Ask the Expert

Disabling Microsoft Firewall

Could you give me a step-by-step tutorial on how to uninstall the Microsoft Firewall? What are the risks of uninstalling the MS Firewall and installing a 3rd party one?
You can't uninstall any Microsoft Firewall solution as they're built into the respective products: the Internet Connection Firewall for Windows XP Service Pack 1 and the Windows Firewall for XP SP 2. To disable the Windows Firewall, go to Control Panel, Security Center, and then disable the firewall under the appropriate section. If you are still running Service Pack 1, and you have any sort of choice in the matter, install Service Pack 2 immediately.

There are no real risks in using a third-party firewall, although I must question why you'd want to do that. The third-party firewalls have more features, sure, but the Windows Firewall in XP SP 2 does a fantastic job at its core mission and is really all you need if you have an anti-virus program, another firewall on your router or other edge protection, and so on.

Additional information on Windows Firewall:

  • Security without firewalls: Sensible or silly?
    The San Diego Supercomputer Center has had only one compromise in nearly six years, without using a firewall. The SDSC's security manager explains how.
  • Does making Windows SP2 my primary source of virus protection disable the Windows firewall?
    When I installed Windows SP2, McAfee asked if I wanted it to be the primary source of virus detection. Since I do not have a McAfee firewall but only a virus scanner, is this disabling the new Windows firewall? Where in Windows is the priority for McAfee over Windows set? How is this priority reversed if required?
  • Featured Topic: Windows Firewall:
    If you aren't currently running a local firewall on your company's computers, the new Windows Firewall is a great way to secure your computers for free. But, if you've already deployed a third-party firewall, Redmond's offering is not for you.

This was first published in September 2006

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