Malwarebytes Premium Review: Can This Advanced Malware Protection Replace Antivirus?

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Malwarebytes Review: Summary

Malwarebytes is an antivirus program for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It’s available in a free and Premium version. The free version only works as a scanner to get rid of existing infections. The Premium version offers real-time protection against threats like viruses and ransomware.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of Malwarebytes:

Pros

  • Includes advanced exploit protection, ransomware protection, and behavior-based detection
  • Quick and straightforward scanning process
  • Super simple and user-friendly
  • Fast and lightweight: does not hamper system performance
  • Excellent free browser extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox

Cons

  • Sometimes detects malware after infestation rather than before
  • No independent lab tests scores for macOS
  • Customer service can be contacted only through support tickets

Overall, it’s no-frills security software that offers decent protection for most users. Click the button below to visit the Malwarebytes website and see the plans on offer.

Visit Malwarebytes

If you want to know everything about the effectiveness and options of Malwarebytes, read our full review below.

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

Its free version offers only manual malware scans. Real-time protection is reserved for the premium package. But how secure is Malwarebytes Premium? What options does it offer, and is it worth the price? We tested it to find out. Learn all about our Malwarebytes rating in the full review below.

Packages and Prices: How Much Does Malwarebytes Cost?

As mentioned above, Malwarebytes free version is only capable of removing malware during a scan. For real-time protection, you need to get Malwarebytes Premium, which is available in three options that are all billed annually. The pricing is quite similar to that of competitors like Kaspersky and Bitdefender and cheaper than Norton 360.

malwarebytes pricing screenshot

At a glance, the three pricing options are as follows:

  • Malwarebytes Premium for one device at $3.33 per month, billed at $39.99 per year
  • Malwarebytes Premium for five devices at $6.67 per month billed at $79.99 per year
  • Malwarebytes Premium plus Privacy (VPN) for five devices at  $8.33 per month billed at $99.99 per year

Additionally, if you opt for a two-year subscription for the first two packages, you can get a 25% discount on your second year.

As you can see, it’s a pretty affordable security solution. Moreover, the most expensive option includes the Malwarebytes VPN, which will help protect your privacy, but lacks many of the advanced features you would find in some of the best VPNs. Keep in mind that this review focuses on the security that Malwarebytes Premium offers and does not consider its VPN.

An interesting aspect is that you can purchase a plan for anywhere between one and ten devices. When buying your plan, you can select the number of devices you’d like to use the software on and then pay the price accordingly. This offers some nice flexibility.

malwarebytes flexible pricing screenshot

As for payment options, Malwarebytes accepts PayPal and credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, and JCB). The auto-renewal is enabled by default but can be disabled at any time. There’s also a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can buy with confidence and get a refund if you aren’t satisfied.

Malwarebytes has different options and is capable of:

  • Preventing threats in real-time
  • Running automatic (scheduled) scans
  • Fighting ransomware
  • Stopping annoying adware
  • Blocking apps from suspicious developers

If you want to check out Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software right away, click the button below to visit its website.

Visit Malwarebytes

Security: How Well Does Malwarebytes Protect Your Computer?

The earliest computer viruses were fairly predictable and easily detectable using simple techniques. But malware has become a lot more sophisticated over the years and needs equally advanced detection techniques such as behavior-based analysis of files. This is exactly what Malwarebytes Premium offers to keep your system free of malicious infestations and attacks.

However, Malwarebytes isn’t as feature-rich as other top antivirus solutions such as Avira or Kaspersky. For example, it doesn’t have a firewall or parental controls. It focuses more on virus protection and file quarantine instead.

On Windows, Malwarebytes has a high AV-Test score of 99.3 percent protection against zero-day malware attacks and 99.6 percent for detecting widespread and frequently occurring malware in  June 2021. Unfortunately, neither AV-Test nor AV-Comparatives has recently tested Malwarebytes Premium for Mac. So, it isn’t easy to assess how good Malwarebytes is for macOS.

The primary features of Malwarebytes remain the same across Windows and Mac and will be discussed below.

Malwarebytes scanning

The scanning process is speedy and straightforward. Malwarebytes free can only do manual scans, but on Malwarebytes Premium, you can set up scheduled automatic scans.

malwarebytes scan screenshot

To start a scan manually, simply click on the “Scan” button on the app’s home screen. Wait for the process to complete, and a scan report will be created. You can access past reports at any time by clicking the “Reports” tab.

malwarebytes scan report screenshot

Infected or potentially infected files on your device are instantly neutralized by being placed in the Malwarebytes quarantine section. From there, you can delete the threats or, if you’re sure a file is safe, restore it to its original location. You can even add these false positives to the Allow list, so Malwarebytes doesn’t quarantine them again during future scans.

