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Malwarebytes Premium antivirus review: A simple, lightweight security solution

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £30
(per year, inc VAT)

The no-nonsense approach is admirable but Malwarebytes Premium is undermined by a high price and a not-quite-perfect protection rating


  • Very easy to install and use
  • Low impact on computer performance


  • One of the most expensive security suites around
  • Less effective than rivals at blocking zero-day threats
  • Not particularly well featured

Malwarebytes offers online security in two forms: a basic free virus scanner, and this more advanced offering, which promises active, all-round protection. The suite covers the important bases without slowing down your computer, but the price is comparatively steep and, in testing, it couldn’t quite match the protection scores offered by many competing antivirus packages.

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Malwarebytes Premium review: What do you get for the money?

The free edition of Malwarebytes only performs on-demand scanning, so frankly it’s not much use – it won’t step in to prevent a malware attack. The Premium package is much more capable, adding real-time analysis of files as they download and run. There’s also a web protection feature that runs behind the scenes and blocks dangerous executables and scam sites, as well as a module that watches over your Windows system and prevents attackers from taking advantage of known OS vulnerabilities. 

If you’re looking for lots of features and settings to play with, however, you’ll be disappointed. The Malwarebytes software performs all of its checks automatically in the background and the only control you get is a set of switches enabling you to turn individual detection types on and off. If you delve deep into the settings you can find some cryptic technical options, but they’re not intended for regular users to mess with.  There’s also a switch for ransomware protection, which is just a subset of regular malware detection. The program doesn’t let you lock down access to specific folders as you can with Kaspersky Premium or Trend Micro Internet Security.  Arguably, you don’t need more protection than this. Indeed, there’s a certain appeal to the simplicity of Malwarebytes. However, the basic feature set makes it hard to justify the price. You’ll pay £30 per year to protect a single device, or £80 for five devices. Sneakily, the website presents this as a per-month cost, but subscriptions are only offered on an annual basis.

Malwarebytes Premium review: Will it keep you safe?

Malwarebytes really only does one thing, so you would expect it to do it well. In the latest malware protection tests carried out by independent antivirus lab, Malwarebytes Premium was pitted against 11,876 widespread malware samples – and it successfully intercepted 100% of them.

The software didn’t fare quite so well against unknown threats, however. When tested against 363 zero-day attacks, Malwarebytes achieved only a 98.9% protection rate in January 2023, and 97.8% for the following month. Those are still very high numbers, but as you can see below, almost every other contender achieved a clean sheet.

We can’t criticise Malwarebytes too heavily for a near-perfect performance, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that it fared worse than the free Defender tool that’s built into Windows. protection results, Jan/Feb 2023 (%)0-day Jan0-day FebWidespread JanWidespread Feb
Avast One100100100100
AVG Internet Security100100100100
Avira Internet Security100100100100
Bitdefender Internet Security100100100100
Eset Internet Security98.998.3100100
F-Secure SAFE99.5100100100
G Data Total Security100100100100
Kaspersky Premium100100100100
Malwarebytes Premium98.997.8100100
McAfee Total Protection100100100100
Microsoft Windows Defender100100100100
Norton 360 Deluxe100100100100
Trend Micro Internet Security100100100100

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Malwarebytes Premium review: Will it slow your computer down?

Perhaps because it’s fairly simple, Malwarebytes Premium is quite speedy. In our browser-based performance tests it allowed us to download a set of ten executable files in a total of 4.1 seconds; that compares well with the standard Windows Defender protections, which took 6.0 seconds to download the same files. It wasn’t as fast as Norton 360, which raced through the test in 3.4 seconds, but it was a lot better than AVG Internet Security or Panda Dome, which kept us hanging around for 9.6 and 13 seconds respectively. 
This performance wasn’t limited to program files. With Malwarebytes installed, we were able to download ten Word documents in 2.9 seconds, versus 3.4 seconds with Windows Defender, and when opening a set of ten PDFs in the browser, the software slowed us down by a mere 0.6 seconds. That’s a little slicker than the 0.8 seconds we saw with Windows Defender and a whole lot better than the likes of Eset, F-Secure and Panda, which all added more than three seconds to the process.

For everyday browsing, however, Malwarebytes isn’t quite the fastest option. In’s February 2023 performance tests, the lab found Malwarebytes had a 28% impact on the speed of web pages opening, while Windows Defender was rated at only 16%.

Malwarebytes Premium review: Should you buy it?

If you want a simple, unobtrusive antivirus solution then you might well be attracted to Malwarebytes Premium. It doesn’t expect you to get hands-on with numerous settings or showy features – it just sits quietly in the system tray and does its job.

As we’ve noted, though, it’s expensive. Hop onto Amazon and you can get Norton 360 for £10 or a ten-device Kaspersky Premium licence for £40. Is Malwarebytes really worth twice as much?

The answer has to be no. Malwarebytes is a lightweight package but both Kaspersky and Norton proved faster in our browser benchmark test and they both received perfect protection ratings from, while Malwarebytes stumbled. We like the Malwarebytes philosophy but we can’t recommend you buy it unless the price comes down and the protection ratings go up.

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