Anti-virus software is always the first thing that gets installed and run after a fresh installation of Windows, unless you are sticking with Windows Defender in Windows 8 of course. However, software from Symantec, ESET, McAfee and others that cover this area surprisingly only cover half the playing field. Sometimes, a little extra booster shot in security, via anti-malware software, is great to have running in conjunction with any anti-virus, in an effort to cover all your bases.
- Title: Malwarebytes
- Company: Malwarebytes Corporation
- Product URL: http://malwarebytes.org
- Supported OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8
- Price: Free ($24.95 MSRP for PRO version)
- Rating: 5 out of 5
- Bottom Line: Compared to the competition, Malwarebytes offers effective protection against malware that not only complements your current anti-virus, but is also lightweight on resources and snappy in performance.
Anti-malware software is designed by nature to complement existing anti-virus solutions without causing conflicts that can arise from using two similar security products at the same time. Essentially, in the free version, Malwarebytes is an app that is run on demand in order to scan files, determine if anything is amiss, and then provide the proper fix to ensure system security. Sometimes, anti-virus alone might miss something that Malwarebytes is able to detect.
Compared to other applications such as Spybot Search & Destroy and Webroot Spy Sweeper, Malwarebytes is considerably more lightweight on system resources and doesn't feel like a sluggish behemoth dragging its feet. I was able to perform a full-on scan while working on other tasks without so much as skipping a beat the whole time. There is also a quarantine area which contains any suspected malware found in a scan. From here, you can choose either to restore the files or delete them permanently.
In the scanner settings, you can fine-tune your experience with Malwarebytes by allowing scans in memory spaces, startup, registry, and filesystem objects. For techies looking to read detailed diagnostics after a scan completes, Malwarebytes generates a system scan report, listing all the areas looked into and any objects that were deemed as infected and quarantined. If however, you prefer not to see a detailed report at the end of each scan, you can disable that feature by unchecking the box labeled "Open log file immediately after saving" under General Settings.
During the product installation, Malwarebytes does offer the opportunity to give the PRO version a try free for 30 days. What makes this particular edition stand out from the free version is the addition of automatic updates, preemptive real-time scanning and premium support. Such features are especially helpful for anyone who wants a worry-free, set it and forget it experience.
Although the price for the PRO upgrade is $24.95 directly from the company website, sites like Amazon and Newegg run promotions for this software all the time. I have seen boxed copies of Malwarebytes go for as low as $11 and it might make better sense to wait for these discounts to surface. The good news is you only pay once and you get to keep the software for life with one freely-transferrable license per machine.
Generally speaking, a safety-conscious web surfer isn't likely to run into malware mischief if they follow best practices for online activity. However, not everyone is likely to be this savvy, particularly those who download gimmicky free toolbars and emoticons, which sometimes end up dumping a spyware payload that basic anti-virus doesn't seem to catch. Used in conjunction with a reputable anti-virus application, Malwarebytes fills an important role in any online user's defense toolkit, working to catch the bad guys before they catch you with your pants down.
An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Customer Success Professional for Ultimate Software in Santa Ana, California.