installed.
  3. Click “Get Started” and choose the type of device you’re using.
  4. You’ll be directed to the Malwarebytes app dashboard and can jump straight into a full scan of your device.

If you’re on a Mac, follow the on-screen instructions to give Malwarebytes full disk access. The software will guide you on how to do this in System Preferences, and you’ll need the settings toggled to perform a full scan.

Malwarebytes software

Malwarebytes has a simple interface that any user will quickly get the hang of. It’s well-structured so that even beginners should have no trouble navigating it and tweaking the settings.

There are three panels on the home screen, namely:

  • Detection History: This shows a summary report of any recently detected threats.
  • Scanner: This you can use to start manual quick scans or full scans.
  • Real-Time Protection: This setting indicates whether you are protected in real-time or not.

At the top, there are two icons: “Settings” and “Help,” along with a reminder to activate your Premium license if you’ve not done so already.

The Settings screen shows several tabs:

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, settings

Each tab has its own features:

  • General: This is where you can manage the general settings, including connecting to the internet via a proxy server and performance impact.
  • Notifications: Here is where you can select how often and in what instances Malwarebytes can notify you.
  • Security: An overview of various security settings, including how often to check for threat intelligence updates, whether to quarantine malicious software, and several scan options.
  • Screenshot of Malwarebytes, Security settings window
  • Display: Visual settings, including the theme.
  • Allow list: This is a list of files that Malwarebytes will skip in the next scan because you’ve marked them as safe.
  • Account: The details of your subscription.
  • About: What version of Malwarebytes you’re currently running.

It’s all pretty self-explanatory and simple to use. If you still run into issues, you can click the “Help” icon (question mark in the top right corner), and contact customer support.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, help page

How easy is it to cancel Malwarebytes?

Malwarebytes automatically renews your subscription. Canceling your plan is very easy, however. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Malwarebytes account.
  2. Go to “Account.”
  3. Click “Deactivate.”

Malwarebytes Premium offers a 60-day money-back guarantee. To request a refund, you can create a support ticket on the website.

Malwarebytes customer support

When you click the “Help” icon in Malwarebytes, you’re automatically taken to the Malwarebytes troubleshooting webpage. Here, you’ll find various topics to browse through to find a solution to your problem. Unfortunately, there is no live chat.

If you’d like to contact customer support, you can submit a support ticket. This will provide you with more personalized assistance. To submit a ticket, you have to fill out a form and give your email address. We only got a response to our ticket after two days.

While the advice was useful, it can be frustrating to wait for replies when you’re facing an urgent issue.


Speed and Performance: Will Malwarebytes Slow Down My System?

Score scale 6.5/10

Malwarebytes Premium loses points when it comes to speed and performance. We can only give it a 6.5 out of 10. Here’s why:

  • A full scan runs for a long time and puts a strain on your CPU.
  • On macOS devices, you can limit the software from using up so many resources.

How long does a scan take?

A quick scan only took one to four minutes. A full scan, however, takes much longer: it took 1 hour and 49 minutes to scan 506,089 files. Other antivirus solutions are much faster. For comparison, Norton only took 40 minutes and McAfee managed to do a full scan in under fifteen minutes.

Keep in mind that the speed of a scan depends on your device’s specifications. There are a couple of factors that play a part:

  • The number of files you’re scanning
  • How much RAM your computer has available
  • Your device’s CPU model and performance

We used a computer with an Inter Core i5-10300H CPU, 16 GB RAM DDR4, SSD storage with Windows 11 21H2 64-bit.

How does Malwarebytes impact my CPU?

When using the Malwarebytes security software, we did not notice any system performance issues on Mac. The program ran seamlessly in the background and did not cause any strain on the system.

