I've been dubious about Windows XP's Internet Connection Firewall, which can be associated with any network connection. It's presented as an on-off checkbox and doesn't provide any feedback that demonstrates its usefulness, unlike products such as ZoneAlarm and Norton Personal Firewall. As described in Microsoft Windows XP Networking Inside Out, ICF works by keeping track of the IP addresses your machine connects to in the course of Internet use, letting them send incoming packets and blocking everyone else. This ... read more

Workbench has a new category, XP Networking, to document my struggles with a Windows network that is not working. Up to this point, I've managed my home network with one problem-solving skill: Unplug the hub, count to 10, and plug it back in. I have now learned this technique has its limits. Since Monday, our laptop can connect to the home Ethernet network, ping other machines, and ping Internet servers, but it can't browse the Web or check e-mail over a shared broadband connection on the primary PC. (Ping is an ... read more