Using two antivirus suites has never been good advice. If you can even get them to work together, you’ll have a hard time with system freezes and crashes. Malwarebytes has always been different, as it was launched as a standalone scanner to check what your antivirus might have missed.
It has come a long way and, since 2016, presents itself as a replacement antivirus compatible with other antivirus software. With its latest version, things are a little different…
What is Malwarebytes?
Malwarebytes was launched in 2008 as a free, on-demand scanner to help you remove viruses from your computer and check that your existing antivirus didn’t miss anything. It was considered an essential download on every computer by many in the tech industry, especially IT technicians.
A lot has changed in the years since its launch, with antivirus software developing new technologies, Windows becoming more secure and, more recently, Microsoft Defender fighting back.
In 2014, Malwarebytes was redeveloped with a new design and a premium version that complemented your existing antivirus by providing additional scanning of files you downloaded and websites you visited. It was called Version 2, and it was easy to recommend its sub-$25 asking price for top-notch additional security.
Just two years later, in 2016, Malwarebytes portrayed itself as an antivirus replacement that focuses on behavior checking and using new technologies to find threats that traditional suites might have missed. It was called version 3 and was met with mixed reviews.
Malwarebytes Free has always operated as a standalone scanner, but its premium version has become harder to recommend with its rising prices.
It was advertised to work with existing antivirus suites, including big names like Norton and McAfee, while claiming to replace the antivirus software it claimed to be compatible with.
But many users have been confused about whether to use it as a scanner, with another suite, or on its own.
A redesign later, the message became a little clearer with version 4 in 2019. Malwarebytes checked into Windows Security Center (more on that later) and would disable Microsoft Defender by default, telling Windows that it was a complete antivirus.
The antivirus replacement message was pushed further, and specific suites like Norton or McAfee were not mentioned as compatible, as they were before.
How does Malwarebytes compare to Microsoft Defender?
Microsoft Defender first appeared as a full-featured antivirus in Windows 8. While it was good that everyone installing their new computer had some protection, it received very poor reviews.
It received a score of zero by AV-TEST, an independent antivirus testing company, in all tests from 2013 to 2015. It started to score between 0.5 and 3 out of 6 in the most recent tests, but in the same tests, Big Name Antivirus Suites scored 6 out of 6.
It wasn’t until late December 2017 that it achieved its first top score, and it has generally maintained 5-6 scores in the years since. These scores made it an AV-TEST Top product and it got the same scores as big names like Norton and McAfee.
Those original scores were hopeless, only detecting 70% of malware in many cases. This graph shows how much improvement has been made in the years since.
On the other hand, Malwarebytes has only been tested since 2018, so there is far less data available to us. Its lowest score was 2, which was tested near the launch of version 4.
Fortunately, recent tests also show it as an AV-TEST flagship, scoring 6 out of 6 in many cases.
It’s safe to say that both products offer great protection these days, so what are the main differences? Features.
Microsoft Defender is a basic antivirus capable of stopping malware downloads and programs, and nothing else.
Malwarebytes offers additional web protection to prevent you from becoming a victim of phishing, exploit protection to prevent apps on your PC from being used to carry malware, and ransomware protection to prevent threats never seen before. prevent you from accessing your files. Learn the main signs of a phishing scam and what ransomware is to learn how to identify them and protect yourself.
There is also the option of using Malwarebytes VPN and a security browser extension that includes ad and tracker blocking.
Can you use Malwarebytes with another antivirus?
As we discussed earlier, Malwarebytes now tells Windows that this is default antivirus, which disables Microsoft Defender and any other antivirus you have installed.
Since the release of version 4 in 2019, Malwarebytes no longer guarantees compatibility or mentions big names in its help pages, and advises you to keep it enabled in Windows Security Center for the most comprehensive protection.
Despite this, it tells you how to use it with another antivirus if you wish. If you do, Microsoft Defender will automatically be enabled.
Go to Malwarebytes, click on the Settings cog, go to Securityand uncheck the box Windows Security Center setting.
It’s essential to note that Microsoft Defender being so basic is one of the reasons why using it with Malwarebytes Premium can work smoothly, as they don’t overlap on features as much as a premium suite would. Microsoft Defender built into Windows also reduces the risk of driver conflicts.
Additionally, Microsoft Defender scans every file that is downloaded, opened, modified, or moved. Malwarebytes only scans downloaded or opened files.
In theory, files that aren’t open can’t harm your PC, and this allows Malwarebytes to be easier on system resources. This supports the use of Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender to complement each other without issue.
Malwarebytes Free and Microsoft Defender can be used to run scans from time to time if you want to make sure your system is clean without any cost. Read about periodic Microsoft Defender scan to learn more.
Both Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender have a purpose
It is clear that both products offer excellent protection. You should be able to use either one, although additional Malwarebytes features may catch your eye.
If you want extra protection, using Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender together instead of using a different antivirus is definitely an option, but may not be necessary.
There are other steps you can take to protect yourself from malicious websites, and problems can still arise from using the two together.