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Malwarebytes Free Review 2017: A Strong Second Opinion Anti-Malware Scanner

By: Dennis Z
Malwarebytes Free Review

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free provides a strong second opinion scanner which you can use in addition to your real-time antivirus of choice.

This review of Malwarebytes Free is focused on the core differences between the free and premium versions.

For those of you looking for more thorough information about Malwarebytes and its complete suite of premium features, our complete review of Malwarebytes covers all the features in detail, demonstrates how this software performed in our own in-house testing, and much more.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

With that said, I can start my review of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free.

Pros and Cons of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

Unlike other free antivirus software and despite the severely slimmed down version, I have to extend the free version of Malwarebytes some extra credit.

The reason is that Malwarebytes Free can run alongside another antivirus engine, and its malware scanner provides a very welcome and non-intrusive layer of security.

Pros:
  • A strong behavioral scanner
  • No ads
  • No promotional pop up notifications
Cons:
  • No real-time protection
  • No ransomware protection
  • No anti-exploit
  • No phishing protection
  • No automatic updates
  • No quick ("Hyper") scan
  • User dashboard contains multiple links to the store

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Article Index

Reviewing Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

I started out by installing the free trial of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium, in order to see how it looks before it downgrades itself to the Free version.

This happens after 14 days of free trial, after which you will no longer enjoy many of the features which the premium version of Malwarebytes offers.

Here's how it looks before the free trial expires:

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium Trial

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium Trial

This is basically the same as the paid version, only you have very visible options to buy a license.

The "Upgrade" and "Activate" buttons disappear after you purchase a license and activate your premium product.

6.6 / 10

Free Features vs. Paid Features

As I already mentioned, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free doesn't conflict with other antivirus software, so there's no harm in having it installed as a secondary scanner and use it to occasionally check your machine.

I actually discussed the importance of a second-opinion scanner in my article about protecting yourself online.

When it comes to features, that's about all I can say in favor of this free product.

Now, on to the drawbacks of the free version.

The first and most prominent issue is the lack of real-time protection.

This means that you can use the on-demand scanner but you can't rely on Malwarebytes to block potential threats in real-time.

The disabled modules include:

Disabled Real-Time Protection Settings

Disabled Real-Time Protection Settings

In terms of available scans, the "Hyper Scan" - the quickest scan that Malwarebytes offers - is also reserved for premium members only.

This means that you need to set aside some time for the program to work when you scan, because the scan process noticeably slows down the computer.

Disabled Hyper Scan

Disabled Hyper Scan

Even if you want to save time and schedule a scan for a time when you're not using your computer, you can't.

Scheduled scans are also out of bounds for free users, and the best you can do is to hit "Scan" just before you go to sleep.

Disabled Scan Scheduling

Disabled Scan Scheduling

As you can see at the bottom of the next screenshot, Malwarebytes won't automatically quarantine detected threats which means you have to choose to do so manually in case a threat is found.

On the bright side, you only have to do it when the scan is finished.

You can also see that additional protection settings (like the self-protection module) aren't available on the free version either.

Disabled Automatic Quarantine Setting

Disabled Automatic Quarantine Setting

And just to limit the free user a bit more, automatic updates are disabled.

Now this, in my humble opinion is an unnecessary limitation.

After everything that we just learned, the free user won't be able to leave the screen anyway during a routine scan, so why not allow the software to update automatically like any other free antivirus software?

Disabled Automatic Updates Feature

Disabled Automatic Updates Feature

I should mention at this stage that all these features are included in the Premium version, which you can try for free for 14 days.

PREMIUM

Malwarebytes 3.0 Premium

7.0 / 10

The Premium Product is Offered Across the User Interface

Aside from the obvious "Activate License" and "Upgrade Now" buttons, you're encouraged to purchase the paid version from other sections of the user console.

You may have noticed that some of the screenshots I posted above contain orange "Premium" ribbons.

If you click on any of those, the Malwarebytes store will open in your browser.

A bit overdone in my opinion, but on the other hand, there are no banners in this software so not too bad altogether.

10 / 10

No Annoying Ads and Pop Up Notifications

After the free trial expires, you'll begin seeing this notification every time you open the Malwarebytes dashboard:

Expired Trial Notification

Expired Trial Notification

As long as you don't select the "Stay downgraded" option, it will keep showing up every time you open the program interface.

You can snooze it for a bit longer by choosing "Remind me later", otherwise you will keep seeing it upon opening the user console.

There are no other pop up notifications or ads except for this one, so in my humble opinion it's very good in this regard.

My Conclusion

Malwarebytes is a good choice as a secondary scanner.

I recommend also trying out Bitdefender to run alongside Malwarebytes, in order to enhance your security even further.

If you need an emergency go-to protection software you wouldn't be wrong to choose Malwarebytes Free.

However, you might soon discover that the free version just doesn't cut it for you and upgrade.

Pros:
  • A strong behavioral scanner
  • No ads
  • No promotional pop up notifications
Cons:
  • No real-time protection
  • No ransomware protection
  • No anti-exploit
  • No phishing protection
  • No automatic updates
  • No quick ("Hyper") scan
  • User dashboard contains multiple links to the store

If you'd like to give it a try yourself, hit this button and scroll down until you reach the free trial option.

Get Malwarebytes Free

By Dennis Z

Privacy fanatic & online marketing guru

A millennial privacy freak who wouldn’t normally even put his first name anywhere, not to mention his last name or his photo. Having learned basic programming at the advanced age of 11, computers have always been a part of his life in every aspect.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free is a good looking piece of software and does a good job as a second-opinion scanner in addition to a separate antivirus software without conflicts. However, there are some features missing which reduce the user experience below the threshold of reasonable convenience.

Malwarebytes Free
Date published:May 25, 2017
7.8 / 10 stars

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