Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender are two well-known antivirus programs that ensure great malware detection rates. While Malwarebytes is incredibly beginner-friendly, Microsoft Defender (previously known as Windows Defender) is an effective free built-in antivirus program that comes with the latest Windows versions.
But which one is better in the long run? In this Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender comparison, I’ll delve into features, security, pricing, performance, and more. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear picture of which antivirus is better for you.
Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender
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Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender: feature comparison
|Malicious website protection||✅||✅|
Both Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes could certainly be more generous with their offerings. Although they have the fundamentals well covered, neither of them offer a complete security suite.
A look at the table reveals that the providers both did a great job in terms of basic protection. However, it’s also apparent that both have neglected to offer some helpful additional features. In Malwarebytes’ case, it’s sorely missing a firewall and parental controls. Meanwhile, Microsoft Defender completely bypassed several vital features like a VPN and exploit protection.
Malwarebytes might not be the most generous provider out there but it certainly has its fair share of helpful and interesting features.
For starters, Malwarebytes’ Premium version comes with real-time protection that runs in the background and automatically checks for threats in every file and folder. Additionally, Premium users also get malicious website protection to protect against scams and phishing sites.
And those on its Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy plan get a huge boost in privacy courtesy of its 256-bit encryption VPN.
Meanwhile, exploit protection is available to all users to prevent malware from taking advantage of vulnerabilities in software or applications. Malwarebytes’ three system scan modes — quick, custom, and threat scans — are a huge appeal to many as well.
Plus, Browser Guard is a very helpful freebie. A free extension for Google, Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, it blocks ads and shields against various threats.
To learn more about its features, read our Malwarebytes review.
Microsoft Defender features
For a built-in free antivirus solution, Microsoft Defender actually has quite a few features in its repertoire. There are a number of them that caught my eyes because of their utility.
To start, its firewall is a great addition to block malicious traffic as it lets you control the access to your domain, private, and public networks. Beyond that, Microsoft Defender has a pretty comprehensive list of parental controls to help you monitor and manage your child’s online activities.
Moreover, Microsoft Defender also automatically employs file detection to intercept potential malware attacks. All malicious files are quickly blocked and eliminated once detected.
Meanwhile, its automated updates are a well-appreciated perk for fuss-free round-the-clock protection. The antivirus automatically updates to swiftly protect against new threats and patch vulnerabilities.
To learn more about its features, read our Microsoft Defender review.
Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender: which offers better protection?
When it comes to security of Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender, it’s a neck-and-neck match that ends with a draw. While the services offer similar levels of protection, both providers could improve them.
It goes without saying that security is the most important factor when you’re comparing antivirus programs. It’s vital that the suites offer comprehensive and effective protection against various cyberthreats.
So, let’s take a look at how Microsoft Security Defender and Malwarebytes performed in different independent lab tests:
To start with AV-TEST, Malwarebytes was evaluated with the highest possible grade – TOP PRODUCT. During the July-August period of 2022, it blocked 100% of malicious threats. Microsoft Defender, on the other hand, only received the Certified award, blocking 98.7% of threats on average.
As for AV-Comparatives, Malwarebytes received an Approved award, which is two levels down from the highest Advanced+ grade. In this case, Microsoft Defender performed better, resulting in it receiving the Advanced grade.
Unfortunately, Malwarebytes wasn’t one of the antiviruses tested by SE Labs. Microsoft Defender, on the other hand, received a flawless AAA ranking.
We researched and tested various other antivirus providers and their protection levels. Compared to Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender, there are many better alternatives, such as TotalAV.
Both Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes have very robust real-time protection.
In Malwarebytes’ case, it offers multi-layered protection that continuously monitors files, applications, and websites for suspicious activities. The different layers include web, malware and PUPs, ransomware, and exploit protection.
Microsoft Defender has much to offer in terms of real-time protection as well. To start, its cloud-delivered protection, which continuously runs in the background and is automated, ensures almost-instantaneous protection against new and emerging threats.
Beyond that, the antivirus constantly monitors all file processes, changes, and other activities for suspicious behaviors. Plus, all files and attachments are also always scanned before, during, and after download.
Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender have all the basic measures to protect against malware. They both detect and swiftly eliminate various types of malware and other online threats. Beyond that, each of them also has additional anti-malware measures in place.
For instance, Malwarebytes offers malicious website protection that blocks access to scam and phishing sites. Meanwhile, its Browser Guard feature helps block web pages that contain malware and other threats. And, its quarantined file feature neutralizes infected files.
Microsoft Defender’s malware protection is no joke, either. In addition to the fundamentals, it also provides other extra features such as core isolation to protect the core parts of your device.
On top of that, it also provides other malware protection measures like memory integrity setting, secure boot, isolated browsing, and a security processor for additional encryption.
