Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 8, 2007
Updated • Dec 17, 2012

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 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.


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  1. Elizabeth A. Schultz said on November 24, 2012 at 6:04 am

    I have purchased the malwarebytes protection and am having trouble with activating the liscence and key. Are u able to send it to me?

  2. kghost said on November 18, 2009 at 1:12 am

    need to know if malwarebytes will work against Anti Virus pro ?

  3. TechKnow said on July 24, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    I’ve been testing this software for a couple of months now and I wouldn’t say that it is much better than any other program that it tries to be like. I guess it is nice to have as just another Anti-Malware Scanner to add to the mix, but I wouldn’t pay for the commercial version as the “added features” just aren’t worthy of the price they try to charge.

  4. trendless said on February 3, 2009 at 2:35 am

    You need some more tools to help you get rid of that junk. Lately, many of these common malware infections have mutated in an effort to prevent programs like MBAM from getting rid of them or even installing; & both have many legitimate programs in their antispyware/antimalware catagories that you may be able to put to use.

  5. Bobby said on February 3, 2009 at 1:56 am

    I have bad popus from and i ran the malwarebytes 3 times and it gets rid of it but after being online it starts up again with firefox.

  6. Chris Paulson said on November 4, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    As luck (??) would have it my son got similar (but not the same) fake security alerts on his computer, telling him he was infected with trojans: my own experience told me immediately that they were fake alerts trying to get him to download and pay for PC Antispy. Downloaded and ran Malwarebytes: solved the problem in a trice. A must have.!!

  7. Mike said on November 2, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    my computer gave a fake security warning which my -paid for- security system was unable to remove. A trojan was identified but unable to be quarantined. ‘Malwarebytes’ was recommended by a security forum. I downloaded and ran a quick scan and problem solved very quickly. Would highly recommend.

  8. Col said on October 27, 2008 at 12:48 am

    A friend of mine asked me to fix his computer it was infected with alot of trojans and Malware the Internet Explorer was hijacked to, I used Hijackthis and others even ComboFix to fix his computer, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware was the only program that could fix his computer. 10 out 10

  9. jon said on October 18, 2008 at 12:36 am

    we had windows virus 2008 pop ups could not remove using spyhunter downloaded malwarebytes and cleaned up the problem also it was free id give it a thumbs up

  10. Chris Paulson said on October 17, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Got a Fake Microsoft Security Alert telling me I was infected with Trojans( The artwork just didn’t look right to be genuine). It linked me to a web page to dowload ‘PC Antispy’. Needless to say I didn’t download. Fake Alert would Pop-up every 10 minutes whilst I was connected to the internet. Used task manager to identify process as ‘zuzunane.exe’. Tried Spybot search and Destroy, dowloaded (and paid for) Spyware Doctor, the programs would identify trojans and apparently eradicate them but the Fake alerts would continue. A Forum site ‘geeks to go’ gave rrecommended Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, so I downloaded, installed and ran (Must admit I didn’t hold out much hope). It identified ‘Trojan FakeAlert.H’ and deleted it on Computer re-boot. Connected to internet and no longer was bombarded by the fake alert. Great result so will recommend

  11. Minoru Aoshima said on September 30, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    this is genius

  12. Chris (UK) said on September 12, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Avast! AV (Free)
    ZoneAlarm Firewall (Free)

    Somehow “MS Antivirus 2008” Virus managed to get on my computer.

    Downloaded and installed Spybot-search-and-distroy, what a lumbering hulk of a program this has turned into! slowed my computer to a crawl, and was unable to remove the infection, tried to use it for an hour, gave up, and uninstalled it.

    few forum searches later…..

    Installed “Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware”
    Fast download
    Fast (and small) install
    Very quick scan of the harddrive
    *ZAP* Virus gone
    At first i didn’t believe it had removed it, as the program had done it so quickly!


    All the annoying popups had gone, and no trace of virus on my system.

    happy chap :-)

  13. Brian Nettles said on August 25, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    My Trend Micro expired and I got infected and stubbornly did not redo my trend micro. I ended up with some garbage virus’s that fed porn and contant popups even with IE7 installed and also ended up with another malware known as Antivirus 2009.

    I downloaded and purchased PCTools and it did not fix the problem.

    I downloaded malwarebytes Anti-Malware and it cleaned up my computer.

    So for now, I am giving it two thumbs up.

  14. alex said on June 21, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    use this programs quite often at work on customers’ computers that have been infected with rogue antivirus/antispyware software (the kind that Smitfraud often uses; winantispyware and the like). It removes several varients that typical antispyware software doesn’t or can’t get rid of. It’s good for a clean-up. I don’t think the product is positioned as anything but an on-demand scanner at this point and quite frankly I think it’s better for it. It does what it needs to do very well.

  15. trendless said on December 8, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    I use this programs quite often at work on customers’ computers that have been infected with rogue antivirus/antispyware software (the kind that Smitfraud often uses; winantispyware and the like). It removes several varients that typical antispyware software doesn’t or can’t get rid of. It’s good for a clean-up. I don’t think the product is positioned as anything but an on-demand scanner at this point and quite frankly I think it’s better for it. It does what it needs to do very well.

  16. gnome said on December 8, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    On par with the big boys I’d say…

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