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".
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:
Click on the Recommendations... button for this dialog:
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":
That's the setting that, essentially, tells Windows "Stop bugging me, I know what I'm doing."
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