ZoneAlarm offers plenty of paid security products including the typical security suite and antivirus offerings, alongside more unique protection against online shopping fraud and identity theft. As well as their big name products and trial editions, it also offers some completely free software. ZoneAlarm Firewall is one such piece of software – a watered down version of the companies’ full internet suite.
Installation and Setup
The initial application file downloads the rest of the program, which then installs quickly but requires a restart to work. Optional elements include email address, entry into the ZoneAlarm community and a ZoneAlarm browser toolbar, so if you don’t want of the ‘extras’ you’ll need to keep your wits about you. The program will then scan to find programs which use the internet and true to its word, this only takes a couple of seconds. The program uses a respectable 40MB of memory on our test system. We couldn’t get the program to run on Windows 7, however.
Ease of Use
The interface of ZoneAlarm Firewall is a little Spartan and certainly not the best looking amongst its peers. Options are hidden away and much of the overall GUI is taken up with greyed out features of software that isn’t installed.
Luckily, the interface is in no way indicative of the quality of the actual firewall, which is excellent at protecting your computer. It does need to be configured, though, or you’ll find the program asking you for your permission every single time your browser or OS tries to connect to the net.
Luckily, configuration is easy and familiar to anyone who has used any form of Firewall service. You can also set various modes such as a ‘game mode’ that stops interruptions for a short period of time – although obviously this isn’t a great idea if you want to maintain security.
It’s not pretty, but ZoneAlarm’s free firewall is not only competent but also lightweight compared to its peers, and should definitely be worth considering if your security suite doesn’t have a fully functioning firewall.
Differences between Free and Professional
Although there’s no direct upgrade, ZoneAlarm’s internet security suite offers 2-Way Firewall protection, Antivirus and Anti-Spyware in a single package along with other advanced features for £30.45 ($50).