Is Paying the Money for Ransomware Ever a Good Idea?

One thing on tech fans’ minds over the past week is ransomware after the WannaCry attack. Victims were forced to make a decision whether or not they should pay money to save their data. We asked our writers, “Is paying the money for ransomware ever a good idea?

Our Opinion

Our writers are all in agreement that you shouldn’t pay the money for ransomware, feeling that it could only lead to more activity of that sort.

Miguel explains that many times the ransomware won’t encrypt all your files and sometimes they won’t even use strong encryption. He believes “it is actually a more economical decision to move all important unencrypted files,” such as documents, pictures, and other other files, “wipe out your drive, and reinstall your operating system.” If you’re using Windows, you can reload the OS via a recovery disk or something similar. This method will cost you nothing.

And if you pay the ransom, “you are validating the malware authors’ efforts.” The more they make off of you, the more likely they will be to keep up with this practice.

Damien notes that “the worst thing about ransomware is that even if you pay up, there is no guarantee that it will restore your files.” Additionally, many times it’s just a hoax. He suggests Windows users restore their systems “to an earlier restore point, extract the important documents, and then reformat the hard drive.”

Simon agrees with Miguel that paying validates the ransomware developer’s efforts. He notes that while many state that while these developers have zero obligation to unlock your PC after you pay the fee, “the reality is actually a lot worse than that.” With WannaCry, the distributors couldn’t keep track of who paid and who hadn’t, meaning the people who paid could have been wasting their money. He preaches that important files should be backed up so that “you can simply reformat everything without breaking a sweat!”


Jeffry compares paying for ransomware to “giving up your lunch money to those school bullies so you won’t get beaten up.” If you pay, they’ll just keep coming back, and there will be no parent, teacher, etc. to help you out.

Corbin agrees, using a similar analogy. “Paying ransomware is a whole lot like giving the mugger your money and them shooting you anyway.” With no guarantee that your data will be freed after you pay, he says it’s “paramount that even the most casual user keep backups of their devices” and stay well-informed.

Fabio agrees. “If you keep a backup of all your data, you won’t have to pay anything if you were ever to be a victim of ransomware.” He notes the ransomware developers could receive your payment and decide it’s not enough, ask for more, and may never give anything back to you.

I have to admit my reasoning has nothing to do with a technical aspect of it. I’m far too competitive. I don’t want to pay a ransom because for me that’s letting the ransom developers win. I’d spend hours and days backing up my system and protecting and/or replacing it if need be, just so that I didn’t lose.

Your Opinion

What do you think about ransomware? Do you think you would pay, or do you plan to go with prevention and have a backup plan just in case it happens to you? Is paying the money for ransomware ever a good idea? Join our conversation in the comments section below!

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox