The Bytefence Virus: What It Is and How to Remove It

Is it anti-malware or not?

A conceptual illustration of the Bytefence Virus destroying a laptop computer.

Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

When is an antimalware program not safe to use? When it comes bundled and unwanted during a download, you should remove it. When you're downloading it directly from the site, you should be okay. In the case of Bytefence, it's up to you to decide whether or not it's a security problem.

Bytefence is a legitimate anti-malware company with headquarters in the United States and customers worldwide.

What Is the Bytefence Virus?

First things first: Bytefence is not actually a computer virus. It's actually antimalware distributed by a company of the same name, which offers both free and paid products to consumers. However, because of the sneaky ways that the company has distributed its free version, computer users have reported it like a virus to a number of antivirus providers.

Bytefence is typically installed onto Windows computers. However, it has been confirmed as being download onto Macs during the installation of PDF Mac Master. Android programs are likely targets as well.

How Does This Malware Work?

Once installed, Bytefence scans for crapware and malware. It's basically a second-opinion malware scanner; it does not remove any malware it finds. If it does find something, it pops up with a warning window telling you how many risks it has uncovered. A variety of ads encourage you to download the Pro version, which does remove those types of problem programs.

How Do I Know If This Is on My Computer?

You might not realize this is even on your computer until it pops up with one of its malware detection warning windows. You might see pop up ads for Bytefence Pro, too.

Bytefence warning window

Sometimes it does add itself to your browser's toolbar or changes browser settings so if you notice those kinds of things it might be worth taking a quick look on your system to see if this file is there: bytefence-installer.exe. If it is, you've got the Bytefence program installed on your computer. And if you didn't already know that, it means it was installed without your knowledge and you've essentially got malware.

How Did Bytefence Get on My Computer?

The reason people are so frustrated with Bytefence is precisely because of its sneaky tactics in loading it onto your computer without your knowledge. You most likely download software that you wanted from a freeware or peer-to-peer network site and Bytefence was bundled into the software you were downloading.

While it technically isn't a virus, it is a potentially unwanted program (PUP). PUPs are applications that are included when you install other software. They can come in the form of innocent, useful programs but more often they are unwanted browser toolbars, adware, spyware, Trojans, or even bitcoin mining apps. Because they are unwanted and not clear that they are being installed on your computer, most antivirus providers classify them as malware. That's how Bytefence got its reputation as a dangerous piece of software.

How Do I Get Rid of Bytefence?

The most effective way to get rid of any sneaky software on your computer is to use a strong antivirus software program that can spot and remove a wide variety of problems, including software like Bytefence. This can take several hours to do but these programs offer the most comprehensive ways to remove malicious files.

Since Bytefence isn't a virus, you can simply uninstall it. You can remove Bytefence from your Windows computer by uninstalling the app on your own. To uninstall an app on Android, you can use the Google Play Store or the Settings app. There are three ways to uninstall apps on Macs, too.

How Can I Avoid Getting PUPs Like Bytefence Again?

There are a few key ways in which you can lower your chances of downloading a PUP like Bytefence again.

  • Keep your antivirus software and malware protection updated. New virus definitions are released regularly and these keep your PC informed on what to look for with new virus and malware-based threats. Most antivirus programs would have notified you that Bytefence was loading.
  • Block PUPs. In your antivirus software, turn on the option to detect Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). This also will help you catch software that's trying to sneak past you when you download otherwise legitimate programs.
  • Be careful when you download new programs. Always know the legitimacy of the source of the programs and apps you download. Disreputable sites bundle in add-ons that you don't need and that's where programs like Bytefence live.