Is MBAM Enough Security?

Category: Anti-Virus

On the advice of a friend, I've installed MalwareBytes Anti-Malware. It claims to detect and remove viruses, spyware, rootkits and other nasties. Do I still need a separate anti-virus program, or will MBAM provide all the protection I need?

Will MBAM Protect Against All Malware?

MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) is a program that I've written about on several occasions. I've often recommended it as an additional layer of security, to be used in conjunction with your anti-virus software, or for situations where the first line of defense has failed to prevent a specific malware infection. (Malware is a generic term for all harmful software, including viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, rootkits, etc.)

I'd always thought of it more as a spyware removal tool, but MBAM has improved over the years, to the point where it now rivals a general-purpose Internet security tool. But is it all that? Here's my analysis and opinion...

MBAM comes in both free and paid versions; you can download either or see a feature comparison at The most important difference is that the free version is an on-demand scanner, meaning it does not provide real-time (always on) protection against installation of malware. You have to manually run a scan when you suspect a problem, or remember to scan on a regular basis.
MalwareBytes AntiMalware review

But the free version of MBAM does an excellent job of finding and eradicating malware that's already present on your computer. Some people combine a free real-time defense (see my article Free AntiVirus Programs for some examples) with occasional MBAM scans to catch any malware that the real-time scanner might have missed, or just for peace of mind.

The paid version, MBAM Pro, costs $24.95. That's a one-time charge that includes frequent updates of the malware signature database. Most other anti-malware programs charge more, plus an annual subscription fee. So MBAM is quite a bargain! It's also a real-time defender against malware. I've warned in the past about running multiple real-time security tools, but this is an exception to that rule. I can confirm that MBAM "plays nice" with other anti-virus tools.

Benefits of MBAM Pro

The Real-Time Active Malware Prevention Engine blocks known malware types, while heuristic protection blocks potentially harmful programs based upon their behavior. That seems to be a very effective one-two punch to defend against both known and unknown threats. Malicious websites are blocked by the Pro version of MBAM, and scanning is faster than with the free version.

Whereas the free version must be run manually, the Pro version includes a scheduler for more thorough scans. Also, malware signature database updates can be scheduled in Pro, but must be done manually in the free version.

If you've ever had to deal with a nasty virus infection, you may have found that some malware tries to block you from downloading, installing or running certain anti-malware programs. Both free and paid MBAM versions include Chameleon technology that can overcome this annoying problem. Even if you're infected with NastyPanda V27x.4, MBAM will find a way to sneak in and run its seek & destroy mission.

Like any anti-malware program, MBAM is better at detecting some types of malware than others. Generally, MBAM is excellent at detecting viruses, spyware, and adware. It's been known to miss some rootkits and keyloggers. But on the flip side, I've found that MBAM has often succeeded at detecting and removing malware where some well-known anti-virus applications failed.

So Is MBAM Good Enough?

Here's the bottom line, if you want to use the free version of MBAM, you definitely MUST combine it with some other (free or paid) security solution. It's just not possible to protect and defend against all incoming threats with an on-demand scanner. You'd be running it constantly - which is the entire point of a real-time scanner.

MBAM Pro is only $25, and claims sophisticated anti-malware techniques to provide comprehensive protection against all forms of malware. I have no reason to doubt that, but neither can I confirm that MBAM Pro is an adequate replacement for a traditional anti-virus program. Malwarebytes does not make this specific claim on their website. You might imply as much, but that's opinion where facts are really what matters.

MBAM Pro is probably good enough, most of the time, for most users. But why take chances, when there are excellent, free anti-virus programs that you can use in conjunction with MBAM? I do heartily recommend MBAM, and if you can afford the 25 bucks, buy the Pro version just to say thanks to some of the good guys on the Web.

What's your opinion? Are you using only MBAM, or do you use it along with another dedicated antivirus program? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Is MBAM Enough Security?"

(See all 37 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

07 May 2012

If you run MBAM (pro) and MS Security Essentials, you must set exclusions for each program in the other one (at least in Windows XP) to avoid computer freeze-ups. The information is on the Malwarebytes forums.

Posted by:

Chris Mattson
07 May 2012

If your on dial up, you might want to try the free version. As the paid one, runs in the back round and it slowed my computer down to a crawl. that is when moving to web site to site. And used quite a bit of memory.

Posted by:

East-Slope Charlie
07 May 2012

Bob is right.

Think of it this way -- if you burn them, you burn not only yourself (Karma), all others (some honestly too poor to buy the full program), AND you burn Bob as well. You don't want to reflect badly on Bob, or burn him either! In the immortal words of the old Windows Haiku's:

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

And my favorite:

Windows XP crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

And where would Bob's help be if some of us didn't help him out by buying a book every now and then to help him pay for his bandwidth -- ????? And how many times have you escaped death not even knowing it by using a 'free' program he's recommend? THAT program is why you can read this now -- you learned about the program that saved you from Bob, right?

So do the 'right' thing and send them just a couple of bucks when something is 'free' -- it's not just the program you are supporting, it's the people who write the program and their families (not to mention the server and bandwidth that sent you the program). There really IS enough to go around if we all learn to share!

Posted by:

07 May 2012

I have been using MBAM pro in conjunction with AVAST! pro antivirus. Sometimes MBAM will stop an outgoing signal from Avast and say that it blocked a malicious website. How can I correct this?

Posted by:

jan finder
07 May 2012

I use MBAM on my desktop. It seems to work well.

Unfortunately, tho they MBAM says they have corrected the problem, it will not run on my laptop.

Yes, I've uninstalled & reinstalled it a couple times. It always seems to stop after about 60,000 files and locks up the whole computer.


