"Windows cannot display Windows Firewall settings" error while accessing Firewall settings in Windows XP

Published : April 29, 2005
Updated   : May 23, 2008
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  1. Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) service not listed in Services.msc Console.
  2. Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) service is listed in Services Console, but you may not be able to start the service.
  3. The following error occurs when accessing the firewall settings (firewall.cpl)

Due to an unidentified problem, Windows cannot display Windows Firewall settings.


Case 1: This happens due to missing or corrupt SharedAccess registry key, which represents the Windows Firewall Service. This usually occurs if your system is infested with Virus or other Malware, or in the aftermath of Virus removal. In conjunction with the solution provided in the article, it's advisable to run a thorough cleanup of the system.

Case 2: You have Windows Live OneCare installed. Windows Live OneCare has its own Firewall which monitors both inbound and outbound connections. Because two firewalls should not be turned on at the same time, Windows Live OneCare turns off Windows Firewall if the latter is running. Therefore, Windows Live OneCare users can safely ignore the error message concerning Windows Firewall.


Solution for Case 1:

Download sharedaccess.reg (only for Windows XP systems with Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3 applied) and save to Desktop. Then double-click the file to merge the contents to the registry. The Services entry will be created. Restart Windows (mandatory step, otherwise the following NETSH command might display an error).

After restarting Windows, execute the following command via Start, Run dialog:


Launch firewall applet from Control Panel, and see if you're able to configure the Windows Firewall settings.

If the above steps do not help, as a last resort solution (before attempting to reinstall the Service Pack), give the following commands a try:

Click Start, Run and type:

rundll32 setupapi,InstallHinfSection Ndi-Steelhead 132 %windir%\inf\netrass.inf

The above command repaired most of the Windows Firewall settings when I tested. After running the above command, restart Windows and then run the following:


Attempt to start Firewall applet. Start the Windows Firewall service when prompted.