How to Allow Local Traffic through Windows 7 or Vista Firewalls

Perhaps the number-one reason why computers don’t communicate with each other on a peer-to-peer Windows network is a software firewall. The firewall can prevent your PC from accessing other computers, as well as prevent those computers from accessing your PC. Either way, it’s frustrating.

To fix the problem, you need to ensure that all local network traffic is allowed through the firewall. Because specific programs aren’t accessing the firewall, you probably need to make the change manually. Here’s how to check or change the local network traffic setting in the Windows 7 and Windows Vista firewalls:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. Open the Windows Firewall Setting dialog box.

    • In Windows 7, choose System and Security and then choose the link, found beneath the Windows Firewall heading.

    • In Windows Vista, choose the link Allow a Program Through Windows Firewall, found under the Security heading.

  3. In Windows Vista, type the administrator’s password or click the Continue button.

  4. If necessary, click the Exceptions tab in the Windows Firewall Settings dialog box.

  5. Ensure that a check mark appears by the item File and Printer Sharing.

    By enabling this exception, you ensure that all local traffic flows through the network without being blocked.

  6. Click OK and close any other open windows.

These steps are specific to the Windows Firewall. If you’re using another software firewall, take similar steps to ensure that local network traffic — specifically, file and printer sharing — isn’t being blocked.

You don’t need a software firewall when the network’s router sports a good hardware firewall.

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