To schedule a scan, click the “Settings” icon on the home screen of the app and then click on the “Scheduled Scans” tab. Here, you can add automated scans for specific days and times.

malwarebytes scan settings screenshot

Scans are completed pretty quickly and do not impact system performance much. However, it would be nice if Malwarebytes provided the option to scan only specific folders instead of the entire system every time.

On Windows, Malwarebytes features an advanced detection engine that identifies more threats in less time and with even less performance impact than before. The great thing about this is that it provides more information about any detected malware. You’ll be able to study its behavior and learn more about that specific threat, so you’re more aware of the security risks.

Real-time protection

Real-time protection in Malwarebytes Premium is a background process that uses minimal system resources and has virtually no effect on CPU usage. It includes:

  • Web protection
  • Malware protection
  • Exploit protection
  • Ransomware protection

Malwarebytes’s web protection blocks infected websites, while malware protection helps to detect and stop various kinds of malware.

Exploit protection is an advanced security feature that deals with advanced exploit attacks that target security flaws and software vulnerabilities in apps to infect your computer. These kinds of attacks may occur when you unknowingly open an infected page or a file. But Malwarebytes Premium gives you peace of mind because it effectively shields vulnerable apps to prevent malicious code from exploiting any security issues.

Further, Malwarebytes Premium offers pretty solid ransomware protection. As ransomware threats continue to grow, it’s vital to have a good defense against them. For this, Malwarebytes Premium provides real-time protection that can detect and eliminate ransomware before it attacks your system.

Malwarebytes Free lacks real-time protection, so it doesn’t have any of the above options in real-time and can’t help once your files are encrypted by ransomware.

Malwarebytes Browser Guard

When you install Malwarebytes, you will be prompted to add its free Browser Guard extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. Browser Guard aims to protect against ads and trackers, phishing and malware-hosting URLs, tech support scams, untrustworthy websites, and more.

We tested it on Google Chrome, and it seems to do a pretty good job. It visibly removes ads, and when you click its toolbar icon, you can view the specifics about the ads and trackers running on the webpage you’re visiting. You can even view statistics of past activity. The settings let you customize the protection that Browser Guard offers.

malwarebytes browser guard screenshot

Browser Guard makes web pages appear cleaner and load faster because ads and unwanted content are blocked. Moreover, it can identify and stop tech support scams. That is, it identifies and stops browser lockers, browser hijackers, and other scare tactics used by tech support scammers to con you out of money.

Privacy: How Does Malwarebytes Handle Your Data?

We appreciate how clear and transparent Malwarebytes is about the data they collect and why. Their privacy policy is easy to understand: it details every aspect of information the company collects about you and why it is needed. The data is not stored unnecessarily, and the privacy policy declares that your data is not shared with third parties.

The information collected includes:

  • Your IP address, browser type, ISP, location, and type of internet connection
  • Personal details such as your name and contact number, address, and email
  • Technical specifications of your device.

All of this seems pretty standard for security software, and we did not find anything worrying in the Malwarebytes privacy policy. You can rest assured that your personal information will not be shared with third parties.

Ease of Use – How User-Friendly is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware?

Malwarebytes has a simple interface that any user will quickly get the hang of. It’s incredibly straightforward to install and use, as explained in the sections below.

Website and installation

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 a free version, which will include a 14-day free trial of the Malwarebytes Premium. You can also view the pricing of the Premium plans and subscribe to one of those directly.

malwarebytes website screenshot

After downloading the free version or purchasing a premium subscription, you can install Malwarebytes as you would any other software on your device. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation process. It will take just a couple of minutes to set up. You will be asked whether you’re using a personal or work computer, but this makes no difference in user experience: the features will be the same no matter which you choose.

malwarebytes installation screenshot

On the whole, it’s a breeze to install Malwarebytes on both Windows and macOS. However, on Mac, when you open the app for the first time, you will be prompted to allow full disk access, and the software will guide you on how to do this in System Preferences. Once this process is complete, Malwarebytes real-time protection will be enabled to keep you safe from threats 24/7.

