Malwarebytes and Bitdefender have built solid reputations for removing online and offline threats that harm our devices, but how do they perform under thorough lab testing? Stick with me as I find out.
I’ve put Bitdefender Premium Security and Malwarebytes Premium Plus Privacy side by side to give you a clear picture of the lengths each provider goes to for your online and offline protection. Securing threats on your device is a core function of any antivirus, but I’ve researched a little deeper to understand each provider’s performance, pricing, features, and more.
If you’re not here for the whole article and want a summarized version of the winner, check this out. Bitdefender Premium Security provides advanced protection features such as online banking protection, parental controls, and system optimization tools. You’ll get on-demand support and discounts on first-year sign-ups.
Keep reading for the full comparison of Bitdefender and Malwarebytes.
Summary: Bitdefender vs Malwarebytes
- Includes a VPN
- Webcam and microphone protection
- File shredder
- Ransomware protection
- Includes a VPN
- Malicious links & phishing protection
|Antivirus and Antispyware|
|Web protection/anti phishing|
|PC Cloud Backup|
|Banking and Payment Protection|
|Network Attack Protection|
|Secure data encryption|
|Automatically update apps|
BEST DEAL FOR BITDEFENDER:Save 56% on Bitdefender Premium Security and get extra perks like a VPN and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
BEST DEAL FOR MALWAREBYTES:Get an annual plan for $45 and protect your device against threats.
Bitdefender has been around since 2001, providing antivirus and cybersecurity solutions to consumers across the globe. The Romanian company had over 500 million users in 2018 and has a team of 1,600 employees.
Malwarebytes operates its HQ from Santa Clara in the United States and has been providing users with internet security protection since 2008. The company had 60,000 corporate users as of 2020 and more than 800 employees in 2017.
Bitdefender vs Malwarebytes pricing
Bitdefender currently has four tiers of pricing plus its free version, each encompassing a different suite of internet security features. Malwarebytes has three pricing levels to choose from, not including its free plan.
Bitdefender offers a great selection of subscription levels to choose from and rewards users who sign up for the software annually.
Malwarebytes meanwhile has some reasonable pricing, but it doesn’t give users an incentive to stick with them for anything more than a month. In other words, the price you pay per month doesn’t equate to any savings if you pay for a year upfront.
|No value||Malwarebytes Free||Malwarebytes Premium||Malwarebytes Premium (5 devices)||Malwarebytes|
|First year price||Free||$39.99||$79.99||$99.99|
|No value||Bitdefender Antivirus Plus||Bitdefender Internet Security||Bitdefender Total Security||Bitdefender Premium Security|
|First year price||$24.99||$29.99||$39.98||$49.99|
Starting with Bitdefender’s bottom pricing level Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, you can get the plan for $29.99 for the first year, instead of its regular price of $59.99. With this plan, you get antivirus and malware protection, loads of options to optimize your system like game mode, and Autopilot, which recommends security actions based on your system spec. Anti-phishing, anti-fraud, and ransomware protection are also included, further enhancing your online safety. Unlike Malwarebytes, you’ll also get a VPN without having to step up to higher pricing, but it does come with a 200MB limit per day per device.
With Bitdefender Internet Security, you’ll benefit from all of the above features plus more. Social Network Protection, a Password Manager, Microphone Monitor, and webcam monitoring are just some of the excellent features you get at this slightly higher price point. First-year pricing is $34.99 and $79.99 after that.
Bitdefender Total Security takes things even further with tools to help speed up your devices, and it also includes protection for macOS, ioS, and Android (other plans are Windows-only). Pricing for first-year sign-ups is $39.98, and then it goes up to $89.99.
Finally, Bitdefender Premium Security is the best protection the provider offers for your home devices. Not only does it include the features listed in its lower-tier plans, but it provides unlimited VPN bandwidth, parental controls, a privacy firewall, and network threat protection. It costs $74.99 for the first year, before rising to $149.99 afterward.
All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you change your mind in the first month, you can cancel and get a full refund.
To give you an idea of what you’re getting, though, Malwarebytes premium (1 device) costs $39.99 for a year. This gives you antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware protection. You’ll get phishing protection, malicious links scanning, ransomware, and zero-day exploit protection, as well as brute force and uninstall protection. It also bundles Malwarebytes Browser Guard, which removes ads, blocks trackers following you around the web, and prevents in-browser threats like cryptojacking. The browser extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari.
Malwarebytes Premium (5 devices) plan is $79.99 per year and is essentially the same as its base software package, with the only difference being that you can install it on five devices at once.
Its top-end package, Malwarebytes Premium Plus Privacy, includes all of the above, plus a “next-generation VPN” that protects your online privacy. It describes Malwarebytes Privacy (its VPN) as a no-logs VPN with an intuitive GUI and has 430+ servers in 30+ countries.
Malwarebytes includes a 60-day money-back guarantee, letting you try the product for two months before getting a full refund if you’re not 100% satisfied.
