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Appendix H: Windows Firewall in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1

Published: December 17, 2004

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) also includes Windows Firewall, which works the same way as Windows Firewall in Windows XP SP2. However, because the purpose of a server computer is to accept incoming unsolicited traffic, Windows Firewall for Windows Server 2003 SP1 is disabled by default.

The exception to this behavior is the following: for a new installation of Windows Server 2003 that already includes SP1 (known as a slipstream installation), Windows Firewall is enabled by default for the duration of the Security Out-of-Box Experience, a portion of the initial setup of the server computer in which the latest security fixes are downloaded and installed from Windows Update. After the Security Out-of-Box Experience is complete, Windows Firewall is disabled. If you do not want the Security Out-of-Box Experience, you can use the Unattend.txt file or Group Policy to configure Windows Firewall settings. The Security Out-of-Box Experience does not occur if there are configured firewall settings.

You can enable Windows Firewall on a computer running Windows Server 2003 with SP1 manually using the Windows Firewall component of Control Panel, through Group Policy settings as described in this article, or you can use the new Security Configuration Wizard in Windows Server 2003 SP1. The Security Configuration Wizard is the recommended method to enable and configure Windows Firewall and other security settings on computers running Windows Server 2003 with SP1.

If you enable Windows Firewall interactively after the server computer is up and running, you should restart the server computer. This assures that Windows Firewall can add entries to its exceptions table for the ports opened by programs that correspond to enabled program-based exceptions. Windows Firewall cannot determine the ports that have been opened by a program if they were opened before the Windows Firewall was started. Various messages for Windows Firewall have been updated in Windows Server 2003 SP1 to remind the computer user to restart the system if Windows Firewall is enabled interactively.

For more information about Windows Firewall in Windows Server 2003 SP1, see the Windows Server 2003 Windows Firewall (WF) TechCenter.

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