How To Protect Files From Ransomware in Windows 11 & 10

Ransomware attacks are devastating. Here is how to protect files and folders from ransomware attacks in Windows 11 for free.

Though viruses, malware, and other forms of computer attacks are undoubtedly problematic and create a real headache, you can at least recover from them. Of course, this assumes you use proper security tools, antivirus software, and computer best practices.

However, Ransomware is a different kind of attack where it encrypts some or all files. Once encrypted, you cannot unlock the encrypted files without the decryption key or software. To get that, the attacker often demands ridiculous payments, often in the form of cryptocurrency.

Table of contents:

Why protect files from Ransomware?

Most of us keep a lot of our personal and other important files on the computer—one of the main reasons being the ample storage space and ease of use.

For instance, I keep a copy of all my pictures, documents, and more on my personal computer. In those cases, a ransomware attack that encrypts and locks you out from your own files is devastating. This is especially true if you don’t have reliable and safe backup copies.

As most of us know, a vast majority of users never back up their data until it is too late. Trust me, I’ve been there and learned my lesson the brutal way.

Microsoft added a new feature called Controlled Folder Access to Windows Security to deal with these kinds of situations. Using this feature, you can protect important files and folders from Ransomware.

If you are wondering, the Controlled Folder Access will use Windows Security to block any modifications to the protected files. That way, no program, including malicious Ransomware, can damage or encrypt the protected files.

So, without further ado, let me show you how to protect files from Ransomware in Windows 11.

Important note: If you are using a third-party antivirus, you might be able to use Windows Security Ransomware protection. That is because the Controlled Folder Access feature requires enabling Windows Real-time Protection. The Windows Security Real-time Protection is disabled to reduce conflicts between both antivirus tools when using third-party antivirus software.

Protect files from Ransomware in Windows 11

To enable ransomware protection for files and folders, we need to configure it from the Windows Security application. All it takes is a few clicks, and you are good to go. Let me show you how to do it.

  1. Press the Start key on your keyboard.
  2. Search and open “Windows Security.”
  3. Click on “Virus & threat protection.”
  4. Scroll down and click on the “Manage ransomware protection” link.
  5. Turn on the “Controlled folder access” option.
  6. Click on the “Protect folders” link.
  7. Press the “Add a protected folder” button.
  8. Select the folder with the files you want to protect.
  9. Click the “Select folder” button.
  10. The folder is instantly added to the ransomware protection list.
  11. All the files in the added folder are protected from Ransomware.

Same steps with a bit more detail:

First thing, open the Windows Security app. You can do that by searching for “Windows Security” in the Start menu. Alternatively, open the Settings app, go to the “Privacy & security > Windows Security” page and click on the “Open Windows Security” button.

After opening it, click on the “Virus & threat protection” tab on the sidebar. Next, scroll down on the right panel and click on the “Manage ransomware protection” link under the “Ransomware Protection” section.

protect files from ransomware in Windows 11

Here, turn on the “Controlled Folder Access” option. Next, click on the “Protected folder” link.

Here, click on the “Add a protected folder” button.

Next, select the folder of your choice and click the “Select folder” button.

The folder is added to the ransomware protection list as soon as you do that.

From now on, no program, including Ransomware and other malware, can modify the contents of the protected folder.

Protect files from Ransomware in Windows 10

If you are using Windows 10, follow the below steps to protect files from Ransomware in Windows 10. The good thing is that the steps are similar to Windows 11. The main reason being the Windows Security app is the same in both Windows 10 and 11.

  1. Search and open “Windows Security” in the Start menu.
  2. Click on “Virus & threat protection.”
  3. Scroll down and click on the “Manage ransomware protection” link.
  4. Turn on the “Controlled folder access” option.
  5. Click on the “Protect folders” link.
  6. Press the “Add a protected folder” button.
  7. Select the folder with the files you want to protect.
  8. Click the “Select folder” button.
  9. The folder is instantly added to the ransomware protection list.
  10. All the files in the added folder are protected from Ransomware.

That is it. It is that simple to protect files from Ransomware in Windows 11 and Windows 10.

I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need some help, comment below, and I will try to help as much as possible.

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