Announcing Malwarebytes Premium

Category: Security

I have always recommended the free version of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware for basic protection and eradication of malware infections. Of course, there’s a paid version too, called MalwareBytes Premium. How is it different from the free version, and is it worth the $24.95 annual subscription fee? Let's find out…

Review: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: Free and Premium

If you've followed me for any length of time, you've probably heard me recommend the free MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) program, which works alongside traditional anti-virus programs to provide additional on-demand protection, and can often root out stubborn malware infections that other security tools failed to find or remove.

A paid version called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Pro added some additional features, along with real-time malware scanning. The company has recently released a completely new version (the first major update in six years) called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Premium, which replaces the Pro version. Here's what's new, and how the free and paid versions compare.

MBAM Premium review

Both versions of MBAM scan every corner of your system to find malware where it hides. They examine RAM, the Windows registry, the startup folder, and the entire file system. They even root out rootkits, which hide themselves by modifying software that’s designed to look for them in a sort of Jedi mind trick. Both versions are excellent at disabling and erasing malware that they detect. But the Premium version goes several important steps beyond the freebie.

It’s better to prevent malware infections than to hunt them down. The free version of MBAM is reactive; it only runs a malware scan when you tell it to, and only after infection has occurred. The Premium version aims to prevent infections from ever occurring, and it can work without your specific direction.

"Just Set it, And Forget it!"

The Premium version includes active shields that continually monitor not only what’s going on in your system but also what is trying to get into it and where on the Web you are trying to go. It blocks downloads of suspected malware and warns you when you are trying to access a rogue Web site. Both versions fix trouble, but the Premium version keeps you out of trouble as well.

You don’t have to remember to run scans for malware, update the malware signature and rogue Web sites databases, or check for MBAM updates with the Premium version. All of these tedious routine tasks can be scheduled to happen automatically at times when you don’t need the computer’s full power.

A “Hyper Scan” mode in the Premium version does a fast scan for active malware; the free version does only full scans that drain system resources longer.

Premium features such as real-time protection, malicious website detection, and heuristic (behavior-driven) anticipation of malware activities will consume additional computer resources. The difference will most likely not be noticeable, but they can be selectively disabled and enabled by the user when you need all the PC horsepower you can get.

A Few Notes About MBAM Premium

During my review and testing of the Premium version, I discovered a few things that were noteworthy. First, the company's press release says "Premium will support XP users for life, who currently make up 20% of Malwarebytes’ user-base and could be at greater risk when updates stop on April 8." I think some people will assume this means that as long as they have MBAM Premium, they can continue using XP safely after Microsoft drops support. If you read my article Windows XP: Game Over you'll see that I disagree.

Let's move to the MBAM Settings panel. On the Detection and Protection tab, there's a checkbox to "Scan for rootkits" which is unchecked (disabled) by default. I recommend that you check this box, because why would you NOT want to scan for rootkits?

In the section labelled Non-Malware Protection, you have the option to treat Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) as malware, flag them with a warning, or ignore them. PUPs are typically bundled with software downloads but technically, they're not malware. They can be annoying or marginally useful (toolbars, adware) and may have sketchy privacy policies, but they're not dangerous. MBAM's default is to treat them as malware, but I suggest just a warning here.

The Web Exclusions tab lets you add IP addresses for websites that you do NOT want to block. You'd only use this when MBAM mistakenly blocks a site that you know is safe. And unfortunately, it only accepts IP addresses, not website URLs. You can use MX Toolbox to find the IP address of a website if you need to use this feature.

The Premium version has technology called Chameleon to defend itself against attacks by malware that tries to disable MBAM. (The free version lacks this self-defense feature. ) Ironically, the Chameleon feature is hard to find. It is available on MBAM's Advanced Settings panel, but is not turned on by default. The checkbox labelled "Enable self-protection module" turns on the Chameleon feature, which tells MBAM to do some magic during startup "to prevent malicious manipulation of the program and its components."

The MBAM help file says that "Checking this box introduces a delay as the self-protection module is enabled." That may be an understatement. I tried turning on this feature on an XP system, and after restarting, the desktop never appeared. I waited at least five minutes, and my desktop icons, the Start button and the task bar had still not appeared.

I was able to bring up the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc, and it showed all the usual tasks running in the background. I clicked Fille->Run, then located and started mbam.exe (the MBAM control panel). As soon as I unchecked the Enable self-protection module option, my desktop appeared. It's possible that Chameleon was having a polite argument with my Avast anti-virus, or maybe I needed to pour lemon juice on my desktop and hold up a match to reveal the hidden elements, but I didn't bother to research this problem any further. As they say, your mileage may vary.

