Malwarebytes Privacy VPN Review (2021) – Powerful But Unpolished
We’re witnessing more and more cybersecurity companies launching their own VPNs. Malwarebytes, primarily known for its antivirus software, jumped on the VPN bandwagon in 2020. The company first became a Mullvad VPN reseller in 2019 to gauge the overall interest in VPNs before deciding to jump into the arena.
Faced with an overwhelmingly positive response, they’ve decided to shake the market with their own VPN. At first glance, the final product looks like a pretty basic VPN with a premium price tag. However, big names like Malwarebytes usually deserve a more thorough look.
That’s why we decided to conduct a full hands-on test and see how this VPN stacks up against the rest. Read all about our test results and overall experience in the detailed Malwarebytes VPN review below.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN – Short Review
|Ultra-fast WireGuard protocol||Limited server network|
|AES-256 encryption||Unstable speeds|
|Split-tunneling||No forward secrecy|
|Automatic kill switch||Problematic logging practices|
|Beginner-friendly user interface||Expensive|
|Works with Netflix||No crypto payments|
|Torrenting is allowed||Subpar customer support|
Malwarebytes Privacy is a beginner-friendly VPN offered by one of the biggest names in cybersecurity. Their apps are intuitive and easy to use. It supports the WireGuard protocol, which ensures blazing speeds, even though the servers are not always stable. AES-256 encryption provides top-notch security. Malwarebytes Privacy offers 400+ locations across 30+ countries. The company doesn’t keep any activity logs but they do collect a lot of data they shouldn’t. In spite of its high price tag, Malwarebytes Privacy is a pretty basic VPN service. As such, it might suit VPN beginners while power users should give it a pass.
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Credit card
Speed – How Fast Is Malwarebytes Privacy VPN
If your connection is slow, distant servers might give you a tough time. That’s why we check multiple servers for every VPN. We test the speed on local and distant servers to see how it holds up across various distances.
We compare our vanilla internet speeds (without the VPN) to the results from different servers. We also check for daily fluctuations to exclude throttling due to server overcrowding.
Here’s what we got while testing Malwarebytes Privacy VPN:
- Some servers maintain a good part of the benchmark speed.
- Some locations absolutely nuked our download speed.
- We noticed substantial fluctuations during daily use.
Speed test results for Malwarebytes Privacy VPN
We tested the speed of Malwarebytes Privacy VPN from our offices in the Netherlands. Based on your location and connection speed, you might get different numbers. The following table will give you a better understanding of how speeds differed on different server locations.
Here are the final results of our Malwarebytes Privacy VPN speed test:
|Server||Download (MBPS)||% Download||Upload (MBPS)||% Upload||Ping (MS)|
The speed of Malwarebytes Privacy VPN feels rather inconsistent. They tried to improve it with a proprietary driver in version 2.1.0 (Nov. 2020), but that didn’t do much. However, the potential is definitely there. Malwarebytes needs a lot more polish before joining the fastest VPNs out there. It feels like the company wanted to create a lightning-fast VPN but forgot to back the raw speed up with the necessary stability.
Another possible problem could be their limited server network. Malwarebytes servers are fast but we believe they get overcrowded often. We split-tested the same server in Amsterdam, which should yield the best results for us. The first test showed impressive results while the second basically left us with no download speed.
Unless the company expands its server network, speeds will remain an issue. It was built for speed but lacks stability and consistency. Pair that with a limited server network and it becomes obvious that Malwarebytes still has a lot of work to do on their VPN.
Speeds during daily use
Using Malwarebytes Privacy day-to-day resulted in a mixed experience. Depending on the server and time of day, our experiences ping-ponged between excellent and frustrating. A single server can fluctuate greatly throughout the day. So, you’ll always be on the hunt for locations that perform well in that particular moment.
This was especially frustrating when we tried streaming Netflix or YouTube videos. Due to its inconsistent speeds, Malwarebytes VPN is also not great for online gaming. Instead, we suggest going with one of the tried-and-true options from our list of the best VPNs for gaming.
For best speeds, we usually recommend going with servers with the lowest ping (the ones closest to you). But that doesn’t apply here. Local servers can also slow you down to a crawl during rush hours. So, you can’t rely on any “rules” when hunting for the best servers. It all becomes a tiresome trial and error exercise and that’s not what we expect from a top-tier VPN.
Safety – How Secure is Malwarebytes Privacy VPN?
