Malwarebytes Free vs Paid – A Complete Guide


As exciting new technologies become entrenched in more and more aspects of everyday life, our reliance on computing devices and internet connectivity only figures to increase. Not coincidentally, there has been a corresponding rise in internet-based crimes, including malware threats that can jeopardize the security of sensitive information, disrupt workflow, and corrupt vital networks.

Fortunately, there are companies offering advanced products and services to combat these cyberattacks, and confronting these threats head-on is anti-malware software from Malwarebytes. In this complete guide, we compare the free and paid versions, evaluate the benefits of each, and answer the question of whether the premium version is worth the investment, so read on.

Malwarebytes Free vs Paid – A Complete Guide

Malware, which is an acronym for malicious software, has been an ever-growing concern as cyber criminals and bad actors add increasingly sophisticated firepower to their arsenal of malicious codes and programs. For unsuspecting computer users or unprepared organizations, this can jeopardize sensitive information, cripple business operations, and lead to devastating financial losses.

Fortunately, there are companies specializing in cyber security technology that have developed powerful software platforms to neutralize these threats and the immeasurable harm they can cause. 

In particular, in the fight against these implements of cyberattacks, anti-malware products from Malwarebytes have earned the respect of industry experts as highly effective tools for disinfecting affected hardware and protecting individuals and large entities alike against the never-ending onslaught of internet-based threats. 

There are two primary product platforms offered by Malwarebytes:

  • The free version, which is a nonpaid product that can be downloaded free of charge by PC and Mac users.

  • The premium version, which is a paid, subscription-based product offering enhanced features not contained in the free version.

There are parallels between the free and premium versions of Malwarebytes’ anti-malware software, namely the primary task of disinfecting and cleansing affected devices and systems. Where they differ is the breadth of features that can only be found in Malwarebytes Premium

Similarities Between the Free and Paid Versions

Disinfecting computers, devices, and hardware known or suspected to be affected by various forms of malware are how Malwarebytes earned its stellar reputation in the field of cyber security. The free and paid share the same core functions, which are namely:

  • Scanning computer systems for malware.

  • Neutralizing threats.

  • Removing malicious programs and codes.

  • Disinfecting files and operating systems to prevent the further spread of malware.

It is important to note that viruses are just one of many types of malware (more on this later) that threaten the security of computers and devices around the world. Which is why both the free and paid versions of Malwarebytes provide comprehensive protection against all forms of malicious codes and programs, including and beyond viruses.

Both the free and paid versions scan and cleanse computers operating on Windows and Mac platforms. Here’s how they work:

  • The first step is to install Malwarebytes on your Windows PC or Mac computer with a free download.

  • The next step is to open the application and initiate a thorough scan of your system by pressing the “Scan” button that appears on the Malwarebytes dashboard.

  • At the conclusion of the scan, the program will generate a detailed report and list all the detected threats that have been found.

  • You can then have Malwarebytes remove all exposed malware with simple actions through the dashboard.

  • This process also disinfects all scanned drives and files.

As a stopgap measure, the free version of Malwarebytes can be very effectively deployed for remediation purposes and is a vital tool for restoring affected computer systems to a pre-infected condition. But this feature also highlights the limited scope of using Malwarebytes Free. 

The Limitations of the Free Version of Malwarebytes

While both the free and paid versions of Malwarebytes effectively cleanse your computer of malware, they go about this in significantly different ways:

  • The free version of Malwarebytes is an on-demand cyber security system that must be run manually and is intended to disinfect hardware that has already been infected by malware. In other words, the user already knows or suspects that a computer’s system has been compromised and needs Malwarebytes to undo or minimize the damage.

  • The premium (paid) version, on the other hand, is a real-time solution that constantly stands guard against malware and automatically scans for dangerous threats, neutralizing them before they can do harm to your system, files, and data.  

Thus, as an on-demand tool for disinfecting a computer from malware and cleansing affected files from the effects of viruses, worms, spyware, and the like, the free version of Malwarebytes is a valuable asset to have in your toolbox and it excels at identifying, isolating and eradicating various types of malware.

However, Malwarebytes Free is currently only available for PC and Mac users. In contrast, Malwarebytes Premium works on:

  • Windows PCs
  • Mac computers
  • Android devices (phones and tablets)
  • Apple devices (iPhones and iPads)
  • Chromebooks
  • Servers
  • Online networks (VPN)

For complete, worry-free protection against malware in its many forms, across multiple device platforms, the paid version of this powerful software may be your best bet for achieving peace of mind amid the myriad of cyber threats lurking in the digital realm. And there are a host of additional cyber security features available with the paid version so read further to learn what these are.

Once the decision has been made to upgrade from the free version to Malwarebytes Premium, making the transition is as simple as selecting the right plan (based on the number of devices that need to be protected and additional needs like server protection and privacy security).

Additional Features of the Paid Version of Malwarebytes

The paid version of Malwarebytes is more than just a malware cleansing and disinfecting tool, it is a complete cyber security solution that is designed to protect a wide range of digital assets against the ever-expanding list of dangers that pose a constant threat to individuals, businesses, and large organizations.

Malwarebytes’ Premium package is an advanced suite of powerful tools that provide comprehensive, real-time protection, offering these protective features against the latest malware releases:

  • 24/7 protection – unlike the free version which can only be used to address malware breaches after they have already occurred, the paid version of Malwarebytes provides constant protection, standing guard vigilantly over your computer files and all the sensitive information they contain.

  • New and emerging threats – with its advanced artificial intelligence and adaptive machine learning infrastructure, Malwarebytes Premium provides cutting-edge protection against new and emerging threats, even those the likes of which the world has not seen before.

