Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

"Windows Firewall Is Off"– Reader Question

Q: About 5 times during every startup in Windows XP, I get the balloon that says my firewall is off.  Usually I just turn it back on.  Now when I go to control panel I’m unable to turn it on via the Firewall icon (asks me if I want to activate ICS, I say yes and it won’t load it) or via Security Center.  Any ideas?

A: It is not terribly alarming to see the balloon message once, briefly, during the XP startup– but it should resolve itself quickly  and automatically (it has to do with the order in which things load). You should not have to go in and turn it on each time. You set XP to use the firewall (or not) one time.

Without looking at your machine, please understand I can only give you general answers: firewall behavior such as you described is typically caused by two things– a malware infection which is disabling the firewall so that it can accomplish its nefarious goals; and/or corrupted Windows system files.
(If your machine is taking a really long time to start, this can also be a clue that you are infected and/or it can also mean you have too many programs loading at boot. You might want to read,

You want try to make certain you’re free of infection, and I have written many articles on removing malware,  Modern malware is nasty stuff, and there’s no guarantees (short of reinstalling Windows), but here are some generic tips:
* Start by surfing to Trend Micro’s Housecall  and run an online scan of your machine (I suggest using the “try the new version” link).
* Make sure your antivirus hasn’t “expired” and is updated with the latest definitions.
* Download and install the free version of Spyware Doctor from the Google Pack and run it twice– a Full/Deep, and then a “quick/Intelligent.

Once you have all clean scans– if you still have the same problem, it is probably corrupted files. You may need an XP Install disc (you may be able to use the disc that came with your computer, even if it isn’t an official Microsoft disc) for this next:
* Open a command prompt and launch the System File Checker by typing in sfc /scannow. Insert the disc when/if prompted (and close any windows that open.. you don’t want to run Setup, or launch a recovery).

* As much as I recommend having a firewall, I must also say XP’s firewall is not all that great. Please look at

* Since this behavior can be indicative of real problems, it is not a bad idea to have a qualified PC repair technician have a look at your system.

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Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 8, 2008 - Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, firewall, how to, PC, performance, security, software, tech, troubleshooting, Windows, XP | , ,


  1. thanks

    nice article


    Comment by benolsatuem | September 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. hey there..I’d like to you recommend using other firewalls such as ZoneAlarm Free?


    Comment by Carey | September 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. * As much as I recommend having a firewall, I must also say XP’s firewall is not all that great. Please look at

    Carey– the info you’re asking me for is towards the end of the article.


    Comment by techpaul | September 14, 2008 | Reply

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