The Best Free And Buy Firewalls
Whether you want free or buy firewalls, imagine what it would feel like to connect to the Internet and know you are fully protected from intruders. Well, it will be in your grasp by the time you've finished reading this article.
There can be a large difference between firewalls, not only in the degree of security offered, but also in ease of use and configuration.
This article advises you about which are the best-of-breed firewalls. They offer the highest level of security, so you or your family can connect to the Internet with peace of mind.
First off, though, you may be wondering whether to buy firewalls or to rely on a free download. In making that decision, it's important to know the distinction between a hardware firewall and a software free or buy firewall... and to know the pros and cons of each choice.
If you're not sure of the differences, then please read Free Or Commercial Firewalls? The Pros And Cons, and then return back here.
We're going to review firewalls in three parts...
- The best free firewall download programs
- The best buy firewalls
- Other firewall support articles
1. Free And Buy Firewalls... The Best Free Firewalls
There are a couple of points to consider before deciding on our firewall...
- The desktop firewall software industry has undergone some recent consolidation, which has reduced the number of free personal firewall programs available. For example,
- Sygate produced a very good free firewall but have been acquired by Symantec, the makers of the Norton Personal Firewall. Unfortunately, Symantec has stopped producing the free Sygate firewall, along with all other Sygate products.
- Kerio has sold its popular free and commercial Kerio firewall to Sunbelt Software. Fortunately for us, Sunbelt Software continues to make the free firewall available.
- Outpost Firewall Free has been discontinued.
These changes now drastically reduce our choice of good, free firewalls
- If you've purchased a new computer, then a firewall is generally built into the operating system. Now, if that pre-installed firewall is Windows XP/SP2, then beware!
The firewall that comes with Windows only monitors incoming intrusions. So, if we have a Trojan or other spyware installed that is sending out our personal information, it won't be detected. We need a firewall that guards our outbound as well as our inbound traffic.
For more information on Windows Firewall, take a peek at Is XP Firewall Safe?
So, now lets cut to the chase...
As a result of the firewall software industry consolidation just mentioned, only two free firewall programs are recommended for downloading -- ZoneAlarm Personal Firewall and Sunbelt Kerio Free Personal Firewall.
Though they differ in the features they offer and the help they provide, these programs will do the job of defending our PCs. Both have pop-up warning dialog boxes when a program attempts to connect for the first time... so, it's pretty easy for us to configure the firewall for programs we wish to allow to connect to the Internet.
Let's take a look at and get a sense of what each offers...
I. Free And Buy Firewalls...
ZoneAlarm Free Personal Firewall
ZoneAlarm Free is the most popular of the free firewall download programs. It is a basic firewall that provides both inbound and outbound protection and suits new computer users.
By default, it offers high protection and works transparently. Once it's installed, it can't be turned off, either by malicious attacks or a mistake by an inexperienced user.
ZoneAlarm Free offers a limited MailSafe feature, which guards against VBS (Visual Basic Script) attack. Unfortunately, it won't stop users from running malware attached to email messages.
It doesn't include the ZoneAlarm Pro version's Smart Defense Advisor, which automatically blocks malware or allows known programs. There's also no ID protection nor the advanced program control that can block leak-test attacks.
Although the program monitors whatever anti-virus protection you're running, you still need an AV program, too... unless you buy the commercial version of the program.
In summary, ZoneAlarm Free personal firewall provides all the necessities of a firewall... but don't expect anything more.
Download it at .
II. Free And Buy Firewalls...
Sunbelt Kerio Free Personal Firewall
The Kerio Free Personal Firewall has been taken over by Sunbelt Software. The good news for us consumers is that the full version has been significantly reduced in price and the free firewall is still available.
Sunbelt Kerio Free Personal Firewall is downloaded as the full version to evaluate for 30 days. After this period, it automatically reverts to the free, cut down version.
Now, if your knowledge of which programs are safe is limited, Sunbelt Kerio doesn't offer a great deal of information to help.
The free personal firewall also doesn't have control of outbound personal information, blocking of cookies, popups and ads, Host Intrusion Prevention, Web filtering, and remote administration.
Can you do without these levels of protection?
