Though I’ve been a loyal Malwarebytes user since 2008, I have to admit that most of that time was spent as a free user. Upgrading to a premium account never crossed my mind because I never thought I needed it. You’ve probably thought the same.
Truth is, the free version of Malwarebytes is fantastic. It scans and removes malware and rootkits, and the company deserves kudos for respecting its users enough to not cripple the free version into an unusable mess as companies are prone to do.
But having recently tried the premium version (on my own initiative and not with a provided license), I’m happy to say that it’s definitely worth it. Here’s why.
1. Real-Time Protection Is Preemptive
Exercise and good hygiene are cheaper than visits to the ER. Taking care of your car is cheaper than getting it repaired when it breaks down. Investing in robust locks and alarms is cheaper than replacing everything when your home is burglarized.
And so it is with computer security.
When it comes to malware, it’s safer and more effective to catch potential infections before they take root than it is to diagnose and clean an infected system.
Malwarebytes Free only does manual scans, meaning it can only catch malware after you’ve been infected. Even if you scan every single day, there will always be a period of time between scans where your data and system are vulnerable.
Malwarebytes Premium offers real-time protection, which is always on in the background and actively scanning files and executables, preventing infections from happening in the first place. It’s preemptive so there’s never a period of vulnerability.
2. Scheduled Scans Are More Convenient
Suppose you don’t care about the real-time protection offered by Malwarebytes Premium. Even so, there’s a different feature that you may find useful: scheduled scans. Unfortunately, scheduled scans aren’t available in the free version.
The most convenient use would be to set a recurring scan—perhaps daily or weekly or even once every 17 hours if you’re quirky like that—that automatically runs on its own so you don’t have to worry about it.
You can also run one-time scans, scheduled for a specific date and time in the future, which frees you of the need to track and remember.
If a scheduled scan—either one-time or recurring—ever fails to execute for some reason (e.g. your computer was off), you can enable a per-task recovery option that detects missed scans and runs at the next opportunity if it’s still within a certain time frame from when it was supposed to run (e.g. within one hour).
3. Anti-Exploits and Anti-Ransomware
Malwarebytes used to have a separate product called Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, which focused specifically on shielding the security holes and vulnerabilities in popular apps and web browsers against malicious and exploitative attacks.
This feature is now only available through Malwarebytes Premium.
Ransomware is another huge security risk, easily the most nefarious form of consumer malware the world has ever seen. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an infection that holds your data hostage and demands a ransom with threat of deletion if you don’t.
The scary thing about ransomware is that you usually don’t realize it’s there until it strikes, and once it’s on your system, it can be almost impossible to remove. Effective ransomware protection is hard to come by, but Malwarebytes Premium delivers.
4. Malwarebytes Takes Security Seriously
Malwarebytes launched in 2006, the company formally incorporated two years later, and the team has been strictly security-focused this entire time. They’ve been around for quite a while, they’re stronger than ever before, and they’re here to stay.
But that’s not even the best part.
Malwarebytes works quickly to fix issues and is transparent about any difficulties they may encounter. In 2016, they were privately notified of a few server-side vulnerabilities and had them fixed within days, then publicly disclosed the whole incident.
Malwarebytes also runs a public bug bounty program where anyone can report software vulnerabilities and be awarded cash prizes between $100 and $1,000 depending on the severity and urgency of the reported vulnerability.
There aren’t many security brands that I’d call trustworthy, but of the rare ones that do exist, Malwarebytes sits up there with the best.
5. Get Tech-Challenged Family Members Off Your Back
Are you tired of mom or dad calling and asking for computer help yet again because everything slowed to a crawl and “the Google” stopped working? It’s most likely due to malware, and now you have to head over to clean up their mess.
Malwarebytes Premium can seriously reduce how often this happens, or even eliminate the issue altogether.
Active real-time protection against web threats, app exploits, and system viruses makes sure that issues are caught behind the scenes. So even when grandma or grandpa are tempted to click on a flashing popup, they likely won’t be affected by the malware itself and they won’t complain to you as often.
Malwarebytes Premium licenses are per-device with steep discounts for multi-device license packs: $60/year for 3 devices, $80/year for 5 devices, and $130/year for 10 devices. It’s a great way to get real-time malware protection for your whole family!