ZoneAlarm Free Firewall

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall

Download Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
3.4
out of 3464 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    9.2.106
  • Total Downloads:
    51,128,864
  • Date Added:
    May 05, 2011
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    3.24MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    2,159
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:

Editors' Review

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The bottom line: ZoneAlarm Firewall Free 9.2 has gotten quieter and more effective, and should be considered an excellent tool for replacing the adequate default Windows firewall with a stronger option that includes better outbound protection, antiphishing guards, and ZoneAlarm's behavioral detection network.

The changes made to improve the default firewall in Windows 7 are impressive, but the newest version of the free ZoneAlarm Firewall argues that Microsoft still has a long way to go. ZoneAlarm 9.2 introduces multiple new features to one of the world's oldest computer security programs including quieter outbound protection, behavioral detection from the ZoneAlarm Internet security suite, automatic Wi-Fi security setting activation, antiphishing protection, an overhauled ZoneAlarm toolbar, and 2GB of online storage for free.

Installation

Program installation was largely a smooth experience, taking about 5 minutes. Users will have to reboot their computers after its done. Prior users of ZoneAlarm's paid security suites might encounter some odd behavior if the uninstallation process of one of those programs left remnants, but this should be the rare exception and not the rule.

Interface

ZoneAlarm has unified its security interfaces, so users familiar with one program won't see dramatic changes in another. The left side contains navigation links; the center window is where all the action happens. As noted in the review of ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, it's not a bad design but it doesn't pop visually. The text links can be hard to read because of font choice, and although the center buttons are big, the details within could be easier to read.

Features and support

Designed to be used in conjunction with an antivirus program, the strongest tool in ZoneAlarm's belt is the outbound firewall. Though Windows does offer some outbound protection, it's not activated by default. Most users tend to leave it off because they either don't know about it, or when they do turn it on it regularly interrupts their workflow with pop-up security warnings. Older versions of ZoneAlarm used to be noisy with pop-ups as well, but the new version has been set to be quieter without changing the level of protection. If you prefer, this can be changed in the program settings.

During a half-day of testing the default ZoneAlarm Firewall settings, the only pop-ups encountered were those blocking new software installations. The pop-ups for the three programs tested went away and allowed the installation to proceed with one click. More than just a low rate of interference, only encountering pop-ups for program installations is precisely the kind of warning that keeps you aware of what's occurring on your computer without distracting you simply for surfing the Web.

The benefits of an outbound firewall might not be readily apparent. An inbound firewall blocks threats coming in from the outside, but an outbound firewall does more than prevent your computer from spreading viruses and malware to others. If your computer has been compromised by a botnet, for example, outbound protection will stop it from sending your data back to its host servers. It can also stop program spoofing, which is when a malicious program pretends to be a good one, and IP spoofing, which is when harmful network transmissions dress up as safe ones.

This update includes DefenseNet, ZoneAlarm's behavioral detection system of anonymously contributed data that's used to verify and block threats. Previously, it had only been present in ZoneAlarm's antivirus programs. You can opt out from it when you install, but contributing doesn't negatively affect your system's performance.

The ZoneAlarm toolbar has also been given more than a simple spit-shine. You can opt out of installing it when you run the main installer, and install it later if you wish, but ZoneAlarm was quick to point out that it without it key security features are not activated. Hiding the toolbar after it's been installed won't disable its protections, which include the aforementioned signature and heuristic-based antiphishing protections.

It also adds a site check option that can be used to reveal the date founded and physical location of the site and has customizable safe site buttons for launching regularly visited sites such as Facebook or your banking site. The e-mail checker built into the toolbar is compatible with Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, RR, Univision, and POP3 accounts. Unfortunately, there's no IMAP support. Finally, the toolbar links to ZoneAlarm's free 2GB of online backup space, courtesy IDrive, and six months free identity theft protection from IdentityGuard.

One of the more annoying limitations of the toolbar is that it only works with Firefox and Internet Explorer, even though Chrome has supported extensions for a year. Given the instability that toolbars contribute to IE, and the clutter that they add to the browser interface, ZoneAlarm would probably get more mileage out of the feature if it was reduced to a single button that opened a new window or expanded a set of buttons.

The Help link in the bottom left of the interface only links to the program's Help file. The only in-program access to the online help Web site, in the form of the free knowledge base and forums or paid telephone support during business hours, comes as a link under the Product Info sub-option under Overview on the left nav.

Performance

ZoneAlarm's performance was notable simply for how unnoticeable it was. Shutdown time did not appear to be affected at all, and neither did starting up cold nor rebooting. Changing the antivirus program that it was partnered with didn't affect the firewall's behavior, either. These are big changes from previous versions of ZoneAlarm, and obviously, they're welcome ones, too.

Conclusion

This update of ZoneAlarm Firewall Free should make people do a double-take because of the features and low interference level from the program. It also should do wonders for ZoneAlarm's reputation, but that has more to do with whether years of substandard updates can be erased by a firewall that is the strong, silent type that users need.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    2.9

    out of 64 votes

    • 5 star 16
    • 4 star 12
    • 3 star 6
    • 2 star 9
    • 1 star 21
  • All Versions

    3.4

    out of 3464 votes

    • 5 star 1299
    • 4 star 745
    • 3 star 313
    • 2 star 289
    • 1 star 818
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 64

1 stars

"Netbook Users Don't Install It!"

