IObit Malware Fighter 2 review

There's absolutely no reason to buy or even try IObit Malware Fighter 2. It doesn't function as an antivirus and doesn't effectively fight malware. In testing, it reported seven thoroughly infested systems as perfectly clean. Avoid it.
Photo of IObit Malware Fighter 2

“Antivirus” is a shorthand word we use to describe a security product that protects against all types of malware, not just viruses. A product with the ability to “detect and remove malware of all kind, like spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, bots, worms, and hijackers” clearly fits this definition, you’d think. Those words come from the description of IObit Malware Fighter 2. However, while I was testing this $29.95 product, my IObit contact stated “IMF 2 is not an antivirus product.” After finishing my testing, I have to conclude that it also is not a malware-fighting product; I’ve never seen such poor results.

The product looks great, with a stylish slate-grey background that you can set to any level of transparency. Big buttons give it a Windows 8 look, and the user interface is quite easy to navigate.

The installer offered to also install a trial edition of IObit’s Advanced SystemCare Ultimate 6. I’ll be testing that product separately; for the purpose of this review I skipped that bonus installation, as well as the installation of IObit’s Smart Defrag 2.

Easy Install, Almost
On 11 of my 12 malware-infested test systems, IObit installed with almost no trouble. The installer hung on one system, but completed successfully after a reboot. Another couldn’t make the necessary network connection to update definitions or activate the product. Here again, a reboot solved the problem.

A normal installation isn’t possible on one test system whose desktop is hidden by ransomware, so I checked with my IObit contact, asking how they’d handle this situation if it happened to an average user. That’s the point at which I was told that this product isn’t an antivirus, and that they’d recommend using another product to clean up.

Worst Ever Malware Cleanup
I ran a full scan on the test systems where IObit installed successfully. I was completely flabbergasted when it reported “No threads found” on seven of those systems. I know they’ve got malware; I put it there myself.

IObit did detect some of the samples on the remaining four systems, but left behind executable traces for most of those, many of them still running. In a few cases it reported all problems repaired in the summary, even though the detailed activity listing made it clear that it failed in some cases.

IObit detected just 18 percent of the samples and scored an unprecedented low of 0.8 points. Of products tested with my current malware collection, G Data AntiVirus 2014            earned the lowest score, but it did vastly better than IObit, with 58 percent detection and 4.3 points.

The lowest score for products tested with my previous malware collection goes to Spybot – Search & Destroy 2.0. Even so, Spybot did almost twice as well as IObit, with 32 percent detection and 1.5 points. Note, too, that Spybot is a free product. For a run-down on the way I perform this malware removal test, see How We Test Malware Removal.

IObit Malware Fighter 2 malware removal chart

Worst Ever Malware Blocking
Many products that fail to excel in the malware removal test do much better at blocking malware attacks on a clean system. Anvi Smart Defender, for example, took just 2.9 points for malware removal but managed 4.3 for blocking. IObit managed to tank the blocking test just as thoroughly as it did the removal test.

The first line of defense for many antivirus products is a browser plug-in that prevents access to known malware-hosting sites, blocks malicious files as soon as they’re downloaded, or both. IObit does neither of these. I had no trouble re-downloading all of the files from my current malware collection that remain available online.

Real-time protection in most antivirus tools kicks in on the slightest access. Often the mere act of listing the file in Windows Explorer is enough to trigger a scan. Others wait for a more hands-on access such as what happens when the user clicks on the file. IObit waits until the file launches to scan it, and even then, it misses a lot.

IObit does include a behavior-based scanner component. I found that it reported “Risk Registry Modify” for many perfectly valid files, so I didn’t treat that alert as detection of malware. “Suspicious Operation,” on the other hand, never came up for valid files, so I gave IObit the benefit of the doubt and counted that as a form of malware detection.

IObit detected a mere 17 percent of the samples when I launched them. The rest installed and got busy doing their dirty work, including that ransomware sample, which took over the test system completely. The next-lowest detection rate with this set of malware samples belongs to Emsisoft Anti-Malware 7.0, and at 72 percent it’s vastly better than IObit. With a score of 1.5 points, IObit is at the very, very bottom. As with the detection rate, it’s not even close to the next-lowest score, Emsisoft’s 5.9 points.

To learn how I go about testing an antivirus product’s ability to protect a clean system, see How We Test Malware Blocking.

IObit Malware Fighter 2 malware blocking chart

Avoid at All Costs
Avoid IObit Malware Fighter 2. Don’t download it, don’t use it. As the company admits, it’s not an antivirus, but in addition it’s not an effective malware fighter. The independent testing labs seem to have already taken this advice; none of them include IObit in their lineup of products for testing .

You don’t have to pay a penny to get immensely better protection. AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 and Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 10.5 have both earned the Editors’ Choice honor for free antivirus protection, and they both outperform many commercial products. There’s just no reason to consider installing IObit Malware Fighter 2.

Specifications
Tech Support Web-based support.
OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
Type Personal

Verdict
There's absolutely no reason to buy or even try IObit Malware Fighter 2. It doesn't function as an antivirus and doesn't effectively fight malware. In testing, it reported seven thoroughly infested systems as perfectly clean. Avoid it.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc