Malwarebytes: Review for 2021

Based out of California, Malwarebytes is an antivirus software company that has been in the industry for more than 15 years. Its products typically have few frills and are designed to simply detect and fend off malware. However, its Premium product line claims to provide additional security measures and configurability. Here, we’ll take a look at how the products stack up against the claims and give our overall assessment of Malwarebytes’ effectiveness.

Malware Removal Best for
5 /5
$ 23.99 or free /mo
Starting Price
Visit Site
Table of Contents

    Expert Summary 

    Antivirus software has evolved from its early stages. In the past, the software was merely a way for computer users to detect and get rid of viruses (hence the name). However, nowadays any good antivirus software should be able to handle a range of malware. That includes adware, ransomware, phishing emails, scareware, and, yes, viruses.

    Malwarebytes is serviceable in this aspect. It isn’t the most aggressive antivirus software out there, but it does its job well and can be integrated nicely with other anti-malware technologies. However, we’re not a huge fan of its lack of features and configurability. For most users who want to be able to play around with their software and have more control over it, this might prove frustrating. Malwarebytes basically runs quietly in the background.

    Everything You Need to Know

    • Simple installation: essentially one-click process
    • Quick scan times: can perform a whole-system scan in about six minutes
    • Subscription packages: one-device and five-device packages
    • 24/7 site support: live chat, support email and phone, and on-site resources
    • 60-day money-back guarantee: test it out and make your decision
    • Compatibility: available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Chrome


    • Detects a wide variety of cyberattacks, including ransomware
    • URL blocking works well
    • 60-day money-back guarantee is quite generous
    • System scans are efficient and quick


    • Poor scores in independent lab tests
    • Lack of across-the-board mobile device compatibility
    • Not much configurability for veteran users

    Malwarebytes Premium Features

    Our main focus for this review is Malwarebytes Premium. Though users can download a free version of the software, the Premium option adds some helpful features. Below, we’ll go over the different features and explain how they work.

    Real-Time Threat Detector

    The threat detector is one of the high points of Malwarebytes Premium. While some of the software’s features did not perform well during tests, it is able to detect threats as they appear. That’s true even if you are in the middle of a system scan at the time. Theoretically, this should mean you’re constantly protected. However, given some issues with Malwarebyte’s performance, we recommend running it with other security software for best results.

    URL Blocking

    The software also has a handy URL blocking feature that works network-wide. It detects and filters websites, blocking ones that have suspicious tendencies or that link to malware. Better yet, the URL blocking feature does not require a browser extension to run, and it protects all devices connected to your network.

    Unfortunately, these are about the only additional features available with even the Premium version of Malwarebytes. There isn’t much here in the way of in-depth configurability or customization, so more hands-on users will want to look somewhere else. While the simplicity of the featurelessness is no doubt appealing to less technically minded users, there is some confusion with user intent. For example, what little configurable options exist often make use of technical jargon like “AntiHeap Spraying.” Will most users even know what that means?

    Premium + Privacy

    The best deal available is a combination of Malwarebytes Premium and Privacy software. The Privacy in question is Malwarebytes’ VPN (virtual private network). Hosted on several hundred servers in about 30 countries across the globe, the network is small but effective. It can be used to help shield your IP address and personal information from prying eyes while you are online, including:

    • corporate entities
    • hackers
    • malware

    We were fairly impressed with this VPN, as it uses the safe WireGuard protocol that even some of the larger networks available have not yet upgraded to. However, it isn’t ideal, since it doesn’t appear to work on mobile devices. That’s a huge drawback.

    The combined antivirus and VPN package comes out to about $1.67 per month, per device, for up to five devices. That’s roughly $100 per year, which isn’t a bad price. However, again, there are few features here to write home about and it’s more about the basics.

    Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection

    Endpoint protection (EPP) is a method of securing networks for large companies and corporations. Since most companies have networks of devices that include laptops, client devices, smartphones, and more, these networks are especially vulnerable to outside attacks. Zero-day exploits, malware, and the accidental leakage of important system information through human error are all dangers.

    Endpoint protection establishes a wealth of protective software around the endpoints of a network, such as workstations and servers. Typically, EPP is a type of all-in-one package that includes antivirus software, host intrusion prevention measures, security against additional types of malware, and a firewall or kill switch for devices.

    Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection routinely gets high ratings from clients online. However, we found some issues. Like Premium, the EPP product doesn’t always catch threats as they appear. In many lab tests, actually, Malwarebytes Premium has scored lower than even Microsoft Defender. In some, the Premium version only caught three-quarters of threats as they appeared. That’s not good enough.

    Malwarebytes Adwcleaner

    Let’s give credit where it’s due. Though there are significant problems with some of Malwarebytes’ offerings, the Adwcleaner performs well. Its only downside is that, currently, it only works with the Windows client.

    Adwcleaner, well, cleans up adware. It effectively uninstalls any pre-loaded browser toolbars, blocks additional popups and unwanted programs, allows you to restore the settings on your browser to get rid of pesky add-ons, and more. We found that this software worked well, and it also provides multilingual support for users besides just the default English.

    Malwarebytes Browser Guard

    The browser guard feature of Malwarebytes is essentially a browser extension that blocks harmful intrusions into your online experience. It blocks adware and is designed to detect common hacking tactics like browser locking software, hijackers, and similar issues.

    Some of the big positives include:

    • blocked clickbait
    • blocked scam websites and ads
    • reportedly allows browsers to load sites up to four times faster than normal.

    Pricing Plans

    Malwarebytes’ prices are consistent with industry competitors. However, given that it has scored significantly lower on some tests, this could be a red flag for some. Added to that apprehension is the fact that some companies, such as McAfee, provide less expensive prices and cover more devices.

    The typical Malwarebytes subscription runs at $39.99 per year, per device. Its Premium + Privacy bundle usually costs $99.99 per year, per device. However, at the time of this writing, the company is running a sale for 2021. Under this sale, prices are:

    • $23.99 per year, per device for Premium
    • $59.99 per year, per device for Premium + Privacy

    These are good prices compared to competitors, but it is unclear how long the sale will continue to run.

    Final Verdict

    The suite of Malwarebytes Premium products are a mixed bag. While the streamlining and simplicity can be good for some users, it is a bit too on-rails for more hands-on, tech-savvy folks. More alarming, however, is the news that it seems to fail real-time threat detection at a higher rate than even Microsoft Defender. The VPN that comes with the bundle package (Premium + Privacy) is decent, but it’s hard to recommend because it doesn’t work with mobile.

    We recommend using these products mainly alongside compatible malware removal and detection tools from other companies. What one misses, the other can catch. Besides, though it doesn’t always catch the threats, Malwarebytes Premium does use forms of machine learning to detect problems, and that’s a good thing.


    Below are some of our answers to the most frequently asked questions about Malwarebytes Premium.

    1.  Is Malwarebytes anti-malware safe to use?

    The anti-malware detection and removal software provided by Malwarebytes is safe to use, meaning it won’t actively harm your computer. However, it also doesn’t seem to test extraordinarily well in the lab. To help off-set this problem while still taking advantage of all that Malwarebytes has to offer, we recommend running this software alongside compatible tools from other companies.

    2.  Does Malwarebytes software remove viruses?

    Yes, Malwarebytes detects and removes viruses, as well as other types of malware like ransomware, spyware, and more. Its Adwcleaner can help detect malicious links and websites as they arrive as well as clean up your existing browser (such as deleting pre-installed toolbars and other items that clog up your screen and prevent usability). That said, Malwarebytes has scored lower than many other antivirus softwares on the market, including Norton, Kaspersky, and even Microsoft Defender.

    3.  Is Malwarebytes enough to protect my device?

    For this question, we’ll have to answer “no.” While we do like some of the features offered by Malwarebytes, even its Premium product doesn’t work as well as we’d like. According to some lab tests, it has even had as low as a 76% detection rating in some instances, compared to competitors’ scores of 100%. That’s a pretty devastatingly bad track record. We recommend using Malwarebytes with other companies’ products to get the best of both worlds.

    4.  Can I use Malwarebytes together with an antivirus software?

    Yes. In fact, using Malwarebytes in addition to software from other companies is actually how we’d recommend using it. One of the best aspects of this software is that it is compatible and plays nicely with other companies’ versions. Using multiple malware detection and removal tools can help you provide well-rounded protection for your devices and network.

    5.  Can I use Malwarebytes on an Android device?

    Yes. Malwarebytes is compatible with Android. It’s also usable on other devices and works with iOS, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, and MacOS as well.

    Looking for Malwarebytes Alternatives? Compare your Options!


    Malwarebytes vs Avast

    Malwarebytes vs NortonMalwarebytes vs Windows Defender