Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why isn't Malwarebytes Anti-malware recommended as standard security more often?


Everybody (I realize there’s no real “everybody”) says that as a last resort
to download Malwarebytes as though it’s the ultimate in malware detection, but
I’ve never seen it on a list of malware programs one just ought to run
routinely. Why is that?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #81
, I look at how Malwarebytes fits into a full anti-virus and
anti-spyware program to keep a computer safe.


Malwarebytes for standard security

Malwarebytes is in an interesting position in the anti-malware world:

  • They don’t claim to be an “anti-virus” program – and in fact, they often suggest that you run a different anti-virus program in conjunction with Malwarebytes.

  • They are kind of, sort of an anti-spyware program. If you wanted to run it most of the time, or regularly, you could run it in place of an anti-spyware program (I think.)

But it’s that lack of our ability to really define what Malwarebytes truly is that makes it difficult to make it part of a standard recipe for computer security.

That’s why I tend to recommend that you get an anti-virus program; get an anti-spyware program. Usually, I bundle those two together in Microsoft Security Essentials, but as long as you’ve got both virus and spyware covered, you’re good.

Catching the rest

Now, Malwarebytes has an interesting characteristic. They’re probably a reasonably good anti-malware program, but I guess they’re not covering all of the edges that an anti-virus program and an anti-spyware program would actually catch.

However, for what they do catch, they do seem to be better at catching those things than many other programs.

When to use Malwarebytes

That’s why when we’re facing a problem – we pull it out. It’s a very quick first-line tool to run as soon as you suspect there’s a problem.

Now, I realize that’s a real fuzzy answer. Part of it is because the definition of what Malwarebytes anti-malware really is, itself, is kind of fuzzy. Frustratingly so, I will admit.

But, it’s a good tool. It’s a good tool to run when you’ve got a problem that your other tools haven’t fixed.

If you get their paid version, you can in fact run their automated regularly scheduled scanner on a schedule. I personally just wouldn’t do that in lieu of an anti-spyware program. I’d be tempted to make sure that was in addition and cooperating with some other anti-spyware program.

So, it’s a tough question to answer because there’s really no clear “here’s why” – other than to say, “Well, you know, Malwarebytes isn’t really an anti-virus program and it’s not a complete anti-spyware program, but whatever it is it does, it actually does pretty good, so we ought to be able to have it available if we run into a problem.”

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Next from Answercast 81 – How do I pick a wireless USB adapter?

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

9 comments on “Why isn't Malwarebytes Anti-malware recommended as standard security more often?”

  1. Great answer Leo.
    When I have a client’s computer for any kind of repair I run their own AV solution but also install and run a couple of my favourite tools – Malwarebytes is one of them.
    I advise the client to run it once a month to catch any viruses/spyware that falls through the cracks.

  2. I’ll tell you exactly what it is: the first thing I run if I have any kind of paranoia about my PC. You know how you see shadows out of the corner of your eye and then don’t see them when you turn your head to look at them? Well, when it happens on my PC, and it does, it’s time for a Malwarebytes scan.

  3. I have MS Security Essentials running live, and I have the paid version of MalwareBytes which I have scheduled along with Macrium Reflect to run nightly to catch what MSSE might have missed. It hasn’t caught anything other than the occasional tracking cookie, but I feel it’s a good way to get my money’s worth for the electricity I use keeping my computer on all night.

  4. I do not like MalwareBytes for this reason: I am running uTorrent, downloading movies and TV episodes that I missed seeing WITH captioning (I am deaf). MalwareBytes seems to think uTorrent is a Malware and that dam’ popup keeps popping up every few minutes, telling me that it’s blocking incoming and outgoing data from uTorrent and that is very annoying. I even told it to IGNORE, but it keeps coming back!!! I am now using IOBit Malware program and it works fine…

  5. from ASK LEO(catching the rest)
    However, for what they do catch, they do seem to be better at catching those things than many other programs
    I think you are missing the word missed

  6. @Steven
    As one of the proofreaders of this site, I believe that sentence is correct. What this sentence is saying is, “However, for what they do catch, they do seem to be better at catching those things than many other programs are.” Leaving out the word are in this case, neither alters the meaning of the sentence nor makes it incorrect.

  7. Superantispyware free version is another excellent tool to run when the regular antivirus doesn’t cut it. one of the main reasons viruses get by the antivirus is running on an administrator account and then accidentally clicking the wrong thing. Use a standard or limited account for day to day activities!

  8. Re: SAS as suggested by HA, Dec 25

    SAS is a pig to get rid of on uninstall, which was why I stopped using it some years back (reminded me of Norton / Symantec of yesteryear). MBAM definitely does not poison-ivy the system, and it works well.

  9. Maurice Lampl you should some more research on utorrent and bittorrent they are what you call half good and half bad software, it can give you virus if you don’t becarefull, the program is trying to protect you and letting you know about it, you should go learn some more before posting


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.