How to Fix: Malwarebytes 'Unable to connect to service' Error

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Rachel P. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

As per your recommendation, I have installed Malwarebytes Antimalware Free on my system and I do a full system scan every 30 days or so. Today I tried to launch Malwarebytes Antimalware Free ("MBAM") and it gives me an error, stating that it is 'Unable to start' and 'Unable to connect to service', with an option to click 'OK' and nothing else. I don't know how to fix this. Can you please help? "

My response:

I have run across this issue a few times with my clients, but resolving it is not always the same. I asked Rachel if she would like me to connect to her system using my remote desktop support service to have a closer look, and she agreed. Below I'll explain the process of fixing Malwarebytes "unable to connect to service" error, in case anyone else has this problem.

How to Fix: Malwarebytes 'Unable to connect to service' Error

  1. First, bookmark this page so that you can come back to it, as you will need to restart the computer multiple times during the fix process. To do so, press CTRL + D on the keyboard; this will either automatically save the page to your bookmarks, or it will ask you to click OK to confirm. Once the page is bookmarked, proceed to the next step.
     
  2. Next, allow me to explain what a Windows "service" is. Microsoft Windows contains many modular components which make up the operating system as a whole. These components are known as "services". For example: Windows Update, which is part of Windows, runs as as Windows service, and its purpose is to check for Windows Updates in the background. Similarly, some programs you install - such as Malwarebytes Antimalware - also contain their own services which perform various functions.

    In this case, the error message from Malwarebytes Antimalware says that it is "Unable to connect to service" - usually this means that the Malwarebytes service has stopped for some reason or another. Most of the time you can fix this problem by restarting the service, and also setting the service to run automatically when your computer boots Windows.

    To do so:

    Click Start, then type in "services.msc" (no quotes). Wait for "Services" to appear in the list, then click it. The "Services" window will now appear; click the "Name" column heading so that all the services are sorted in ascending order (from A to Z). Finally, scroll down until you see the "Malwarebytes" service, and double click it to view its properties.

    The "Malwarebytes Service Properties (Local Computer)" window will now appear. Under the heading "Startup type", make sure it says "Automatic" - you can change the setting from the pull down menu. Under the heading "Service status", make sure it says "Running". If the "Service Status" says "Stopped", click the "Run" button to change it to "Running". Now, try and launch Malwarebytes Antimalware - it should run without any issues; if so, I suggest you reboot the computer and try and launch Malwarebytes Antimalware again. It should run - if not, then proceed to the next step.

    Note: if you are unable to change the "Startup type" or "Service status", or if Malwarebytes Antimalware still won't run, proceed to the next step.

    IMPORTANT: if you don't see the Malwarebytes service listed, proceed to the next step to reinstall the program. If it still doesn't work after that, then something else might be wrong (as noted in Step #3) which requires further analysis. In that case, you are welcome to contact me for additional 1-on-1 remote desktop support, where I can troubleshoot this for you. Feel free to review my credentials here.
     
  3. Sometimes, Windows won't allow you to modify certain services if they are protected, or if you don't have the appropriate access rights, or if the service itself is corrupted, or if a part of Windows is corrupted - or there may be another reason. Also, sometimes, error messages and the inability to modify the programs' services can fixed by simply reinstalling the program.

    To reinstall Malwarebytes and to set it as the "Free" version, do the following:

    Click Start, then type in "programs and features" (no quotes); wait for "Programs and Features" or "Add or Remove Programs" to appear in the list, then click it. Next, scroll through the list until you find Malwarebytes Antimalware, then right click it and select "uninstall". This will uninstall the program. You may need to restart the system afterward - in that case, bookmark this page if you haven't already (follow Step #1 for more info).

    Next, download Malwarebytes Antimalware (free) from the Internet and install it.