A solid VPN should anonymize your browsing and everything else you do on the internet. Fortunately, internet safety is where Malwarebytes VPN really shines. It employs a solid security package worthy of the brand. Below, we’ll talk more about its protocol, logging policy, and registration data.
Here’s the main takeaway regarding Malwarebytes VPN’s security features:
- Malwarebytes Privacy VPN uses 256-bit encryption.
- It uses the WireGuard protocol, known for its speed and security.
- It has an automatic kill switch.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN employs only one protocol: WireGuard. It’s one of the safest and fastest options out there. In order to gain extra speed, its creators ditched some unnecessary extras that slow down other protocols like OpenVPN.
Having said that, WireGuard adopts very high-security standards. Even NordVPN based its amazing NordLynx protocol on WireGuard. It’s also used by other VPN giants like Surfshark and Private Internet Access.
Here are some of the main advantages of WireGuard:
- Simplicity: most protocols use thousands of lines of code. WireGuard uses around 4,000.
- Fewer bugs and security vulnerabilities than other (more complicated) protocols.
- Reduced CPU usage
- Faster connection times
- Excellent for routers, smartphones, and other devices without desktop levels of computing power.
- Uses Poly1305 for message authentication and ChaCha20 for encryption
WireGuard was initially developed for VPNs for Linux and runs inside the Linux kernel (the “guts” of the system). This is excellent news for Linux users since the system doesn’t have to do any extra work to accommodate this protocol. This results in a significant performance boost (i.e. speed). OpenVPN, for example, runs outside the kernel so Linux has to do a lot of heavy lifting to help it work with the system.
The problem with Malwarebytes VPN’s encryption keys
Malwarebytes Privacy uses AES-256 encryption, which is also used by the banks and the military. It’s as good as encryption gets. On their site, though, they say that their encryption algorithm surpasses AES-256 and we’re honestly not sure how that works.
However, since it uses WireGuard, there’s one issue the company has to correct. It doesn’t support perfect forward secrecy. This is a system that lets your VPN assign a new encryption key for every session. So, even if a hacker manages to steal your key, it becomes useless the moment you turn off your VPN.
WireGuard always assigns the same encryption key to your sessions. If hackers manage to break into the server and get it, they may be able to decipher your traffic. This is a huge security vulnerability that needs to be fixed.
No matter the period, this fix cannot match the security offered by forward secrecy.
Logging and privacy
Here’s data that Malwarebytes doesn’t collect:
- IP addresses and sites browsed on your device.
- DNS requests made by you.
- Bandwidth usage on your devices.
- Network details (including your IP address).
- Local Malwarebytes Privacy app logs. These logs do exist on your device but you can choose not to share them with the company. At your discretion, you can send the log files if you encounter an issue that needs solving.
The list of information Malwarebytes VPN does collect is somewhat longer, though:
- Personal information: Your name, email, mailing address, phone number, username, password, machine ID number, info about your business (if you’re a company), information about product usage, and billing details.
- Non-personal information: Your anonymized IP address, browser type, internet service provider (ISP), operating system, referring/exit pages and files viewed on the Malwarebytes site, date/time stamps, and/or clickstream data.
- GeoIP data: Continent, country, city, and approx longitude, latitude based on your IP address, the type of your connection, your ISP, and the organization to which the IP is licensed (if any).
- Client data: Your operating system, system language, the processor architecture (32 or 64-bit), the file system in use (FAT32 or NTFS), and info from Windows Security/Action Center (security settings and programs installed or in use).
As you can see, this is a lot of recorded data for a “no-log VPN”. This information can be used to mount an attack against you if hackers manage to steal it. It’s pertinent to mention here that Malwarebytes Privacy is located in the US. With its surveillance agencies, subpoenas/gag orders, and 5 Eyes network, the US is one of the worst locations for a VPN service.
The only way to run a secure VPN in the US is to log absolutely nothing. This way, if the government asks for user information, the company wouldn’t have anything to hand over. Malwarebytes has a lot of data to give away, making it a rather shaky choice for privacy-conscious users.
Malwarebytes VPN was initially released without a kill switch. This decision was met with outrage from their users and online reviewers. Finally, the company added this essential security feature due to popular demand.
On Windows, the kill switch was included in the 1.8.0 update on August 11, 2020. Mac users had to wait until the Malwarebytes Privacy Mac version 1.8.5, which was released on May 4, 2021. Android and iOS users still have no access to this fail-safe.
The kill switch prevents your system from accessing the internet without VPN protection. This prevents data leaks if your VPN falters for whatever reason. Your device will be able to reconnect only when your VPN client comes back online.