  • Online threats – sometimes the biggest dangers to your computer are those that are encountered on the internet and the paid version of Malwarebytes features advanced web protection measures to safeguard against online scammers, infected websites, malicious links, and phishing sites.

  • Remote desktop protocol (RDP) threats – with the prevalence of work-from-home and remote work, there has been a significant rise in RDP attacks where the objective is to gain unauthorized access to a computer station and infect it with ransomware, spyware, or other types of malware. Malwarebytes’ brute force protection prevents username and password theft.

  • Ransomware threats – one common scenario involving malware is ransomware infecting a computer or network system and taking valuable data (or media, like photos and videos) hostage. The paid version of Malwarebytes relies on its proprietary technology to provide stout, unwavering defense against the very real threat of ransomware.

  • Security dashboard and virtual advisor – to simplify the process of managing the powerful suite of tools comprising the paid version of Malwarebytes, the platform’s easy-to-use dashboard provides up-to-the-minute status reports and one-touch controls to launch individual features like malware protection and web protection, schedule scans, and customize protection layers.
Driving all of these cutting-edge, advanced security features is Malwarebytes’ powerful Katana malware detection engine, which can detect threats faster and more efficiently than any previous version of this platform. With the complete user experience in mind, the developers at Malwarebytes have incorporated these thoughtfully appointed features into the paid version:
  • The Katana engine not only detects and eliminates threats, but it also provides detailed identifiers to enable users to make informed cyber security decisions and formulate effective preventive strategies.

  • With greater scanning efficiency, the paid version of Malwarebytes uses 50 percent less CPU resources than previous versions.

  • Certain features, such as notifications and updates, can be easily switched off to allocate more computing resources to activities like gaming or watching movies on your computer.
With a host of measures designed to meet today’s cyber security challenges, the paid version of Malwarebytes is a feature-rich platform that effectively combats and suppresses the threats posed by modern malware releases.

Is the Paid Version of Malwarebytes Worth It?

When it comes to malware protection, Malwarebytes Premium has performed well when subjected to third-party performance testing and has consistently ranked as one of the top cyber security platforms in the identification, quarantining, and suppression of many of the world’s most prevalent forms of malware. In fact, according to one metric, Malwarebytes outperformed all of the other competitors.

For personal use, the paid version of Malwarebytes is available in single-device and multiple-device payment plans that are billed on annual basis (i.e., a minimum commitment of one year). With a financial commitment that basically amounts to several dollars per month per device, Malwarebytes Premium seems to be a worthwhile investment for the amount of protection it affords.

For businesses and enterprises, Malwarebytes Premium can be scaled to provide cyber security services to organizations ranging from 1 to 9 devices on the lower end, up to major corporations on the higher end. These are the three tiers of malware protection offered to Malwarebytes’ business clients:

  • 1 to 9 devices – this is the Malwarebytes Teams package and on top of the standard suite of malware protection against viruses, ransomware, phishing, zero-day exploits, and other threats, small businesses can also expect automatically generated monthly security reports and live phone support.

  • 10 to 100+ devices – designed for small to medium enterprises, Malwarebytes’ Endpoint Protection package adds a cloud-based security management console so that the computer systems of an entire organization are fully protected and monitored.

  • For servers – Malwarebytes also offers a specialized package for Windows and Linux servers, incorporating its full array of malware protection, cloud-based management, quarantining, and live technical support.

Whether it is deployed by an individual, a small independent business, or a large enterprise, Malwarebytes’ paid platform is completely scale-able to provide the right level of cyber security to suit the circumstances and the degree of exposure. With its high degree of effectiveness in protecting valuable assets and sensitive data from malicious malware attacks, Malwarebytes Premium is a worthwhile investment.

And with online privacy in mind, Malwarebytes also offers a bundled service that packages lightning-fast VPN with its anti-malware suite and includes the following products:

  • Malwarebytes Premium – the full arsenal of anti-malware features.

  • Malwarebytes Browser Guard – in addition to providing formidable defenses against online scammers and malicious websites, the Browser Guard service also safeguards against data-collecting ad trackers and invasive advertising practices.

  • Malwarebytes Privacy – with the primary objective of protecting your online digital footprint and maintaining privacy across 400+ servers in over 30 countries, this package offers an intuitive user interface to manage security settings and a no-log VPN that provides secure internet access in public spaces.

With the Premium + Privacy package, Malwarebytes customers can rest assured that even on the go, they are fully protected far from home.

Final Thoughts

According to the FBI, in 2020 alone, there were over 791,000 reported instances of cyber crimes with a financial toll exceeding $4.1 billion in losses. What these mind-boggling statistics demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, is that internet-based criminal activity is a genuine and pervasive threat to anyone who owns a computer.

The term malware refers not to one specific form of malevolent cyber activity, but rather, a broad (and sadly, expanding) category of nefarious software capable of producing devastating results, including these prominent types:

  • Viruses 
  • Worms 
  • Ransomware 
  • Bots 
  • Trojan horses 
  • Keyloggers 
  • Rootkits 
  • Spyware 
  • Adware 

With no other commitment than installing the necessary software onto your computer, the free version of Malwarebytes is a highly effective tool for detecting all of these forms of malware in your system and disinfecting affected files. 

But Malwarebytes Free is a remediation measure for when an infection has already occurred. For preventive strategies, the paid version of Malwarebytes offers a full suite of purpose-engineered security solutions.

Both the free and paid versions offer unparalleled anti-malware protection. But the biggest and most valuable benefit of all may very well be the peace of mind they provide.

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