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Malwarebytes

After the 14-day trial expires, Malwarebytes reverts to a free version without the full real-time protection.

Malwarebytes 3.0 has removed “Anti-Malware” from its name, but it’s the same that competes with and . This version adds machine learning, a kind of adaptive artificial intelligence that can identify malware by analyzing the characteristics of the file. Norton, McAfee, and other security software companies have added machine learning this year as well.

Pros

Machine-learning-based protection: Like Norton and McAfee, Malwarebytes has added machine learning to its antivirus arsenal this year. Malwarebytes 3.0 uses this built-in artificial-intelligence technology to recognize malware rather than referring to its database of virus signatures, which are like mugshots for malware and require regular updates to be effective.

Multilayered real-time protection settings: When you click the Protection tab and the Advanced Settings button, Malwarebytes presents a large grid of technical functions that you can enable or disable. Most of these will require a Google search to translate them into layman’s terms. Fiddling with this section is fully optional; Malwarebytes will operate just fine on the default settings. But if you’ve always wanted to toggle Anti-HeapSpraying Enforcement or 32-bit RET ROP Gadget detection, now’s your chance.

Cons

Persistent stability issues: In our tests on a laptop running Windows 7 and a desktop running Windows 10, Malwarebytes caused multiple blue-screen errors. The official workaround for the Bad Pool Header crash is to disable the program’s Web Protection feature, which blocks known malicious websites from connecting to your PC. Disabling this feature worked on the Windows 10 PC but not on the Windows 7 laptop. On the Windows 7 machine, all four of Malwarebytes’ protection elements had to be disabled to stop the crashes, meaning that the app could no longer actively monitor for threats. Malwarebytes will frequently remind you that these protections are disabled, using small but brightly colored pop-up windows in the system tray area.

On the Windows 7 laptop, the crashes were severe enough to trigger a license validation error in the operating system itself, compelling a visit to our IT department for resolution. When Windows decides that its license activation is not genuine, it will nag you constantly about the issue, so it cannot be ignored.

No such crashes or errors occurred on either PC when running the previous version of Malwarebytes. The Bad Pool Header issue has surfaced repeatedly in Malwarebytes apps over a number of years, across different versions of Windows. You might never encounter this issue, or it might go away if you disable Web Protection. Or you might find, as we did with the Windows 7 laptop, that there’s no resolution that makes Malwarebytes a compelling choice versus the competition.

Missing information: The interface has a number of question mark icons that you can click to open an online User Guide on the Malwarebytes website. There you’ll find detailed feature explanations. However, on both our test machines, some of these icons did nothing when clicked. The User Guide also lacks a search function.

Bottom Line

In previous years, Malwarebytes has been a reliable choice. In fact, the security community frequently considered it faster, lighter, more accurate, and more stable than competing apps like Norton and McAfee, and considered its marketing less aggressive. However, our experience with this latest version – especially on a Windows 7 machine deliberately configured to minimize variables – indicates that Malwarebytes 3.0 is not the must-have upgrade that we’ve come to expect from this company. We recommend sticking with the previous version until 3.0’s kinks are worked out, or choosing another antivirus app.

Malwarebytes combines powerful new technologies built to seek out, destroy, and prevent malware infections.

Malwarebytes 3.0 is the next-gen security program that protects you from the most advanced (zero-day) threats, making antivirus obsolete. Malwarebytes 3.0 combines all of our malware-fighting technology – anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-exploit, and malicious website protection into one program that scans 4x faster than previous versions of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium.

Benefits:

  • Protects you from advanced (zero-day) threats, including ransomware, so you can surf the Web without worry
  • Removes all traces of malware for complete safety
  • Removes potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that make your computer run poorly
  • Scans fast so you don’t have to sit around and wait for your security to finish working
  • Easy to use, just set it and forget it
  • Can replace antivirus or run alongside other antivirus programs

What’s new in this version:

  • Fixed the issue in Windows 10 Creators Update where installing Malwarebytes could cause Windows Defender to become disabled

For reference, the other fixes included in the previous component package 1.0.96 (and folded into 1.0.103) were:

  • Fixed issue where real-time protection modules do not enable correctly
    • Note that you may need to reboot or manually restart a protection that appears “stuck” one more time after the update is applied. …

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