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Review: Malwarebytes 2.0 Finds What Others Don't

High-tech hero maker: Anti-malware tool removes and prevents performance-zapping malware to keep workers productive.

For service providers handling the dreaded "my computer is slow" complaint, the standard suite of anti-virus tools might not be enough. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0 Premium is a free-to-try tool for Windows that finds more problems than others we've tried and can generate service revenue for MSPs and IT consultants. It's easy to install and use, and for $24.99 includes real-time threat prevention and the ability to perform scans on a schedule. This tool can help keep client machines free from harm and minimize repeat service calls. Malwarebytes is designed to work alongside traditional anti-virus tools, and finds issues that anti-virus tools often leave behind.

To test Malwarebytes, we first installed the free version and ran it on a PC that had for years been running another free anti-malware tool. At install, the free version offers to enable the a trial period of the premium edition, which has the same anti-malware capabilities but lacks scheduling and real-time threat prevention. Following a scan of about 15 minutes, Malwarebytes had identified 47 threats, one of which was deemed serious. Options for dealing with them were to ignore, exclude or quarantine, the default.

With the release of version 2.0 last year, Malwarebytes got a much-needed user interface overhaul. Its intuitive UI defaults to a simple dashboard with tabs for scanning, settings and history. The Scan tab lists the three scan types and defaults to a comprehensive scan. Additional scan types are Custom and Hyper, the latter of which quickly searches for active threats. A simplified settings screen presents a two-paned window for configuring general settings and those for malware and Web exclusions, detection and protection, updates, history, access policies and scheduling.

An Advanced Settings page offers options for starting the tool along with Windows, automatically enabling various types of protection, automatic quarantine, delaying startup and enabling self-protection. Scheduling can be applied to scans and for updates to the malware definition database. Options range from monthly and "at reboot" to real time and hourly. There's also a setting that can reduce the priority of scans to help improve performance of slower or less powerful systems.

Also in version 2.0 is the company's Anti-Rootkit tooling as well as its so-called Chameleon feature. The former fixes some of the more malicious (and dangerous) forms of malware that embed themselves deeply into the operating system; the latter adapts to a system that might be crippled by an attack and performs what's called a "brute-force startup" so that it can perform a scan and effect repairs. When it reached version 2.0 in April 2014, the company claimed that the tool at that time serviced more than 200 million PCs. It also reaffirmed its commitment to Windows XP, which it continues to support. And the CRN Test Center supports Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0 Premium.

PUBLISHED FEB. 17, 2015

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