If you’re using macOS, you have the option to adjust how much processing power Malwarebytes uses during a system scan. The software’s settings will allow you to choose between HighMedium, and Low. The High setting means the scan will be completed faster, but it might impact performance to a certain extent.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes, CPU usage

As you can see, CPU usage was about 2% when Malwarebytes was running in the background during our tests. However, when scanning, this went up to about 30%, a significant increase. Fortunately, this did not affect other apps, and our system continued to function smoothly.

On a Windows PC, however, we noticed a huge difference. Our CPU use ran all the way up to 75% and 90% when running a full scan. On top of that, it took up about 900MB of the RAM. This is strikingly high and negatively affected our daily activities.


Final Verdict: Is Malwarebytes a Good Virus Scanner?

After spending plenty of hours with Malwarebytes Premium, it does score pretty well with us. Both the desktop app and the Browser Guard extension that Malwarebytes offers are easy to use, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the antivirus scanner. It’s great that you have a free 14-day trial at your disposal, and that there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on the premium subscription.

Having said that, Malwarebytes is not the best product in the market. The provider keeps many logs and isn’t the most privacy-sensitive. On top of that, the threat scan can be a strain on your system. Older computers or devices with less CPU power can suffer from tremendous lagging.

For this Malwarebytes Premium review, the total breakdown of our assessment is as follows:

Image showing Malwarebytes Premium total score review

Visit Malwarebytes

With an overall score of 6.9/10, Malwarebytes certainly offers sufficient protection against online threats. However, when browsing through the antivirus review section on our site, you’ll find higher-rated antivirus protection that outscores this one.

If you still haven’t settled on an anti-malware solution, have a look at our top 5 antivirus programs for this year. You’re bound to find a fit.

Malwarebytes Review: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about Malwarebytes? We’re happy to help. Just click a question below to see the answer.

Malwarebytes Free is simply a virus scanner that works well at getting rid of existing infections. However, it does not offer real-time protection, so it won’t protect your computer from new malware. If you want better overall protection, we recommend getting Malwarebytes Premium.

You don’t specifically need Malwarebytes when you use Windows 10. However, it’s a good security tool to help you clean up malware infections. It works well on Windows 10 and is easy to use. The Premium version also offers real-time protection to shield your system against threats like viruses, ransomware, phishing, and so on.

We reviewed Malwarebytes Premium and found that it’s a pretty decent antivirus. It helps you clean up infections in your system and offers real-time protection against threats. However, it doesn’t have a firewall, parental controls, or other such features provided by competing software.

Yes, Malwarebytes is well-known antivirus software that’s safe to use on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It can help protect your device against threats like viruses, adware, exploit attacks, and ransomware. However, there are other antivirus solutions out there that provide even better protection.

Malwarebytes has a free version. Malwarebytes Free is a safe, manual virus scanner. If you want real-time protection, however, you will have to get a Malwarebytes Premium subscription. This will provide you with additional features, such as an ad blocker and Wi-Fi protection.

The free version of Malwarebytes antivirus does not offer real-time protection. This means you’re not automatically protected from malware. The manual scans that Malwarebytes Free offers are safe and reliable, though.

Malwarebytes Premium offers good protection, but there are two main issues with the virus scanner:

  1. Malwarebytes has many false positives, where legitimate software gets flagged as malicious.
  2. Malwarebytes takes up a lot of your RAM, which slows down your PC.

No, Malwarebytes is not the best virus scanner. Other antivirus programs, such as Norton, offer more security features, such as a firewall and webcam protection. Check out the top 5 best antivirus scanners, tried and tested, for more recommendations.

Author
Cybersecurity journalist
Chris is a tech journalist with many years' experience covering the latest news in online privacy and cybersecurity. He's also a published author and works as a Product Manager for some of the most innovative software development companies.
Auteur
International Censorship & Security Journalist
Lauren Mak is an internal censorship and security-focused journalist with a keen eye for how technology affects society. With a background in International Relations and North American Studies, Lauren brings a unique perspective to the VPNOverview team. Lauren has a passion for helping others understand the importance of privacy, freedom, and internet safety and brings that passion to VPNOverview.