Windows 8 and Windows 10 include several in-built security features designed to protect your computer from malicious apps and dangerous websites.
These operating systems by Microsoft 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 security service has checked the resources.
Windows SmartScreen is a security tool that interrupts an application or site deemed 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 installing the program is considered safe.
In short, Windows SmartScreen is a secondary layer in addition to Windows Defender, represented by your computer’s Antimalware Service Executable process.
A security system with different layers will keep your personal computer safer, even if you use an Internet browser with its built-in anti-malware features or another antivirus.
Why does Windows SmartScreen use memory and CPU?
Normally, the Windows SmartScreen will sit in the background and not use any system resources. You can even see it hovering at 0% CPU and a few megabytes of memory in the taskbar.
Windows might close the process a few times if it is not in use; hence, you might not see it running in the background.
But if the Windows SmartScreen is enabled and you download any random file, the security 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 use 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.
Besides, read more about how to fix the Windows 10 keyboard not working issue.
Can Windows Protect Your PC Messages be Disabled?
You can never fully disable the SmartScreen. While you might be able to disable the SmartScreen feature on 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 automatically launch it when the need arrives.
Windows Protected Your PC Message
The Windows SmartScreen will sometimes flash messages like ‘Windows Protected your PC’ on your screen. You need to interact with a prompt; however, you do not have many options since the only displayed prompt 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 many problems on your PC if you 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?
- 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 the absence of information in this field does not imply that the app is risky.
But you can always double-check and make sure that you are running the correct app from the right source once again.
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 may not provide any additional security; the latter is quite possible if you run 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 discussed 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 reducing the protection of your personal computer.
We suggest you only do so if you run into problems caused by using 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 is 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) to execute the first method, as you need to use 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 then 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: 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 (require the approval of the admin). The default is 1.
- Once you select 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. In Microsoft Edge, you need to head to the Menu, Settings, and Advanced Settings. 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 screen’s lower or upper right corner; alternatively, you can also press Windows-C.
- You have to head to the Control Panel and select System and Security.
- On the next page, called the Action Center, you need to click on the Change Windows SmartScreen settings on the left-hand sidebar.
Here, you will find the three options mentioned below:
- Get the administrator’s approval before running an unknown app from the Internet (Recommended).
- Always warn before running an unknown app, but will not need the permission or approval of the administrator.
- Do not do anything (Disabling Windows SmartScreen).
As the title suggests, the third option will disable the SmartScreen feature; hence, you will no longer see any Windows Protected your PC pop-ups when you execute unknown apps on your computer.
One other quick way to head to Settings is to press 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
Windows SmartScreen can be quite annoying for some users when the Windows Protected PC messages are activated with the browser.
If you are a Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer user, you can leave it on or turn it off. However, the chances of clicking on a malicious ad or link increase.
In Internet Explorer 11, you need to click on Settings, then 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 Settings and View Advanced Settings.
Here, you have to scroll down to the bottom under Privacy and Services and then turn off the toggle ‘Help protect me from malicious sites and downloads with SmartScreen Filter.’
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Is Windows SmartScreen sufficient to protect my PC from all threats? Windows SmartScreen is a powerful security feature, but it is not a standalone solution. It is recommended to use it in conjunction with a reliable antivirus program and practice safe browsing habits for comprehensive protection.
Q2. Can Windows SmartScreen detect all types of malware? While Windows SmartScreen is effective against a wide range of malware, it is not foolproof. It focuses primarily on blocking potentially harmful applications and files. Therefore, it is essential to have an up-to-date antivirus solution for complete malware protection.
Q3. Can I trust every file or application that SmartScreen deems safe? While SmartScreen’s reputation-based analysis is highly accurate, there may be rare instances where false positives or false negatives occur. It is always prudent to exercise caution and verify the source and legitimacy of any file or application, even if SmartScreen approves it.
Q4. Can I customize the behavior of Windows SmartScreen? Yes, Windows SmartScreen provides customizable settings that allow you to adjust its behavior according to your preferences. You can configure it to be more or less restrictive, depending on your specific requirements.
Q5. Is Windows SmartScreen available on all versions of Windows? Windows SmartScreen is available on Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. It is recommended to keep your Windows version up to date to ensure you have access to the latest security features.
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, which will be integrated with IE and Microsoft Edge to keep you protected from malicious websites. You will be glad that Windows protected your PC with the SmartScreen.