First of all, full disclosure: I am not a fan of IObit, its practices, or its software. That said, I’ve tried to be as objective as possible and have largely looked to other opinions to compile what I consider to be an unbiased overview of IObit Malware Fighter.
IObit Malware Fighter – Overview
IObit Malware Fighter comes in two editions: a free edition which includes limited real-time protection provided by IObit’s own antivirus engine, and a Pro edition which includes an additional antivirus engine provided by Bitdefender, plus a fair few more areas of protection.
When I first came across IObit Malware Fighter many moons ago I decided to write a review. However, I got no further than the installation process when I discovered multiple bundled PUPs, a couple of which are malicious by nature, plus changes to the home page and search engine, none of which could be declined– an install everything or install nothing situation. So, my proposed review quickly morphed into a warning: Beware: IObit Malware Fighter. It speaks volumes for a company’s attitude when the security software they are distributing is forcing users to install the very same sorts of PUPs it is supposed to be protecting them from.
I am happy to report that IObit has since cleaned up its act in this department and the installer is now relatively clean. I was offered to install the ExpressVPN client application but ExpressVPN is a reputable company and the offer included a clear option to decline, so I see no problem with this.
On a side note, why on earth would anyone want to install the ExpressVPN client application which, without paying a subscription and creating an account or log-on credentials, is absolutely useless?
Malware Fighter – Testing
Not too many sites have the necessary facilities to properly test these types of security programs and would normally rely on reports from dedicated testing labs, such as AV-Test. However, IObit has never submitted Malware Fighter to any of these testing labs for evaluation so, to a large extent, we are on our own. I certainly do not have the necessary facilities but I did come across a couple of sites that have tested IObit Malware through their own testing facilities– nowhere near as comprehensive as the dedicated labs but at least provide a fair indication.
One of those sites is PCMag who tested and reviewed the Pro edition on June 18th, 2020. So, how did Malware Fighter fare? Here are a couple of excerpts from PCMag’s review which, I believe, creates a pretty clear picture:
From the name, you might expect IObit Malware Fighter to be just what you need for combating existing and future malware infestations. And your expectation would be wrong. In our testing, this product proved to be more pussycat than tiger.
IObit Malware Fighter Pro boasts a snappy-looking user interface, but its malware-fighting abilities just aren’t up to snuff. It earned a mediocre score in our malware protection test. Its detection of malicious and fraudulent websites totally whiffed, batting zero. And while it includes a ransomware protection component, that component proved only marginally successful. ~ (source: PCMag)
The other site I came across, Cloudwards, published a Malware Fighter review on 15th April 2020 and their concise summary pretty much says it all:
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. ~ (source: Cloudwards)
IObit Malware Fighter Free
As already confirmed, Malware Fighter Free provides very limited protection. The problem here is that when you install Malware Fighter Free, because it includes some sort of real-time protection, Microsoft Windows Defender is automatically disabled, leaving you with just Malware Fighter for protection– at least that’s what happened on my test system. It might be a different story if Malware Fighter were to run alongside Microsoft Windows Defender as an adjunct to rather than instead of.
Malware Fighter free does include what appears to be several useful components but, as the reviews I read all attest, these components mostly either work poorly or do not work at all:
Under the circumstances, I would definitely not recommend installing Malware Fighter Free.
IObit Malware Fighter Pro
Regarding the Bitdefender antivirus engine included with the Pro edition, I did wonder why test results from PCMag were so poor considering Malware Fighter is using the Bitdefender antivirus engine. Then I came across another site who, during their review, obviously wondered the same thing. Here’s what they had to say:
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.
Would Malware Fighter Pro be able to protect against a threat it had never seen before? Well, no. The antivirus engine didn’t detect or block the threat. Bitdefender’s own products block it with ease, reinforcing the idea that you’re not getting the same level of protection with Malware Fighter. (source: TechRadar)
I believe it’s fair to say that, for a paid edition, you’ll get far superior protection and a much better bang for your buck from any number of alternative antivirus vendors. So, I would not recommend IObit Malware Fighter Pro, better to go with one of the reputable alternatives who have a proven track record.