A firewall is an extremely helpful security feature to protect against external threats. What it does is that it monitors your network and blocks unsolicited, unwanted, and unauthorized network traffic.
While Malwarebytes doesn’t come with a firewall, Microsoft Defender does. And although it isn’t the most powerful one, it’s open for customizing to suit your needs.
It lets you configure the settings to grant access to a specific app, set inbound and outbound traffic rules, tweak connection security rules, and more
When it comes to scans, both Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender allow a fair bit of flexibility and control since you get access to multiple scanning options.
With Malwarebytes, you get Quick, Custom, and Threat scans. The Quick scan checks for active threats in your device’s memory and startup objects.
Meanwhile, the Threat scan is a daily scan for memory, startup, registry, and file system objects. Plus, it will also run a heuristic analysis to detect malware-like behavior patterns to eliminate new, emerging, or yet-unknown malware.
Malwarebytes’ custom scan, on the other hand, lets you decide what you want to scan and how to handle the PUPs. And, since Malwarebytes doesn’t have a dedicated full scan, the custom scan could also be customized as a full scan. You just need to set it to check your entire system.
Microsoft Defender, on the other side of the coin, offers automatic scans for convenience. But, you could also run various scans whenever necessary. Scan options include quick, full, custom, and offline scans.
All in all, Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender don’t necessarily offer the most sophisticated security features or protection. That said, they do have the essentials well-covered and that could be sufficient for many users.
Pricing and plans
Malwarebytes offers more flexibility than Microsoft Defender when it comes to pricing and plans. It offers multiple options to scale – ranging from free to paid to premium plans – to cater to different types of users and their needs. Plus, it also has an extensive 60-day money-back guarantee.
In contrast, Microsoft Defender offers only one free plan. There’s no option to upgrade or change plans.
|Malwarebytes Premium (1 year)||$49.99/year||–|
|Malwarebytes Premium (2 year)||33.74/year||–|
|Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy||$59.99/year||–|
|Check latest deals||Read Microsoft Defender review|
The free plan of Malwarebytes is very limited, offering virus scans only. Meanwhile, if you opt for the premium package (whether for a year or two), you’ll get the best value for your money. It comes with all the security essentials such as assorted scans as well as all the real-time protection measures — web, malware, ransomware, and exploit protection.
But if you want to opt for the full cybersecurity suite, you can invest in Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy. This plan is identical to the Premium one, however, you also get a VPN for online privacy.
- To be kinder to your wallet, check out our Malwarebytes coupon codes to snag the best possible prices.
Microsoft Defender, on the other hand, only has one plan with no other options to scale or change. It costs absolutely nothing and is already pre-installed with Windows 10. Plus, you can register up to 5 devices with the same email account.
When it comes to Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender for performance, it’s a draw as there’s room for improvement for both providers. Both Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes struggled quite a bit with heavy resource consumption.
Antivirus programs can slow down your device since they’re constantly scanning the files and programs for threats. At the same time, these scans are still vital to update virus definitions to detect new threats, canvas for viruses and malware, and seek out advanced issues.
In the case of Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender, their performance impacts aren’t exactly negligible but still significantly better than the average antivirus programs. In the AV-Comparatives performance test, Malwarebytes scored 24.3 points (ranked 14th), while Microsoft Defender – 28.4 (ranked 17th).
As for my own Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender test, I ran two scans: the quick and the full one. During these tests, I’ve noted down their resource consumption, including CPU, memory, and disk usage.
For quick tests, both Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender wrapped things up quickly with Malwarebytes finishing around 2 times faster. However, both services were quite heavy on resource usage, especially disk load. Malwarebytes disk load was at 79% while Microsoft Defender averaged 90% overall but peaked at 100%.
|Quick scan||0 h 2 min 21 sec||0 h 4 min 0 sec|
|CPU load||100% maximum, 65% average||97% maximum, 35% average|
|Disk load||79%||100% maximum, 90% average|
To sum it all up, both Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender run fast quick scans. Yet, during these short periods, it’s very likely that your system performance will suffer from the high resource consumption.
When performing full scans, Microsoft Defender completed the scans within 8 minutes, which is quite a bit faster than Malwarebytes’ 36 minutes. Meanwhile, the duo’s CPU and memory load were quite similar but Microsoft Defender’s disk load was quite intense and even maxed out at 99%.
|Quick scan||0 h 36 min 13 sec||0 h 8 min 0 sec|
|CPU load||100% maximum, 75% average||100% maximum, 60% average|
|Disk load||62%||99% maximum, 70% average|
In brief, Microsoft Defender was faster when it comes to full scans but both providers utilized almost similar amounts of system resources.
Apps and interface
When it comes to Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender for user experience, both are extremely simple to set up. It took barely a few minutes to get them up and running.