Note: When you install the free version of Malwarebytes, it will automatically assign you the 14-day free trial of the Premium version. After the trial ends, you’ll have to pay to keep benefiting from the real-time protection. If you don’t want the free trial at all, you can go to Settings, click on the My Account tab and then Deactivate Premium Trial to revert to Malwarebytes free. You can use the same dialog box to activate your software license if you already have it or get a premium subscription by clicking Buy Now.

malwarebytes deactivate premium trial screenshot

Malwarebytes software

Malwarebytes has a soothing blue and white interface that’s easy on the eyes. It’s well-structured so that even beginners have no trouble navigating it and tweaking the settings. There are three panels on the home screen, namely:

  • Detection History, which shows a summary of any recently detected threats, if any
  • Scanner, which you can use to start a manual scan
  • Real-Time Protection, which indicates whether you are protected in real-time

malwarebytes interface screenshot

At the top 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 four tabs:

  • General options, including what to do with quarantined files and whether to update the software automatically
  • My Account, which shows details of your subscription
  • Scheduled Scans, which lets you set up automated scans
  • Advanced, where you can manage how much CPU power Malwarebytes uses

malwarebytes settings screenshot

It’s all pretty self-explanatory and super simple to use. If you still run into issues, you can click the “Help” icon (which looks like a question mark) and contact customer support.

Customer support

When you click the “Help” icon in Malwarebytes, you’ll automatically be taken to the Malwarebytes troubleshooting webpage for your specific device. Here, you’ll find various topics to browse through to find a solution to your problem. You can also choose to submit a support ticket to get more personalized assistance. To submit a ticket, you have to fill out a form and give your email address.

We tried this out and heard back from Malwarebytes after two days. They answered our queries just fine, but it might be frustrating to wait for replies when you’re facing an urgent issue. Unfortunately, there is no quick way of contacting the support team, such as through live chat.

Malwarebytes Speed and Performance

One of the benefits of Malwarebytes is its speed. It can scan your computer pretty quickly and deals with risky files promptly. On our system, a full scan took just over three minutes, which is significantly shorter compared to the hour it takes with conventional antivirus software. Of course, the specific time taken will depend on your system specifications and the number of files you have.

At the same time, we did not notice any system performance issues on Mac or Windows. Malwarebytes ran seamlessly in the background and did not cause any strain on the system. You even have the option to adjust how much processing power Malwarebytes uses during a system scan. Malwarebytes’s settings will allow you to choose between High, Medium, and Low. The High setting means the scan will be completed faster, but it might impact performance if your computer is a bit old or laggy.

As shown in the screenshot, CPU usage was about 2 percent when Malwarebytes was running in the background during our tests. However, when scanning, this went up significantly to about 30 percent. Fortunately, this did not affect other apps and our system continued to function smoothly. Besides, even full scans are completed within minutes, so Malwarebytes does not hog CPU power for too long. Therefore, Malwarebytes scores high on speed and performance.

malwarebytes cpu usage screenshot

Final Verdict: How Good is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware?

Malwarebytes Premium is a useful security tool for Windows and Mac that also works on Android and iOS. It does a good job of cleaning out any malicious code and blocking various web threats, including sophisticated exploit attacks. This is backed by high scores in independent antivirus tests, although these tests only took the Windows version into account. Nonetheless, it’s a good no-frills tool to have in your security arsenal. Unfortunately, the free version does not do much beyond helping you clean existing infections.

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of Malwarebytes Premium:

ProsCons
Includes advanced exploit protection, ransomware protection, and behavior-based detectionNo firewall: sometimes detects malware after infestation rather than before
The scanning process is quick and straightforwardNo independent lab tests scores for macOS
Super simple and user-friendlyCustomer service can be contacted only through support tickets
Fast and lightweight – does not hamper system performance
Excellent free browser extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox

For our final Malwarebytes ratings, we assessed the software on five aspects and scored it out of 10 for each. We then combined the scores and weighed them (with security considered the most important aspect) to reach a final overall score:

  • Security: 6.5
  • Speed and system load: 9
  • Privacy: 7.5
  • Ease of use: 9
  • Customer service: 7
  • Overall score: 7.4

In short, Malwarebytes is a decent antivirus that provides great security against malware and ransomware. However, it lacks many other features like a firewall and parental controls that competitors include at a similar price. Therefore, users might not want to pay for Malwarebytes Premium if they can opt for a more comprehensive option like Kaspersky or Avira instead.

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 for getting rid of existing infections. However, it does not offer real-time protection, while full-fledged antivirus software does, so it won’t protect your computer from new malware.

You don’t specifically need Malwarebytes when you use Windows 10. However, it could be 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 protect 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 on 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.

Tech journalist
Mehak has been writing for over a decade and is passionate about helping people have safer, healthier relationships with all things tech. She has a master’s degree in communication and is especially interested in the impact of technology and the internet on global communities.