    When you first install this program, it will automatically activate the "Premium Trial" version. I suggest you do not use the premium version as it contains real-time scanning (which also requires a paid subscription) and may slow your computer down substantially for reasons I've already explained here - but that also depends on the hardware specifications of your system. Instead, you can simply run the free version manually once a month to scan the entire system - this will give you the same protection, but won't bog down your system 24/7. Most of the time, antivirus protection will detect the majority of threats, keeping you safe. I only use Malwarebytes Antimalware Free when I get infected, which is extremely rare.

    To enable the free version, open the Malwarebytes Antimalware screen and then click the "Settings" tab in the left, then click the "My Account" tab at the top. On the "My Account" page, click the option to "De-activate license"; this will revert the system to the Free version.

At this point, Malwarebyte Antimalware should be working properly and the services should be running automatically during the startup. You can test this theory by restarting the system and running Malwarebytes Antimalware again. If it does not start properly after rebooting the system, then you are welcome to contact me for additional support, described next.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

As I mentioned previously, sometimes programs won't install or operate properly due to access permissions, or if parts of Windows are corrupted - or there may be another reason. Fixing problems like these go well beyond the scope of this article - and in this case, you are welcome to contact me for additional support using my remote desktop service. Simply send me a brief message describing the issue, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

SpiderJockey's picture

I have used Malwarebytes Premium for many years concurrently with Windows Defender, Bitdefender and other antimalware programs on different computers and have not found that it slows down my systems.

Dennis Faas's picture

That would depend on the age and spec of system. I think the majority of people are still holding onto older systems - myself included. I had a client who had MBAM Premium on his Socket 775 LGA q6700 processor (circa 2009) quad core 2.6 GHz, and it slowed the system down something fierce - this was especially true when he went to use dropbox. In fact, when he contacted me he could barely do anything on the system it was so slow. Removing MBAM made his system run considerably faster. That aside, any extra "protection" you add to the system will slow it down more than it would if you didn't add it - it doesn't matter what hardware you have. I like my systems running as quick and lightweight as possible.

keffdoak's picture

I have an i7 Core system that handles MBAM with ease. No noticeable difference if it's there or not.

I have a very underpowered laptop that does bog down. On the laptop, I just turn off the real-time scanning and it doesn't slow the system down.

I bought a 3-pack of MBAM Premium (my wife also has a system that it doesn't slow down); otherwise I would just use the free version.

dan_2160's picture

We've been using Malwarebytes Premium for a few years (now using version 3.0.6) and it has never slowed down our systems. All four computers are Windows 10 Pro machines with AMD FX processors (4100 to 8350).

What people should be aware of is that version 3 of Malwarebytes was initially very buggy. They're now on the third iteration of the program (3.0.6.1469-19) and it seems, so far, to have fixed the bugs which included failing to remember exclusions, one or more types of protection not starting automatically, and a lot of false positives. If you're using an earlier version, be sure to download the latest. The file is named:
mb3-setup-consumer-3.0.6.1469-1096.exe

Their tech support has been very conscientious, albeit a bit bumbling at times and often not paying attention to what I've explained in my emails to them. I strongly suspect that is because tech support is almost certainly overseas and English is their second language. But they keeping trying to help and I've rarely seen such conscientious efforts.

dan400man's picture

I'm glad I saw your comment. I wrongfully assumed that the update function in MB 2.2.1 would, at a minimum, notify me that there was a new version of MB available to install. I use the free version. So, I uninstalled it and installed the new 3.0.6 version. I've got 14 days to try the premium version, so I've allowed all of the premium features to be turned on to see how it affects my system, which has some decent specs (Intel Core i7-6500U, 16GB RAM).

SkullKidDanzen's picture

In my case, the MBAM service totally banished, it's not on the services list at all, it started a couple days ago.
Not sure if is because i updated recently or it might be a rootkit, showed signs of being infected before but didn't payed much attention to it
what can i do?

Dennis Faas's picture

Uninstall and reinstall Malwarebytes Antimalware as the article suggests. If you still can't get it to work, something else might be wrong. In that case, I am more than happy to look at it via my remote desktop support service. To do so: send me a brief message via the contact page and I will get back to you ASAP.