Is Malwarebytes Better Than Windows Defender?

With cyber threats on the rise, antivirus software is more important than ever. Windows Defender comes built-in to Windows operating systems, while Malwarebytes offers premium protection as third-party software. But should you rely solely on Defender or pay for Malwarebytes? This comprehensive comparison examines the malware protection, system performance impact, cost, features, and user reviews of both programs to determine if Malwarebytes is better than Windows Defender.


Windows Defender provides a free baseline of antivirus protection, utilizing malware signatures and heuristics to identify threats. Malwarebytes takes security a step further with real-time monitoring, ransomware rollbacks, and remediation tools.

But some people question whether running Malwarebytes alongside Defender is necessary and worth the cost. By evaluating key metrics like malware detection rates, system drag, and value for money, we can decide whether Malwarebytes upgrades protection sufficiently over default Windows Defender to justify using both.

This in-depth comparison focuses on how Malwarebytes and Defender stack up in critical performance categories to provide guidance on the best antivirus solution for your needs.

Malware Detection Comparison

Arguably the most crucial consideration for antivirus software is how well it actively detects and blocks the latest malware threats. Recent lab tests from AV-Test allow us to compare the malware protection capabilities of Malwarebytes versus Windows Defender.

Windows Defender Malware Protection

In testing by AV-Test Institute earlier this year, Windows Defender successfully detected 100% of widespread malware threats on Windows 10. It also earned a perfect score for blocking zero-day exploits before antivirus signatures were available.

However, Defender only managed an average score for identifying the newest, little-known threats. This indicates Defender can effectively block common malware but sometimes falls short against brand-new attacks.

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Malwarebytes Malware Protection

Malwarebytes also underwent testing by AV-Test on Windows 10. It received flawless results detecting widespread malware, zero-day exploits, and even new and little-known threats.

Malwarebytes was able to identify 100% of over 3,000 malware samples with zero false positives. This demonstrates Malwarebytes has extremely accurate threat detection and response across all categories of viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, and ransomware.

Based on AV-Test results, Malwarebytes has a clear edge over Defender for malware protection, particularly against new and emerging attacks. Defender excels against common threats, but Malwarebytes goes further defending against even unknown zero-day exploits spreading in the wild.

Impact on System Performance

In addition to malware protection, it’s important to consider the system resource impact of running an antivirus solution. Let’s compare how much Defender and Malwarebytes affect system performance.

Windows Defender System Impact

During benchmark testing by AV-Test, Windows Defender had a minimal impact on system performance. It slowed down copying of files by 16% and reduced application launch speeds by 19%. Defender uses few system resources thanks to optimization for Windows environments.

Overall, Windows Defender delivers solid malware protection without significantly dragging down PC performance, living up to its reputation for lightweight system impact.

Malwarebytes System Impact

Malwarebytes also aims for low system resource usage, but still utilizes more memory and CPU cycles compared to Defender. In AV-Test benchmarks, Malwarebytes reduced file copying speed by 39% and application launch speed by 45%.

This moderate system drag is comparable to other premium antivirus products with advanced protections enabled. Malwarebytes prioritizes active threat defense over raw performance. But some users may notice its background impact on older PCs.

Windows Defender compares favorably to Malwarebytes when it comes to system resource usage. Defender has very little impact, while Malwarebytes trades some performance for enhanced security capabilities.

Cost Comparison

Another major point of comparison is cost: Defender comes free with Windows, but Malwarebytes requires a paid subscription.

Windows Defender Pricing

As the built-in Windows antivirus, Defender is 100% free and included with Windows 8, 10, and 11. No upgrade fees or subscriptions are required to use Defender and its included protections.

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The free Defender application provides the full extent of features and malware scanning without any upgrade tiers or limitations. Ongoing definition updates are also free.

Malwarebytes Pricing

Malwarebytes Free does provide limited scanning capabilities at no cost. But access to real-time protection, malicious website blocking, ransomware rollback, and other premium features requires a paid subscription.

A personal Malwarebytes Premium subscription costs $39.99 per year, covering 1 device. There are also plans for families and businesses:

  • Premium Family (6 devices) – $59.99/year
  • Premium Teams (10 devices) – $79.99/year
  • Business (25+ devices) – pricing varies

Malwarebytes lacks a permanent licensing option, requiring continuous renewal of the annual subscription fee. But discounts are sometimes offered for multi-year subscriptions.

The free cost of Defender gives it a clear monetary advantage over Malwarebytes. However, Malwarebytes justifies its pricing by offering far more robust protection.

Interface and Usability Comparison

Ease of use is another point of differentiation between antivirus programs. Let’s see how Malwarebytes and Defender compare when it comes to usability.

Windows Defender Interface

The Windows Defender interface is designed for simplicity and efficiency within Windows. The dashboard displays your protection status, scan options, and alerts when threats are detected.

Defender strives to stay out of the way until a scan or threat removal is needed. The settings menus provide configurable options for scans, exclusions, and notifications without being overly complex.

Malwarebytes Interface

Malwarebytes also aims for a clean, intuitive interface. The main dashboard clearly indicates your protection status and what features are actively guarding your system. Large buttons allow quick access to scan and remediation tools.

The settings panel enables tweaking of notifications, exclusions, and scan schedules. Malwarebytes also adds specialized utilities like the ransomware dashboard and Web Protection tab for malicious URL blocking.

Overall, both Malwarebytes and Defender are very easy to use for beginners, with the advantage going to Defender on simplicity. Malwarebytes adds more configurability for power users.

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Customer Satisfaction and Reviews

By examining real-world customer feedback, we can further gauge user sentiments regarding Malwarebytes and Windows Defender.

Windows Defender Reviews

Reviews of Windows Defender are generally positive, averaging around 4/5 stars. Users like that Defender is unobtrusive and has little impact on system performance. Negative feedback focuses on occasional missed threats and lack ofenhance protection compared to paid alternatives.

Many customers continue using Defender because it provides “good enough” protection that’s easy to use and free. But some do upgrade to paid antivirus for features Defender lacks.

Malwarebytes Reviews

Malwarebytes earns strong reviews for its malware detection and remediation capabilities, averaging 4.5/5 stars. Users consistently report Malwarebytes blocks threats that Defender misses. Critics mainly take issue with its yearly subscription fees.

Negative reviewers suggest Malwarebytes isn’t worth paying for when Defender meets basic needs. But most agree Malwarebytes’ premium protection, ransomware defense, and bonus features justify the cost.

By most measures, Malwarebytes earns higher customer satisfaction thanks to enhanced security layers like web protection, efficient threat removal, and minimal false positives during scans.

Conclusion and Recommendation

To summarize this comprehensive comparison:

  • Malwarebytes consistently earns higher scores for malware protection, detecting even brand new and little-known threats that evade Windows Defender.
  • Defender compares favorably to Malwarebytes when it comes to system resource usage and impact on PC performance.
  • As built-in Windows antivirus, Defender is 100% free while Malwarebytes requires an annual subscription for full protection.
  • Malwarebytes offers more features and utilities compared to the basic Defender, but both are easy to use.

So is Malwarebytes worth paying for if you already have Windows Defender? Ultimately, it depends on your needs:

For cost-conscious users who just want a performance-friendly baseline of antivirus protection, Windows Defender does the job sufficiently on its own.

However, to go beyond the fundamentals and gain layers of protection against new attacks, Malwarebytes provides robust threat detection and remediation that justify the subscription expense for many.

Running both Defender and Malwarebytes together can provide the best of both worlds – just be aware of potential performance trade-offs. Weigh your personal needs for security versus system impact to decide if Malwarebytes is better than relying solely on free Defender.

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