Because the Sunbelt Kerio Free Personal Firewall loses full outbound protection, my advice is to either go for ZoneAlarm, which has both outbound and inbound protection, or upgrade back to the full version -- it is exceptional value for money.
Sunbelt Kerio Free Personal Firewall does not support Windows 9x or Windows Me.
Try the Sunbelt Kerio Firewall Free
2. Free And Buy Firewalls... The Best Buy Firewalls
Although the above free firewall download programs offer reasonable protection from general computer intruders, they do have limitations.
If you want rock-solid safety, plus other very useful privacy and security features, then best-of-breed commercial or buy firewalls will meet those wishes.
Buy firewalls offer more options than their free personal firewall alternatives. They can also be fully customized and are regularly updated as new threats emerge. These buy firewalls also offer free technical support, which can be particularly important for new computer users.
Here's some interesting information... Information Week recently surveyed it's readers and asked them which of the buy firewalls, in their experience, was the best. Two firewalls stood out from the rest, with a combined total of 70 percent of the reader recommendations:
- 43 percent of the respondents named ZoneAlarm their top choice
- 27 percent chose Sygate. Of course, as mentioned earlier, Sygate has been bought out by Symantec and the Sygate products have been discontinued
The rest of the firewalls were way behind:
- Kerio and Outpost firewalls each got 6 percent of the vote
- Norton Personal Firewall and Windows XP's built-in firewall each got 5 percent
- NetVeda had 2 percent
- Tiny and EZ-Armor each got 1 percent of the recommendations
As a result of my firewall testing, I also rate ZoneAlarm Pro as the best firewall... but I also have included two other firewalls that I also rate highly.
I. Free And Buy Firewalls... ZoneAlarm Pro
ZoneAlarm Pro offers excellent, configurable, firewall protection with frequent updates. This firewall ensures that we don't become a cracker target... our computer is completely invisible online due to its stealth technology.
It also layers our security with an operating system firewall to prevent malware from changing or infecting our system.
What is also impressive about this firewall is that it also includes additional protection against other threats. For instance it has,
- Antispyware and blocks spyware sites
- Wireless PC protection
- Web bug disablement
- Cookie control to protect us from third party spying sites
- Pop-up and banner ad blocking
- Identity theft protection
- E-mail security against malicious code or viruses
the first choice for home users, the home or small office, and telecommuters.
II. Free And Buy Firewalls... McAfee VirusScan Plus
McAfee Virus Scan Plus offers a cutting-edge firewall... a good choice if you spend a lot of time connected to the Internet for computer gaming.
Not only does the program offer all the normal firewall protection -- like safeguarding all inbound and outbound traffic -- but it also integrates antivirus, antirootkit and antispyware.
The program also incorporates McAfee SiteAdvisor, to warn whether you may be visiting malicious websites, and QuickClean to optimize your computer's performance.
For more information on this firewall, go to
McAfee VirusScan Plus
III. Free And Buy Firewalls... Outpost Firewall Pro
Agnitum's Outpost Firewall Pro is easy to set up and also integrates antispyware and identity theft protection.
Its control panel is designed with simplicity in mind to allow you to track all your network activity, such as the number of ports open and the application currently accessing each port.
Like ZoneAlarm and VirusScan, stealth technology ensures you are not visible on the Net and all your personal information is protected
For more information or the FREE trial, go to
Outpost Firewall Pro
3. Free And Buy Firewalls... Other Firewall Support Articles
- Free Or Buy Firewalls? The Pros And Cons. There are three "types" of firewall to choose from. We can buy firewalls -- software and hardware -- or we can use a free firewall download. But which type is best for our computer?
- How Firewalls Work And Security Terms Explained. Hardware and software firewalls work and secure traffic in different ways. You'll want to understand this to get the best security for your bucks!
- Choosing The Best Wireless Router Speed. When choosing the best wireless router, some of the speed terms and claims made by marketers can be confusing. Here, they are explained.
- The Best Wireless Router... How To Maximize Security. With basic security configuration, a wireless connection can be accessed by other computers and crackers in the vicinity. Learn how to ensure your router is protected.
- What Are The Effects Of Computer Hacking?. Explains how malicious hackers target our PCs, what the effects are and how we can protect ourselves.
- Is XP Firewall Safe?. The Windows firewall has a number of flaws. If you're using it, read this!