Mar 15

What is: urs.microsoft.com

What is: urs.microsoft.com

The URL http://urs.microsoft.com might appear on your firewall or similar network monitoring/protection device quite often as it is the URL used by the Microsoft SmartScreen Filter Services. Generally when you see a Microsoft URL you know some part of the Windows system is trying to communicate with some sort of Microsoft web service, but the real question is that if all of it is necessary and the impact it may have on your organization and systems.

In my case I find the SmartScreen Filter Services to be quite helpful and recommend organization to enable their client machines to communicate with Microsoft’s servers. Another important reason why to leave this communication available to your client machines is that Windows 8 and above when they visit a website that is in a IE zone with SmartScreen Filter enabled the lack of connectivity with Microsoft will cause a performance hit.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • A firewall or network device is blocking communication between your Internet Explorer browser and the SmartScreen Filter Services URL at http://urs.microsoft.com. This could be your home router if you are crazy about security or your corporate firewall like Microsoft’s ISA or TMG if you have tightened your security.

(OR)

  • You are browsing the website from within a network that does not have an active connection to the Internet.

In this scenarios, Internet Explorer may appear to stop responding. The SmartScreen Filter Services are provided through an active Internet connection to http://urs.microsoft.com and connectivity is needed for it to validate the site you are visiting. At this point I recommend you enable communication to the Microsoft URL on your firewall. You could alternatively add sites to an IE zone that doesn’t require validation by the SmartScreen Filter Services or worst case turn SmartScreen Filter Services off all together.

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