What information does Malwarebytes Privacy VPN need?
Every VPN needs a bit of information to provide you with its service. Best-case scenario, this will be just your email and billing info. Many VPNs request a lot more data to “provide better service”, though. For privacy reasons, we prefer a minimalistic approach to account creation.
Here’s the info you’ll need to create your Malwarebytes account:
If you decide to purchase a premium subscription, you’ll also need to provide your payment details. This is ideal and we have to give credit where credit is due. Malwarebytes requires the bare minimum to create an account for you.
Usability – How User-Friendly Is Malwarebytes Privacy VPN?
Malwarebytes Privacy gets top grades for user-friendliness. Even if this is your first VPN, you’ll have no trouble navigating its app and finding what you need. Below, you can read everything about its website, installation, clients, pricing, and customer support.
Here are some main points about its usability:
- Malwarebytes Privacy VPN website is somewhat complicated.
- The installation is quick and easy on all devices and systems.
- The clients are beginner-friendly and intuitive.
- Malwarebytes Privacy is an expensive VPN.
- Only basic payment methods (no crypto).
- The customer support needs some work.
Website and installing Malwarebytes Privacy VPN
Malwarebytes has a lot of different products and the site definitely shows it. The homepage is packed with menus, clickable buttons, and special offers. If you’re not familiar with Malwarebytes, it will take some time to find what you need.
To access the VPN page, you’ll need to click on the “Personal” tab and then on “Malwarebytes Privacy VPN”. Here, you can find some info about the service, check the pricing, activate the free trial, and go through a short FAQ.
Clicking the “Sign in” button in the top-right corner will allow you to log in and open your personal dashboard. Here, you can:
- Manage your subscriptions
- View your order history
- Retrieve your license keys
- Deactivate your license
- Download the latest updates
- Update your billing info
After purchasing the VPN subscription, we recommend creating a Malwarebytes account first. Here’s how to do it:
- Open the invitation email you received and click “Set up account”.
- Enter and re-enter your password.
- Check “I’m not a robot”.
- Click “Finish”.
Now, you can install Malwarebytes Privacy on your device. The installation was smooth and effortless for us. Here are the steps:
- Go to the Malwarebytes VPN download page.
- Click “My Account” in the top-right corner.
- Log in with your credentials.
- Click the “Download” button in the “Subscriptions” tab.
- Locate the setup file (it’s usually saved in your “Downloads” folder).
- Click “Yes” in the user control pop-up window.
- Click “Install”.
- Malwarebytes Privacy will start automatically after installation.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN’s appearance and ease-of-use
Malwarebytes VPN’s client is the total opposite of its website. It’s clean, simple, and easy to navigate. Some advanced options might appear confusing, but those are aimed at VPN power users anyway.
The main window features a large on/off toggle and a shortcut to switch servers. That’s all beginners and regular users will ever need. At the very bottom, you can see your real and assigned IP addresses.
The cog menu in the top-right corner features general and network settings. Among other things, this menu allows you to:
- Auto-launch the VPN when your system starts up.
- Activate the kill switch and multi-hop.
- Define connection rules (how individual apps interact with the VPN).
We particularly like the addition of “dark mode”. This option is always a welcome sight if you’re spending a lot of time in front of your computer.
Malwarebytes Privacy is a good VPN for beginners. Apart from some advanced nice-to-haves, this is a pretty barebones VPN service though. You’ll master the client in no time and eventually understand how to hide your digital footprint a bit better.
Pricing and payment methods
With a pretty basic set of features, Malwarebytes VPN is on the expensive side. If you are looking for maximum value for your money, this might not be your top choice However, there’s a 7-day free trial without any limitations paired with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Malwarebytes offers the following subscriptions for its VPN:
- 1 device: $3.33 per month/$39.99 billed annually
- 3 devices: $4.16 per month/$49.99 billed annually
- 5 devices: $4.99 per month/$59.99 billed annually
Important note: Malwarebytes VPN only offers annual subscriptions. We definitely miss the monthly option, in spite of the free trial and money-back guarantee. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, we would recommend CyberGhost ($1.99 per month).
Malwarebytes Privacy accepts the following payment methods:
- Credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover)
As previously stated in this review, Malwarebytes VPN doesn’t accept cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum allow you to bypass banks and other financial institutions. With some extra caution, you can even make your payments anonymous. That’s why many big-name VPNs allow crypto payments. We definitely hope Malwarebytes will follow suit in the future.
