How to remove WELL ransomware?

Also Known As: WELL virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

WELL ransomware removal instructions

What is WELL?

WELL is one of the malicious programs that are part of the Dharma ransomware family. It encrypts data, changes names of all encrypted files, displays a pop-up window with a ransom note in it and creates another ransom note in a text file. WELL renames all encrypted files by adding victim's ID, email address and appending the ".WELL" extension to their filenames. For example, it renames "1.jpg" to "[].WELL", "2.jpg" to "[].WELL", and so forth. It creates a text file named "FILES ENCRYPTED.txt".

As explained in ransom notes, WELL's victims can get instructions on how to recover their files by writing an email to or Also, victims are warned that by trying to rename encrypted files or decrypt them with some third party software they may cause permanent data loss. After contacting cyber criminals behind WELL victims supposed to get instructions on how to purchase a decryption tool and/or key (pay a ransom). Although, it is not recommended to trust neither these or any other cyber criminals - quite often victims do not receive any decryption tools even if they pay for them. Unfortunately, there are no free tools that could decrypt files encrypted by this ransomware, at least not at the moment. Typically, cyber criminals behind a particular ransomware are the only ones who have the right decryption tools. Usually the only free way for victims to recover their files is to restore them from a backup that they have created before ransomware attack. Also, if ransomware can be prevented from causing further encryptions (encrypting files that were not encrypted during the attack) by uninstalling it. Although, it does help to recover encrypted files - they remain encrypted even when ransomware is already uninstalled.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

WELL decrypt instructions (pop-up window)

Most ransomware-type programs are quite similar: they encrypt data and generate some ransom note that contains instructions on how to contact cyber criminals and/or other details. A couple of examples of other ransomware are Frogo, Coronavirus and Bomba. As a rule, there are two main variables: cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware is designed to use for encryption and size of a ransom. Either way, most of the times such malware uses strong encryption algorithms and victims cannot decrypt their files without tools that only cyber criminals behind that malware have. It is possible to decrypt files for free only when ransomware has some bugs, flaws, is not finished. Unfortunately, it does not happen often. Therefore, it is recommended to always have data backed up store it on remote server and/or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Most of the times cyber criminals attempt to trick users into installing ransomware (or other malware) through spam campaigns, fake software updaters, untrustworthy download channels, unofficial software activation tools and Trojans. It is very common that cyber criminals attempt to deceive users into installing malware by sending emails that contain malicious attachments or website links. Their main goal is to trick recipients into executing malicious files that are designed to infect computers with one or another malware. Usually they attach malicious Microsoft Office document, archive file (like ZIP, RAR), PDF document, JavaScript or executable file (like .exe). Unofficial, third party updaters infect computers by installing malicious programs instead of updating installed ones, or by exploiting bugs, flaws of some outdated software. Files that were downloaded through untrustworthy software download channels can be designed to install malware too. Some examples of such channels are unofficial pages, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), free file hosting, freeware download sites. Typically, malicious files are disguised as legitimate, regular. When users download and open them, they cause installation of some high-risk malware. It is worthwhile to mention that third party installers can be designed to infect computers with malware too. Software 'cracking' tools (unofficial activators) are unofficial programs that supposed to activate licensed software for free. Although, instead of bypassing activation that they often install malicious software (e.g., ransomware). Trojans are programs that often are designed to spread other malware. Simply said, if a computer is infected with a Trojan, then there is a high possibility that it will get infected with some other software of this kind as well.

Threat Summary:
Name WELL virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .WELL
Ransom Demanding Message Pop-up window and FILES ENCRYPTED.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact,
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RansomX-gen [Ransom]), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.Crysis.E), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Crysis.P), Kaspersky (, Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Cannot open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension (for example, my.docx.locked). A ransom demand message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals demand payment of a ransom (usually in bitcoins) to unlock your files.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.
Damage All files are encrypted and cannot be opened without paying a ransom. Additional password-stealing trojans and malware infections can be installed together with a ransomware infection.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
▼ Download Malwarebytes
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Website links and/or attachments in received irrelevant emails should not be trusted. It is recommended to open them only when there is any reason to believe that it is not safe. It is worth mentioning that cyber criminals often disguise their emails as official, important, and so on. Therefore, if an email is irrelevant, it is received from unknown, suspicious address, then its contents should be left unopened. All software (and files) should be downloaded only from official, trustworthy websites. Peer-to-Peer networks, unofficial websites, third party downloaders, installers, etc., should not be used neither to download or install any software, files. Furthermore, all installed programs must be updated and/or activated through tools or functions that are designed by their official developers. No third party tool should be used to activate or update installed software. Besides, it is not legal to activate licensed software with various 'cracking' tools (unofficial activators). And finally, it is important to regularly scan the operating system for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and make sure that it is always up to date. If your computer is already infected with WELL, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text in a pop-up displayed by WELL ransomware:


Don't worry,you can return all your files!
If you want to restore them, follow this link:email YOUR ID -
If you have not been answered via the link within 12 hours, write to us by
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

Screenshot of WELL's text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"):

WELL ransomware text file (FILES ENCRYPTED.txt)

Text in this file:

all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email or

Screenshot of files encrypted by WELL (".WELL" extension):

Files encrypted by WELL ransomware (.WELL extension)

WELL ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Step 1

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the WELL virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.

Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":

1. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.

Boot your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt

2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt type cd restore

3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt rstrui.exe

4. In the opened window, click "Next".

restore system files and settings

5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the WELL ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

select a restore point

6. In the opened window, click "Yes".

run system restore

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining WELL ransomware files.

To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system. Note that some variants of WELL are known to remove Shadow Volume Copies of the files, so this method may not work on all computers.

To restore a file, right-click over it, go into Properties, and select the Previous Versions tab. If the relevant file has a Restore Point, select it and click the "Restore" button.

Restoring files encrypted by CryptoDefense

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

To regain control of the files encrypted by WELL, you can also try using a program called Shadow Explorer. More information on how to use this program is available here.

shadow explorer screenshot

To protect your computer from file encryption ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert and EasySync CryptoMonitor, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as WELL ransomware.

Note that Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes a "Controlled Folder Access" feature that blocks ransomware attempts to encrypt your files. By default, this feature automatically protects files stored in the Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, Favorites, and Desktop folders.

Controll Folder Access

Windows 10 users should install this update to protect their data from ransomware attacks. Here is more information on how to get this update and add an additional protection layer from ransomware infections.

HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard - detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:

hitmanproalert ransomware prevention application

Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:

malwarebytes anti-ransomware

  • The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups. More information on online backup solutions and data recovery software Here.

Other tools known to remove WELL ransomware:

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

Our malware removal guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
WELL virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of WELL virus on your mobile device.
We Recommend:

Get rid of Windows malware infections today:

Download Malwarebytes

Platform: Windows

Editors' Rating for Malwarebytes:
Editors ratingOutstanding!

[Back to Top]

To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.