Windows Firewall Control is a program for Microsoft Windows devices to add better built-in firewall controls to the operating system.
The firewall in Windows 7, Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows is a solid software firewall. It is by far not as advanced as third-party firewalls, but it does a good job at protecting a computer system running Windows.
The functionality of the firewall has been improved ever since Microsoft starting shipping Windows XP versions with an initial -- basic -- version of it.
It does lack several features that most third-party firewalls offer including usability enhancements like displaying prompts whenever an unknown application tries to create a connection to a private or public network.
Windows Firewall will block the connection if the application is unknown (not listed in the control panel of the software). The configuration can be difficult, especially in the beginning right after the first start of the operating system as you may have to deal with several cases where programs don't work correctly because they are blocked by the firewall.
While it should work fine most of the time without user interaction, as it has been designed for that, you may want better control over the process. Control in this regard means information about programs trying to access the Internet, and options to either allow or deny those request temporarily or permanently.
That's where Windows 10 Firewall Control comes in. The program name is confusing, as it is compatible with Windows 10, but also older versions of the Windows operating system including Windows 8, Windows 7, and the server editions Windows 2012 and 2008.
The free version of the software adds application connection prompts to all recent versions of Windows. It displays a prompt whenever an unknown application tries to connect to the Internet so that you know what is happening and can react on the information.
The prompt provides you with options to block the connection attempt, or allow the process to connect to the network or Internet. If you want, you can allow only incoming or outgoing traffic as well, and make that setting temporary or permanent.
The prompt displays various information on the application, including its path and executable, company information, and program version.
The edit prompt lists other options that you may find useful. First, you may disable a variety of events, including event notifications by Windows Firewall Control. Besides that, there are also options to run a Google Search for the application, apply zone permissions, or create a specific zone and apply the new policy. The program does ship with more than 30 predefined zones that you can make use of. These zones can be modified if needed.
The selected setting will be stored in the program's main interface only. This is one weakness of the program as it does not sync the settings with the Windows Firewall.
This is problematic as it means that configured settings will be gone if Windows Firewall Control is uninstalled or gets corrupted somehow.
The reason for not syncing is that Windows Firewall Control works independently from Windows Firewall. It does grab the configuration at startup but does not communicate with the firewall after that.
You can even disable Windows Firewall completely when Windows Firewall Control is running and won't notice any issues doing so.
The free version of the Windows Firewall Control supports desktop programs and Windows apps introduced in Windows 8 by Microsoft.
All core features, including application events, notifications and connection monitoring are supported by it as well.
The main program interface lists programs, events, connections, and settings as the main entry points.
Tip: The program displays log information in the lower right corner of the operating system on start. You can disable that by checking the disable log balloon option in the program settings.
A pro version of Windows Firewall Control is available that offers additional features. Both versions can be downloaded from the developer's website.
The Pro version supports additional features, such as system core application protection, the security zone editor, port forwarding management, remote control options, and per-user permission settings.
Pro versions offer additional features that the free version does not offer. They ship with pre-defined security zones for instance which can be assigned to applications with a single click. About 30 zones like Web Browser are provided with options to modify and create zones as you see fit. A complete list of differences between free and paid versions is available on the order page.
Other features of interest include IP to hostname resolving, port forwarding management or remote control options.
Note that the application is compatible with all recent versions of the Windows operating system including server versions of it. The website offers extensive information about the product, including a manual and specific sections that deal with common features and technologies such as port forwarding or wireless security.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.