How to Configure the Windows 7 Firewall
A firewall is an important component in computer networking. Firewalls can be software, or hardware, or a combination of both. Their main purpose is to help regulate the flow of information to and from your computer system. This can mean doing things like blocking hackers or dangerous software from accessing your computer, or stopping malicious software already on your computer from sending off information that you don’t want to be sent.
In this article, I’ll go over the basics of setting up your Windows 7 Firewall to best suit your needs. I’ll go over everything from turning it on, to setting up profiles and allowing or blocking applications from accessing the network.
Enabling and Disabling the Windows 7 Firewall
If you have just recently installed Windows 7, you have probably already come across prompts to enable or disable the Windows 7 Firewall. If you need to enable or disable the firewall, you can simply revisit the setting in your Control Panel, here’s how:
- Open the Control Panel
- Click “System and Security”
- Click “Windows Firewall”
On this page, you’ll see two sections, one on the left with a list of options starting with “Control Panel Home” and a larger section on the right containing information about the firewall’s status and state.
To enable or disable the firewall, look for and click on “Turn Windows Firewall On or Off” on the left side menu. You’ll be taken to a page where you can choose to turn your Windows firewall on or off, as well as some control over profiles, and notifications.
The first section is for your Home or Work profile. Here you can choose to turn your firewall on or off, as well as whether you would like to block incoming connections or be notified when Windows Firewall blocks a new program. Generally, it is a good idea to keep the firewall on with notifications, but without blocking all incoming connections.
The section below is for a much less predictable profile, Public. The public profile is meant for when you’re on a network that you may or may not trust, at a coffee shop for example. The settings remain the same, but you may wish to block incoming connections whenever on a public network, just in case. Whatever you choose to do, it usually is a bad idea to go without a firewall using the public profile.
Allowing and Disallowing a Program to Communicate through Windows 7 Firewall
Back on the Windows Firewall section of your Control Panel, click on “Allow a Program of Feature through the Windows Firewall” to start setting up rules for specific programs and features. This is much like the Inbound and Outbound Rules section of the Advanced Firewall Settings page, but with a more simplified approach.
On this page, you will be given a list of all programs and features that have rules set within the firewall. If the program is not listed, it can be added using the “Allow another program…” button on the bottom right side of the page. If you are unsure about what a certain feature does, you can double click on it to bring up a short description of the feature.
On the right side of the program or feature are two check boxes. Simply check the box for each profile you would like to allow the program to run with. The left box is for Private profiles like Work or Home, and the right box is for the Public profile.
Keeping You Windows 7 PC Safe
Remember, allowing a program to communicate through a firewall is like opening a door to the network and Internet. Anything can come in, and anything can go out. Be sure you trust the application and its source before unblocking any application. Never allow a program that you don’t recognize to communicate through the firewall.
As an added security measure, revisit the Windows 7 firewall often and block applications (or ports) that no longer need to be opened.
Using a firewall is always a good idea. The Windows 7 firewall is a great security measure on any Windows 7 PC, but it isn’t the only option. Some Anti-Virus suites for example, offer their own firewall as well. Being safe doesn’t require you to use a certain firewall, and no solution is perfect for everyone. Whichever you choose, be sure to always have at least one firewall running at all times.
Advanced Security with Windows 7 Firewall
That’s about it for this article, but be sure to check out my next article on the Advanced Settings available in Windows 7 Firewall. You will learn how to create specific inbound and outbound rules for applications, as well as how to give a separate computer or server that you trust, full access to your machine without having to authenticate so you can allow applications and information to stream freely between them. Stay safe!