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Questions about Windows 10 Firewall

April 20, 2017 at 05:17:55
Specs: several
My new HP notebook computer isn't connected to any network.

The first page of Windows Firewall says:

Private networks ______________ Not connected
Guest or private networks _____ Connected

What does that mean? What is connected to what?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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April 20, 2017 at 06:23:34
I have no clue but i found this :D

Something to do with a loopback

oh and do you have 2 wifi cards, as in 1 can be used to repeat a routers signal or to host wifi while you only have an ethernet cable connected?

Simple solutions are often the best

message edited by hidde663

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April 20, 2017 at 08:15:35
Not sure where you're looking, but private networks would be a home network, where you don't want a firewall to block all traffic and allow, say, file sharing. A guest / public network would be where you have the firewall lock down everything you're not explicitly allowing.

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April 20, 2017 at 11:00:08

A typo in my original post which I can't edit after anyone has replied.

When I quoted the Windows Firewall text, I typed "private" twice. The
word in the second instance should have been "public":

Private networks ______________ Not connected
Guest or public networks ______ Connected


The screen is the very first screen that comes up when I go
into Control Panel and click on Windows Firewall.

So my question is what does it mean when it indicates that
guest or public networks are connected? What does it
think is connected to what? Nothing is plugged in and both
radios (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) are turned off. No network has
ever been set up or enabled on that computer.


Thanks for the link. The question asked there is indeed the
same as mine. No real answer was given. I don't know enough
to rule out the possibility that it is the loopback feature as a
poster there speculated.

I'm pretty sure this laptop/notebook computer has only one
Wi-Fi in it. It is physically capable of having two Wi-Fi antennas,
but the model I have is only supposed to have one. I don't know
whether the second antenna would be for making a second,
simultaneous connection, or for improving the quality of the
single Wi-Fi connection when the computer moves around.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root

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April 20, 2017 at 21:28:00
If you are connected to a router and the internet (Wifi or wired) you are connected to a public network. If you had a home network set up through the same router to a desktop computer or other device then you would have a private network set up.
I hope this clears things up for you.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.

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April 20, 2017 at 22:35:53
Jeff Root: So my question is what does it mean when it indicates that
guest or public networks are connected? What does it think is connected to what?

Two viewpoints you need to keep in mind here. First can be brought up whenever we're talking about modern Windows behavior. With Win8, Microsoft decided Windows was a phone/tablet OS that just happened to run on PCs/laptops. While MS backed off on some of the GUI stuff in Win10, they've pushed ahead on all of the other fronts.

The second viewpoint is more about terminology. It's a viewpoint from an IT guy setting up a network. If I was setting up a wireless network for a restaurant, I'd create two separate networks. The first would be a work or private network, probably access controlled with a password. On this network would go everything that was managed by the business. The second network would be a public network for guests. They get the captive portal, possibly QoS'ed, denied access to the private network, and either no password or a simple password that's changed often / expires quickly. Obviously the level of trust I'd have for devices on one of these networks varies greatly from a device on the other network.

Not mentioned would be the home network, where I don't really care what the devices do, so long as everyone plays nicely together.

So we got three different types of networks, with different levels of trust and expectations between them. Windows assumes the least amount of trust and locks itself down unless told otherwise.

How you tell it otherwise changes with the Windows version. In 7, you can just tell it which network is which. After 7, and now we're going with what I've been told, the network's role would depend on what you did on the network. Join a homegroup? That network's now your home net. Your device can reach its assigned domain controller? You must be on a work network. Otherwise you're on a guest/public network.

If you're wondering why Windows doesn't ask you which kind of network you're on these days, I suspect it's because your phone/tablet could easily connect to half a dozen networks over its day, and answering the question every time would be tedious.

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April 21, 2017 at 08:33:53
So, when Windows Firewall says it is connected to a guest or
public network, what it really means is that-- as far as it knows--
it isn't connected to some other kind of network.

I'm accustomed to Windows 7, in which I would connect to a
new network, and a few minutes would go by before it asked
whether the network was private, my domain, or public. Now
Windows 10 presumes any network it might connect to is public,
unless and until it finds the network is some other kind. Since
radio connections come and go frequently, Windows Firewall
says "Connected" whether it is connected to anything or not.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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April 21, 2017 at 10:36:35
Yeah, I haven't played much with that aspect of Win10, but that view either doesn't update itself if you're offline, or it says you're on a public network when you're not connected to anything. Logic says the firewall wouldn't reconfigure itself for "no network," so you see the last active configuration. In that case, "[Not] Connected" would be the wrong terminology. More accurate wording would probably be, "Ruleset [Not] Active."

And yes, it'd be possible to be connected to both a private network and a public network, but I've never seen anyone do it. It's really only viable if you wanted to turn a Windows Server into a firewall/proxy for an entire network, but at that point you should probably just get a dedicated device or build a *nux box.

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