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Windows Vista Firewall

Friday, August 10th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Security Help
 
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Q:
Is there anything you can tell me about the Windows Vista Firewall? I just started using Vista and I’d like to use its firewall too, but I’m not sure how to access it or how to set it up right. Please help me!

A:
Excellent question! This is one that will surely help all you Windows Vista users out there. If you’re fairly new to the Vista operating system, you might not even know about the firewall that comes with it. Of course, if you know anything about Windows at all, you know that previous versions have always come with a firewall, so it should come as no surprise that Vista is equipped with one too. Now, just in case you’re not sure what a firewall is for, allow me to start with an explanation of that.

A firewall’s main purpose is to protect your computer from the outside world of viruses, spyware and other types of awful malware. It’s put in place to block all the “bad” stuff from your computer. (We have several tips on firewalls in our archives, so if you’re interested in learning more about them, you can always go and do a keyword search for them there). Along with having a firewall on your computer, you should also have an antivirus program and maybe even an anti-spyware application as well. Those programs and your firewall can then work together to keep your computer completely protected.

Now, you can get a firewall from other sources, but Microsoft makes it much more convenient by already including one with the Vista operating system. In order to use the Vista Firewall to its best ability, you need to make sure it is set up correctly. Once you do that, you’ll be well on your way to full protection. So, without further ado, let’s get your firewall up and running!

First, go to Start, Control Panel and click on the option that says “Check This Computer’s Security Status.” That will then bring up the Windows Security Center. The Vista Firewall is the first choice you’ll see in that list. Check to make sure the firewall is set to On. If it’s in the Off position, just click on the Windows Firewall link and then go to Change Settings. From there, select the On option and then press OK.

Alright, you now have your firewall turned on, which is the most important thing! Now, as things stand right now, the firewall is blocking all of your programs, which I’m sure is not the way you want to keep things. So, the next thing you’ll want to do is create some exceptions for the programs you want to allow through to your network. These can include any of the applications you use on a regular basis or any Web sites, etc. you like to visit when you’re connected to the Internet. Here’s how you can create the exceptions you want.

There are actually two good ways you can do this. First, whenever the Vista Firewall blocks one of your programs, Web sites, etc., you can just hit the Unblock option from the pop up menu. Second, you can go to the Exceptions tab in the Vista Firewall dialogue box and set up a program exception from there. The easiest way to do this is to just let the program ask you what you want to do with it, but there may be times when you’ll need to go in and manually make some exceptions yourself.

So, if that ever happens to you, here’s some more detail on how to get that done. Go to Start, Control Panel and then choose the Security section. From there, click on the option that says “Allow a program through Windows Firewall.” Next, click on the Exceptions tab and then the Add Program button. Once that window comes up, select the program you want to allow. You can click on the Browse button to search through them if you need to as well. Once you have the program selected, click Change Scope and then choose the settings you’d like to have for that particular program. You can then go and make exceptions for your other programs if you need to as well.

There’s the basics for you! Now, there’s always been some debate about how secure the Windows Firewall really is and of course, there are other firewall programs you can use to protect your computer, but if you’re just getting started with Vista, this firewall will do just fine. It will at least get you up and going and once you learn more about the different firewalls that are available, you can make your decision from there. Either way you go, just make sure you do have a firewall enabled on your computer. It’s there to protect you and you can’t argue with that. Check it out!

~ Erin

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