The internet can be a malicious environment if you’re not careful. There are safety precautions that are important to abide by while browsing the web. However, if you happen to be caught off guard and find yourself with an infected PC, completely removing the malware is absolutely vital in order to resume your day-to-day activities.
While there are many tools available that will scan and remove malware from your system, one particular program known as Malwarebytes has been my trusted partner in crime for many years. Malwarebytes is a free anti-malware application that has a reputation for finding just about any trace of malicious software and removing it without leaving any evidence of the offending software’s existence.
To install Malwarebytes, head over to Malwarebytes.org and download the free version. Once installed, Malwarebytes will likely ask you for permission to update its virus definitions. It is highly recommended that you do this before every scan. After the virus definitions have been updated, you’ll likely see a screen that looks very similar to the screenshot below. From this screen, you can go ahead and run your first scan.
Before I go on, I would like to note that Malwarebytes is not intended to be a replacement for an antivirus application. Its sole purpose is to add an extra layer of security. If you’re looking for a new antivirus application, I would not recommend that you use Malwarebytes as your primary malware protection method.
Malwarebytes features a very thorough scanning system. When you are ready to scan your PC, you are provided with three options: A quick scan, full scan, and a flash scan. A quick scan will analyze processes that are currently running, files and directories in which malware is typically found, and the registry; it will also run heuristics checks. A full scan is very similar to a quick scan excluding the fact that all files and directories are scanned as opposed to the commonly infected ones. A flash scan is only available for pro users and will analyze running processes in memory and run heuristics checks. If you are noticing symptoms of malware, a quick scan is generally recommended and will identify as well as remove the majority of threats.
After each scan, Malwarebytes compiles and saves a log of the scan. The log consists of the type of scan that was performed, what items were analyzed, any malicious software that may have been found, and the action taken against the software. Logs are very useful when seeking assistance from others. For example, rather than writing a long explanation of your issue on an online forum, you can simply paste specific sections from the scan log without potentially confusing those whom you are asking.
Along with an admirable scanning and removing ability, Malwarebytes also includes another useful tool known as FileAssassin. Many pieces of malicious software cannot be deleted due to the fact that the file or directory has been locked. FileAssassin is a tool that will force the file to be deleted regardless of the fact that it is locked.
I have yet to experience a situation where Malwarebytes was unable to successfully clean an infected system. Whether I’m encountering an issue with my own computer or a friend’s computer, Malwarebytes is my tool of choice.
There isn’t exactly an abundant amount of preferences inside of Malwarebytes. While I find this to be rather disappointing, most essential options are still included. The preferences tab consists of four sub-tabs. They are as follows:
- General Settings – Modify the basic functionality of Malwarebytes
- Scanner Settings – Define what objects are scanned and change what actions are taken when specific threats have been identified
- Updater Settings – Set a username and password and define a proxy server for updates
- Scheduler Settings – Licensed users can specify a time for Malwarebytes to begin scanning your system
Malwarebytes provides you with a basic set of preferences, but does not include any UI options. While the core functionality of Malwarebytes has proven to be useful and effective, the lack of UI configuration is something that I believe should be addressed in a future update. I’m not too fond of the UI and would appreciate having the ability to customize some of its elements.
Malwarebytes is a free application with the exception of an optional pro license. If purchased for the price of $24.95, the pro version includes five new features that may just be of use to you. If you are interested in purchasing a pro license, you obtain access to the following:
- Realtime protection module
- Automatic malicious site protection
- Scanning and update scheduling
- Priority customer support
Overall, I find Malwarebytes to be one of the most effective tools for identifying and removing malicious software. While Malwarebytes does fall short in the aspect of configuration, it possesses very few significant flaws that could harm the user experience If you’re looking for a free, lightweight, and effective malware removal tool, I highly recommend that you go to Malwarebytes.org try this app out for yourself.
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