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Windows Vista Firewall Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Check the firewall status

Windows will automatically warn you of security problems, but it is possible to turn off these warnings, so it is a good idea to know how to manually check the status of the built in firewall just in case. You should be logged on to Windows using an administrator account because standard users are prevented from accessing certain features. Click Start, Control Panel and select Classic View in the left-hand pane. Double click Windows Firewall and the current status is displayed.

Windows Firewall
The Windows Firewall status display

In this example you can see that the firewall is turned on and that it is protecting the computer. Your computer will probably show a screen that is similar to this. An important point to notice about this display is that it does not mention outgoing connections. The display is slightly misleading and outgoing connections are not monitored by default, which means that you only have a partially protected PC. We will see how to change this later.

In the left-hand pane there is an option to turn Windows Firewall on or off, and it performs the same actions as the Change settings link above. Click it to display the Windows Firewall Settings dialog. (The Shield symbol next to the link indicates that you must have administrator status to access this feature.)

Windows Firewall
Windows Firewall Settings dialog

If your computer never connects to the internet or a LAN, you can turn off the firewall because it will serve no useful purpose. However, most people use the internet these days and your PC will be more secure and safe from security threats if you leave the firewall turned on. If you have a laptop computer you might sometimes use it on its own, but at other times you might be connected to a network or the internet. Don't keep switching the firewall on and off because one day you will forget and your computer will be unprotected. Just leave the firewall turn on all the time, even when strictly speaking it isn't necessary. It is the safest option and it doesn't affect anything else you do on the computer.

Ticking the Block all incoming connections option is the most secure, but although it sounds like it blocks all network and internet activity, it doesn't. Internet Explorer and other programs that access the internet still work and the Block all... setting is just a higher level of security. The reason it doesn't block all communications is that programs that request information, like Internet Explorer requesting a web page, can still receive data over the network or the internet and it is just unsolicited network activity that is rejected.

Part 1, go to previous page

Part 1, go to next page


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