How to Find and Use the Windows 11 Firewall

Should you turn on the Windows Firewall?

What to Know

  • The Windows 11 firewall is on by default.
  • Find it here: Settings > Privacy & Security > Windows Security > Firewall & Network Protection, click Turn on in the Firewall section.
  • You can safely turn off the Windows 11 firewall if you have another firewall running.

This article explains how to find and use the Windows 11 Firewall, including how to turn on the Windows 11 Firewall, and whether or not you should use it.

Is Windows 11 Firewall Good Enough?

The Windows Defender anti-malware package has seen a lot of improvement since it was first introduced, and the version included with Windows 11 is very good at catching and eliminating malware. Most people can get by with just the Windows Defender anti-virus component without installing a secondary anti-virus or anti-malware package.

Some premium anti-virus programs are more highly rated than Defender in terms of catching and eliminating new and unknown malware, but the firewall component of Windows Defender is good enough for most situations.

Should I Turn On Windows 11 Firewall?

Windows Defender is on by default and, if you don’t have any other firewall running, you should leave the default firewall on. If you’ve turned the firewall off for some reason, and you didn’t replace it with something else, then you should turn on the Windows 11 firewall. Without a firewall, your computer is vulnerable to external attacks.

Here’s how to turn on the Windows 11 firewall:

  1. Right-click the Windows icon on the taskbar.

    The Windows icon highlighted on the Windows 11 taskbar.
  2. Click Settings.

    Settings highlighted in the main Windows 11 menu.
  3. Click Privacy & security.

    Privacy & security highlighted in the Windows 11 settings menu.
  4. Click Windows Security.

    Windows Security highlighted in Windows 11 Privacy & security.
  5. Click Firewall & network protection.

    Firewall & network protection highlighted in Windows Security.
  6. If the firewall is off, you will see a red x icon in the Firewall & network protection section, and a button. Click the Turn on button to turn on the firewall.

    The Turn on button highlighted in the Windows Security screen in Windows 11.

    If you don't see the red x or the turn on button, the firewall is already on.

  7. The firewall will turn on, the red x will turn into a green check, and the button will go away. You can click the Firewall & network protection icon to examine your firewall settings.

    Firewall & network protection highlighted in Windows 11 Security.
  8. Click Public network to examine your firewall settings.

    Public network highlighted in Windows 11 Firewall & network protection.

    The other firewalls will also be on, but the public firewall is the only one which affects your internet connection.

  9. If the firewall is on, the Microsoft Defender Firewall toggle will be on.

    The Microsoft Defender Firewall toggle highlighted in Windows 11.
  10. If you click the toggle, Microsoft Defender will turn off, and you’ll see a red x with a warning message.

    Public Firewall is off in Windows 11.

    Don't click this toggle and turn off the firewall unless you have a good reason, like you have another firewall installed through a third party anti-malware suite.

  11. If you view the Firewall & network protection screen with your public firewall off, you will see this warning message. If the screen looks like this for you, click restore settings, or click Public network > Microsoft Defender toggle to turn your firewall on.

    Restore settings highlighted in Windows 11 Firewall & network protection.

Is Windows Defender the Same as Windows Firewall?

Microsoft Defender is an anti-malware component built into Windows 11. While Windows Defender started out as a fairly basic anti-virus program, Microsoft Defender incorporates anti-malware functionality, real-time protection, browser integration for Edge and Chrome, controlled folder access to protect against ransomware, a firewall, and other anti-malware features.

If you see a reference to the Windows firewall, it’s the firewall functionality of Defender being referenced. There is no Windows firewall separate from Defender, as Defender is Microsoft’s all-in-one anti-malware package.

How Do I Turn On Windows 11 Firewall Automatically?

There is no need to turn on the Windows 11 firewall automatically, as it is enabled by default. If you don’t do anything after installing Windows 11, the firewall will be on automatically and stay on. If you turn it off for any reason, it will stay off until you turn it back on.

To turn the firewall back on, just follow the steps outlined earlier in this article. If the firewall is ever off, and there aren’t any other firewalls active, you’ll see a warning in the Firewall & Network Protection menu, with the option to turn the firewall back on.

  • How do I disable the Windows 11 firewall?

    Go to Settings > Privacy & security > Windows Security > Firewall & network protection > Public network and select the Microsoft Defender Firewall toggle to turn off Windows 11 firewall.

  • How do I disable Windows firewall for an app?

    Go to Settings > Privacy & security > Windows Security > Firewall & network protection > Allow an app through firewall > Change settings > Allow another app. Select Browse, then choose the app you want to bypass the Windows firewall.

  • How do I test my Windows firewall?

    The best way to test your firewall is from outside your network via the internet. Use a tool like ShieldsUP to run different port and service scans against your network IP address.

  • What are some free firewall programs for Windows 11?

    Comodo Firewall, TinyWall, and Peer Block are all free Firewall programs that offer additional protection on top of Windows Defender.

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