How to stop Windows and other installed programs from "phoning home" using Windows built in firewall.
Many Windows services connect to the internet for various reasons, and many of the programs that are installed on PC's also phone home. There are good reasons to prevent programs and services from connecting to servers - you might want to prevent updates for certain programs or operating systems. If you have a limited or metered connection, controlling operating system updates can be a necessity. Perhaps there's a certain version of a program you don't want updated. Maybe you don't want a company to track how you use their software, or information about your device being collected.
That's where firewalls are useful. They can block outbound connections from Windows and other software installed on your system.
There are good, free firewalls available, though over the years several have fallen out of development. You can keep track of firewall changes at our Free Windows Desktop Software Security List (Firewalls) section.
Windows has a good built in firewall. If you like to minimize the amount of programs on your system or like to use programs that are built into Windows then it's a good choice. I've always used third party firewalls and Windows Defender Firewall has been a bit murky so I am interested to see how it's used. If you want to configure Windows firewall to block programs or want to know where it is and how to use it, this is a good overview with directions and screenshots.
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