If you ask computer users about the anti-spyware software that they have installed to protect their system they will most likely name Spybot Search and Destroy or Ad-Aware. Those are the most commonly used anti-spyware programs. Some may name Windows Defender from Microsoft or Spyware Terminator or some commercial products instead.
Malewarebytes Anti-Malware is a software currently in Beta that has an easy to use interface. Users can either quick scan their computer which scans only the hard drive of the operating system and Registry, or run a full scan of their system with the choice of selecting the hard drives that they want included in the scan.
The quick scan finished on my main Windows XP partition in under 3 minutes while the full scan of all of my hard drives took completed in roughly 30 minutes. Neither scan did find any malware on my computer and I personally find it hard to judge the effectiveness of Anti-Malware.
The main disadvantage of Anti-Malware is in my opinion the non-existent realtime protection which is only available in the Pro version. This is a major drawback and makes the product inferior to other free anti-spyware applications.
It still seems to be pretty useful if you want to scan a system quickly considering that it uses less resources during the scan. CPU in the task manager for instance never went up above 20% while Spybot for instance was always using 65%+.
The beta version of Malewarebytes Anti-Malware is only available in the forums of the homepage with new versions being released every 2-3 days.
Update: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has come a long way since we first reviewed it here on the blog. The program is out of beta and available as a free and paid version. The main difference between both versions is that the paid version includes real-time protection of the system while the free version does not.
The free version is ideal for a second-opinion scan of your system though as the program uses one of the best databases in the industry. Both program versions can be downloaded from the official website. The program interface has not changed that much, as you can see from the screenshot below.
It now features an option to perform a flash scan, but that option is unfortunately only available to registered users.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Review
It is time to take a second - or third - look at the program. I'm using version 220.127.116.110 for the review, the most recent beta version of the program that has only been made available in the developer forum.
The installation of the program should not pose any troubles as you won't find anything unusual in it. You can specify the installation directory and will not encounter any third party offers that other developers often like to include in their applications.
When you start the program you will notice that its interface has been slighty redesigned. You see a new logo at the top, and buy now and activate buttons at the bottom. The free version includes these buttons, and unfortunately also all the options of the commercial version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Why unfortunately? Because the program does not distinguish between the two which means that you will be reminded that a feature is reserved to the pro version when you click on it.
The first time you may come into contact with it is under the Scanner tab where the "perform flash scan" option is only available to registered users. It is displayed in the description there, but it would certainly be better if an icon would highlight that or if it would be grayed out instead.
A quick system scan only scans important locations such as the memory or Windows folder for malware. It is a great way to quickly scan the system for malware that is likely running on it. The scan took 1 minute 21 seconds to complete on a fast Solid State Drive while a full scan of that drive completed in about 30 minutes.
The Protection tab highlights some of the features that you get when you upgrade to the full version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. They are not included in the free version, which means that your system is not protected by the program in realtime.
Another feature that is not included are automatic updates. The program will inform you about the last time you updated on startup, and you can run a manual update check with a click on Update > Check for Updates in the program interface. It is highly recommended to keep the program up to date as it is the only way to make sure newly discovered malware is detected by it.
The quarantine displays previously detected and disposed malware which you can delete complete or restore which may be helpful in the case of false positives.
The logs tab provides you with a history of scans on the system. A double-click on a tab opens the log file, a text document that gets automatically created by the program after the scan. Here you find detailed information about each scan.
The program supports an ignore list which can be useful to protect files from being scanned by Anti-Malware. You may want to add files to the list that are detected as false-positives by the program, or files that you know are clean and should never be scanned by the program.
The settings are quite extensive. You can password protect the database and modify the "outdated database notification" interval from seven days to another interval. I suggest you change it to once a day to make sure you are always running the latest version of the program on your system.
There are a couple of extra features here under scanner settings that may speed up your workflow. The program checks for potentially unwanted programs, unwanted modifications and peer to peer software and can either show the results in the scan results, hide them, or mark them for removal.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a highly regarded program. If you are running the free version, I suggest you run it at least once a week to check your system. You need to run the scans manually as it won't protect your system automatically.