Reader Chris from the U.K. wrote to ask:
Hope you are well. Thanks for the newsletter, I really enjoy reading it.
I am at present using Norton Internet Security Suite, and am quite happy with it. I run Windows XP Pro. Would it harm my P.C. to turn on the Windows firewall, as I am running the ‘Norton’ firewall through the suite? Would it give me extra protection, or possibly cause a conflict or a weakening of one of the firewalls? You hear so many conflicting reports about this it gets confusing. I believe it is o.k. to run two anti-spam programmes but maybe not two firewalls.
Thanks once again for the excellent newsletter.
Chris, don’t do it.
Your second option is correct — running a second software firewall would interfere with the Norton firewall. That’s not just an issue between the Windows firewall and the Norton firewall. It is a problem if you try to run any two firewalls.
Sure, you might turn it on and might see that your web surfing worked fine and you could get your email. But, somewhere in the future, you’d have problems where something didn’t work. It might be a new program that needed to get to the Internet — and one would block it and the other wouldn’t. It might be a local home network — and one computer could see the other computer couldn’t see the first one — or could see it but couldn’t transfer files, etc.
Firewalls don’t really interfere with each other (as far as I understand), but they interfere with programs you’re trying to run. You’ll spend a lot of time trying to solve the issues, only to find that you forgot that there were two firewalls.
If you have a broadband connection — a connection using a cable modem or DSL — I recommend that you use a cable/DSL router. In addition to enabling you to have a home network (a DHCP server is part of the router), the router actually creates a separate network on your side of the router. Computers on the Internet side can respond to your connections, but they can not initiate a connection to your computer. I recommend either the Linksys WRT54G wireless router (Amazon.com or Buy.com) or the Linksys BEFSR41 wired router (Amazon.com or Buy.com).
Two anti-spam programs may be ok, but it depends how they set themselves up. Those that set up as a “proxy server” may interfere with each other — or one may work and the other never actually do anything. If you want two anti-spam programs that are compatible, I recommend Mailwasher Pro and PopFile.
Mailwasher Pro (http://terryscomputertips.com/mailwasherpro) works entirely with emails while they are still on the mailserver, before they ever start coming to your inbox. PopFile ( http://terryscomputertips.com/popfile ) works as a proxy mailserver, on your machine, and sits between your email program and the mailserver.