Data protection

How to enable ‘Controlled folder access’ anti-ransomware feature on Windows Defender Antivirus

Windows Defender Antivirus has a new feature to protect your data from ransomware — Here's how to enable and configure Controlled folder access.

Controlled folder access on Windows Defender Antivirus

Windows Defender Antivirus is your default security software on Windows 10 to protect your system against viruses, spyware, rootkits, and other types of malware out-of-the-box, including ransomware. While the antivirus already does a fine work keeping you safe online, starting with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Windows Defender Antivirus introduces “Controlled folder access” to make it easier to protect your data from malicious programs and threats like ransomware.

Controlled folder access is a new feature that monitors the changes that apps make to your files. If an app tries to modify the files inside a protected folder, and the app is blacklisted, you’ll get notified about the suspicious activity.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to enable and configure Controlled folder access using Windows Defender Antivirus on your Windows 10 device.

Important: If you’re trying this feature before the Fall Creators Update releases, you may come across some false positives as it’s a feature under development.

How to enable Controlled folder access on Windows 10

Controlled folder access comes disable by default, as such you must enable it manually using these steps:

  1. Open Windows Defender Security Center.

  2. Click on Virus & threat protection.

  3. Click the Virus & threat protection settings link.

  4. Turn on the Controlled folder access toggle switch.

    Controlled folder access settings
    Controlled folder access settings

Once you completed the steps, Windows Defender Antivirus will monitor your protected folders as applications try to modify your files. If a suspicious activity occurs, you’ll get a notification about the threat.

How to allow trusted app on Controlled folder access on Windows 10

This new security feature has a basic understanding of which apps are allowed to make changes to your files, but sometimes an app that you trust may get blocked by the Controlled folder access feature. If this is the case, you may need to manually allow a particular app using these steps.

  1. Open Windows Defender Security Center.

  2. Click on Virus & threat protection.

  3. Click the Virus & threat protection settings link.

  4. Click the Allow an app through Controlled folder access link.

  5. Click the Add an allowed app button to locate and whitelist the app you want.

    Allow apps through Controlled folder access
    Allow apps through Controlled folder access

How to add new folder locations on Controlled folder access on Windows 10

By default, Controlled folder access protects the Documents, Pictures, Movies, and Desktop folders. While you can’t remove these folders from the list, it’s possible to include additional locations to the list to protect your data from ransomware and other malware.

  1. Open Windows Defender Security Center.

  2. Click on Virus & threat protection.

  3. Click the Virus & threat protection settings link.

  4. Click the Protected folders link.

  5. Click the Add a protected folder button to locate and include the folder locations you want to protect.

    Protected folders
    Protected folders

If you can’t find the new malware protection feature on Windows Defender Security Center, it’s probably because you’re not running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. This feature is available starting with Windows 10 build 16232 and later.