Posted by:

Robb Thurston
07 May 2012

I use MSXP, SP3, Online Armor and MSSE and Process
Guard. That is pretty tightly locked up. However, trust and verify: I use MBAM free every night. I do catch occasional malware,it's very excellent. I have seen dozens of tests on Youtube using MBAM. Sometimes the tester throws a dozen malware samples at MBAM--it always catches them flawlessly. Or,after testing,say AVG, he cleans up everything with MBAM. It's so good,everyone trusts it will clean up the malware.

Posted by:

Harold P. Morgan
07 May 2012

I use Microsoft Internet Security Essentials plus bi-weekly scan with the free version of MBAM. Have had no infections and, the post-scan report is always "nothing found". Over years of trying this and that security apps....I think this is the best combo and your sure can't beat the price. This combination is used on two laptops and one desktop in our household. PLUS computer speed is not adversely affected.

Posted by:

Doug Sherman
07 May 2012

I use the free version of MBAM and the free version of Avira Antivirus and have pretty good luck with these two programs.

Posted by:

07 May 2012

I've used MBAM and Microsoft Security Essentials for the last couple of years in conjunction with an online scanner run every couple of months. This arrangement has kept my computer secure and running smoothly for the whole time.
I do recommend using the paid version of MBAM as you said for the real time protection feature which I feel is critical for reliable protection.

Posted by:

Robert Reinman
07 May 2012

I also whole heatedly, recommend MalwareBytes.
I have to admit, I am pretty darn good for cleaning up anyone's computer of crap.... and I still did not find a machine that I COULD NOT clean up utilizing programs, and registry hacks.

MalwareBytes Pro is in my toolbox, and should be in yours as well!!

Take note.

Posted by:

07 May 2012


I have enjoyed - and greatly benefited from - your e-mail newsletters for years. Thank you for all your great work!

A question about MBAM. In your article you said that "MBAM "plays nice" with other anti-virus tools". Does this include Microsoft Security Essentials? I have some experience with MBAM on an older computer, but I have used MSE on my new Windows 7 machine since I bought it in October. Will these two "play nice" together? If you think they will, I would like to add the paid version of MBAM, to my defensive array.

Thank you for your time!

-- Lincoln --

Posted by:

Helmut Meuris
08 May 2012

Hi Bob,
With this article you have answered a question that has been in the back of my mind for ages.
MBAM always uses the term Malware and I thought, as you have confirmed, this to be most of the nasties including viruses and add-ware.
I have been using the professional version for some 18 month now on a 'stand alone' basis and have not experienced any problems.(A 'blocking' notice pops up about three to four times a day stating 'a malicious access attempt has been blocked'. All good)

Thanks for your most informative articles. Much appreciated.
Best regards

Posted by:

08 May 2012

I've used MBAM for awhile along with several other anti-malware apps. It seems to play quite well with the others.

Posted by:

08 May 2012

I have the pro version of MBAM and had it running with it's full time protection. My first line of defense is Norton 360 which, much to the dismay of some, I'm sure, has done an excellent job.
I disabled MBAM's full time protection after running scans with it (nothing caught) running scans with SuperAntiSpyware free which caught LOTS of tracking cookies and THEN ran the Pro version of Hitman which caught, on average, 2 more tracking cookies. MBAM just seemed to be sitting there doing nothing except taking up memory (I have 8gb so not really an issue) but caused start up time to take a LONG time. It's a good program, but there are better, more thorough ones...and for free!

Posted by:

08 May 2012

I have the free version of MBAM along with Avast! AntiVirus and they work very well together.
I also have installed ClamWin Free AntiVirus.
It is inert (no real-time protection and must be scanned manually) for an added layer of protection.
I run ClamWin and MBAM weekly and in all the years I have been running these three I have never had a virus in my computer.
I highly recommend them to my family and friends.

Posted by:

08 May 2012

As you said MBAM is good but not worth 25$. I use Free Antivirus and only use MBAM free version once a week to check my system Health.

Posted by:

Jonathan Ryner
11 May 2012

Hey Bob! I just had a quick question about MBAM. How well does MBAM Pro work with Norton products; do they play well together or do they have fights on occasion? Thanks, Bob!

EDITOR'S NOTE: MBAM seems to work well with all other security products.

Posted by:

Johnny G 92
02 Oct 2012

With the September MS monthly updates, I also noticed that MBAM also issued an update along with
its regular definitions. From that point on,my computer running Win 7 locked up regularly, which had never happened before. Both MBAM free and paid
did this. I removed MBAM and solved the problem.

Posted by:

Jack Morin
24 Sep 2013

I may be paranoid, but this is the software that I use to keep myself safe(?) - AVG Secure Search - ToolbarU Application, Version 15, 5, 0, 2; COMODO Internet Security Version 5, 12, 256249, 2599; IOBit - Advanced SystemCare Ultimate Version 6.0.0.; IObit Malware Fighter Version; Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Version 1.75.0001; Microsoft Malware Protection Version 4.3.0215.0; Microsoft Security Client Version 4.3.0215.0; Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool Version 5.4.9400.0; Piriform Ltd - CCleaner Version 4, 05, 00, 4250; Secunia PSI Agent Version; Sophos Virus Removal Tool Version 2.3; SUPERAntiSpyware Version 5, 6, 0, 1020; WhatsMyComputerDoing Version 1, 0, 0, 1

Posted by:

Patrick Palmer
04 Aug 2015

Hi Bob

You write in this article that the $24.95 price of MBAM Pro is "a one-time charge".

Although this may have been true at an earlier period of the product's history, I'm pretty sure that the price of MBAM Pro is now $24.95 for 3 computers for 1 year.

I may be wrong - please would you check this?

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