Firewall Permanently Disabled....Bad???

I just replaced my wifes desktop. She has Windows 7 (64bit).

I had problems connecting her HP Officejet 6500 E709a (Wired Only) all-in-one printer.

After updating drivers for Windows 7 and downloading some Diagnostic Utilities. I ran into Print Jobs getting stuck in the queue. Via the Advanced Diagnostic (HP) options I turned off the Windows Firewall. Warning comes up to only disable for troubleshooting. Windows has a 'flag' saying to turn it back on. I disabled the message so it does not come up again.

Once disabled the printer works fine. If I enable the firewall I run into the same problems with stuck jobs in queue.

I have her system running Avast Free Version 5.0.677 http://download.cnet.com/Avast-Free-Antivirus/3000-2239_4-10019223.html

I am thinking Avast should be fine. I have never liked any Windows security and have always disabled them on all my previous machines. Being my first Windows 7 machine will this be a problem?

If you think I still need a firewall up please articulate why. And if you have a recommendation for a free version from somewhere like CNET please let me know. I will be leaving town soon and she is not able to work on this kind of thing in my absence.

Thanks in advance for any advice or clarification on this.
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  1. As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. Avast is a great, free security suite, but it's not as customizable as it should be. I run it on my system at home, but the firewall has yet to cause me any troubles like this.

    First things first, you NEED a firewall. Windows 7 is a much more secure operating system than previous iterations but that does not mean under any context that it is impervious. I have seen viruses infiltrate Windows 7 just as they do in XP. Keep this in mind, if Windows 7 were impenetrable, Microsoft wouldn't release patches for it every week to keep the bad guys out. And even then, they (in most cases) have to wait on a few hundred successful attacks before a patch is released, and that can take days. By that time, the intruder/virus has enough time to do serious damage to your system.

    Now if you want a firewall that's going to be non-invasive and rock-strong, I highly recommend ESET Smart Security. I've used it for two years in a row (until I ran into money troubles where I couldn't afford it anymore) and did not have a single piece of malware penetrate my system. It's $60 for a year-long subscription, and is far more effective (and efficient) than McAfee or Norton. This security suite was developed by two Russian ex-hackers who know their stuff (their company is now based in San Diego). In the two years I used it, I can't recall a time when it blocked a service or application that I needed.

    I hope this helps! :D

    -Rob
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