Windows Defender Firewall

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Windows Defender 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. Current iteration in Windows 10 is suitable for most daily users,
Primarily incoming connecting protection only. Advanced user interface is not user friendly - this interface may not be suitable for beginner users. Would be beneficial paired with a third party tool such as Windows 10 Firewall Control. May not provide adequate protection for "high risk" users.

Our Review:

Windows has come with a built in firewall in its operating system since the now-unsupported 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. In the current iteration of Windows 10, this firewall is now called Windows Defender Firewall, and is part of the Windows Defender family of built-in protection.

The Windows Defender 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 Settings, and it is relatively straightforward. When there is a program that wants to receive incoming connections, you may 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, and improved in subsequent new systems, 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 nowhere near as functional as Windows 10. Therefore it may be more advisable to explore a third party firewall if you are using an earlier version of Windows. Although versions older than Windows 7 inclusive are now unsupported, there are still some users running these operating systems for various reasons; for these users, the built-in firewall is not as functional as today's version.


Windows Defender Firewall was reviewed by on

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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.