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Windows SmartScreen – How Windows Protected your PC?

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Windows 8 and Windows 10 include several in-built security features that are designed to protect your computer from a large number of malicious apps and dangerous websites. These operating systems by Microsoft that offer a security tool called the Windows SmartScreen; this feature is enabled by default and runs in the background while monitoring the execution of applications and opening of websites on the system. It blocks the execution of applications or loading of the sites until the resources have been checked by the security service.

Windows SmartScreen is a security tool that interrupts if an application or site has been deemed as malicious, especially when even Microsoft does not know any detail about the particular problem. The security tool collects all the information available about the program like its digital signature, hash code, files name, etc. and submits the collected data to a Microsoft server on the internet.

The server then responds with the overall rating of the application that can trigger the Windows SmartScreen in either one of the two ways – if the rating is low or not available; the program will not open. If the rating is fine, opening the website or installation of the program is considered safe.

In short, Windows SmartScreen is a secondary layer in addition to Windows Defender, which is represented by your computer’s Antimalware Service Executable process. Having a security system with different layers will keep your personal computer safer, even if you use an Internet browser with its in-built anti-malware features or another antivirus.

PS: If you can’t adjust brightness on Windows 10, or your Windows 10 slow, read more to fix them now. Also, click to figure out how to delete Windows update files completely.


Why does Windows SmartScreen use memory and CPU?

Normally, the Windows SmartScreen will sit in the background and will not use any system resources. You can even see it hovering at 0% CPU and a few megabytes of memory in the taskbar. At times, Windows might even close the process a few times if it is not at use; hence, you might not see it running in the background as well.

But if the Windows SmartScreen is enabled and you download any random file, the security too will kick start. Even if it is not running, Windows will launch the program, and you will see a slight flutter of memory and CPU as SmartScreen starts to compute the hash of files, sends it to the servers of Microsoft, and waits to see if the file is safe. If the downloaded files have been deemed safe, Windows will normally launch the file or application.

The Windows SmartScreen filter is used with the usual antivirus checks; if you are using the default Windows Defender as your antivirus program, the check will be performed by the Antimalware Service Executable process.

Even while checking for threats, the amount of memory and CPU used is quite small, and the overall process will be done in a jiffy; however, the speed of the check will also depend on the size of the file. The check is also performed only once when you open a downloaded file or program so that you do not have to waste resources each time you open that particular app or file.


Can Windows Protected your PC messages be disabled?

You can never fully disable the SmartScreen. While you might be able to disable the SmartScreen feature in your Windows computer, it will still launch whenever you sign in to your computer. You can also forcibly end the process from the Task Manager, but Windows will launch it again automatically when the need arrives.


Windows Protected your PC message

At times, the Windows SmartScreen will flash messages like ‘Windows Protected your PC’ on your screen. You need to interact with a prompt; however, you do not have many options to choose from since the only prompt that is displayed is the OK button.

The OK button is highlighted in the window and simply stops the execution of the program. This is quite a desirable feature, especially when the program seems malicious and could cause a lot of problems on your PC if you happen to install them.

But, there might be situations where you trust the software, but the Windows SmartScreen is simply not allowing you to install the program. What should you do in such cases?

How do you bypass the Windows Protected your PC?

  • For this, you need to click on the More Info link underneath the description to bypass the SmartScreen message that reads Windows Protected your PC.
  • You then need to click on the Run Anyway option and then run the program on the system.
  • If you do not wish to run the program, you can click on Don’t Run instead.

You do not have to panic; the publisher field is listed as Unknown. Not every publisher or developer registers with Microsoft, and in the absence of the information in this filed does not imply that the app is risky. But, you can always double-check and make sure once again that you are running the correct app from the right source.

It is not that useful in some scenarios

If you are an experienced user, you might not entirely like the protection features offered by Windows SmartScreen. It slows down your system significantly and possibly may not provide any additional security as well; the latter is quite possible if you are running updated antivirus software on your computer.

In Windows 8, two options can switch off the Windows SmartScreen feature, and the Windows Protected your PC messages. We have already talked about one of those options in the article ‘SmartScreen reports back to Microsoft‘. But this option is only good if you select the custom installation. If you have already installed Windows 8, this effort will not do any good.