October 17, 2013  |  By davefarkus

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

None for me.

Cons

Freezes your Netbook to the point that you almost CANNOT use it. I have a minimum of 8 hours so far trying to uninstall it but can't even do that. Takes forever to boot, forever to shut down and forever for it to accept ANY mouse or keyboard input. Forever to boot to Safe Mode. Awful mess.

Summary

That said, I know people who have desktop PC's and it's working very nicely so for me it was just a Netbook issue.

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5 stars

"I'm IT technician."

June 14, 2012  |  By tbvromania

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

free, lite, efficiently

Cons

Advertising unnecessary.

Summary

A firewall helps me more than an antivirus. With the firewall can block the application to connect to the Internet. In many firewalls tested by me, Zone Alarm is the best. It is easy to use, free and very efficiently.

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2 stars

"blocked everything and froze up comp"

November 06, 2011  |  By McKayS

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

used to be great

Cons

froze up everything.. could not get into the setting to adjust. running a 2 month old samsung laptop.

Summary

was very let down by how after 3 tries it still would not work right

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1 stars

"Conflicts with Norton Antivirus 2012"

November 04, 2011  |  By TE7

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

Worked good for a while with Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.

Cons

Switched to Norton Antivirus 2012 and I lost my internet access. Uninstalled Zonealarm firewall and got internet back.

Summary

This firewall has conflicts with certain antiviruses. Would not recommend for Windows 7.

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2 stars

"Stick with the Standard Firewall"

October 30, 2011  |  By lukenoot

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

Easy download and install.

It seems like its doing a good job.

Cons

You don't need it.

Leaves leftover files and registry keys on uninstall.

it's just a fancy interface firewall.

Blocks websites and cant change your homepage from coduit.

Summary

You don't need it.

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2 stars

"Blue Screen of Death"

October 22, 2011  |  By Anotherone773

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

Didnt try it long enough to notice any.

Cons

Soon as i installed this on Win7, my PC started getting random Blue Screens of Death. It installs 3 different programs. A toolbar, something called conduit, and then ZoneAlarm. It makes the pc run decently slower when opening programs. Even with an i7 CPU and 8 GB of RAM.

Summary

Its pretty bad. I uninstalled it because of the random blue screens of death. I hope this fixes the blue screens and i dont have to do more extensive repairs to my pc because of this. This editor that reviewed should be fired.

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5 stars

"very good as it has always been"

October 21, 2011  |  By earlshaffer

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

it always works

Cons

does not stop access to sites

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1 stars

"Totally Useless"

October 13, 2011  |  By Ray_2k

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

Dont know any

Cons

Can't access internet anymore with Zonealarm

Summary

Waste of time

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1 stars

"Absolutely Terrible!"

October 08, 2011  |  By Madison

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

Uninstalled easily and apparently did no lasting damage to registry.

Cons

Largely disabled Firefox and IE browsers, making page loading at most sites next to impossible. Lowering security levels did no good.

Summary

As a longtime user of Zone Alarm on my old XP machine, I did not hesitate installing this on my new Win 7 computer. It turned out to be a total disaster right from the start, blocking most sites and partially disabling others. After messing with all possible settings, I gave up on it and un-installed. I'll never believe another editor's review on this site. They couldn't possibly give this piece of garbage a positive review if they had actually tested it.

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1 stars

"Dont use as an UPGRADE!"

September 23, 2011  |  By VonRenchler

 |  Version: ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 9.2.106

Pros

If it didnt clog up, the features would be incredible. I like the learning feature and the ability to control every program.

Cons

Oh Lord what a mess. They offer terrible support and wont address it when THOUSANDS suffer from new updates that slow down or crash machines. Everything slowed down..
Beware their program VSMON thats always alive and slows things down.

Summary

WARNING!! If you have a previous version on the computer, go to Zonealarms chat and learn how to totally erase it before loading any new versions/upgrades. The last two times they put out upgrades, THOUSANDS of people were screwed up. Unless ZA erased all that from the chatboards there, you would;d see. It was a frenzy of upset and desperate people all trying to get help.

Go to ZoneAlarms chatroom and read the horror stories. Wish I had before starting it. It has a feature that gobbles resources. I believe its vsmon. It stays on no matter what, even if you close the program down. You must go through a vastly complicated set of instructions and work not suited for anyone but a programmer to delete older versions before updating or you are in big trouble. My business was shut down for over a week. Their fixes wouldnt work or were hard to understand.

I had to hire PC experts and even at that only got a final piece of code out after a year. I would like to try the new version but am afraid of it, frankly.

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Results 1–10 of 64

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 9.2.106
Version 9.2.106 may include unspecified updates, enhancements, or bug fixes.
General
Publisher ZoneAlarm
Publisher web site http://www.zonealarm.com/
Release Date May 05, 2011
Date Added May 05, 2011
Version 9.2.106
Category
Category Security Software
Subcategory Firewall Software
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 3.24MB
File Name zafwSetupWeb_133_052_000.exe
Popularity
Total Downloads 51,128,864
Downloads Last Week 2,159
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

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