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Malwarebytes Antivirus Review (2024 Update): The Pros & Cons

By Tibor Moes / Updated: November 2023 / Rating: 3 of 5

Malwarebytes Antivirus Review 2024

Malwarebytes Antivirus 2024: Review Summary

Malwarebytes is ranked #13 of the 28 best antivirus of 2024.

Malwarebytes has excellent anti-malware protection, a minimal impact on the speed of your PC, and an excellent price. However, it’s minimalistic and lacks a firewall, password manager, dark web monitor, and more.

On top of that, Malwarebytes claims it’s “smarter than traditional antivirus,” but the test results don’t show that. Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee have better test scores and more security features.

We therefore prefer Norton 360 Deluxe. It has better test scores, more security features, and a lower price. It’s simply a superior antivirus program.

  • Malware protection: 98%. Malwarebytes detected and removed most of the 1,200 malware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 90%. Malwarebytes anti-malware engine is lightweight, but it had a small impact on the speed of our test PC.
  • Features: 60%. Malwarebytes offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, and a VPN. But lacks a firewall, password manager, and more.
  • Price: 80%. Although Malwarebytes doesn’t have generous first-year discounts, its price is excellent.

If you want the best protection, we recommend Norton.

Ranking  #13 of 28
Anti-malware
Anti-phishing
Firewall
Password Manager
Unlimited VPN
Operating systems Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Click the links to read the reviews of the best antivirus of 2024:

🥇 Norton 360 Deluxe – The #1 in 2024
🥈 Bitdefender Total Security
🥉 TotalAV Antivirus

Or read our complete comparison of the best antivirus for Windows 11.

Malwarebytes Antivirus 2024: Full Review

We tested Malwarebytes and found it strong on essentials like real-time malware and ransomware defense. However, it lacks extra perks like a firewall or password manager, features that competitors like Norton and Bitdefender include along with better VPNs.

Good news: Malwarebytes is planning to add more tools, thanks to its recent acquisition of Cyrus Security. This could make it a more well-rounded choice in the future.

So, if you want a simple, budget-friendly antivirus that does the basics well, Malwarebytes is a solid pick.

Anti-malware

We put Malwarebytes’ virus scanner through its paces, testing it on Windows, Mac, and Android. Its scanner uses a mix of a large database and machine learning to catch both known and new malware. It offers three scan types: Threat Scan for key areas, Quick Scan for active infections, and Custom Scan where you pick the areas to check. A drawback: you need to use Custom Scan for a full system sweep, which isn’t as convenient.

Our Threat Scan was speedy, taking less than 4 minutes for over 300,000 files, similar to competitors like Norton and Bitdefender. When we threw about 1,200 malware samples at it, the Threat Scan caught 81%, while a full disk scan nabbed 98%. That’s good, but some rivals offer a 100% detection rate.

Real-time protection in Malwarebytes is solid, divided into four layers—malware, web, ransomware, and exploit protection. We found it blocked 97% of the malware we tried to download, and its web protections outperformed even built-in browser safeguards. However, its ransomware protection was weaker, catching only two-thirds of simulated attacks, compared to full blocking by Norton and McAfee.

In summary, Malwarebytes offers strong real-time virus protection and useful scan options, but falls short in ransomware defense and full-system scanning convenience. It’s a strong performer overall, but there’s room for improvement.

Anti-phishing

We tested Malwarebytes’s Browser Guard extension on multiple browsers including Chrome and Firefox. It’s mainly designed for blocking phishing sites, and in this area, it excels. Out of 40 known phishing sites we visited, it blocked 39— a 98% success rate.

Browser Guard is user-friendly with all protections activated by default. You can also easily toggle specific features on and off, which is handy if it’s being overly cautious on sites you trust.

As for its ad-blocking claims, we found it less impressive. It only managed to block about a third of the ads on various websites, falling short of competitors like Avira, which almost entirely cleared the screen of ads.

In a nutshell, Browser Guard shines in phishing protection but isn’t the go-to choice for ad blocking.

VPN

We evaluated Malwarebytes’s Premium + Privacy VPN and found it to be a mixed bag. On the plus side, it offers over 500 servers in more than 40 countries, uses the secure WireGuard protocol, and maintains a strict no-logs policy. It also includes a kill switch on Windows and Mac—a key feature for preserving your privacy if the VPN connection drops.

However, we found its connection speeds disappointing. Our download speed was reduced to one-fifth when connected, which lags behind competitors like ExpressVPN that only halve the speed. Moreover, we couldn’t unblock streaming platforms like Netflix, a drawback if you’re after a VPN for entertainment purposes. On the upside, it does support torrenting and offers split-tunneling to manage app traffic, helping to avoid unnecessary slowdowns.

