Worth using - Yes you need a good one. Best to use - Probably Most commonly used - Yes Disable windows firewall - Yes
Read the tutorials after install and understand them. A window will come up when things want to go online. If you asked x program to go online let it. I dont let anything but my browers and other online progs go on. Not even office is allowed online as it doesnt need to unless I tell it to.
So do hackers, malware, adware, spyware, viruses, or should that be virii? and so on.
I've learnt to switch on and go and make a cuppa or something before doing something useful, in this world of ever increasing attempts to control, disrupt or "damage" your computer I think a slow startup time is a small price to pay.
If, on the other hand, it impacted on my PC's performance, now that would be an entirely different kettle of fish.
I disagree. There was nothing wrong with ZA before the recent updates that have completely botched what was once a very good firewall. The startup would be bearable, but my poor PC cannot take the strain, Captain! and sometimes goes "oh, for ffs!" and gives up on me. I have to give it mouth to mouth and everything. That Mr ZoneAlarm wants shooting!
I don't doubt you for one minute, but what reason do you have to blame ZoneAlarm?
At this point let me state that I don't work for, receive payment from, or receive any sort of reward from ZoneAlarm, in fact I have in place a true hardware NAT / SPI firewall provided by my trusty Netgear router, but I digress.