How do malware removal tools work?

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Malware removal software is an important part of the arsenal of tools that can be used to protect your PC from being compromised by malicious payloads of one kind or another.

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If you’re wondering how anti-malware tools differ from antivirus, we cover that in depth elsewhere, but suffice it to say that malware removal apps offer a more focused type of protection against malware. , and provide facilities to get rid of your system. an infection.

But how exactly do these applications work? Read on for our full investigation into how malware removal tools protect your device and what to expect if you install one of these utilities on your system.


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on-demand scanning

Like an antivirus app, when installed on your machine, a piece of anti-malware software gives you the ability to scan the system to check if any malware is present.

There will be a ‘Scan’ button on the main menu of the app (most likely, or perhaps a submenu), and simply clicking on it will scan your drive and memory. Just like with antivirus, malware removal tool will have (regularly updated) definitions of common malware. It will look for matches based on the contents of this library of definitions, and if anything is found on your PC, it will be (obviously) marked as malicious.

This will happen in a post-scan report, where any suspicious discoveries are highlighted, and you’ll get the option to quarantine these criminals (or in fact have the malware automatically quarantined). Quarantine, as you might expect, is the exile of a file to a locked area of ​​the system, where it can no longer access or harm your device or data.

As well as malware, potentially unwanted programs (known as PUPs for short) can be reported in scan results, which are, as the name suggests, apps you don’t want on your system. (A good anti-malware app will explain why they’re probably undesirable). These do not need to be quarantined, as they are not actively doing any harm, so it is up to you whether you act on them or not. (You’re better safe than sorry, more than likely, in these cases, but sometimes legitimate apps can be flagged, and you’ll want to ignore the warnings in these cases).

This on-demand scanning is present with all anti-malware software, and one approach some people take is to install a freebie malware removal app so they can sit on their system as a backup to the primary antivirus.

In other words, the strategy here is to rely primarily on the antivirus, but to run manual scans with a second line of defense — anti-malware — all the time, just to see if it picks up anything on the antivirus. could have missed. It may just be a PUP, and not outright malware, but still, it could be something you don’t want on your system, and would otherwise sit there if you weren’t prepared for a second opinion.

real time protection

Malware removal software can give you more than just on-demand scanning, however, and few apps offer the same amount of real-time protection as an antivirus. Real-time protection simply means that there is a constant shield up in anti-malware tool, which checks every file being served on your system (and currently running processes) for anything suspicious.

This gives you more undeniable protection, and means you can run an anti-malware app as your front-line protection against malware, with no need for an antivirus (at least in theory).

Clearly it helps if you choose one of the best tools for this purpose, such as our current top-ranked pick from Malwarebytes. Its premium version sports real-time protection, backed by heuristics (monitoring for malware-like behavior, to catch threats that are brand new and not yet included in the program’s library of malware definitions).

Remember that anti-malware is designed to detect this kind of behavior and find new threats that an antivirus may have missed. You also get web protection (against phishing and other online scams) for safe browsing, as well as anti-ransomware technology – a comprehensive level of protection, in other words, from the paid Malwarebytes app (as you might expect). Huh).

All that said, it’s still true that the best antivirus apps can offer more accurate malware detection engines – at the time of writing, this is actually the case according to independent testing labs, although Malwarebytes has been found to be sufficient for overall protection. Sufficiently rated – so you might prefer running one of our best antiviruses backed by a free version of Malwarebytes (or your preferred anti-malware choice) for on-demand duties.

How do malware removal tools work?

Whatever the case, anti-malware apps provide a laser-focused protection against malware (and the likes of PUPs), and as we’ve seen, the good ones can work on multiple levels, just like an antivirus – on-demand. as well as time protection backed with real heuristic technology – running the gamut of defensive countermeasures against all wickedness, including ransomware, phishing and more.

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