Malwarebytes has an amazing on-site knowledge base but fails at live support. The official website offers everything a new user could hope for: a rich FAQ section, a ton of useful guides, a forum, and a blog.
However, if you need a quick fix for your problem, Malwarebytes will make you wait. There’s an AI-powered live chat on the site where “Malwarebytes Bot” can try and help you. As you can see in the image below, the bot is rarely helpful.
If it can’t solve the issue, it will redirect you to the ticket creation screen. You can submit a ticket and wait for the team to respond. We had a lot of questions about Malwarebytes’ VPN service but the customer support team never responded to our query.
As it stands, Malwarebytes’ customer support doesn’t match their brand. They will have to up their game here if they ever hope to catch up with the biggest VPN names.
Server Network Malwarebytes Privacy VPN
The bigger, the better is our golden rule when it comes to server networks. Having more options allows you to “unblock the internet” to a larger extent, from streaming to bypassing online censorship. More locations also mean less server crowding. This is directly tied to the overall performance of your VPN (i.e. speed, connection times, and stability).
The key points here:
- Malwarebytes Privacy VPN has 400+ servers in 30+ countries.
- Dedicated IPs are currently unavailable.
Number of servers and locations
We already mentioned in this review that Malwarebytes Privacy uses Mullvad VPN’s server network. Specifically, Mullvad’s WireGuard servers. That’s 400+ servers in 30+ countries, which is not overly impressive.
Mullvad owns some of its servers while renting the rest of the network. Picking the servers that are actually owned and operated by the provider is always the safer bet. However, there’s no way of differentiating them.
As stated, this limited server network is what’s stopping Malwarebytes VPN from reaching its full potential when it comes to speed. The servers tend to get overcrowded, resulting in lag and frequent speed drops. You can access the available locations through the client’s home screen. However, there’s no info on real-time server loads, which turns the whole experience into a huge trial & error exercise.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN has servers in the following countries:
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
Usually, when you launch a VPN client, it offers to connect you to the closest server automatically. The app chooses the best server for you based on your physical location. Servers closer to you should have lower pings and better speeds. Malwarebytes VPN doesn’t have this feature. You’ll have to check the list of servers manually and find the one closest to you.
Server switching is unlimited but not seamless. When you’re changing a server, you are left unprotected for a short instant. Keep that in mind to prevent potential data leaks.
Dedicated IP address
With a dedicated IP, your VPN assigns you the same IP address every time you connect. It’s tied to your account and nobody else can use it. Dedicated IPs facilitate online payments, go around captcha, and make it less likely to get blacklisted by sites (like Netflix or Hulu).
Having said that, Malwarebytes VPN doesn’t offer dedicated IPs. The company opted to give its users shared IP addresses. This means that you’ll be sharing your IP with a certain number of users. If you’re using your VPN primarily for torrenting, this is excellent news. Shared IPs make it less likely that your P2P traffic will be spotted among hundreds of users with the same address. You can also check our list of the best VPNs for torrenting for more excellent options.
There’s still a large debate whether dynamic is better than shared. We would say that none is inherently better, but they do have different uses. Shared IPs increase your online privacy by “losing” your traffic among hundreds of users. Dedicated IPs, however, are better for businesses that own their websites.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN’s Options
Malwarebytes VPN’s list of extra options is rather modest. As we said, the potential is definitely there but the company still has a lot of work to do. Surprisingly, its Netflix-unblocking capabilities are pretty impressive. We had no trouble accessing several regional versions from our offices. The client also supports torrenting, which is always good news.
Malwarebytes VPN’s extra options include:
- Unblocking regional versions of Netflix (including the US)
- P2P support
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN and Netflix
Contrary to some online reviews, Malwarebytes Privacy VPN works perfectly well with Netflix. At least, it did during our testing circuit. If it maintains this momentum, it could join our best VPNs for Netflix in no time.
We tested several regional versions and here are the results:
- The US – Yes
- The UK – Yes
- Germany – Yes
- France – Yes
- Japan – Yes
- Turkey – Yes
We always managed to play the content on our first try. However, if you encounter the dreaded proxy error, it should be a false negative. The shared IP might’ve been blacklisted by Netflix. Simply try a different server and you should be good to go.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN and Torrents
Malwarebytes Privacy supports anonymous torrenting on all of its servers. Mullvad VPN allows P2P traffic on its servers so, there’s no reason for Malwarebytes to miss out on that part. The speed depends on the server you’re connected to. As we mentioned, it can be a bit of a letdown if you start chaining overcrowded servers.
