IObit Malware Fighter Pro review
IObit Malware Fighter is a free antivirus solution and that’s about it for the positives. It offers poor protection, isn’t very user-friendly and upgrading to the paid plan is just a plain bad idea. Read our full IObit review for the details.
IObit Malware Fighter PRO’s main window features minty green buttons on a charcoal gray background. It’s attractive, almost elegant, but looks aren’t everything.
In this IObit Malware Fighter review, we’ll talk about our experience after taking the program for a test run in the real world, using hands-on tests and lab results to gauge its performance. We’ll look at the pricing, features, user-friendliness, support and protection before rendering our verdict.
At first glance, it appears to be a good antivirus, but the deeper we dug the more problems we uncovered. If you’re willing to put up with little to no support and bare-minimum protection, at least it won’t cost you anything.
San Francisco-based IObit is best known as a popular developer of PC maintenance utilities, including IObit Uninstaller, Advanced SystemCare and Driver Booster.
IObit Malware Fighter Pro is the lead product in the company’s security range, and has what looks like a capable feature set. It boasts both the IObit and Bitdefender antivirus engines, anti-ransomware capabilities, URL blocking, webcam protection, and more.
A very limited free build allows you to get a basic idea of how the package works. But we do mean basic – the free version doesn’t include the Bitdefender engine, has minimal real-time protection, can’t prevent ransomware attacks during the boot process, and apparently can’t even ‘detect malicious processes running in RAM’. Which sounds like a fairly fundamental issue, to us.
IObit doesn’t mention a trial on the main Malware Fighter page, but we found one available here. You must hand over your payment details, but won’t be billed for 30 days, and can cancel at any time if you’re unhappy.
IObit also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, although the small print contains a lot of potential gotchas. The company says you won’t get a refund if you’ve failed to read the product description, for instance, or have ‘suddenly changed your mind.’ It appears you can’t just ask for your money back – you’re going to have to persuade IObit that you’ve a good enough reason to escape its financial clutches.
IObit Malware Fighter offers basic antivirus protection, manual scans and online protection. Quick scans and full system scans have to be started manually, while custom scans and automatic scan scheduling require an upgrade to the paid version.
The website claims it has ransomware protection but requires an upgrade to the paid version to access it. It also claims to offer phishing protection, which it calls “network guard.” Once again, these features are advertised, but not clearly shown to only be available in the paid version.
It scans for threats when running unknown files and includes protection against malware at start-up. It also offers protection from malware running in system memory. While memory protection is good, it will slow down your system.
The browser protection is the most complete feature. It has download protection and adware protection to keep those annoying ads from popping up on your screen. It also includes protection from malicious plugins and toolbars.
Installing most antivirus packages is as easy as downloading and running the installer, and waiting a few seconds. Even the greenest of newbies can do it. However, it seems that IObit isn’t convinced of this, and after ordering the trial build it suggested we call a toll-free US number where a ‘certified technician’ would securely connect to our PC and remotely activate the software. Is this really supposed to be easier?
Why would IObit even begin to think this was a good idea? Reading the small print explained what was going on. During the remote connection, IObit explained, ‘at your request, we will diagnose your PC for other hard-to-identify problems. And paid service will be offered when needed.’ It’s just upselling for the company’s remote support service.
If you’d rather not get involved with IObit’s over-the-top marketing, wait a few seconds and an email should arrive with a download link and license code.
Setup was straightforward. We checked the files and folders and found executables from IObit and Bitdefender, all correctly digitally signed, with no obvious issues.
In a previous review we found that Malware Fighter’s processes were poorly protected, and could be completely disabled by malware. There are still some issues, in that its user processes can be closed, even from something as simple as a batch file. But its core service couldn’t be stopped, and we weren’t able to change its Registry settings or delete key IObit files. Protection remained active and the IObit processes were running again after a reboot.
IObit Malware Fighter Pro had average detection results in our tests, but some unexpected false positives – including a TaskKill file which is a standard component of Windows – let the package down.
Our tests are too small-scale to give a definitive picture of antivirus accuracy, so normally we would check how a product is reviewed by the major testing labs. Unfortunately, that’s not possible here as IObit isn’t covered by any of them.
We do know that Malware Fighter Pro includes the excellent Bitdefender engine, which is a definite plus. But it’s not implemented in the same way as the original, and doesn’t include the same level of real-time protection, so it’s unlikely you’ll get the same degree of malware-blocking effectiveness as with Bitdefender’s own products.
Adding IObit’s own engine may help protect you from even more threats, but we’re unconvinced. It mostly raised false alarms for us.
With no information available from other sources, we decided to try an additional test of our own. We’ve developed a custom ransomware simulator which spiders through a specific folder tree on our test system, finding and encrypting potentially thousands of media and document files. Would Malware Fighter be able to protect against a threat it had never seen before?
The good news was that if we turned on IObit’s generic Ransomware Shield (which is disabled by default), this displayed a warning when our simulator tried to access its first file. We were able to block it, and didn’t lose a single file.