Was it an oversight that you left Malwarebytes out of your list software in What software do you use?
That article was about software that I use frequently and have installed on most or all of my Windows-based PCs.
I do recommend Malwarebytes Anti-malware often – almost daily, in fact. But I don’t run it that often myself.
To understand why I might actually recommend something that I don’t use frequently, we need to understand Malwarebyte’s role and how it fits into my view of the war against malware.
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Malwarebytes has progressed to a full-featured anti-malware tool. The rest of this article has not yet been updated to reflect that, but my recommendation to use it as a free second-level malware scanner stands.
There is, however, much confusion about “free”.
The free download is now a trial version of the Malwarebytes premium version. After the trial period is over you’ll need to choose whether to purchase the full product to continue to use the full product.
You do not need to purchase it. Quoting their website, after the trial period if you do not purchase:
Malwarebytes for Windows reverts to a manual scanner that detects and cleans up malware infections only when you run a scan.
Which is exactly how I recommend it be used.
It’s not an anti-virus tool
The folks in the Malwarebytes forums are quick to point out that Malwarebytes Anti-malware isn’t a substitute for anti-virus software. In fact, if you run Malwarebytes Anti-malware, you’ll see that they explicitly recommend that you run anti-virus tools in addition.
I run (and recommend) Microsoft Security Essentials as my anti-virus tool.
It’s not quite an anti-spyware tool
Another characterization that you’ll not find anyone using is calling Malwarebytes Anti-malware an anti-spyware tool.
While that’s perhaps the closest or least inaccurate characterization, I’ve noted that the folks at Malwarebytes avoid calling it that. In a sense, the term is too vague anyway; to the extent that most people think of “spyware,” it’s also perhaps too limiting.
So, I also run (and recommend) the same Microsoft Security Essentials as my anti-spyware tool.
So just what is Malwarebytes Anti-malware?
As it turns out, Malwarebytes is hard to pigeon-hole. It has characteristics of both anti-virus and anti-spyware tools and it certainly removes things that we might consider viruses and spyware, and yet it’s not really a complete solution for virus protection, although perhaps it’s close to a solution for anti-spyware.
And yet – those terms just don’t cover or characterize the tool properly.
Hence, it’s an anti-malware tool.
Why I recommend it
What Malwarebytes Anti-malware has a great reputation for is simply this: removing malware that other tools miss.
The nature of the race against malware means that no single anti-virus or anti-spyware tool is going to detect and remove every possible infection. No tool is perfect.
When faced with someone who suspects or has all the indications of their machine being infected with malware of some sort, my instructions almost always boil down to this:
- Run an up-to-date anti-virus scan, making sure that both the anti-virus tool and its database are as up-to-date as possible.
- Run an up-to-date anti-spyware scan, making sure that both the anti-spyware tool and its database are as up-to-date as possible.
- Consider running a scan using the free Malwarebytes Anti-malware tool.
That last line is there simply because experience shows that even up-to-date scans with good anti-virus and anti-spyware tools can still miss things, things that Malwarebytes Anti-malware will sometimes catch.
Running Malwarebytes Anti-malware all the time
Like many anti-spyware and anti-virus products, the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-malware can be installed and instructed to run regularly scheduled scans.
There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with that. Used in addition to a good anti-virus program, it provides an added layer of security. Even though it overlaps in some ways with anti-spyware tools, running it in addition to one of those may also be a reasonable solution. It’s possible (although I have not confirmed) that it’s not unreasonable for MalwareBytes Anti-malware to take the place of an anti-spyware tool.
That’s just not how I use it, and it’s not the scenario that I end up recommending. Nothing against that scenario; it’s just not the way I use Malwarebytes.
Why Malwarebytes Anti-malware isn’t installed on my machine
Put a different way, I consider Malwarebytes Anti-malware a great on-demand solution, and I run it only when I feel I need to.
If I suspect that there is malware of some sort on my machine, then I absolutely grab the latest version of Malwarebytes Anti-malware and scan the heck out of my machine.
I just don’t bother installing it until I run into that situation. Fortunately for me, that doesn’t happen very often.
Unfortunately for others, however, it does, and as a result, Malwarebytes Anti-malware is something I mention to people almost daily.
I recommend it.