Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

If the Windows firewall is not enabled, Windows will warn you. You can tell Windows that you know what you're doing and don't need the Windows firewall.

Recently, my husband had trouble installing a wireless router and enlisted the help of D-Link, the manufacturer. The staff instructed him to disable the Microsoft firewall. Now the warning about the computer being at risk is constantly showing. My husband told me not to worry because the router is acting as the firewall now. Is he correct to assume that? If not, what should we do?

Your husband is half right. The router is, in fact, acting as a firewall. But, technically, only half a firewall.

But not to worry. I run with only half a firewall myself.

And I get no warnings.

Let's look at how.

A router acts as a firewall to the extent that it prevents certain types of external access attempts from reaching your machines. Many consider that to be "half" a firewall, because many software firewalls also block internal attempts to access things on the internet. For example, with a router acting as your firewall a virus on someone else's machine out on the internet cannot access your machines directly - but a virus on your machine could reach out and contact machines out on the internet.

The trick, of course, to remaining safe in this situation is to be smart about the other ways that you can get infected - don't open attachments you don't trust, don't visit websites you don't trust, don't allow untrusted activex controls, and of course run regular anti-spyware and anti-virus scans and so on.

It's what I do. I don't run a software firewall - I rely solely on my router, and on my own "good behavior".

"The trick, of course, to remaining safe in this situation is to be smart about the other ways that you can get infected..."

Now, about that annoying warning.

The Windows firewall is on by default. In fact, after Windows XP service pack 2, the firewall became downright annoying in an attempt to encourage people to do something to stay safe. If you do, or know, nothing else, Windows wants you to turn on the firewall just to stop the annoying message.

The other approach is to tell Windows "I know what I'm doing."

In Control Panel, double click on Security Center. You should see a dialog box including something like this:

Windows Security Center Firewall Section

Click on the Recommendations... button for this dialog:

Windows Security Center Firewall Recommendations

Don't turn the firewall on, but instead check the box labeled "I have a firewall solution I'll monitor myself."

Once you hit "OK" the Firewall status in the Security Center will change to "Not Monitored":

Windows Security Center Firewall Section - Not Monitored

That's the setting that, essentially, tells Windows "Stop bugging me, I know what I'm doing."

Article C2795 - September 24, 2006 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

David Heym
September 29, 2006 7:44 PM

Why don't you mention ZoneAlarm? I've been using it for years and am very satisfied.

yawar zeeshan
October 1, 2006 11:38 PM

Hi Leo!
You have been very helpful to me as far as my job is concerned.I am into technical support department for DELL laptops,the kind of information that I get from u makes my job very easy.The only think I need to do is just to check my email and I find the answers for my queries from you.
Thaks LEO U been a wonderful buddy.
May U live long.

December 1, 2006 7:37 AM

Hello Leo
I`m having problem loging in to my msn hotmail web page! can you please help me
Thnk u

Stephanie McCrae
January 6, 2007 5:45 AM

You are "God Sent", thank you sooo much for all of your help !!

alicia z.
November 4, 2007 7:24 AM

my firewall is on "not monitored" and cannot get it to to "on" status. it's either on "off" or "not monitored", what can I do

November 12, 2007 6:18 AM

Hi, Leo
I am trying to publish my website but after publishing I get errors:''' Some of the images could not be send to the server
I contacted 1&1 and Netobjects Fusion and they told me that the problem may be in my firewall.
Can I turn it off?
I do not have such a thing ''Security Center'''' in the ''Control Panel''
I do not know what to do?
Please help
thank you

December 22, 2007 9:10 PM

leo the windows firewall is not turning off.What do i do?

Dan Bresnahan
March 14, 2008 9:35 AM

Your description of disabling Windows firewall warning was exceptionally well written-not only was it precisely correct, but you did it with zero technobabel, and the additional information you provided was both concise and useful!!!

April 12, 2008 11:46 AM

hey leo i need to know how to turn my firewall off not on. if you can help me i will appericate it.
thanks, cody

Teresa Rossiter
September 25, 2008 3:00 AM

My firewall is on, but windows thinks it is off. Can you suggest why.

vivek sodani
September 25, 2008 5:23 AM

hello Mr.leo,
i have done the firewall to not monitored status for a connection what is its mean firewall is turned off for that connection or still on. please tell.

Pera Kojot
January 30, 2009 1:53 PM

Hello Leo!

Very nice explanation, did help me with Virus Warning, but my Firewall option doesnt have "Recommendations" button. What shall i do to disable windows firewall completely?

Thx in forward.

March 15, 2009 12:48 PM

Hi I need to turn off my firewall on a Windows ME older computer. I cannot find security center anywhere? I need to install a Buffalo wireless adapter but it remains disabled and I do not know what to do?? Please help?
Best regards

Windows ME has no built-in firewall.
- Leo

March 21, 2009 11:16 AM

I have done everything what it says, with the recomendations. But i still cannot get onto Windows Messenger 2009. It keeps saying "We were unable to sign you into .NET Messenger Service, possibly because of a problem with this service or with your Internet Connection. Please make sure you are connected to the internet." But my internet connection is fine. Is it the firewall that is blocking it? I have been trying different things all day, and i cannot seem to be able to sign in please help!

March 31, 2009 6:34 PM

I do not have a security center in my control panel what do i do now?

joe hawkins
April 8, 2009 5:54 AM

i get into control panel on sec.cntr.but i get a box that has nothing to do with firewall so unable to click on to recommendations. the box has areas in alphabetical order but nothing close to Firewall now what else can i do there should be some standards set up that need to give the consumer the option as to except or decline a product

March 4, 2010 1:25 PM
The link above will show you step by step how to turn off or on your Windows Firewall.

August 25, 2010 6:32 AM

How do I turn on the Windows Firewall/ICS if I when I attempt to turn in on, I get this message:

"Windows cannot start the Firewall/ICS".

I was attempting this from Network Connections, properties, advanced tabs.

December 26, 2011 11:37 AM

Her husband is not "half right" as you put it - how patronising. He is 99.9% right because the half the of firewall you refer to is to stop outgoing traffic. Stopping outgoing traffic does not increase security because if you have a malicous program sending outgoing traffic, it is already too late - you are infected. It is also not a useful method of detection either as that is what your anti-virus/spyware program is for.

He's half right because the router is half a firewall, covering inbound connections only. That's all I meant. (And agree that's all that's needed.)

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