Windows Firewall Vs. McAfee Firewall

by Katherine Johnson

Both the Windows Firewall and McAfee Firewall are designed to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your computer through the Internet. All data sent to and from your computer passes through the firewall, and the data is filtered by the firewall to make sure that each packet conforms to the firewall's user-defined rules. Packets that don't conform to the firewall's rules are blocked while packets that do conform to the rules pass through the firewall without incident. The Windows Firewall enables you to add or modify a few rules for your computer, but the McAfee Firewall helps you create firewall rules to secure an entire network.


Windows Firewall is included with the Windows operating system, and the program is installed automatically during setup. It doesn't cost any money to update or run the firewall. Free support documents are located on Microsoft's website, but you will not receive any free technical support over the phone for the firewall. McAfee's firewall software is designed for businesses and it costs thousands of dollars. You can use the trial version of McAfee's software to assess the software's capabilities at no cost. (see link in Resources) You won't pay for updates to the software or for technical support during the license period.


Windows Firewall is seamlessly integrated with Windows. The program is designed to secure a single computer against hackers and malware while running in the background of your computer. Windows Firewall enables you to open specific ports, allow safe programs to transmit information and helps you choose what level of protection you want to use on your computer. Unlike Windows Firewall, McAfee Firewall designed for the needs of medium to large businesses. The program can secure an entire network, not just an individual computer as with Windows Firewall. McAfee's firewall will appear invisible to individual users but needs to be run and administered on a separate server. Unlike Windows Firewall, McAfee's firewall also includes anti-virus and anti-malware software. The firewall will also encrypt all traffic coming into and out of your network. You can also set up McAfee Firewall to filter Web traffic to prevent employees from surfing websites that shouldn't be viewed at work.

Intrusion Detection

Both Windows Firewall and McAfee Firewall provide intrusion detection. The Windows Firewall filters all network traffic that enters or exits your computer. The firewall also supports IPsec -- the Internet Protocol security; this protocol uses cryptographic security to protect data passing over your network. Unlike Windows Firewall, McAfee Firewall keeps a log of what programs or workstations initiate a session on the network and the website the program or user reaches out to, which enables the firewall's administrator to locate anomalies within the logs and prevent future intrusions.


Windows Firewall is automatically updated each time the Windows Update program retrieves new files from the Microsoft Windows Update website. You do not have to install any updates because the firewall update process is automated. Updates for the Windows Firewall are free for the entire time that you use the program. McAfee Firewall also provides free updates, but they are free only during the licensing period that you purchase. You also have to initiate updates through McAfee Firewall and determine the best time to take the network down in order to install the updates over the network.

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About the Author

Katherine Johnson has been writing for over 10 years. She served as the CEO of two companies in the technology and beauty industries. Her writing can be found on AOL Travel, Screen Junkies and other websites. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science.

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