Malwarebytes Privacy launched without any nice-to-have features. Split-tunneling was among them. However, this option was added on January 27, 2021, as a part of the 2.5.0 update. Malwarebytes was somewhat cryptic with this feature, calling it “Connection rules”, instead of split-tunneling. You can find it in the “Network Settings” tab.
This useful option allows you to specify which apps and programs get routed through your VPN and which can bypass it (and access the internet directly). For example, you can choose to only route Netflix through Malwarebytes VPN, allowing you to stream the US version from anywhere.
Split-tunneling boosts your speed and conserves bandwidth. VPN encryption makes the traffic transmit at a slower pace, which eats more bandwidth. This results in frequent lag and speed drops. With split-tunneling, you can exclude trusted apps from VPN protection.
Malwarebytes Privacy allows you to route your traffic through multiple servers for extra security. Multihop is the term used to denote VPN connection through two or more VPN servers instead of just one. This is also called “double VPN”, although more servers can participate in the chain.
Multihop adds an additional layer of security to your connection. If hackers manage to crack one VPN server, they will backtrace yet to another VPN server, instead of your computer. However, this also adds extra encryption to your traffic, which will result in lower speed. So, we recommend using multihop only if you absolutely need it. Regular users can just forget this feature even exists.
Conclusion – Our Experience with Malwarebytes Privacy VPN
Malwarebytes Privacy is a mixed bag. It’s far from a reskinned version of Mullvad but it still feels unpolished. A lot of useful features were added along the way but it can’t match the best VPNs out there.
Limited server network affects the overall speed very severely. Servers range from incredibly fast to almost dead, depending on the current load. With unstable speeds, Malwarebytes Privacy is unsuitable even for streaming, let alone gaming. The geo-unblocking potential is impressive but it too is hampered by the shifting speeds.
Malwarebytes advertises its product as a “next-gen VPN”, but there’s nothing “next-gen” about it. It offers a standard security package, which is solid but nothing previously unheard of. WireGuard is an amazing protocol, but many other VPNs use it.
The pricing is yet another problem. Malwarebytes Privacy is definitely too expensive. There are many cheaper VPNs with a lot more to offer. We’re also not fans of mandatory annual subscriptions. Furthermore, we’d like to see crypto payments enabled in the future.
Lastly, the customer support is downright disappointing. Live chat is a must nowadays for any up-and-coming VPN. The chatbot goes from unhelpful to broken and unresponsive. The ticket system should be reserved only for big problems, not used as a default support line.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN needs a lot more work but the potential is there. We feel it can grow to become an amazing VPN but it’s just not there yet.
Do you have more questions about Malwarebytes Privacy VPN? Below, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions. Just click on the question to expand the answer.
Malwarebytes Privacy is a VPN service launched in 2020. Malwarebytes is primarily known for its antivirus software but they’ve decided to jump in on the VPN bandwagon as well. Considering its age, the final product is a decent VPN that boosts your security, encrypts your online traffic, allows you to stream geo-blocked services, and torrent anonymously.
Malwarebytes Privacy is a decent VPN service. It uses an ultra-fast WireGuard protocol paired with AES-256 encryption. This is currently the strongest cipher out there. It also comes with an automatic kill switch to prevent accidental data leaks. You can read all about Malwarebytes Privacy in this comprehensive review.
No. Malwarebytes Premium for one or five devices doesn’t come with a VPN by default. There’s a special plan you can purchase called “Premium + Privacy”, which includes both tools. If you’re already a Premium subscriber, you can add Malwarebytes Privacy without extending your subscription length. You can simply pay the difference for the remaining time of your subscription.
Yes! Malwarebytes does offer a VPN for Android devices. Apart from Android, you can install Malwarebytes Privacy on Windows, Mac, and iOS devices.
Yes! Contrary to some negative online reviews, Malwarebytes VPN became a regular streaming powerhouse. It can unlock various regional versions of Netflix, including the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Turkey, and others. All you have to do is find some great Netflix shows to watch.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN only offers annual subscriptions. The final price depends on the number of devices you wish to secure. A subscription for one device costs $39.99 per year, for two devices $49.99 per year, and $59.99 per year for 5 devices. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee so you can basically test this VPN completely cost-free. If you’re looking for more affordable options, check our list of the best cheap VPNs.
As it stands, we have to say that Malwarebytes Privacy is too expensive for what it offers. On top of that, it only allows annual subscriptions. You can use the 7-day free trial to test the service and see if it works for you. Alternatively, you can go for a more affordable option like CyberGhost.
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