How to configure the Windows Firewall feature in Windows XP Service Pack 2

Important This article contains information that shows you how to help lower security settings or how to turn off security features on a computer. You can make these changes to work around a specific problem. Before you make these changes, we recommend that you evaluate the risks that are associated with implementing this workaround in your particular environment. If you implement this workaround, take any appropriate additional steps to help protect your system.


Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) introduces a new firewall that helps make your system less vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software, such virus software. We recommend that you always run with a firewall. Without a firewall, you may be more prone to security issues. We do not recommend that you turn off Windows Firewall, but an option exists to do this. This article describes how to disable the Windows Firewall. If you turn off Windows Firewall, take appropriate additional steps to help protect your system. We recommend that you turn off Windows Firewall only when you really have to and only after you have explored all options to make your system more secure. Windows Firewall is the updated firewall software in Windows XP Service Pack 2 that replaces Internet Connection Firewall (ICF).

More Information

What is a firewall?

A firewall helps keep your computer more secure. A firewall restricts information that comes to your computer from other computers and gives you more control over the data on your computer. Additionally, a firewall provides a line of defense against people or programs, including viruses and worms, that try to connect to your computer without invitation.

Think of a firewall as a barrier that checks information, also known as traffic, that comes from the Internet or from a network. The firewall either turns traffic away or lets traffic pass through to your computer, depending on your firewall settings.

In Microsoft XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), you can turn off or turn on the Windows Firewall. By default, Windows Firewall is turned on for all network interfaces. This configuration provides network protection on new Windows XP installations and upgrades. This default configuration also helps protect your computer from new network connections as they are added to the system.

Although Windows Firewall is turned on by default, some computer manufacturers and network administrators may turn it off. You do not have to use Windows Firewall. You can install and run any firewall that you want. Evaluate the features of other firewalls, and then decide which firewall meets your requirements. If you decide to install and run another firewall, turn off Windows Firewall.

How to configure Windows Firewall settings

Warning This workaround may make your computer or your network more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We do not recommend this workaround but are providing this information so that you can implement this workaround at your own discretion. Use this workaround at your own risk.

To examine and configure your firewall settings, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Run, type wscui.cpl and then click
  2. In Windows Security Center, click
    Windows Firewall.

Windows Firewall includes the following tabs:
  • General
  • Exceptions
  • Advanced

The General tab includes the following settings:
  • On (recommended)
  • Don't allow exceptions
  • Off (not recommended)

When you click to select Don't allow exceptions, Windows Firewall blocks all requests to connect to your computer, including requests from programs or services that are listed on the
Exceptions tab. The firewall also blocks discovery of network devices, file sharing, and printer sharing.

The Don't allow exceptions option is useful when you connect to a public network, such as one that is associated with an airport or with a hotel. This setting helps protect your computer by blocking all attempts to connect to your computer.

When you use Windows Firewall with no exceptions, you can still view Web pages, send and receive e-mail, or use an instant messaging program.

The Exceptions tab lets you add program and port exceptions to permit certain types of inbound traffic. You can set a scope for each exception.

For home and small office networks, we recommend that you set the scope to the local network only, if it is possible. This configuration enables computers on the same subnet to connect to the program on the computer, but drops traffic that originates from a remote network.

The Advanced tab lets you configure the following:
  • Connection-specific rules that apply for each network interface.
  • The Security Logging configuration.
  • Global Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) rules that apply to ICMP traffic. (This traffic is used for error and status information transmission.)
  • Default settings.

How to configure file sharing

For home and small office networks, use the Network Setup Wizard to configure file sharing. With this wizard, you make sure that the firewall is configured with the highest security possible. In a typical home network, all computers are in the same subnet. In such a configuration, we recommend that you configure file sharing only for local computers.

Note To start the Network Setup Wizard, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click
Communications, and then click Network Setup Wizard.

For additional information about Windows Firewall, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
843090 Description of the Windows Firewall feature in Windows XP Service Pack 2


For additional information, visit the following Microsoft Web sites:

TechNet Windows XP Professional Web site

Manually Configuring Windows Firewall in Windows XP Service Pack 2

Using the Windows Firewall INF File in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

Deploying Windows Firewall Settings for Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2