It has apps available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Effectiveness against malware
Keeping your devices safe from malware threats is one of the key attributes of any internet security suite. I used my personal PC to carry out a series of lab tests to see how Bitdefender and Malwarebytes would react when I downloaded various controlled malware test samples.
The EICAR (The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research) provides malware samples in different formats to see whether internet security packages can detect them. To begin with, I wanted to understand if Malwarebytes and Bitdefender’s real-time scanning tools would detect these samples.
Aside from the EICAR samples, I also downloaded a series of live samples consisting of adware and trojans.
|Eicar Sample 1||Blocked||Blocked|
|Eicar Sample 2||Allowed||Blocked|
|Eicar Sample 3||Blocked||Blocked|
|Eicar Sample 4||Allowed||Blocked|
|Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Blocked||Blocked|
|Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Blocked||Blocked|
|Live Sample 3 (Trojan)||Blocked||Blocked|
I recorded my results in the table above, and as shown, Bitdefender successfully picked up the malware samples from the EICAR and the live samples the moment I downloaded them. Malwarebytes blocked all samples except for the second EICAR sample in .txt format.
For context, the live samples are downloaded in a compressed format containing an executable. The EICAR samples contain an executable, a .txt file, and two zipped executables.
On-demand scan results (quick)
I disabled real-time scanning utilities and re-downloaded the same test samples before running a quick scan.
Both antivirus providers missed all samples, likely because a quick scan doesn’t go into enough depth to find the directories where the files were saved.
On-demand scan results (full)
With the test samples still intact, I ran a full scan with each of the software. Bitdefender picked up and blocked every sample during a full scan, the same as it did with real-time scanning. Malwarebytes allowed the .txt samples but blocked every other test sample.I went a little further with my malware research to find out what AV-Comparatives results showed in their real-world detection test. The test used 736 test cases between February – May 2021 to see how each provider would detect them. Bitdefender detected and blocked 735 of these giving it a 99.9%protection rate. Malwarebytes blocked 733 of the test cases, providing a protection rate of 99.6%.
I then looked at AV-Test to see how each provider scored for malware protection out of 6.0. Both providers scored full marks for protection against 0-day malware attacks from the Internet, including malicious websites and emails (real-world testing).
Impact on PC performance
My next set of tests was to see how the software impacted resources on my PC, both during a full scan and while they ran in the background.
|Full Scan Time (minutes)||256||110|
|Full Scan # Items Scanned||859,819||4200000|
|Full Scan CPU Utilization %||6||56|
|Full Scan Memory Utilization %||26||81|
|Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)||38||3577|
|Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||10||32|
|Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||51||74|
|Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)||14||65|
|Quick Scan Time (seconds)||90||338|
|Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||52||56|
|Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||79||81|
|Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||64||3557|
My results showed that Bitdefender completed a full scan in 110 minutes, scanning 4,200,000 total files. It took 338 seconds to complete a quick scan.
Malwarebytes was over double the scan time at 256 minutes and scanned fewer files than Bitdefender at 859,819 total files. It did complete the quick scan in 90 seconds, which was faster than its rival.
I then checked out how much impact both scanners had on my PC performance.
The background process for Bitdefender has a higher control CPU, memory, and disk utilization percentage against Malwarebytes. It was also higher than Malwarebytes during full scan utilization for the same categories, although I didn’t notice any slowdown during scans.
I researched the benchmarks from AV-Comparatives and AV-Test to see how each provider performed on a broader scale.
The following categories determine the results of the performance test:
- Downloading files
- Browsing websites
- File copying
- Installing/uninstalling applications
- Archiving / unarchiving
- Launching applications
Bitdefender lost marks for the file copying and launching applications category for first-run scans, whereas Malwarebytes scored low in launching applications only for first-run and subsequent scans in AV-Comparatives October 2021 report.
AV-Test scores providers out of 6 for speed, of which Bitdefender scored the full 6/6. Likewise, Malwarebytes achieved top marks for its impact on system performance, matching its competitor with 6/6.
Having tested both applications, I can get behind the above results as I didn’t have any issues with them performing during scans or running in the background.
Bitdefender vs Malwarebytes features
Internet security suites have become much more advanced than only dealing with malware. It has become necessary to keep up with the sophistication of online threats. Check out some of the features below.
- Ransomware protection
- File protection
- Unlimited VPN (premium plan only)
- On-demand customer support
- Parental controls
- Firewall support
- Rescue Mode
- Network protection
- Game mode, Movie mode, Work mode, and Battery mode
- Password Manager
- Access to a vulnerability assessment
- Banking protection
- Webcam and microphone protection
- Ransomware Protection
- Online Threat Protection
- Secure VPN
- Anti-phishing and link scanning
I’ve included some explanations below to help you understand how some of these can benefit you.
- Webcam and microphone protection: Online blackmail is on the rise, with hackers looking to hijack unsecured webcams and microphones to listen, watch and record audio and visuals without the victim knowing. This feature locks down your webcam and microphone to ensure you are the only person who can access it.
