The Windows Firewall has been changed quite a bit since Windows XP. Windows 7 now allows this tool to filter both inbound and outbound traffic or set rules and exceptions depending on the type of network you are connected to. Considering there are quite a few changes, we will start a small series presenting all the capabilities of this security tool. For starters we will show how to access the Windows Firewall, present the basics about how it works and show how to turn it on or off.
Where to Find the Windows Firewall
To open the Windows Firewall configuration panel, you have several options. One is to go to 'Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall'.
Another is to use the Start Menu search box, type 'firewall' and click on the Windows Firewall link.
When you open it, you will see a window similar to the one below: showing to which type of networks you are connected and if the firewall is turned on or off.
On the left there are several links to different windows which allow you to configure several aspects of the Windows Firewall. We will present them in detail in our future articles.
How Does the Windows Firewall Work?
Windows Firewall has a predefined set of rules which is applied as soon as it is turned on. By default, it will allow you to do many things: browse the Internet, use instant messengers, share files, etc. The rules are applied differently depending on the network location set for your current network connection. If you are not familiar with this concept, I strongly recommend you to read our article called Network Locations Explained.
Some of the applications which you will install on your computer (such as uTorrent for example), automatically add an exception to the Windows Firewall so that they work as soon as you launch them. However, if they don’t add such an exception, Windows Firewall will ask you to allow them access to the Internet.
You will receive a security alert similar to the one below, where you will be asked to select to which network locations you will allow access for the application. By default, Windows Firewall will check the box relevant to the network you are currently using. However, you can select any of the two options. When done, click on ’Allow access’.
The application will now work. If you want to change the settings you just made or add other applications to the list of exceptions, you can do so later. We will cover this topic in a separate article.
If you do not have administrator access, you will not be able set any exceptions and the programs which do not comply with the standard set of rules will be automatically blocked.
How to Turn On or Off the Windows Firewall
To activate or deactivate the Windows Firewall, go to its panel, as shown in the first section of this article. Then, click on the ’Turn Windows Firewall on or off’ link.
By default, the Windows Firewall is turned on for all types of network locations: domain, home or work and public. If you want to turn it on or off for any of these network locations, click on the appropriate ’Turn on/off Windows Firewall’ check boxes and then on OK.
NOTE: You can turn on or off the Windows Firewall only if you are logged on as an administrator. This setting will apply to all users defined on your computer. If you disable the Windows Firewall make sure your user and others have proper security alternatives installed.
The basics about how to work with the Windows Firewall are not that complicated. However, when tuning more advanced aspects, such as setting exceptions or modifying rules, it is not as easy. Therefore, stay tuned for more articles on how to work with the Windows Firewall.
How to Manage Windows Firewall Communication Rules
Gain Additional Control by Using Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
Manage Rules in Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
Restore Windows Firewall Defaults