I am thinking of switching from my Retail AV-FW protection to one of the popular Free Firewalls and would like to hear of readers experiences.There has been an comprehensive thread on AV's so what about FW's? Thanks.
A year or two back ZoneAlarm did go through a period of instability on some installations, but I must say that I've not had any problems with the last few versions. I'm now using version 5.5.062.004 and it's behaving perfectly. I've installed it on a few machines running Xp Home and Pro, with and without SP2, as well as systems running Windows 98. In my computer it's also quite happy with Avast antivirus.
It very much depends on your own abilities and how involved you want to be with your firewall.
About the best point and click firewall is ZoneAlarm, recommended by VoG™. By point and click I don't mean it is a simple program, because it isn't, but it is easy to use in that you basically install it and, apart from choosing a few minor options, let it get on with what it does.
If you want to roll your sleeves up and get all technical, you'd be hard pressed to beat Outpost which, in my opinion, is about the best overall software firewall for Windows desktop computers click here
Software firewalls on their own are limited in the protection they can offer (as are hardware firewalls) and the best system is often to have both running, but this is not without its own potential pitfalls.
I run a very strong hardware firewall as part of my network at home and a similar product at my office at work. Both are industry standard and not much can get through unless I ask it to. I don't run a software firewall at all, but then, I don't go downloading from the internet here, there and everywhere and I always know exactly what I install on my computers. All emails are plain text which on its own can be a life saver.
There are a lot of steps to locking down a PC but any firewall is better than nothing and ZoneAlarm does the job for a lot of people.
Had Z/A free version for some time now and no problems and one thing though, every time a new update comes out you have to do a complete reinstall of the program(recommended) and therefore I have to set aside about 1/2 hour to reconfigure it again to allow or deny programs to have access to the net.
Pro version NOT recommended to use with Panda av, but yes, highly recommend it.
ZoneAlarm as worked for many people without any problems, so I would suggest that you go for that. Here is a site worth browsing through,for firewall's and other usefull information and downloads click here