Windows Firewall and other free firewalls do a pretty good job of keeping threats away from your computer, but many users prefer the extra security and support of a premium firewall. Emsisoft's Online Armor is a shareware firewall suite that offers strong protection against malicious programs, hacker attacks, and other privacy and security threats, but it's also designed to be as unobtrusive as possible while doing it. Its real-time protection means no lengthy scans; instead, Online Armor evaluates each program as it runs. The program has plenty of configuration options, especially in its Advanced Mode. For instance, you can block traffic from specific countries known to host hackers. There's a good Help file and other resources to sort it all out for you. Online Armor is free to try for 30 days. The latest release supports Windows 8.
You'll need to temporarily disable your antivirus software while installing Online Armor, though the program plays nicely with most antivirus tools when it's up and running. Online Armor has four main components: Firewall, Web Shield, Program Guard, and Anti-Keylogger. Users can choose from three modes: Standard, Advances, and Banking Mode; there's also a Learning Mode that creates rules automatically. You can disable all protections except for the firewall by activating or deactivating the proprietary HIPS system, too. Online Armor's configuration dialog serves as its main interface, but we found the best way to access and manage both the firewall and other features is through its extensive System Tray menu, which we could open by right-clicking either the program's main tray icon or the Firewall Status icon.
Online Armor works like other robust firewalls we've tried, adding programs to its white list when you OK them to run. Its pop-up notifications give more options than some similar tools. We found Online Armor's default filters to be a bit stronger than some similar tools, too, which is good but requires you to pay attention to what it flags. Is Online Armor worth paying for over popular free firewalls? It's hard to prove a negative, but what's the price on your data, your privacy, and your identity?
Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of Emsisoft Online Armor Firewall 6. The trial version is limited to 30 days.