How to Open or Close Windows Firewall Ports to Apps on Windows 8.1

Enabled by default, Windows Firewall blocks unsolicited incoming sessions. In this Ask the Admin, we examine how to open inbound ports to specified apps or features in Windows 8.1.

Under normal circumstances, it’s unlikely you would need to open Windows Firewall access to applications manually. If a program needs access through Windows Firewall, a request to perform the necessary configuration is usually part of the application’s installer. If that request is not made during installation, Windows monitors the system and will notify you if a program requests permission for inbound access.

This doesn’t always work out. There may be some situations in which it’s necessary to open access manually. There are several ways to achieve this. The easiest way uses the Graphic User Interface (GUI).

Open Inbound Ports to a Program or App

The easiest and safest way to open a port in Windows Firewall is to only allow inbound traffic to a specific program or app. For more control over specifying ports, protocols, and the source and destination IP addresses, use the command line or the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security management console.

Sponsored Content

Passwords Haven’t Disappeared Yet

123456. Qwerty. Iloveyou. No, these are not exercises for people who are brand new to typing. Shockingly, they are among the most common passwords that end users choose in 2021. Research has found that the average business user must manually type out, or copy/paste, the credentials to 154 websites per month. We repeatedly got one question that surprised us: “Why would I ever trust a third party with control of my network?

Use the Windows Firewall Control Panel applet to open access to an app or program. To start the applet:

  • Press the WINDOWS key to switch to the Start screen.
  • On the Start screen, type firewall. In the Search results panel on the right, click Allow an app through Windows Firewall.
  • The Windows Firewall Control Panel applet will open on the desktop at the Allowed Apps screen. If you are not logged on as an administrator, click Change settings and give consent or enter administrative credentials if prompted.
  • Now click Allow another app at the bottom of the window.
  • In the Add an app dialog, select the app or program you want to allow. To choose the network profile in which you want to enable the new firewall rule, click Network types and check the required profiles in the Choose Network Types dialog. Click OK. Now click Add in the Add an app dialog.
  • The app should now appear in the Allowed apps and features list. Click OK to complete the configuration.

Add a program or feature to the exceptions list in Windows Firewall
Add a program or feature to the exceptions list in Windows Firewall

Close Inbound Ports to a Program or App

The procedure to close access is similar to the enable procedure described above. From the Allowed Apps screen in the Windows Firewall Control Panel applet:

  • Make sure you have administrative access to the Control Panel. If you cannot access the check boxes and buttons, click Change settings and give consent or enter administrative credentials if prompted.
  • To temporarily disable inbound communication to a program or app, find it in the Allowed apps and features list and uncheck the tick box to the left of the app.
  • To permanently remove an app or program from the exceptions list, select it in the Allowed apps and features list, click Remove at the bottom of the window and then confirm the action in the Delete an app dialog by clicking Yes.
  • Once you’re done, click OK on the Allowed Apps screen.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like more information on Windows Firewall management we’ve covered the topic from a number of additional angles at the Petri IT Knowledgebase, with articles on how to enable the Windows Firewall in Windows 8.1, how to remotely manage Windows Firewall on Windows Server Core, and a four-part article series that covers the evolution of the Windows Firewall.

Related Topics:


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Sign up for a Petri Account

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

IT consultant, Contributing Editor @PetriFeed, and trainer @Pluralsight. All about Microsoft, Office 365, Azure, and Windows Server.
Don't leave your business open to attack! Come learn how to protect your AD in this FREE masterclass!REGISTER NOW - Thursday, December 2, 2021 @ 1 pm ET

Active Directory (AD) is leveraged by over 90% of enterprises worldwide as the authentication and authorization hub of their IT infrastructure—but its inherent complexity leaves it prone to misconfigurations that can allow attackers to slip into your network and wreak havoc. 

Join this session with Microsoft MVP and MCT Sander Berkouwer, who will explore:

  • Whether you should upgrade your domain controllers to Windows Server
    2019 and beyond
  • Achieving mission impossible: updating DCs within 48 hours
  • How to disable legacy protocols and outdated compatibility options in
    Active Directory

Sponsored by: