Comodo Firewall Pro gets a major revision from its publisher, upgrading to version 3 with some significant changes. Most importantly, user complaints about resource hogging when version 2 came out have been all but eradicated with the new model.

The Comodo summary screen has copious links so users can drill down to more information. (Credit: Comodo Group)

The program still provides a smorgasbord of information and options for advanced users, but it's simple enough for beginners, and runs smoothly and silently in the background. One of the most obvious changes is that Comodo has dropped support for Windows 2000 in version 3, although the v2.4 upgrade from February 2007 continues to receive definition file updates. In its place, the lightweight firewall supports Windows Vista, and runs well on it.

The other big change is the new interface. This new UI isn't exactly an improvement on the old one. Both struggle with the design question of how to cram a huge amount of information and options into a confined space, although the new one admirably tries to unravel the clutter. The blue color scheme has been toned down in favor of basic white, and there's more empty space between the various options.

The Security window provides almost infomation than is necessary. (Credit: Comodo Group)

Old terminology has been replaced with more intuitive terms. The new main tabs are Summary, Firewall, Defense + and Miscellaneous. In each, though, there are links to relevant security issues so users can drill down to learn more about how the firewall is performing.

Besides slimming down the firewall's engine, there's a new feature called the Host Intrusion Prevention System that supposedly protects against unknown threats. Obviously, it's hard to tell if it works unless an unknown threat gets in, but it didn't seem to affect system performance negatively.

Running mostly hidden, Comodo rears its head most often during Security Alerts that ask about new Internet connections. Alerts contain basic outgoing connection information. The user must determine if it's safe. The connections monitor displays the Application, the Source IP and Port, the Destination IP and Port, and the number of bytes received and sent.

Security warnings pop up fast and furious when you start the firewall, but slow down as the app \'learns\' your behavior. (Credit: Comodo Group)

Comodo takes up a fair bit of space on disk. Some users find the installation takes up about 50MB, and others say it's 80MB. Also, during the first week or so of use, most users experience repeated and annoying pop-ups each time their system makes even a minor or routine connection to the Internet. This happens because the program is "learning" their computers' connection behavior. While annoying, it didn't affect system performance in any appreciable way.

Don't be fooled by the name, either. Comodo is labeled Pro, but it offers its dragon-sized treasure of features for free, and is well worth checking out as a viable alternative to better-known firewall programs.