Finally, I encountered a minor glitch during the installation of MBAM Premium. A message informed me that "MBAM 1.x is currently installed and could not be uninstalled properly. Please uninstall manually, reboot and try again." I did have MBAM Free installed, so I went to Add/Remove Programs on the Windows Control Panel, and tried to manually delete it. Windows then said "An error occurred when trying to remove MBAM. It may have already been uninstalled. Remove from list? (YES/NO)". I clicked YES, then retried the MBAM Premium install (without rebooting) and it worked fine.

What Does MBAM Premium Cost?

After a 14-day free trial, the Premium version will cost $24.95 a year if you decide to keep its advanced features active. (People who already use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro get a free upgrade to the new version.) That license covers up to 3 different devices, so you can use it on multiple computers for as little as about $8 per year per machine. That’s not too much money for some of the best anti-malware protection available and the convenience of automatic scans and updates.

It's too bad I don't get paid for being such an enthusiastic supporter of the MBAM products. I know they have an affiliate program, but I've resisted the urge to take any kind of commissions, because I want you to trust that my software recommendations are not motivated by personal gain. I do heartily recommend both MBAM Free and MBAM Premium, as an extra layer of protection against malware.

Have you tried MBAM? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Announcing Malwarebytes Premium"

(See all 35 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

28 Mar 2014

I had read some time back that Malwarebytes was letting some adware through because it wasn't considered harmful. I immediately stopped using Malwarebytes. I think I will stay with Superantispyware. Also I don't see any reason to pay for something when there are excellent alternatives.

Posted by:

28 Mar 2014

What are they paying you to advertise for them? There are a number of free anti-virus software that work great. This isn't typical of your MO.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I think I spelled that out already, at the end of the article:

>>>It's too bad I don't get paid for being such an enthusiastic supporter of the MBAM products. I know they have an affiliate program, but I've resisted the urge to take any kind of commissions, because I want you to trust that my software recommendations are not motivated by personal gain. I do heartily recommend both MBAM Free and MBAM Premium, as an extra layer of protection against malware.

Posted by:

28 Mar 2014

Bob: per your reply to me, above, "I'm certain that you installed the free trial of the Pro/Premium version". I had considered that, at some point in my journey, and made a point of going back and downloading and installing the non-Pro version. I went back to their site several times to be sure that there "seemed to be" a difference in the Pro and non-Pro version I was about to download.

Unless their site hides the Pro ver. as the non-Pro ver. I got the right one and ended up with the same situation (and the same install executable). I kept (via rename) the previous download so I could compare them (same file names and sizes).
Was not meant to be, for me at least. :o(

Posted by:

29 Mar 2014

I had a problem with free mbam on the wife's pyooter. They followed up with me *religiously* to fix the problem. They were more concerned about it than I was!
Classy company. Program is great, as well.

Posted by:

29 Mar 2014

Hello All!

Mr. Rankin. I love this quote from You and it's Definitely ON Point:

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Screw their greed?" Really? You start by praising a free program that has protected you from viruses for years. And then you curse them out for daring to offer a paid version that costs $8.32 a year per PC. Computer programmers do have to eat, and pay rent, just like everyone else. Without the paid version, there would be no free MBAM that is enjoyed by tens of millions of users. Just a little perspective...


I really feel that the fine folks at MBAM have been in the business for Quite some time and Never have I questioned their integrity!
They are one of a handful of techies who really care about their consumer base!

I appreciate what they have done and continue to do for those of us who at one time or another were unemployed or who had no income coming in and to provide the FREE version of this wonderful software to all of us (to protect our computer investment) was/is a True Act of Kindness on their part!

I immediately purchased the PRO version (back in the day) when I again became employed to show my gratitude and to help the Company to keep providing the FREE version of MBAM to those who could use this protection!

I say all of this to put folks in Check to be grateful that the MBAM folks can provide the FREE version and still provide for their own families (as stated earlier by Mr. Rankin).

Thank You,


Posted by:

29 Mar 2014

Great News!!! I am a 'lover' of Malwarebytes and went Pro, last year. I also, got the $24.95 deal for 3 PCs, with a Lifetime License. Now that, was a very good deal, to me.

