What are the differences between antivirus and anti-malware? Many people get confused about their differences and struggle to choose between them. Want to know their details, the first thing is to know something about viruses and malware. This post on the MiniTool Website will show more details.

Antivirus vs anti-malware is a topic that is widely talked about because they are easily confused. When it comes to the difference between antivirus and anti-malware, we normally regard them as playing the same role because most cybersecurity software holds functions to protect users from both malware and viruses.

Here, we will start with the major difference in anti-malware vs antivirus and then classify more details for your understanding.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware

What is antivirus? In a literal sense, antivirus is a program that is designed to seek out and remove viruses that adhere to your system, files, websites, etc. Any corners can be the hiding places to steer by your catch.

That’s why you earnestly need antivirus. Just as its name implies, viruses are its primary target when antivirus scan PCs in full. A virus is a piece of code that is capable of repeating itself in order to breed and multiply everywhere on your PC. Antivirus will solicit and analyze all this attacked information to remove it and prevent another attack.

Speaking of anti-malware, it is rather unknown compared to antivirus. It’s not something mainstream and has another target to prevent – malware.

So many programs merge malware with viruses as the same type. However, malware can be categorized into more types than viruses, standing for a variety of malicious software, including Trojans, spyware, worms, adware, and ransomware.

Malware is a catch-all term for all malicious software while a virus is a type of malware; a logic follows: all viruses are malware but not all malware are viruses. Now, you can know how wide the coverage anti-malware can extend.

Nowadays, we have minimized the difference in anti-malware vs antivirus, but not all antivirus can include the functions that anti-malware can do.

Viruses are considered legacy threats and many security software are born for them in the first place; but when the threats multiply themselves in various kinds, antivirus software has to evolve to fight more than just viruses.

In short, anti-malware programs tend to be more resistant to more advanced and sophisticated malware, while antivirus programs are more like all-around tools for improving digital security.

More Details about Antivirus vs Anti-Malware Protection

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware in Definition and Targets

This is the major antivirus and anti-malware difference – definition and targets and we have given a detailed explanation in the last part.

Simply, antivirus is a remover that protects your system from viruses; anti-malware is a software program that protects the computer system from all kinds of malware.

Comparing their targets, anti-malware mainly prevents newer and more sophisticated malware, including upgraded viruses, Trojans, worms, etc. Those targets are mostly from unpredictable dangers and anti-malware needs to scan and detect new iterations of infections.

Antivirus protects from those traditional and common ones, which normally can be predictable.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware in Use Cases

Antivirus is widely used in personal computers while anti-malware is chosen by organizations and businesses. For most usual users, their private data can lure hackers to steal but it is less valuable to agitate the sophisticated attacks from hackers. That’s why your computer can be well protected by Windows Defender, this mature security software.

However, to make a concrete analysis of concrete problems, if you grasp a valuable digital asset in your PC, you’d better choose a more comprehensive anti-malware to upgrade the protection shield.

That’s why many corporations would like to choose more security techniques than antivirus, such as anti-malware, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). To know their difference, you can read this post: EDR Vs Antivirus – What’s the Difference & Which One Do You Need.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware in Cost

Considering the costs, since anti-malware develops higher techniques and updates its malware detection more frequently, the price will be higher than “just” antivirus. If the antivirus has been upgraded to cover more detections, the price can be higher too.

Marketing has mixed these two functions together so it is hard to tell which one is more economical. You can choose them based on your demands.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware in Features

Most antivirus will set real-time scanning to protect PCs whatever you are doing. This kind of real-time protection can help you guard against traditional threats and incorporate new virus information in a timely manner.

You can enjoy this feature from Windows Defender and you should turn on its real-time protection all the time; even though you are forced to disable it, you should re-enable it immediately when the troubles are gone.

If you want to ask if Windows Defender is enough to protect against all viruses and malware, we have a post to resolve this question: Is Windows Defender Enough? More Solutions to Protect PC.

Anti-malware has more complicated features, such as sandboxing, traffic filtering, and proactive security. Nowadays, most security software will be equipped with them to expand detection. But functions will vary from different software and you need to check the details from the product introduction.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware in Techniques/Procedures

Antivirus has some basic techniques and procedures, which include:

  • Scanning/Heuristic detection
  • Integrity checking (It looks at the code of each file and compares it against a database of known malicious codes)
  • Interception
  • quarantining or deleting malicious code

Anti-malware has similar procedures and techniques as antivirus, but it may apply higher-level detection, such as Sandboxing, signature-based detection, behavior-based detection, etc.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware in Reliability and Compatibility

In terms of reliability and compatibility, the difference between antivirus vs anti-malware is not that much.

As we mentioned, the techniques used in anti-malware are not something special and both of them can be applied in the most systems, such as Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, which may depends on the software you choose.

