Anti Malware Tool Comparison (2015)

These Antimalware tool tests were performed during couple days around 21st of July 2010. They will be updated periodically.

We picked most recommended tools that we use constantly and evaluated them over many criteria. Results in the table bellow.

Criteria/Name Spyware Doctor Malwarebytes Antimalware Spybot S&D SuperAntiSpyware
Download Link Spyhunter Malwarebytes Antimalware Spybot S&D SuperAntiSpyware
Initial price * $29.99/y 3 copies $24.99 1 copy 0 * $29.95/y 1 copy
Pricing for household (multiple PCs) Cheap Cheap Free Cheap
Free trial available Yes, scanner Yes, no protection Free product Yes, no protection
Guarantees Full 30 days Not found Free Full 30 days
Protection price Free, Limited Paid Free, Limited Paid
Full protection level Very good Limited Limited Good
Scan speed (items/sec) 1258 467 NA 15
Default scan time ~6 min ~5 min ~16 min ~30 min
Signatures * 4,200,000+ 250,000+ 1,270,000 Unclear
OS integration Seemless Minor problems Good Poor
Interface Good Ok 1995 ok
False Positives Not noticed Not noticed Some Some
Results
For home users Best Limited use Legacy systems Good
For tech repair shops Limited Good Good Good
Green means good, yellow – mediocre, red – unacceptable.

Notes

  • Price. All prices are for USA customers. For many software products, including anti-spyware and malware tools, EU prices are calculated at EUR/USD transfer ratio 1:1, which are (obviously) not correct. However, that is manufacturer choice.
  • Signature amount is overall signature or fingerprint amount declared in manufacturer. Due to different detection algorithms, we can not assume that same amount of signatures means the same detection power. However, it gives some estimate about amount of parasites scanner can detect and remove effectively
  • We tested all products on same PC, under similar conditions. We can not guarantee that the scanners will perform the same on different PC
  • Some of the testing results can be verified in screenshots bellow. We encourage users to verify and test any software, especially before deciding to buy it. Also, you should judge for yourself which criteria are more important
  • Affiliated links on this page are labeled in green

Overall Results

All tools offer many of similar capabilities, for example scheduler, quarantine, custom scanning (except Spybot S&D due to its scanning method).

Comparing full versions for PC cleaning and protection, I would recommend using Spyhunter. It has no critical problems or issues, and is relatively cheap, especially if you have more than single PC. Spybot would be second choice, but its real time protection desires better – it is based on whitelisting/badlisting bad processes and it does not cover all ways malware is spread. Spyware Doctor is the single software from all 3 paid ones I would pay myself on home PC. The reason is that it protects from broadest spectrum of parasites, I can install same version at more than one PC (it is cheapest for me) and it has good OS integration. Purchasing Malwarebytes would be an option if the PC gets infected with rogues and trojans constantly, but has no other parasites. This is highly unlikely. However, it is still a good tool.

When we compare tools for malware removal, winner is not so clear. Although Malwarebytes anti-malware, SuperAntispyware and Spybot all offer free removal, Malwarebytes anti-malware is more specialized for malware and rogue parasites, while other 2 are more generic. Also, Spyware doctor has the largest database by far, offering the best chances to identify parasites. Thus the choice would depend on parasite type. Tech support people might lean towards programs offering free removal, while others would use programs providing excelent removal rate and good protection. Spybot S&D has the broadest OS support of them all, offering support for legacy systems like Windows 95,98 and ME. With superantispyware, you would need to download different version for older OS.

Testing Screenshots

pctools spyware doctor scan results
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware scan log
MalwareBytes' Anti-Malware updater
SUPERAntispyware scan log

Details and notes

Pricing
Single software from the list is fully free. 3 others are paid ones, and, although they use different pricing models, are similar in price over first couple years. Malwarebytes is single pay-once program, though you could buy SuperAntispyware Lifetime account quite cheaply as well. Spyware Doctor allows installing on 3 PC, which decreases its cost significantly. I am quite disappointed about lack of 30 days money-back policy in Malwarebytes, though as one can not try its real time protection for free.

Scan Speed and time:
Spyware Doctor and Malwarebytes finished everything at small difference – 6 mins and 5 mins respectively. However, Spyware Doctor checked much more points in the system, thus it scored higher at speed. Superantispyware scan is not effective speed wise (default quick scan auto selects C disk) it scans all executables on the selected disk. Also, it re-scans some items couple times. It tool 30 minutes to finish on the same system, but maybe it focused on files more. The speed is very slow. Spybot is slow too, because it checks if each parasite entry exists on the file system. This would work well on PC’s with lots of smallish files, but not on PC’s with relatively small amount of time. There is no quick scan options.

Protection
Spyware Doctor offers best protection in full version, in free version it is limited. Due to more specialized nature, Malwarebytes anti-malware will not offer good protection against broad spectrum of parasites in paid version, and free one has no protection. Spybot offers only limited protection in both free and paid version. Superantispyware offers relatively good level of protection in paid version.

OS integration
Spyware Doctor has the best OS integration of all tested programs. Installing is straight-forward, and there are no problems with running, updating the program or real time protection. It even has a gaming mode! Spybot S&D is ok too, though it does not integrate that well in terms of preventing malware from shutting its processes down. However, there are at least some nuisances with other 2 programs. Malwarebytes by default starts during system startup and then exits, even in version without real-time protection. This makes malwarebytes antimalware free unnecessary startup entry. It also requests administration permissions from UAC. Superantispyware does not work that well with Windows 7 system. Its trial can not update without administrative permissions, but it fails to request them on update. I would guess it requires an update to integrate into OSes with UAC (Vista/7 ). Also, for program that refuses real-time protection in free version the full startup is unnecessary.

Interface
The worst interface is of Spybot. It is cluttered, hard to comprehend and with 0 usability. It has nice setup wizard though. However, asking person about each of new process or network connection is not a very usable behavior (this is the default settings of Spybot. The old look might be required to make the software available for older PC’s, working on windows 95 or 98. I am seeing no reasons to run such programs on windows xp or newer.
Second worst interface is of Superantispyware. The settings are cluttered, and it is hard to determine how to tweak everything for your own needs. Also, why C: is checked by default on quick scan?
Malwarebytes anti-malware is relatively ok, though it should invest a bit in their design.
On the other hand, Spyware Doctors design is superb (at least compared to other 3). Settings are nicely categorized and clear.

False positives
I disagree with the way how Spybot and Superantispyware rates various cookies. Some of them are simple stat counters that are used to determine how many visitors page had. Some might came from sites owners of anti-spyware tools label as bad, but they are used to store navigation preferences in that sites. Spybot S&D has whitelisted some legitimate programs due to court orders recently. These programs were labeled as parasites for years till court solved this out.

Mentions of legitimate software that has not made to the list

Spyware Terminator: legitimate, though its threat list misses parasites for quite a while. It is not recommended to rely on such antimalware.
IOBIT products: After the post about copying Malwarebytes database, this software can no longer be recommended. You are better off looking for software elsewhere.
Spyhunter by Enigma software: Too expensive. For first person in household it would be 60 USD/year (or 60 EUR in europe). The billing cycle is bi-yearly. You could buy some decent full security suite for that much, while Spyhunter is anti-malware/spyware only and has no antivirus.

July 21, 2010 22:12