Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

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

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.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

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

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
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

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
. 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

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

17 comments on “Windows Firewall is restricting access to something I want … what do I do?”

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

    Thank you.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 ?

  10. 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????

  11. 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!!


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.