For computers running Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft now provides
an update known as Service Pack 2, or SP2. SP2 has some important new
security features. However, to use EchoLink with SP2, you will probably
need to make adjustments to the Windows security settings.
Windows XP SP2 has a built-in firewall, called Windows
Firewall. When it's enabled, it generally blocks any software on your
computer from being reachable from the Internet. Since EchoLink relies on
being reachable from the Internet, it will also prevent EchoLink from working,
unless a special "exception" is added for EchoLink.
Microsoft released SP2 as a Windows Update package in late
August. If you have set up your computer to accept Automatic Updates, SP2
will be delivered to your PC automatically.
Automatically Setting Up an Exception for
When you upgrade your computer to SP2, the Windows Firewall is
automatically enabled. The first time you run EchoLink after installing
SP2, you will probably see a message like the one below:
You can automatically set up Windows Firewall to work with EchoLink
by simply choosing "Unblock". This will create a special exception in the
Windows Firewall settings that allows EchoLink to be reached from the
Internet. Windows remembers this setting, so you will not need to
"unblock" EchoLink each time it runs.
If this message does not appear when you start up EchoLink, but you
are having trouble getting EchoLink to connect to other stations (or the Test
Server), try following the instructions below.
Manually Setting Up an Exception
First, be sure you have Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed.
The instructions below apply only to SP2. (You can verify this by
right-clicking the My Computer icon on your desktop.)
1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.
2. In the control panel, click Windows Security Center.
3. Click Windows Firewall.
4. In the General Tab, be sure that the option "On (recommended)" is
selected. If not, click it.
5. Be sure the checkbox "Don't allow exceptions" is not
6. Click the Exceptions tab at the top.
7. Click Add Program... (near the bottom). A list of programs
on your computer is displayed.
8. Locate EchoLink in the list of programs. Highlight it and
9. Click OK again to complete the Windows Firewall setup.
Q: Why does EchoLink need an "exception"?
A: Unlike most of the other programs you probably
run on your computer, EchoLink is a peer-to-peer system. This means
that the EchoLink software must be able to receive information directly
from other computers on the Internet, as well as send it. By creating a
firewall exception, you are instructing Windows to allow your EchoLink node to
accept voice and text messages from other EchoLink nodes.
Q: Am I putting my computer at risk by creating a special exception for
A: With this configuration, when EchoLink is running, Windows
Firewall will allow other EchoLink nodes to communicate with your
computer using two UDP ports (5198 and 5199). These are the only
incoming ports that the EchoLink software requires. Because of the way
the EchoLink software is designed, these ports cannot be used to transfer
viruses or other harmful data to your computer. In addition, Windows
Firewall ensures that these ports are not "open" except when the EchoLink
software is running.
Q: I already have a router or firewall (separate from my
computer). Why do I need the Windows Firewall at all?
A: If you already have a "hardware" firewall on your
home network, you might choose to turn the Windows Firewall off entirely.
For more information, see the Microsoft Web site.