If you’re in a country with internet restrictions, note that this VPN won’t be helpful—it doesn’t bypass firewalls in such regions.

In summary, while Malwarebytes’s VPN has some strong privacy features, it falls short in speed and streaming capabilities. It’s a decent choice for basic online anonymity but not for much else.

Mobile app

We took Malwarebytes’ mobile apps for a spin and found the Android app to be feature-rich, offering malware scanning, web and exploit protection, as well as some extras like spyware protection and a privacy audit tool. This makes it particularly useful for users who want to understand the permissions their apps have. The iOS app is simpler due to Apple’s restrictions but does offer decent web protection and scam call blocking. However, the mobile VPN offering falls short, sharing the same limitations as its desktop counterpart—slow and ineffective for streaming.

In summary, Malwarebytes’ mobile apps are well-designed and good for beginners, but they aren’t the most feature-rich options on the market.

Customer support

As for customer support, Malwarebytes offers a decent knowledge base and email support but falls behind competitors by lacking live chat or phone support. While the bot can guide you through the knowledge base, it struggles with complex queries. Our email inquiry received a helpful reply within 24 hours, which is good, but not ideal for immediate needs.

Customer support is adequate for basic queries but could be improved by adding more immediate support options like live chat.

Plans and pricing

We evaluated Malwarebytes’ plans and pricing and here’s the breakdown:

  • Malwarebytes Free: Good for quick malware removal but lacks real-time protection. For better free options, consider competitors like Avira that offer more comprehensive features.

  • Malwarebytes Premium: Offers real-time protection against various online threats. Priced at $38.24/year for 1 device, it’s somewhat cheaper than leading competitors like Norton and Bitdefender. However, it doesn’t pack as many features as those brands.

  • Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy VPN: Combines antivirus and a basic VPN for $99.99/year. The VPN is limited—no streaming or use in restricted countries. You can get more bang for your buck with other packages like Norton 360 Deluxe that offer more features for less.

All paid plans come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee, and there’s also a 14-day free trial for the Premium plan. Overall, while Malwarebytes offers decent protection, it may not be the best value for money when compared to feature-rich competitors.

Click the links to read the reviews of the best antivirus of 2024:

🥇 Norton 360 Standard – The #1 in 2024
🥈 Bitdefender Internet Security
🥉 TotalAV Antivirus

Or read our complete comparison of the best antivirus for Mac.

Plans and pricing

In the table below are the core products with their features and prices.

The prices shown are from the USA. However, most brands have different prices (and currencies) in other regions. So visit the brand’s website to see the price in our country.

Malwarebytes Free Virus Removal
Malwarebytes Premium
Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy VPN
Starting price
$0.00/year
$44.99/year
$59.99/year
Devices
1
1-5
1-5
Operating software
Windows
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Malware scanner
Real-time protection
-
Anti-phishing
-
Anti-tracker
-
Unlimited VPN
-
-

Click the links to read the reviews of the best antivirus of 2024:

🥇 Norton Antivirus Plus – The #1 in 2024
🥈 Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
🥉 TotalAV Antivirus

Or read our complete comparison of the best antivirus for Android.

Test score comparison

Next to our own anti-malware tests, we analyze those by AV-Test. We’ve compared the results of the 10 most recent tests for Windows 10. The tests were performed by AV-Test, the German anti-malware test lab. They use three factors:

  • Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
  • Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
  • Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.

We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:

Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.

Brands not listed in the table haven’t participated in the analysis by AV-Test. This is usually not a good sign. Because most reputable brands, except Panda, ESET, and Sophos, partake in the test.

Source: AV-Test.

Final Score
Protection
Performance
Usability
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
6.00
5.98
6.00
5.90
6.00
5.98
6.00
5.90
6.00
5.97
6.00
5.85
6.00
5.96
5.95
5.95
6.00
5.94
5.95
6.00
5.85
5.93
5.95
5.95
5.85
5.91
5.95
5.75
5.95
5.87
5.83
5.83
6.00
5.81
5.85
5.55
5.95
5.77
5.70
5.95
5.80
5.60
6.00
6.00
4.00
5.47
5.15
5.90
6.00

Click the links to read the reviews of the best antivirus of 2024:

🥇 Norton 360 Advanced – The #1 in 2024
🥈 Bitdefender Premium Security
🥉 TotalAV Antivirus

Or read our complete comparison of the best antivirus for iOS.