Besides, since many users prefer to choose a anti-malware program to complement antiviruses, most anti-malware services are designed to be 100% compatible with whatever antivirus program you have installed.

Do You Need Both of Them – Antivirus vs Anti-Malware?

Since nowadays most programs have merged the two functions, which avoids some of the entanglement, people can directly choose the cybersecurity software. However, some software will choose to focus on one field for better protection, and with the various cyber-attacks, they cannot cover them all.

That’s why you find some viruses or malware removers classify PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) as malicious but some software may not do so. Besides, you may often run into a condition that an inexplicable warning message telling you are under attack; but when you run another antivirus, it tells you no threats are detected.

This could be because it was a biased indication when they scanned, or it could be a false positive in cyber security. With a lack of information on this threat, antivirus may get stuck.

Some users may think, what if they only keep anti-malware instead of antivirus? It is inaccessible. Anti-malware may have better techniques in PC protection but antivirus is the one as your security baseline. So, antivirus is a MUST; anti-malware is a PLUS.

With the help of Windows Defender, you can choose an anti-malware utility with better functions as an aid. There are some articles with some recommendations for your demands and you may check for that:

As we mentioned, hackers can always explore more chances to undermine your system security, and steal your data, causing some substantial damage to you. It is hard to completely prevent and no amount of virus software will help.

Is there any sure way to minimize your loss from cyber-attacks? Yes, here we recommend backing up data regularly so that a recovery is allowed when your data is locked or lost for hacking.

Suggestion: Back up Data with MiniTool ShadowMaker

MiniTool ShadowMaker is a free backup software, which allows you to back up files & folders, partitions & disks, and your system. For quick data backup and recovery, it allows you to reduce file size by splitting a large image file into multiple smaller image files or by compression.

Alternatively, you can choose to only copy the used sectors of the file system to reduce the backup time. Furthermore, to protect your privacy, MiniTool can add a layer of password protection to your image.

You can find it boasts many features worthy of praise and you can easily configure them via its intuitive interface and concise guide. Now, let’s see how to work on it.

Please download and install it first for a 30-day free trial. It is recommended to prepare an external hard drive to store your important data backup according to the 3-2-1 backup strategy and you may insert it before launching the program to make it detected.

MiniTool ShadowMaker TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 1: Launch the program and click Keep Trial to enter the interface.

Step 2: In the Backup tab, click the SOURCE section to choose what you want to back up, and then go to the DESTINATION section to choose where to store the backup, which includes User, Computer, Libraries, and Shared.

choose backup destination

Step 3: When you go back to the Backup tab, click Options to configure the backup settings, including Backup Options, Backup Scheme, and Schedule Settings.

configure disk backup settings

Step 4: Then click Back Up Now to perform the backup immediately.

Beyond data backup, MiniTool ShadowMaker supports cloning HDD to SSD and sector-by-sector cloning via its Clone Disk feature. If your PC fails to boot because of the virus/malware infection, you can use the Media Builder feature to create boot CD/DVD discs or boot flash drives.

Clone Disk & Media Builder

Bottom Line:

Many people will confuse their meanings – antivirus and anti-malware. They have nuances in protecting PC security. After reading this article about antivirus vs anti-malware, you can learn which one can cater to your demands better. Just choose one excellent PC guard and make sure everything gets protected.

Apart from choosing good antivirus or anti-malware, it is highly recommended to use MiniTool ShadowMaker to back up your important data. If you have any problem when using the MiniTool software, you can contact us via [email protected] and we have a professional support team to resolve your concerns.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware FAQ

Is there a better antivirus than Malwarebytes?
Many people would like to choose Bitdefender or Norton to be the Malwarebytes alternative. Many antivirus services develop their own advantages to occupy the market share, such as Avast, McAfee, etc. If you are struggling to choose among them, you can read this post: Bitdefender VS Malwarebytes: Which One Is the Winner.
Is it OK to have 2 antivirus programs?
Actually, their function will be overlapped. It is unnecessary. When you install two antivirus software, you’d better only keep one active, or lots of memory resources will get occupied and wasted. Sometimes, these two tools may engage in a tussle over who should run this removal.
Do I need anti-malware if I have Windows Defender?
Many people may think third-party antivirus can cover a wider range of threat kinds. To some extent, yes, it does; but Windows Defender has developed to be mature, which is worthwhile to be chosen. Third-party antivirus software may develop better features and facilitated functions, you can choose among them from this consideration.
Does antivirus protect against spyware?
Some antivirus software can do that, but maybe not that comprehensive. If you are more inclined to remove cyber threats, like spyware, Trojans, DDoS attacks, etc., you need to check if the chosen antivirus software can include protection against most types of malware. Remember to back up your important data.
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