TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall

tinywall icon   TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows FirewallDo you like using the Windows Firewall, but wish it came with better controls? TinyWall, a free program for Windows Vista and Windows 7, gives you just that – a tray icon you can use to quickly edit the Window Firewall settings. If you like the simplicity and protection offered by the lightweight Windows Firewall but miss the control offered by whitelist-oriented options, TinyWall is what you’ve been looking for.

With the second service pack of Windows XP, Microsoft added a feature to Windows too few users were adding themselves – a firewall. The XP firewall was infamously porous, but it’s pretty good in Vista and 7. It’s also, for good or for ill, very easy to use. Every time you install a new program you’re asked whether you want that program to have Internet access. TinyWall changes that. This software blocks everything when you first install it and counts on you to grant Internet access only to software you trust. So it’s more secure to start with, but requires some thought on your part to use.

Chris recently showed you how the Windows 7 firewall compares to other firewalls. His conclusion was that if you want to control which applications can access the Internet and use other advanced options, you’d be better off with a third-party firewall.

Put simply: TinyWall allows you to control which applications can access the Internet and gives you access to advanced options, without the need to install a third-party firewall.

Using TinyWall

Install TinyWall and the first thing you will notice is a tray icon. The Windows Firewall is decidely an app that lives in the background; changing the settings means digging through the Control Panel. This icon, by contrast, gives you quick access to your security settings.

tinywall main   TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall

As I said earlier, this program by default blocks most software from connecting to the Internet. You can quickly whitelist any executable, process or window from the tray if a program you’re using needs Internet access.

There is a quick list of security settings, if you need that:

tinywall adjust   TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall

You can block all traffic, allow only outgoing traffic, disable the firewall or try out the “Autolearn” setting, which tries to learn from your behavior. Do not disable the firewall simply because you need a particular program to access the Internet – use the whitelist options to unblock your program instead.

Do you want to know which software is connecting (or trying to connect) to the Internet right now? Head to the “Connections“. You’ll see a complete list of programs currently using your network:

tinywall connections   TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall

Do you want to add a number of different programs to your whitelist? Head to the settings and you can manually add software;

tinywall settings   TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall

There is also a “Detect” function, which will scan your computer, let you know which software is installed and ask you to pick which software should and should not have access to the Internet.

Download

Are you ready to install TinyWall? Head to the TinyWall website, where you’ll find the installation file. Remember, as soon as you install the firewall, most of your programs will stop connecting to the Internet, so make sure you have time to set up your whitelist before you download this.

Conclusion

The TinyWall website puts it best. This software gives Windows Firewall a sane and secure configuration and secondly, presents you with a simple interface where you can easily define what has network access and what not, while lastly, preventing other programs from modifying or overwriting your firewall settings.

If this sounds right for you, I would recommend TinyWall. Let us know how you like it in the comments below, or feel free to recommend other firewalls for Windows.

Check out more about:

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

6 Comments -

jessemanalansan

Thanks for sharing us this software :)

SWayneMartin

After reading your article I gave TinyWall a try, and must say I was impressed with some of the features. In general it worked as advertised. It locked down the outbound traffic by default and disallowed all but a few applications access to the Internet.

However it had a few issues that I’m not sure I can live with. First of all the list of default white listed applications seems too short. Some of the applications that were not granted permission by default were DropBox and iTunes. Both extremely popular applications that millions of people use. While you can add these apps to the list of allowed applications, it is not as simple as it could be.

The author of TinyWall claims that by NOT having pop-ups requesting Apps to be blocked or whitelisted that TinyWall is less annoying. However, I think it may be just the opposite for most users. The typical user that this application is aimed at will get frustrated when many of their every day use apps stop working, and they must sort through the application to fix the problem before they can get back to using their computer.

I also experienced an app crash by TinyWall right after installing it. I brought up the connections dialog and clicked the “Show blocked applications” button and was greeted by an application error. Interestingly the Application worked even after this, but it was not a good feeling to have that happen with brand new software.

Finally, I tested un-installing the software to see what it would do. On the good side, it deleted the firewall rules it had added to the Windows Firewall. However, it had also deleted the custom rules I had created before I installed TinyWall. Which meant I had to re-create my rules after un-installing this app. Not good mojo and something that the author needs to fix in the near future.

I may keep an eye on this application and see if it gets better down the road. However, at this point I can’t recommend it to the very people who need it the most. The average user who disables their firewall because they don’t understand how to configure it properly. That user will become very frustrated in short order.

BTW, one of the complaints I saw addressed on his webpage is the amount of memory TinyWall uses. In fact, the controller application does use some memory, but it doesn’t do anything unless a new app needs to be unblocked. In fact, you could just right-click the TinyWall task-info icon and select Quit, and your firewall will stay just as secure. After the initial setup, starting up the Application only when you need to change settings would be much more convenient in my opinion.

Justin Pot

Great analysis. I love comments like this, which ad to the article above it.

I agree: this app isn’t for everyone. I think only powerusers would be interested in configuring their firewall, however, and that’s the audience this app works for.

jrasulev

Nice firewall, used once. But prefer privatefirewall

Shiri

Great WIN 7 add-on for the firewall. No problems, no pop-ups and it seems to stop a lot evil attacks?

grant

why does tinywall keep reverting to public zone