- Unlimited VPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps you regain control of your privacy. By enabling a VPN, all of your online activities are shielded from prying eyes like your ISP, so what you get up to on the web remains your business.
- Parental controls: As a parent, it’s useful to know your family is safe online when they aren’t being supervised. Parental controls help to keep family members safe online from online threats, dangerous websites, or adult content that shouldn’t be accessible to a younger audience.
- Anti-phishing and link scanning: Malwarebytes stays with you as you surf the web, scanning links and pages that you visit for signs of compromised websites. If detected, you’ll get a warning to advise of the danger, and it’s then in your hands to stay away or to proceed.
- Ransomware protection: Ransomware attacks are becoming more common, often involving an attacker planting an infection on your system to gain remote access. If they are successful, they could lock down your entire file system until you pay a ransom. Malwarebytes puts protection in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Antispyware: If you notice your PC being sluggish, strange activity, or new apps you never installed, you may have spyware living on your device. Malwarebytes anti-spyware proactively scans your system and removes any infections so you can get your device back to normal health.
Sign up & installation
Both Bitdefender Premium Security and Malwarebytes Premium Plus Privacy make signing up and downloading effortless. Much like any online checkout, you select the level of protection you want, enter your payment details, and complete the transaction.
Malwarebytes asks you to download its free version and emails an activation key that you need to enter after installation, and Bitdefender is pre-activated. Both software packages downloaded fast, and the installation was smooth, letting me run a scan within a few minutes of getting set up.
Malwarebytes enables auto-renewal by default, and I requested cancellation within 30 days to get a full refund. Considering ticketing support was the only option, I couldn’t speak with anyone directly. From the time I submitted the request, it took four days to get a response.
In contrast, Bitdefender also auto-renews subscriptions by default, so you need to disable this if you don’t want the renewal. I contacted Bitdefender support, they processed my refund the same day, and the money was in my bank the same week.
How easy is the interface to use?
After installing each application, I wanted to get a feel for how easy the software was to use, stepping in the shoes of beginner users.
Malwarebytes Premium Plus Privacy has a clean-looking design, with a tiled dashboard with the main features available with a couple of clicks. You can enable real-time privacy and security, and other useful options right on the main dashboard. For example, a security option details everything to do with scanning, such as reports and custom scans.
Bitdefender Premium Security is also simple to use but has a more professional look and feels more like a premium-quality build. I found it a breeze to use, but there are plenty of advanced options for expert users. The dashboard gives users access to the most used features, and there is a panel on the left-hand side that provides an overview of the suite’s functions.
Bitdefender offers a comprehensive range of support options depending on how urgent your query is. If you’re not in a rush, there are plenty of help pages that aim to resolve the most common queries. For more pressing questions, users can contact Bitdefender support during operating hours via live chat or by phone.
Malwarebytes isn’t as helpful. Although there are live chat options on its website, you don’t get to speak to a human but instead are redirected to create a support ticket. There are social media links on the site, but these appear to be reserved for sales queries rather than technical support. A full-featured knowledge base answers many questions, but this isn’t the best option for urgent assistance.
Bitdefender vs Malwarebytes conclusion
If you missed the winner declared earlier in the article, here’s a summary of why Bitdefender Premium Security took the lead. Bitdefender provides users with excellent pricing options and fantastic discounts for first-year sign-ups – Malwarebytes, in contrast, doesn’t offer any discount incentives for annual subscribers. The features provided by Bitdefender’s top-tier security suite far outweigh Malwarebytes Premium Plus Privacy, including parental controls, banking protection, and vulnerability assessments to see ways to improve your device security.
Bitdefender blocked every type of malware sample I threw at it in real-time, and with on-demand scanning, Malwarebytes didn’t perform as well.
Finally, Bitdefender has a better range of support options, giving users peace of mind that someone is always there to help when needed.
Can I use a free antivirus solution?
Many of us install a free antivirus without another thought about upgrading to a paid product, assuming free protection will be enough so long as you’re careful about the websites you visit and what you download.
While I’d say some protection (even free) is better than no protection at all, there are so many new attacks and evolving existing attacks out there that the best way to shield your system is to purchase a subscription to an antivirus.
When you think about the value of the files and data on your device versus the cost of an antivirus subscription, generally the protection far outweighs the cost.
Is there a benefit to using multiple antivirus apps simultaneously?
No, generally there’s no real reason to have multiple antivirus apps running at the same time. The virus scanning process is pretty intrusive at the best of times, often slowing down your system as a result, so running two or more apps can put some pretty heavy strain on your system. Additionally, antivirus apps look for similar infections, so you’ll unlikely benefit from two apps if they’re searching the same file systems. Lastly, because of how antivirus programs work, two or more programs running simultaneously will often flag each other as malware.
How do I uninstall Malwarebytes?
Here's how to uninstall Malwarebytes:
- (On a Windows device) Click Start>Settings>Apps
- Locate Malwarebytes in the list of installed applications on your device
- Select “Uninstall” and run the setup to remove the application