Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 Review

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Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 is probably the best-known free removal-only antivirus tool. Even tech support agents for other companies use it. In my own testing it beat out all free and commercial competition, quickly and without any fuss.

(4.5 out of 5) Editor’s Choice

Pros

  • Scored better than all free or commercial competition in my malware removal test
  • No problems at all with installation
  • Extremely quick installation
  • No problems at all with cleaning up malware
  • Corrects malicious changes to Windows settings

Cons

  • No real-time protection against attack

When a Trojan or other malware gets a foothold in your PC’s innards, clearing it out can be tough. The nastiest ones fight back, interfering with your attempts to install antivirus software. When that happens, who ya gonna call? In many cases the answer is Malwarebytes. Even tech support agents for other companies may turn to the free Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 when their own product won’t install. And the latest edition is better than ever.

You may notice one thing’s missing—that pesky apostrophe. Yes, the program name used to be Malwarebytes’, a fact that’s confused many a copy editor. They also dropped “Free” from the name, and spiffed up the program icon a bit.

Really, though, it doesn’t look a lot different. Malwarebytes is all business, and its business is scraping out persistent malware. There’s no home screen or status page. Launch it and it goes straight to the scanner page. As for settings, there aren’t many, and they come pre-configured for maximum protection.

Speedy, Hassle-Free Install
Sadly, I’m accustomed to needing a full day or more to get antivirus products installed on my twelve malware-infested test systems. When the malware fights back, I have to either engage in email back-and-forth with tech support or sit around while tech support deals with the problem via remote assistance. I do appreciate that support, but I’d appreciate not needing it even more.

I had absolutely no trouble installing Malwarebytes on those same systems. The installation is super-quick, and doesn’t require a reboot. The update process failed on one system, probably due to a glitch in the connection. A second try succeeded. I installed Malwarebytes on all twelve systems in less than an hour. Fantastic!

No Lab Results
In general I like to check my test results against results from the independent testing labs. However, getting tested can actually cost money, so many of the free antivirus tools limit their participation in testing. There are exceptions. For example, AVG always submits AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 for testing, demonstrating that its free product is just as powerful as its commercial versions.

Malwarebytes doesn’t participate in any of the major tests, relying instead on word of mouth and mindshare (of which they have plenty). The chart below lists recent lab results for current products, but none for Malwarebytes. See How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests for more about the labs and their tests.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 lab tests chart

Best Malware Cleanup
The scanner worked through all twelve test systems without any of the problems that have plagued other products recently. Every single one did ask for a reboot to complete the cleanup process, which is totally reasonable. By contrast, to get through the installation and scanning process with Comodo Internet Security Complete 2013 and its GeekBuddy remote tech support took me many hours over multiple days.

On one test system, something that happened during the scan damaged the program’s user interface, but by clicking where I remembered the buttons to be I completed the cleanup process. After reboot, no problem!

The results were nothing but astonishing. Comodo detected 89 percent of the samples, the highest detection percentage. Norton AntiVirus (2013) and Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2013) also detected 89 percent.

Prior to this test, three products tied for the top malware cleanup score of 6.6 points, Norton, Comodo, and Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013. Those three are now tied for second place, behind the 7.1 score achieved by Malwarebytes.

The persistent threats that interfere with antivirus installation often use rootkit technology to hide their activities from Windows and from security tools, so I call out a separate score specifically for the rootkit samples. The last version of Malwarebytes that I tested fared very poorly against rootkits, The current version detected 100 percent of the rootkit samples and scored 8.2 points for cleanup. Comodo, Norton, Kaspersky, and several others also detected 100 percent. Comodo topped the rootkit removal scores, with 9.8 points, and Kaspersky earned 8.4 points.

The chart below shows malware removal scores for dozens of recent products. To learn more about my testing process, please read How We Test Malware Removal.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 malware removal chart

Some types of malware, ransomware in particular, make changes to system settings that interfere with your access to system tools. They’ll disable Task Manager, Registry Editor, Command Prompt, even remove the ability to shut down. These changes aren’t malware traces as such, but they’re a pain. Malwarebytes makes a point of correcting these malicious setting changes; smart!

That’s All She Wrote
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 does just one thing: wipe out malware. It does a darn good job, too. In my testing, it beat out all other recent products, free or commercial, and it did so without any of the fuss and bother that I’ve experience testing other products. I’d love to see parallel test results from the independent labs; based on my own hands-on experience I’m declaring Malwarebytes our Editors’ Choice for free removal-only antivirus.

By Neil J. Rubenking, PCMag

Specifications

    • Type: Personal
    • Free: Yes
    • OS Compatibility: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7


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