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Netsh Winsock Reset command fixes Windows Firewall error

Admins can use the Netsh Winsock Reset command to resolve the error message that Windows cannot start the Windows Firewall service.

There are times admins will want to run the command Netsh WinSock Reset from the command line. This command will rebuild network settings from scratch.

When a major networking error occurs in Windows XP, often the user gets nothing more than a generic warning message. A more detailed error message is usually written to the system log, which can then be used for detailed troubleshooting.

I saw one such error when a user was trying to debug a problem with a connection that had the Windows Firewall turned off. (Don't laugh. For some people, the Windows Firewall is all they have, or can afford.) When the user tried to turn the firewall back on, a generic error came up: "Windows cannot start the Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing Service."

A more detailed error of Event ID 7023 was logged as: The Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) service terminated with the following error: An address incompatible with the requested protocol was used.

The MSDN database doesn't provide many details about this error message. But user feedback shows that the error is essentially spurious, the result of a corrupted network-stack setup.

Sometimes this corruption comes about as the aftermath of a spyware cleanup, after the spyware has already done its damage and rendered the Windows Firewall useless. The error is the result of attempting to initialize the appropriate services after their setup information has been ruined, and so it doesn't generate any really useful information.

The most basic way to fix this is to run the command Netsh WinSock Reset from the command line, which will rebuild the network settings from scratch. However, if that command produces the error "Unable to reset the Winsock Catalog," you'll probably need a third-party tool like the Winsock XP Fix tool to repair everything. (Note: The original author of this tool appears to have gone offline, so the only links available are for third-party distributors.)

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the  Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to and

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