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If Windows Firewall is restricting access to a program you want, there are a few steps to take to allow them access to the internet once more.

Windows Firewall is restricting access to something I want ... what do I do?

Windows Firewall has been in Windows XP since it was released. With Service Pack 2, Microsoft has shined the spotlight on the firewall as a key component to keeping your computer safe on the internet.

Being a good Windows Citizen, you duly enable the Windows Firewall. Then all of a sudden applications you care about stop working.

Before you turn off the firewall, let's look at how you can customize it; possibly allowing your application to resume working while retaining the security of the rest of the firewall.

In other words, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. At least not yet.

Most of the recent focus around the Windows Firewall has had one simple, and strong message: turn it on. And that's great; too many people are running unprotected or "naked" on the internet and exposing their computers to all sorts of malicious threats. Once you've turned it on, though, you can also configure it in several ways.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 makes finding the Windows Firewall configuration much easier. It's right there in your Control Panel labeled, logically enough, Windows Firewall.

The General tab of the Windows Firewall probably looks very familiar if you've installed Windows XP Service Pack 2. It's very simple, and simply pushes the message to turn it on:

Windows Firewall General Tab

The Exceptions tab is where things start to get more interesting:

Windows Firewall Exceptions Tab

The goal of the firewall is simple: prevent remote computers from accessing yours. The exceptions tab allows you to specify programs and ports for which the firewall will allow outside access. By default several popular programs if found on your computer are enabled, including Instant Messaging programs, Remote Desktop, and more. If you have a program that's not listed that you want to be able to respond to remote requests you can use the Add Program button to allow it. You can also use the Add Port button to allow a specific TCP/IP port to come through regardless of what program might be used to respond to it.

So if your program suddenly stops working when you enable the firewall and it expects to communicate on the internet, then this might be the first place to check to ensure it's here and allowed.

Display a notification when Windows Firewall blocks a program can be informative as well, both in identifying programs you might want to allow as well as being aware of level of malicious access attempts. Of course if that generates too much noise, you can turn it off as well.

The Advanced tab includes still more configuration:

Windows Firewall Advanced Tab

If you have multiple networks (and your Bluetooth and Firewire/1394 connections count as networks), then you'll see each listed separately. You can enable/disable the firewall for each separately, as well as configure additional exceptions on a per-network basis.

This is also the tab where you can turn on Security Logging. Especially if you suspect a problem or malicious attack, turning on logging can help you track what the firewall is doing.

I've teamed up with Lockergnome to provide video tips on various topics. See Configuring the Windows Firewall for a short video walking through the various options I've discussed in this article.

Article C2158 - August 18, 2004 « »

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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?

Sean Smith
August 23, 2004 7:15 AM

EXCELLENT! What a great use of snagit or whatever screen capture program you are using. Excellent instructions. Valuable information.

Thank you.

September 21, 2004 8:41 PM

Why does my firewall turn off whenever I turn off my computer? Is there a way I can set it where it won't turn off so I don't have to go turn it back on when I turn on the computer?

May 11, 2005 3:05 PM

Do you have any idea about what to do if I can't access the Firewall settings in the first place? I used to be able to, but lately there is a problem that says: due to an unidentified problem, windows cannot access firewall settings. can i do anything in DOS maybe? I could really use your help. Thanks.

May 11, 2005 5:16 PM

It might be worth checking in the event viewer to see if there is more information:

And then I'd run a system file check:

mick kelly
April 3, 2006 12:47 AM

i recently got infected by adware punisher i fixed this with spyware doctor but i still can't access windows firewall settings is there a fix for this problem any help would be appreciated

mick kelly
April 3, 2006 3:03 AM

got the link for the registry file go to
it worked for me hopefully it will work for you too

June 19, 2006 7:25 PM

hi i have looked at the set up heading 'windows firewalll' i am not able to open any of the sits could u please help me if u can i will buy a coffee thanx have u heard of 'sharedaccess and is it safe mic

July 19, 2006 5:01 PM

Good article! I have a situation kind of like that. The Windows firewall on my sister's computer is turning off by itself and then doing the "scary warning thing. It is also blocking internet access. She is protected by AVG anti-virus and anti-spyware programs as well as a hardware firewall in the modem. She has service pack 2. What would cause this if there is no virus or spyware and how do I fix it?

September 25, 2006 7:27 AM

this was hardly any help to me because I cant even access my firewall window to change it anyone know whats wrong?

Nathaniel Alcorn
January 21, 2007 10:22 PM

I simply want to network two computers using a firewire cable. In the firewall settings advanced tab I untick 1394 connection as I don't want windows firewall to monitor that connection at all, but when the network wizard applies the settings it turns the firewall back on for that connection.

carol nicholson
August 2, 2008 7:17 AM

help cant access anything due to firewall,tried to uninstall,wont let me,have clicked on add and remove progs a list should come up but its blank no progs listed what can i do cant read my emails.

donna evans
August 24, 2009 6:31 AM

why is firewall stopping me from going onto limewire? it was working before now it has stopped

Dee Summerfield
March 6, 2010 12:30 PM
A step by step guide to turning off your windows firewall. How to enable or disable to windows firewall.

April 24, 2010 10:36 AM

When I try to utilize internet explorer I get the cannot connect message. When I run the diagnostics I get the message that the firewall is blocking access to those ports. I've tried restting to the default settings but still cannot access the internet. I know my connection is good because I can still get email. Any ideas ?

Joellyn Willis
June 11, 2010 7:18 AM

Windows firewall is preventing printing to a network printer (wireless). How do I fix this?

Yvonne Dette
December 10, 2010 2:51 PM

I find that just trying to enter a website is a dam hassle, I checked my firewall etc but it all seems ok. Not sure where to go from here????

Carmel Aruai
October 11, 2011 6:07 PM

I've got a PC which is using XP SP2. The problem is, I cannot turn off the windows firewall to run a program which goes through our server. The option to turn off the firewall is always grayed out!! I've tried several options including logging in as the administrator of the computer and administrator of the network, but it just doesn't seem to do the trick. I really need this program running.. I've re-installed the program several times and even wiped out the computer and re-installed everything on it, but nothing works. The program just wont run because the firewall is permanently turned on.

Please help!!

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