How to check the proxy and Firewall settings

Securing network access and managing traffic necessitate the use of specialized tools, notably proxies and firewalls. This article explains the common issues that disrupt internet access and explores remedial strategies through the configuration of proxies or firewalls within the Windows operating system.

What is a Firewall

Contrary to popular belief, the primary role of a proxy isn’t just maintaining anonymity by masking your IP address during online interactions. It's also instrumental in circumventing firewalls to access specific online resources.

A firewall constitutes an integral component of Windows security, tasked with regulating inbound and outbound network communications. This protective digital barrier can be either a software program or a hardware device. It operates by meticulously screening network traffic and enforcing robust security rules, thereby thwarting unwanted or potentially malicious data intrusions.

Understanding how Firewall and proxies interact, they can be used in corporate and home networks. The tools can complement each other, which will allow you to achieve maximum efficiency from working on the network, without endangering your OS or personal data.

Network accessibility issues

Problems can arise for various reasons. Let's look at a few common situations and how to solve them.

Issue type Identification How to solve
Issues with proxy settings Errors when trying to connect to the Internet; the browser does not load web pages. Check your proxy settings as described below. Make sure they are correct.
Firewall is blocking the connection Can't access certain websites or services, and can't connect to other devices on the network. Test your firewall application blocking rules to ensure that your firewall rules allow the types of traffic you want.
Problems with network drivers No network access at all, the network icon in the system tray may display an error. Update or reinstall network drivers through Device Manager, or perform a Windows 10/11 update.
DHCP issues There is no network access, some random IP address is assigned or it starts with "169.x.x.x". Restart your router or modem. If the problem is not resolved, try setting a static IP address manually.
DNS issues Websites won't load even though the network connection is active. Try changing the DNS servers used by your computer to public DNS servers, such as Google DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) or OpenDNS.

Before setting up a firewall or proxy, ensure that the network settings don't conflict with other applications or antivirus programs. To verify, temporarily disable your antivirus and then reconnect to the network or restart your PC. If the issue persists, it's likely a problem with your ISP.

Resolving access issues on Windows

In many instances, if you haven't changed the Internet configuration settings and suddenly lose network access, a simple solution is to restart your router or PC. With several Internet providers, brief outages ranging from 1-5 minutes are not uncommon. If the disconnection lasts longer than 10 minutes, there might be software or hardware issues from the provider's end. Reach out to your telecommunications service provider for further details.

Addressing proxy and firewall issues in Windows typically requires examining the PC's configuration settings step by step, adjusting as needed:

  • Review your proxy settings (detailed instructions provided below). Toggle the "Use a proxy server" setting off and then on again, subsequently entering the proxy address and port. If this doesn't resolve the issue, proceed to the next steps.
  • Beware of malicious browser extensions that may alter proxy settings. Review and eliminate any unwanted programs or extensions.
  • Your firewall might restrict access to the proxy server. Ensure your firewall permits connections to the proxy server. A verification method is provided later in the article.
  • If issues are confined to the web browser, inspect its internal proxy settings to ensure they align with network specifications.
  • Conduct an antivirus scan to confirm the system isn't compromised by malware that might modify proxy settings.

After working through these steps, re-evaluate your network access via the proxy. Should the issue remain, reach out to technical or customer support for guidance.

How to check proxy settings on Windows

Checking your proxy and firewall settings is essential when you're experiencing no Internet access or limited connectivity. To check potential blockages or incorrect proxy configurations on Windows 10, adhere to the following steps:

  1. Launch “Settings”. This can be done by pressing the Win + I keys simultaneously on your keyboard or by clicking the “Settings” gear icon in the “Start” menu. Navigate to the "Network & Internet" category.
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  3. In the left sidebar, choose “Proxy” from the options. As you navigate down the page, locate the “Manual proxy setup” section and check the configuration details. This step involves ensuring that your proxy details are accurate. There's also an option to toggle proxy use on or off.
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  5. Once you've implemented the necessary changes, hit the "Save" button and exit the "Settings" window.
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All proxy settings entered will be applied to the computer's general Internet traffic. Should you need to resolve an access issue for a single application or program, it's advisable to utilize that particular software's internal settings or auxiliary tools, such as Proxifier. This handy utility helps in configuring a proxy and managing Internet connection parameters. The software allows for adjustments to the overall network connection configuration and the ability to assign specific IPs to each application individually.