Turning off Windows Protected your PC messages on Windows 10

Windows SmartScreen is a part of Windows 10, too, and you have the option to disable the feature if you are not making use of it. But, you need to note that disabling the Windows SmartScreen means that you will reduce the protection of your personal computer. We suggest that you only do so if you run into problems caused by the use of a particular program or software that adds identical security functionalities to the operating system.

Turning off Windows Protected your PC messages in Pro editions with the help of Group Policy

Microsoft has removed the Control Panel option that used to control and manages Windows SmartScreen in the newer versions of Windows 10. While you can still turn it off, you will need the professional version of the operating system (in this instance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Pro) for executing the first method as you need to make use of the Group Policy Editor for that.

Here are the rest of the steps:

  • Click on the Windows Key that will display the Start Menu.
  • Here, you have to type in gpedit.msc and click on the result (it might be labeled either as gpedit.msc or Group Policy Editor).
  • Then click on Computer Configuration, then on Administrative Templates, then Windows Components, and the File Explorer.
  • You need to double-click on the Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen to disable it.
  • Click on OK and save all the changes.

  • Note: If you still wish to keep the Windows SmartScreen running but want it to be less insidious or not see the Windows Protected your PC message too often, you can set the policy as Enabled and choose the setting Warn; the other only setting you will see is: Warn and Prevent, which is set by default.

The Registry option

For Windows 10 Home users, you can directly set the Registry key with the help of the following steps:

  • Click on the Windows key and open the Start Menu.
  • Then, type in regedit.exe, click on the result, and then confirm the UAC prompt.
  • Head to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System and double click on the EnableSmartScreen value.
  • You have the option to set the value to 0 (disabling SmartScreen), 1 (give users a warning), or 2 (requires the approval of the admin). The default is 1.
  • Once you selected the desired value, you need to restart your computer to save the changes.

  • Note: You can also disable the SmartScreen Filter, or Windows Protected your PC message that Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer use as well. In Microsoft Edge, you need to head to the Menu, then Settings, and to Advanced Setting. Here, you need to toggle off the ‘Help protect me from malicious sites and downloads with Windows Defender SmartScreen.’

Turning off Windows Protected your PC on Windows 8

If you wish to turn off the Windows Protected your PC message on Windows 8, you need to take the steps mentioned below:

  • On the desktop, click on the Windows key and then move your cursor to the lower or upper right corner of the screen; alternatively, you can also press Windows-C.
  • From here, you have to head to the Control Panel and select the System and Security.
  • On the next page called the Action Center, you need to click on the Change Windows SmartScreen settings located on the left-hand sidebar.

Here, you will find the three options mentioned below:

  1. Get the approval of the administrator before running an unknown app from the Internet (Recommended).
  2. Always warn before running an unknown app, but will not need the permission or approval of the administrator.
  3. Do not do anything (Disabling Windows SmartScreen).

As the title suggests, the third option will disable the SmartScreen feature; hence, you will not see any Windows Protected your PC pop-ups anymore when you execute unknown apps on your computer.
One other quick way to head to the Settings is to press on the Windows-W, which will open up the Settings search app on the Start Menu. Here, you need to type down SmartScreen and select the result (Change SmartScreen Settings). The Action Center will open up where you can select your desired SmartScreen option on the left side.


Disabling SmartScreen Filter in Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer

For some users, Windows SmartScreen can prove to be quite annoying when the Windows Protected your PC messages are activated with the browser. If you are a Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer user, you can either leave it on or turn it off. However, the chances of you clicking on a malicious ad or link increases.

In Internet Explorer 11, you need to click on the Settings, then to Safety; here, you will find the option of turning the SmartScreen on or off. You need to select the off option and then click on OK.

In Microsoft Edge, turning off the Windows SmartScreen is a bit easier. Once you open Edge, you need to head to the Settings, and then to View Advanced Settings. Here, you have to scroll down to the bottom under the Privacy and Services and then turn off the toggle ‘Help protect me from malicious sites and downloads with SmartScreen Filter.’


Conclusion

If you are a novice user or new to Windows, it is recommended that you do not turn off the Windows SmartScreen. Windows SmartScreen is kept in its place to protect users from installing malicious software. Additionally, Microsoft has also improved the SmartScreen filter in Windows 10 that will be integrated with IE and Microsoft Edge that will keep you protected from malicious websites. You will be glad that Windows protected your PC with the SmartScreen.

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