Plus, both providers are on an equal footing since they use the same approach. Their interfaces are clean, simplistic, and very minimalistic. Only the most important features are displayed, so there are no distractions when navigating the interfaces and performing regular tasks like scanning.
In terms of compatibility, Malwarebytes has apps for all major operating systems (OS). This includes Windows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, and iOS devices. At the same time, you can use Microsoft Defender on Windows devices only. So if you want to secure multiple devices, Malwarebytes is a better choice.
Malwarebytes’ desktop app puts simplicity above all else. The interface’s streamlined layout presents three plain white blocks and, within them, only the most important items: detection history, scanner, and real-time protection.
Extremely beginner-friendly, all you need to do is to either click on the Scan button or use the toggle button to enable/disable a real-time protection feature. All other tools and features that aren’t within the white blocks could be accessed by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner, which leads to settings.
On the other side of the match, Microsoft Defender’s Windows-only interface is just as uncomplicated and easy to use. Against a plain white background, the desktop app puts 8 different items in the spotlight. All the tools and features that you get from Microsoft Defender could be found in one of the 8 items.
For some, the muted color palette and plain vanilla desktop app are a boon. For others, it screams basic. Your preference will dictate which side of the fence you land on. But, either way, there’s no denying the interface’s ease of use.
On top of its easy-to-navigate desktop app, Malwarebytes also has mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
Like most iOS antiviruses, Malwarebytes’ mobile app for iOS is pared down. You’ll find only very basic features like protection against malicious URLs, unwanted callers, and text message filtering.
In contrast, Malwarebytes’ Android is far more developed. Not only do you get full-fledged scans, but you also get other features like device encryption, developer mode notification, and Google Play Protect.
Malwarebytes wins hands down against Microsoft Defender when it comes to customer support. While Malwarebytes’ customer support isn’t without its own faults, it has significantly more support channels than Microsoft Defender.
With Malwarebytes, you can get help via its broad selection of support channels like email, live chat, ticket, and phone. But, unfortunately, there’s no 24/7 option. So, all assistance is only rendered during business hours.
For outside of business hours, you could hit up its well-stocked knowledge base for some self research. Alternatively, you could also submit a question on its forum for peer support.
In contrast, Microsoft Defender has very limited support channels. While it has live customer support, it’s limited only to those on its business account. For the home users, you get only a ticket submission system, a community forum, and a knowledge base. This could prove to be extremely frustrating if you ever need help fast — especially for complex technical issues.
Malwarebytes vs Microsoft Defender: final verdict
All in all, Malwarebytes is a better antivirus solution than Microsoft Defender simply because it has much more to offer. This includes apps for all major OS, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Plus, Malwarebytes offers tons of features — both basic and advanced ones — for more well-rounded protection.
However, Microsoft Defender is no second-rate antivirus either. Despite its free price tag, it has all the essential security measures that you need. Besides that, Microsoft Defender also delivered good results in independent lab tests.
Alternatives to Malwarebytes and Microsoft defender
If you find that neither Malwarebytes nor Microsoft Defender is the right option for you, there are many other alternatives out there. Bitdefender and Norton Antivirus are at the very top of the list.
A top-notch antivirus and one of the best ones in the industry, Bitdefender made a name for itself by offering excellent performance and outstanding malware detection/elimination rates.
Beyond that, Bitdefender has a long list of other attributes that adds to its popularity. This includes its many advanced features like built-in VPN, password manager, and ransomware remediation.
Plus, Bitdefender is very affordable as well. Its plans start from just $29.99/year.
A close rival of Bitdefender for the #1 spot, Norton Antivirus has excellent malware detection rates and great real-time protection.
With plans starting from just $14.99/year, Norton is also one of the most affordable antivirus programs around. But, despite its affordability, Norton packed its plans with tons of features like VPN, password manager, dark web monitoring, Norton Crypto for cryptocurrency mining, and more.
Other antivirus software comparisons:
Is Malwarebytes better than Windows Defender?
Yes, Malwarebytes is better than Windows Defender (or Microsoft Defender). It has more advanced features, well-balanced protection, assorted plans, and better customer support.
Does Malwarebytes override Microsoft Defender?
Yes, Malwarebytes overrides Microsoft Defender as using 2 antivirus programs simultaneously causes incompatibility issues.
Is it OK to just use Windows Defender?
It’s okay to just use Windows Defender but it’s not recommended. Windows Defender, or rather Microsoft Defender, offers only very basic security features, which could translate to flimsy protection.
Is the Malwarebytes free version and Windows Defender enough?
No, Malwarebytes free version and Windows Defender aren’t enough. They don’t offer comprehensive protection, which leaves your system vulnerable to various threats.