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How To Set Up Windows Firewall Exceptions

Setting up a Windows firewall exception is a fairly simple process. First, lets begin with a definition: A firewall is a program inside Windows that helps in protecting against hackers, viruses, worms and other malicious software that may harm your computer. Firewalls also aid in preventing the aforementioned pieces of malware from gaining access to your computer and allowing others to view sensitive information. Just as a firewall helps protect your computer, it also helps in stopping your computer from sending out anything that could potentially harm other computers as well. When you connect to the internet the signal goes from the internet through your firewall to your computer, and the opposite occurs when transmitting a signal from your computer to the internet.

Many programs will run more efficiently, or faster if they are not blocked by your windows firewall. You must be careful of which programs you allow access, however, as you could contract a virus. Make sure any program you decide to allow access through your firewall is a program you trust and does not have malicious content, like torrent programs.

By allowing programs to pass through your firewall they will no longer be scanned for known virus definitions or file extensions that could potentially pose a threat to your computer. An example of a commonly allowed low-risk program to set an exception for would be a game. Most games are safe to allow through and this will generally increase performance because the game will no longer be filtered by the windows firewall.

There are two different methods of allowing programs to bypass your windows firewall. The first, and most commonly used, is setting up an exception that will allow the program to bypass the firewall only when necessary. This is the more secure method of the two options available to you. The second method is to open a port directly to what you want to bypass the firewall. This is very risky, unlike an exception, which only bypasses the firewall when necessary. Leaving a port open will stay open until you close it manually.

The method used in set up of a windows firewall exception will be based on Windows Vista, however the process is similar in other Windows operating systems, too.

How To set up A Windows Firewall Exception:

1.) Click the Start Menu

2.) Click the Control Panel

3.) Click on Windows Firewall

4.) Click on Allow A Program Through Windows Firewall in the upper left hand corner.


5.) You will get a prompt asking for administrator access. Click Continue. If you are not logged into an administrator profile, you will need to log out, and log back in under and administrator profile to continue.

6.) Check the boxes of any programs you would like to set up a windows firewall exception for, and click OK. If the program you want is not located in this list then continue to step 7.


7.) Click Add Program

8.) Scroll down, select the program and click OK. If it is not listed yet again then continue to Step 9.

9.) Click Browse

10.) File the executable (the file that allows you to open the program) on your computer. Select it, and Click OK. This adds the program to your list of programs.

11.) Click OK again, now your exception is set up. You can now close everything out as everything you need to set up your windows firewall exception is finished.

If you wish to open a port, additional steps are required. This is more advanced, so if you are not totally sure of what you are doing it is not recommended to leave a port open.

1.) Follow steps one through five as listed above.

2.) Instead of clicking the check box of the program you want an exception to, or clicking Add Program to add manually a program you will need to click Add Port.


3.) Insert the name of the program.


4.) Insert the port number you wish to leave open.

5.) Select TCP or UDP

6.) Select OK

You may also select scope to change the access to either any computer on the network, or internet. You can select only those computers on your network (subnet), or select a customized list.

Remember, by allowing programs directly to bypass the windows firewall you are subject to harming your computer, so be very careful which programs you set up exceptions for. If an exception or open port is no longer needed ,you should close the port or delete the exception right away. This will then require that it communicates through the windows firewall just as it did before you set up the exception. With each additional exception made you leave your computer a little more unsecured, so it is important to know which programs have exceptions already set up. You can view this under the programs list as described in step 6 of part A listed above.

~Jason Cox