Set up and Manage Ransomware Protection in Windows 11

Ransomware is deeply unpleasant, and not something you ever want your computer to become infected by.  What ransomware does is encrypt all the files and documents on your PC, including all your precious photos, and then demanding you pay a ransom to unlock them.  If you pay the ransom, there’s still a good chance there’ll be more malware into the software they send you to decrypt the files.

Windows 11 includes ransomware protection, though it is turned off by default.  This is because, while it’s highly effective, and very welcome, it can also be slightly aggressive, especially with games.  It is easy to tame the protection though so your PC and apps all work as intended.

Opening Windows Security, either by searching for it in the Start Menu or by clicking the Shield icon in the Taskbar System Tray and clicking Virus & threat protection, you will see a Ransomware protection link.  Click this and you can activate the feature.

By default, the ransomware protection will protect all of your document folders, Documents, Pictures, Music and Video, but you can add other folders if you need to, perhaps because you have moved your files and documents to a different drive in your PC than the one Windows is installed on.

Click the Protected folders link and you will see a list of the currently protected folders.  Click the Add a protected folder button to add another folder to the list.  You will need to do this for each folder you want to add.

I have already mentioned that some programs, especially games, can be blocked by the ransomware protection.  Clicking the Allow an app through controlled folder access link lets you add apps and games to the exclusion list in the same way as you add folders to the protection.  There are options to Browse all apps or to add a Recently blocked app.

If you want to unblock an app that was recently blocked, you will be presented with a list with details of where the app is on your hard disk and what it is called.  Click the Plus [+] icon to the left of the appropriate item to add it to the exclusion list.

Should you see a pop-up message on your screen saying that an app has been blocked by controlled folder access, you can still add it, either in the way I have just described or, in the ransomware protection page, clicking the Block history link.  This presents a list of all the programs that have been blocked, sorted by date and time to make it easy to find the one you are looking for.

You can click the Actions button on the program you want to add to the exclusions list, and then click Allow on device, after which the program will not be blocked again.

Overall, Ransomware Protection in Windows 11 is very welcome, very effective, and definitely something you should consider activating on your PCs.

Learn how to find your way around Windows 11, make it easier to use, and how you can get more done with your PC with Mike Halsey’s book “Windows 11 Made Easy“, now on sale from Apress, Amazon, and all good book sellers.

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