Import and Export Windows Firewall Settings in Windows Server 2016

Instead of manually configuring the same Windows Firewall rules on many different servers, we can import and export Windows firewall settings to transfer them between different servers.

We can also import the firewall rule policy file into a Group Policy Object (GPO) to apply it automatically throughout a whole domain.


This post is part of our Microsoft 70-744 Securing Windows Server 2016 exam study guide series. For more related posts and information check out our full 70-744 study guide.


Export Windows Firewall Settings

We can export windows firewall rules with both the graphical user interface (GUI) and command line interface (CLI). First we’ll start with the GUI then cover the CLI.

Graphical User Interface

Open Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, right click the top node and select “Export Policy…”

Windows Firewall - Export Policy

Save the file as a .wfw policy file.

Save Windows Firewall Rules File

You’ll be advised that the policy successfully exported with a pop up message.

Command Line Interface

This can also be done through the PowerShell or Command Prompt CLI instead with the netsh command, as shown below.

netsh advfirewall export "C:\fw-rules.wfw"

netsh command export windows firewall rules

Import Windows Firewall Settings

We can import this file that we have exported to another server where we wish to also have the same set of firewall rules. Again we’ll first start with the GUI solution followed by how to do it in CLI.

Note that importing firewall rules will overwrite all existing firewall configuration and replace it with the exported contents of the .wfw file, you will be advised of this before proceeding in the GUI but not through CLI.

Graphical User Interface

open up Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, right click the top node as before, but this time select “Import Policy…”

Windows Firewall Import Policy

You’ll be warned that importing the policy will overwrite all current rules, select yes to proceed.

Windows Firewall Overwrite Rules Warning

Next select the .wfw file that was exported previously.

Open WFW windows firewall file

Once the import has completed you’ll be advised by a pop up message.

Command Line Interface

This can also be done through the CLI instead with the netsh command, as shown below.

netsh advfirewall import "C:\fw-rules.wfw"

netsh command import windows firewall rules

Note that if you import with the netsh command you will not be warned about overwriting all existing rules like you would be with the GUI.

Summary

As shown we can use either the GUI or CLI to import and export Windows Firewall settings in Windows Server 2016. This allows us to create a set of rules on a single server that we want to deploy elsewhere which is more efficient than implementing the same rules again and again on each server. We can also take this a step further and use group policy to deploy the exported firewall policy files in a domain.


This post is part of our Microsoft 70-744 Securing Windows Server 2016 exam study guide series. For more related posts and information check out our full 70-744 study guide.

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