Furthermore, understanding the root of the problem is crucial. If you have access to the proxy server logs, examining them could be instrumental. Doing so is essential for verifying the requests and actions executed through the proxy.

How to fix the problem with network access through the built-in Firewall

If you're experiencing issues connecting to the Internet on a Windows PC, it may be due to your Firewall settings. Sometimes, a firewall perceives a connection as risky or unsecured and restricts network access. Follow these steps to inspect and adjust your firewall configuration:

  1. Assess the firewall status. Click on Start, go to Settings, and then select Update & Security.
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  3. Navigate to "Windows Security" from the menu on the left, followed by "Firewall & network protection". Verify that your firewall is active. If not, you'll need to enable it.
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  5. Check your active connection. Within the "Firewall & network protection" section, select your current connection. Ensure the existing rules are appropriate and aren’t blocking the applications or services you need.
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  7. Should you suspect that certain configurations are the reason, consider restoring your firewall settings to their original state. You can do this by selecting "Restore firewalls to default" under "Firewall & network protection" and adhering to the subsequent prompts.
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  9. If you know which applications or services are causing problems, add them to exceptions. Just click "Allow an app through firewall" in the "Firewall & network protection" section, then incorporate the required applications.
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  11. Some firewall issues are resolved through system updates. Visit “Settings”, select “Update & Security”, choose “Windows Update”, and confirm that you’ve installed any pending updates.
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  13. For more intricate adjustments, go back to "Firewall & network protection" and pick "Advanced settings".
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  15. In the subsequent window, select "Windows Defender Firewall Properties".
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  17. You'll be presented with four tabs in a new window. Visit these three: “Public Profile”, “Domain Profile”, and “Private Profile”. Within each, switch the firewall status from active to inactive, then click "Apply". This action deactivates the firewall, preventing it from obstructing your browsing.
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  19. Finally, verify your Internet accessibility by attempting to visit a website.

What to do if access to a specific site is denied?

If you encounter a "The page can't be reached" error, or any notification suggesting that a specific web resource is unavailable, the issue could stem from your Internet service provider's policy or the configuration of your Windows system.

Should you have administrative rights over the firewall, you can set up rules permitting certain applications or services to bypass restrictions. For instance, inbound and outbound firewall rules can grant access to particular IP addresses and ports.

  1. To resolve the "The page can't be reached" error, you'll need to access the “Firewall Control Panel”. Simply press Win + R, type "firewall.cpl" into the run box, and hit Enter. Once in the firewall settings, choose "Advanced settings" from the left menu.
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  3. Next, click on "Inbound Rules" listed on the left side. On the right, you'll find the option to create a "New Rule".
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  5. Decide on the kind of rule you wish to establish. For web resources, you generally need rules for HTTP (80) and HTTPS (443) ports. Select "Port" in the "Rule Type" section and proceed by clicking "Next".
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  7. At this stage, input the appropriate protocol and the corresponding port number.
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  9. In the "Action" section, choose "Allow the connection".
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  11. Within the "Profiles" section, configure the necessary parameters correlating with the intended network types.
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  13. Finally, in the "Name" section, assign a recognizable name to your rule, simplifying future identification. Conclude by clicking "Finish," thereby establishing your new rule.
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It's important to note that changing firewall rules to access specific resources can create security vulnerabilities. Therefore, it's crucial to proceed with caution when using this approach. If you're unable to access the desired website or page despite modifying your firewall settings, consider the following alternatives:

  • Proxy Server. Using a proxy server can enable you to redirect your traffic to the required resource. It's important to remember that access to a proxy is typically acquired separately. Relying on public proxy servers, especially when navigating to sites that could potentially distribute malware, poses a risk to both your computer and personal data.
  • SSH tunneling. This technique is ideal for individuals with a solid understanding of network protocols. SSH tunneling facilitates a secure, encrypted connection, offering an additional layer of security.

Now you know how to check your firewall for blocks and you can try to fix the problem yourself.