Windows Built in Firewall

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Windows Built in Firewall

A firewall built into Windows with no separate installation required.

5

Our rating: 

5

Pros & Cons:

Built in to Windows, no separate installation needed, simple and easy to use, effective, passes all tests, no nagging or annoying pop ups, runs seamlessly and quietly in the background, significant improvements since initial version in XP. Likely suitable for most day to day use.
Primarily incoming connecting protection only. Advanced user interface is not user friend - this interface may not be suitable for beginner users. Would be very beneficial complemented by a third party tool such as Windows 10 Firewall Control. Windows XP's version is very basic and lacks any outgoing protection. May not provide adequate protection for "high risk" users.

Our Review:

Windows has come with a built in firewall in its operating system ever since XP. The initial firewall that came with XP was simple, and only allowed protection from incoming traffic, by blocking any incoming connections not initiated by your computer. The firewall does provide excellent basic functionality while running seamlessly in the background. It does the same job as what a third party firewall should do; that is, blocking unwanted incoming connections from the internet. As each version of Windows may contain slight variants of the built in firewall, this review only encompasses a general overview of the built in firewall, without going into the specifics of each.

The Windows firewall is enabled by default on your Windows system. Therefore, unless you disabled it or installed another third party firewall, it should still be running if you have not changed the firewall settings. You can access the firewall interface from the Control Panel, and it is relatively straightforward. When there is a program that wants to receive incoming connections, you will receive a dialog box asking if you would like to allow it access. That’s really all there is to the basic functionality. All other incoming connections not originating from your system will be blocked by your firewall, without any intervention needed from the user. Simple to use, effective, and it comes built in right with Windows, eliminating the need for tinkering with additional installations.

Subsequent versions of Windows have seen an improved version of the firewall. Starting with Windows Vista, new features such as the ability to filter outgoing traffic, though in a more advanced view, are now available. The advanced version allows you to create advanced firewall rules, such as blocking certain programs from connecting to the internet. This advanced view can also be access via the control panel; however, it is not the most user friendly interface. As an alternative, you may want to consider using a third party tool such as Windows 10 Firewall control (discussed below) to complement the built in firewall.

Nevertheless, the built in Windows firewall is definitely one of, if not the most, convenient and efficient firewall available. It is very suitable for most users, especially the casual user who may not be as inclined or have advanced knowledge of their computer system. It is excellent at its job; it passes all tests and has proven to be a reliable firewall application. In addition, other third party firewalls run the possibility of causing conflicts or problems with your PC. With the built-in firewall, the chances of such problems occurring are significantly lower. The downside is that it does not provide the user with as great control as some other third party firewalls; however, such control may not be worth the additional effort, or even necessary, for most low risk or novice users.

Furthermore, it is also important to consider which version of Windows you are using. For example, the firewall in Windows XP is not as sophisticated as, for example, Windows 7. Therefore it may be more advisable to explore a third party firewall if you are using an earlier version of Windows, as opposed to the more recent releases. Suffice to say that if you are still running an even older version of Windows that does not have a built in firewall, you would need to consider one of the options below.


Windows Built in Firewall was reviewed by on

Comments

What about the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security?
How does it work?
How to activate it?
How to activate stealth?
Does Windows 10 Firewall control use the WFAS?

Windows Firewall with Advanced Security (WFAS) is discussed in the article:

Subsequent versions of Windows have seen an improved version of the firewall. Starting with Windows Vista, new features such as the ability to filter outgoing traffic, though in a more advanced view, are now available. The advanced version allows you to create advanced firewall rules, such as blocking certain programs from connecting to the internet. This advanced view can also be access via the control panel; however, it is not the most user friendly interface. As an alternative, you may want to consider using a third party tool such as Windows 10 Firewall control (discussed below) to complement the built in firewall.

Windows Firewall is accessed from the Control Panel and has few options because is is designed for home users with an unmanaged network. WFAS is accessed from the Advanced Settings of Windows Firewall and has many different rules because it is designed for a managed network with administration by technical administrators.

Since Windows Vista, WFAS is enabled by default as is stealth mode. If you don't like the WFAS interface then you can, as the article says, replace it with a third-party front-end.

See the difference in this How-to-Geek article between the first screenshots of Windows Firewall and the remaining screenshots of WFAS.