Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update

Usually, I’ll let my computer update itself whenever it sees fit. Today I could wait no longer. I had to install and apply Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update.

From start to finish, it took about 2.5 hours and download and install, but for the sake of this blog entry, it was worth it. For a good portion of the installation time, my machine’s disk activity was pegged at 100%, so there wasn’t a lot to do except make a cup of coffee and wait. And watch the computer reboot itself at least 3 or 4 times.

After the install was 100% complete, upon reboot, the first thing I noticed was a new default Start Screen picture. My guess is that if you have a custom start screen picture selected, it will remain the same. Once past the start screen, I noticed a new button in the lower right taskbar named People. It looked like a pinboard app. I turned it off immediately. It’s probably great, but I can’t afford to have any more apps running on this system.

Controlled Folder Access

I’m sure the Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update ‘creator’ features are great, and when I find something to talk about, I’ll blog it. In the meantime, I want to mention a feature in Windows Defender. It’s named controlled folder access and it may save you from ransomware like Bad Rabbit.

Enable Windows 10 Fall Creator's Update Windows Defender Controlled Folder Access featureControlled folder access protects you through a very simple, but novel technique: guard the folders (and thus files) that you deem the most important by allowing only certain applications access to that folder. Very Draconian. Very effective.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a feature embedded in Windows Defender, but alas it is. So to use this feature Windows Defender must be enabled, which means Windows Defender must be your primary antivirus program. If Windows Defender isn’t your main AV then you have a choice to make. I use another AV, but for the sake of testing controlled folder access, I enabled Windows Defender.

Setting up controlled folder access

To enable controlled folder access, navigate to Windows Defender settings. The quickest way to get there is to click on the Start button, then type ‘Windows Defender Settings’.

From the Windows Defender Settings screen, click on Open Windows Defender Security Center. Once Windows Defender Security Center launches, click on Virus & threat protection. Inside of Virus & threat protection, click on Virus & threat protection settings.   (Why so many clicks???)

Finally, scroll down to Controlled folder access. If you decide to turn this feature on, you will be greeted with the usual UAC prompt. (If you are not, your computer security settings have been lowered. Turn UAC back on ASAP!!!!)

Click Yes to the UAC prompt … and … nothing happens.

I was sent back to the options screen and controlled folder access was still Off.  If this happens to you, exit Windows Defender Security Center and come back to the settings screen. You should see that controlled folder access is On. I haven’t seen this mentioned elsewhere, so maybe it’s just a bug in my system.

At this point, you will see options to add to and modify the Protected folders list, along with an option to allow a certain app through the controlled folder access protection mechanism. The most common default folders are already in the list.

Some Assembly Required

Windows 10 Fall Creator's Update controlled folder access hidden issueAs for apps, Windows Defender states ‘most apps will be allowed through controlled folder access without having to manually add them’, but in my experience, take this statement with a grain of salt. I had the experience of being unable to save new JPG files from Photoshop to a protected folder.

The problem didn’t manifest itself as a controlled folder issue. Photoshop simply told me there was an error saving the file. Point: keep it in the back of your mind that anything odd as regards accessing your personal files might be a result of controlled folder access.

It seems that at least some manual changes are required to make controlled folder access work properly.

Summary

Controlled folder access is a good feature, although it may at first interrupt your workflow. Once dialed in though, protect away it will! In theory, this method actually does protect you from the current ransomware attack methods.

Initially, the Windows 10 Fall Creator’s update seems safe to install. At least it didn’t crash my test system.

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