Tech – for Everyone

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

Firewall Causes Connection Problem

Yesterday I received a call for help from someone who simply could not regain their connection to the Internet. My questioning revealed that they had recently followed some advice they had read on the Internet and installed a firewall on their computer. So I’d like to review for you some “firewall basics”, and share how I resolved the problem.

Firewall BasicsFirewall
1) You want a firewall.
2) You want ONLY one firewall running (this was the cause of my caller’s problem). Two will interfere with each other.
3) A firewall’s job is to allow, or deny, incoming and outgoing Internet connections, by instance, and so it must “learn” – from you – what programs to “allow” and which to “deny”. To avoid repeats, you will see a “Remember this answer?” checkbox. Use this feature sparingly.
4) Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows come with a firewall. These firewalls are adequate, but not necessarily the “best”. Their main advantage is that they function without hardly ever notifying the user of their existence, or asking questions. (In fact, most people are unaware that they already have a firewall.)
5) Almost every Internet Security “Suite” (every?) comes with a firewall. Also, there are many “3rd party” stand-alone firewall programs available.

Okay. Firewalls are “good”, and you want one. Unless your operating system is very old (older than XP SP2, and OS X) you have one… if it’s an old edition, get one.

When you install a new security suite, or 3rd-party firewall, the vast majority of them are ‘smart enough’ to turn the existing firewall off for you.. but occasionally they don’t — as what happened to my caller. The way to check is to open either Security Center or Control Panel (Sharing Preferences in OS X) and look at the Firewall status — there will be an option to “Enable/Disable Firewall”. Make sure the OS’s firewall (aka “Windows Firewall”) is off. (This simple act restored my caller’s Internet.)

[note: when troubleshooting Internet or file sharing problems, one of the first things to try is turning off your firewall (BRIEFLY). Misconfigurations can cause slow speeds, failures, intermittent failures, and other misc. weirdnesses.]

Today’s free download(s): The two “best” 3rd-party” firewalls are generally considered to be Comodo and ZoneAlarm. If you are not running a “suite” already, and would like a more robust and effective firewall, I would suggest one of those two.
The Comodo firewall is for the more advanced user, and is highly configurable. The ZoneAlarm is for those who simply want the protection and is my reco’ for most users.
Both these firewalls are “chatty” and will query you as they “learn” — Allow this? Deny this?
But this is good — when you see “Trojan.B_dwnldr.exe is trying to connect to the Internet. Allow or Deny?” — you’ll know to click “deny” and that you’ve been infected, and it’s time to get busy.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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May 12, 2009 Posted by | advice, Apple, computers, how to, Internet, Microsoft, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , | 7 Comments