Just updated to the Premium and all I can say is WOW!!! The new Dashboard is so much easier to read and to customize your settings. I am especially glad, that Chameleon has been added to the Premium version. This program was very helpful, in me getting rid of the Conduit mess, last year. I also, have been using their Anti-Root and Anti-Exploit programs. From the look of things, both of those last two programs are "included" in the new Premium version.

As for the Free version or Premium version ... Malwarebytes web page, is now very clear on which is which. However, they have just updated their website, with this new Premium version.

I am so glad Bob, that you have updated us, regarding Malwarebytes Premium version. This is a wonderful program and deserves being mentioned, as often, as possible. Thats my take. :)

Posted by:

.Joelle Paquette
29 Mar 2014

I am using the free MBAM free version and I just
love it. Several times in the past few months it has caught malaware on my computer and saved me
lots of money. I am going to consider buying the paid MBAM version. Thank you for the input.

Posted by:

Ian Robinson
29 Mar 2014

Oh Boy!!! You're absolutely right Bob, what a drag MBAM Pro 'Chamelon' is.
I have been a premium subscriber to MBAM for a couple of years now - and applaud the protection it has always provided. I would not boot up without it. And whilst I generally like the features introduced in version 2, the Self Protection Module is a total disaster. When enabled it managed to bring my Win7 Pro (SP1) system almost to a complete halt. Every process and program slowed to such an extent that I (like you) was sitting for many, many minutes watching my screen to see something happen!
Maybe (like you've said) there's a battle going on between the Chamelon feature and my anti-virus (I use Vipre) - but in a good program this just shouldn't happen.
Why include the module if it won't work comfortably with other programs?
No wonder it is disabled by default!! I would love to use this feature... but cannot do so until it's cleaned up a lot more than at present.

Posted by:

29 Mar 2014

Bob, I am so excited!!! I just upgraded my Pro version to the Premium version and LOVE the new Dashboard!!! So, much easier than the previous one.

Just wanted everyone to know, that Malwarebytes Premium is on "special", right now from Malwarebytes. You can get 3 licenses, for a lifetime, for only $19.995 USD!!! Now, that my friends is a real bargain. In my household, I have 2 computers, plus I take care of my middle daughter's computer ... She is so far from being computer savvy, that it really is laughable.

$19.95, divided by 3, equals $6.65 USD a piece. I don't see, how you can beat that, except maybe for the one who got theirs for $15.00, off of eBay. Just wonder, if, that was for 3 computers or only 1 computer? Someone, easily could have purchased a Malwarebyte Pro for 3 computers and only used it on their own personal one and sold the other 2 licenses. All Malwarebytes wants is the name and the code or license. That's it folks ... It is that simple.

Anyway, I am pleased as punch, about the new version ... In looking it over, last night ... It really, is so much easier to use and to set-up. Oh, thank you for giving us, the "heads up" on what to "check", for your protection.

I didn't know that simply checking the box for "Enable self-protection module" turns on the Chameleon feature, in the new Premium version! Trust me, that is an awesome additive, to Malwarebytes, which could only be used, a single time, when you had a malware "infection." Chameleon was a Beta product, so for those of you who are still using the Free version, be sure to download the Beta products, for manual protection, when it is needed.

I am just so glad, that the Beta products, I love so well, are part of the new Premium version. I am now, being monitored 24/7 and I LOVE it!!!

I do not understand, why so many individuals are saying ... That the Free version, is only for 15 days??? That simply, is not true. The Free version is free for a lifetime, just like the Premium version, you only pay for the Pro or Premium once. I now, have the Premium version, when yesterday I had the Pro version. For me, Malwarebytes has always been easy to find the Free version download, as well as the Pro version download. It is even easier now, if, that is possible. Check out their website and see, for yourselves.

Posted by:

Graham Jones
29 Mar 2014

If you bought v1 they have honored that going forward with v2 in perpetuity. So if you did that then you are sitting pretty. This info is available on their website. I was not one of those fortunate ones but I don't begrudge any company making a buck for a product which provides good value. If you are one of those commenting hear that doesn't subscribe to that then I think you need to address your value set. We have become spoiled by expecting everything to be free. Besides in many cases freeware is supported by ads or there is a free version and a better paid version. Isn't this what is happening here. How do we expect a company to remain solvent and continue to upgrade a product without ongoing revenue??? Isn't it still true that you get what you pay for?

Posted by:

29 Mar 2014

Oopsie ... I got my information, about Malwarebytes Premium being only $19.95 for 3 PCs offer is for those, who get Malwarebytes Newsletter. It is NOT available, at this time on their website. I am so sorry, but, for those who do get the newsletter from Malwarebytes ... This is a great offer.