Price comparison

We’ve compared the prices of the top antivirus products for Windows. To make it a fair comparison, we looked at what it would cost us, to protect a  single Windows PC with the most essential features:

  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-phishing (web protection)
  • Firewall
  • Password manager
  • Unlimited VPN (no data limit)

A few notes:

  • Some brands are missing features, lowering their value for money.
  • Prices are second-year prices in the USA, without first-year discounts.
  • Prices are rounded up for readability (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100).

Brands have different prices outside the USA. See those on their website.

Total price
Missing features
$ 50
No firewall, password manager, and VPN
$ 80
No firewall and password manager
$ 90
No firewall
$ 130
No password manager
$ 180
No firewall

Click the links to read the reviews of the best antivirus of 2024:

🥇 Norton 360 for Gamers – The #1 in 2024
🥈 Bitdefender Total Security
🥉 TotalAV Antivirus

Or read our complete comparison of the best VPN of 2024.

User reviews

We’ve compared the user reviews of all antivirus brands. We’ve used the scores and review count of TrustPilot, a leading user review platform. However, take these results with a grain of salt, as some brands actively attempt to increase their ratings.

Personally, we are wary of exceptionally high scores. Especially those by brands such as TotalAV, known for aggressive marketing and sales tactics.

We consider scores between 4.0 and 4.5 good and realistic. Higher scores are dubious, and lower scores indicate that the brand might have a poor product or customer service. McAfee’s scores, for instance, are worrying.

Source: TrustPilot.

Review score
Review count
4.8
5900
4.7
97000
4.4
1600
4.3
14500
4.3
4000
4.2
8300
4.1
13200
4.1
900
3.9
12000
3.9
26600
3.8
19000
3.7
7600
1.2
2000

Click the links to read the reviews of the best antivirus of 2024:

🥇 Norton Antivirus Plus – The #1 in 2024
🥈 Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
🥉 TotalAV Antivirus

Or read our complete comparison of the best antivirus for Android.

How we test antivirus software

Below we describe how we run our tests. For even more details, visit our blog posts on how we test antivirus software.

Anti-malware protection test

We analyze antivirus software’s capability to detect and eliminate known and unknown malware, using heuristic analysis for behavior monitoring.

We conduct in-house tests and analyze those from labs like AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives to determine the best malware protection.

Malware includes adware, keyloggers, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Other cyber threats, usually not classified as malware, are (zero-day) exploits, hacks, identity theft, phishing attacks, scams, and social engineering.

False positives test

False positives occur when antivirus software misidentifies legitimate software, files, or websites as malicious. We rely on AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in its usability test to guide our evaluations.

System performance test

We measure the CPU load during antivirus software system scans and consider AV-Test’s performance results on the slowdown caused by antivirus software when opening websites and handling software.

Firewall test

We evaluate two-way firewalls that filter incoming and outgoing data and allow users to set rules to regulate data streams. We use the ShieldsUP! test to determine if the antivirus software blocks all ports.

Password manager test

We assess password managers’ ability to create, store, and autofill secure passwords, as well as additional features like two-factor authentication and biometric login.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) test

We evaluate built-in VPNs on their security, privacy, speed, compatibility with streaming services, unlimited data access, and support for peer-to-peer networks and torrent clients.

Parental control test

We examine parental control features, such as screen time rules, website/app blocking, and real-world location tracking. We test these features on a device and attempt to circumvent them, checking if the activity is accurately reported in the parental control admin.

Anti-phishing protection test

We evaluate antivirus browser extensions that block phishing sites by installing them and attempting to visit dangerous URLs.

Ransomware protection test

We assess security suites’ ability to prevent data encryption through exploit prevention and behavioral detection during ransomware attacks.

Bonus features test

We test any additional cybersecurity tools such as:

  • Ad Blocker
  • Anti-theft
  • Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
  • Email protection
  • File encryption
  • File shredder
  • Gaming mode
  • Microphone protection
  • PC maintenance features
  • Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
  • Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
  • Spam filter
  • Startup optimizer
  • Tune up tools
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Webcam protection

Ownership and reputation test

We analyze the trustworthiness of antivirus companies, especially concerning customer data. We read press releases, news articles, and privacy policies to determine their reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Is Malwarebytes a good antivirus program?

Malwarebytes is ranked #13 of 28 antivirus programs. The ranking is based on its protection, performance, price, and features. Find the best protection in our comparison of the best antivirus of 2024.

How do we test antivirus software?

We analyze the protection from malware, the performance impact on a PC, and the number of false positives. On top of that, we test various security features such as the firewall, password manager, VPN, and more.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.