Also, it really does look, as though Malwarebytes Premium will only be a 12 month subscription, like you said. No, I don't have an expiration date, but, I do have March 28, 2014 activation date, for the Premium version. I am guessing, that I will be up for "renewal" on March 28, 2015. Still, getting 3 computers covered for that price, even annually ... Is a good price. Especially, since, the Pro or Premium versions are really great products.

Posted by:

29 Mar 2014

Hi Bob ..... First let me, and I know the rest of your followers, thank you for all your time and trouble trying to keep the rest of us, out of it.
It's kinda ironic how after installing the free version of MBAM, and letting it do it's thing, I haven't paid much attention to what it's doing .... all I know it must be doing it 'cause I never have any trouble so I give it one of those, "Out of sight, out of mind", or "No problems, don't look for any." I'll have to give a look at installing the full version now.
Thanks again ....

Posted by:

30 Mar 2014

I see, that many people are having problems updating their free version. Below, is a link to a free version update:

Posted by:

31 Mar 2014

I love the product, but I consider this an egregious money grab.
I purchased the Pro license a couple of years ago because I liked the product. It did the job and updated regularly...still does, but now they want me to reach in my pocket again...and again next year...and again etc...
Please, you've already made money off of me, and now you want more. Had I known this, I would have stuck with the free version or went with another company. If you need money that badly, just quit offering the free version and lay the cards on the table to begin with, not punish the people who supported you financially for the last few years.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2014

31 Mar 2014

You are wrong. If you have a lifetime subscription for Pro you can upgrade to premium for free and they will continue to honor the lifetime license.
Please check you facts before disparaging a fine company.

Another Bob

Posted by:

01 Apr 2014

I wasn't trying to disparage a fine company. My comment also contained praise for the product. If anything, I misread what you wrote.
"After a 14-day free trial, the Premium version will cost $24.95 a year if you decide to keep its advanced features active. (People who already use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro get a free upgrade to the new version.)"
I read that to mean that although I get a 'free' upgrade, 365 days later I'll have to fork over $24.95. If that's not the case, I humbly apologize.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2014

Wait a minute ... Why "argue" whether you upgrade to the Premium version, from the Pro version ... It really is a "moot" point.

Bottom line ... If, those of us, who got our "free" upgrade from Pro to Premium are upset, when it comes time to renew, in a year ... You can always go back to the FREE version!!!

@Another Bob ... I do believe, you are wrong in your assessment of the "free upgrade" from Pro to Premium. This will not be a Lifetime license ... It upgrade will only a one year license/subscription. Why else, would Malwarebytes make it a "free" upgrade???

Also, for those who are complaining ... I have seen many, many programs do this ... To go from Lifetime licenses to one year subscriptions. Do any of you know, how much time is involved within a "company" to continually update the data base, for Malware, Viruses, Worms, Trojan Horses, Foistware and the like??? It takes staff, who need to earn money, just like you and I need to earn money ... So, we can live with a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and fuel to drive around. The same goes for the Malwarebytes staff. It doesn't matter that Malwarebytes is on a .org website ... To keep doing what they are doing, money is very important.

Again ... IF, you don't want to pay any money ... Use the FREE version, when the time comes!!!

Posted by:

08 Apr 2014

You make valid points here, but previous Pro users should be grandfathered in. We agreed when we paid our money that it was a one time cost, that was part of the appeal to upgrade this fine product. Users who want to upgrade from this point on should be subject to the new Premium rates, but after all, a deal is a deal.
This is akin to Microsoft changing their EULA and charging a yearly usage service for Windows. I mean, they too need "...staff, who need to earn money, just like you and I need to earn money ... So, (they) can live with a roof over (their) heads, (with) food in (their) stomachs and fuel to drive around."

Posted by:

16 Apr 2014

This is from their official blog post- "We will continue to honor
existing lifetime licenses,
meaning any users that
already have a lifetime
license for 1.x will
continue to have a lifetime license for 2.0."
( )

Posted by:

18 Apr 2014

I had to go back to version 1.75 (Pro) after downloading and installing my free 2.0 (Pro) "upgrade".
This was accomplished with the help Of MBAM'S fantastic technical support personnel - after numerous failed attempts to get 2.0 to work properly.
I am as happy with version 1.75 as I ever was.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Announcing Malwarebytes Premium (Posted: 28 Mar 2014)
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