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Your computer’s firewall is an important tool 5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Firewall 5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Firewall You've heard of firewalls, but what are they really for? Do they stop viruses? Can you manage without one? We look at five reasons to install and use a firewall on your computer. Read More in the ongoing battle to keep your machine secure. It’ll stop authorized people from accessing your device and can help prevent the spread of malware.

Both Windows and Mac have a built-in firewall, but there is also plenty of third-party software Which Free Firewall For Windows Is Best For You? Which Free Firewall For Windows Is Best For You? We place emphasis on antivirus and malware removal, but don't ignore firewalls. Let's take a look at the best free Windows firewalls, comparing ease of setup, ease of use, and availability of features. Read More – much of which exceeds the native programs in terms of features and usability.

If you want to see what options are available, keep reading. Here are seven firewall programs that can help improve your computer’s security.

1. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2017

ZoneAlarm is a well-known name in the world of computer security. The company offers a free anti-virus suite, mobile security for Android, and various premium products.

The free firewall can hide all your ports, prevent inbound and outbound attacks, and lets you manage your software on a case-by-case basis. It also has an automatic mode; the app will instantly apply the most suitable protection for a given program. The pro version introduces more features but costs $40 per year.

zonealarm-firewall

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Unfortunately, it has a downside. Some users have reported that the software doesn’t work well with anti-virus suites (except Windows Defender and ZoneAlarm’s own product). Your anti-virus is likely to become unstable and see a drop-off in performance.

2. Tinywall

If you want a light-weight solution, Tinywall is the answer TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall TinyWall Brings Advanced Settings To The Windows Firewall Do you like using the Windows Firewall, but wish it came with better controls? TinyWall, a free program for Windows Vista and Windows 7, gives you just that - a tray icon you can use... Read More . It only needs 1 MB of memory and runs as a standalone program.

It’s also an excellent choice if you don’t want to micromanage your app; there are no pop-ups, and it’ll quietly run in the background without pestering you.

tinywall

Regarding features, it comes with a whitelisting option, port and domain blocklists, a way to restrict applications to LAN-only access, IPv6 support, password locks on your settings, and lots more.

3. Anti NetCut3

Do you spend a lot of time connected to public Wi-Fi? If the answer is yes, you need to check out Anti NetCut3. The app has been specifically designed to safeguard your machine when you’re on insecure networks.

As with any free software, there are some drawbacks. You can’t add NAS drives to the app’s libraries, the interface is basic, and the English-language version has some translation issues.

anti-netcut3

However, the software is second-to-none if you want to protect yourself against ARP spoofing, deliberately-cut connections, and other forms of connection manipulation.

4. Comodo Free Firewall

Comodo Free Firewall has won several awards and is a long-time favorite of MakeUseOf readers. It’s the opposite of Tinywall; you can expect to receive a barrage of pop-ups and notifications to keep you updated with your real-time situation.

Unlike lots of other firewall programs, the app draws upon a cloud-based directory of more than two million “safe” apps. It alerts you if something that’s not on the safe list tries to access your machine. In theory, it’s a safer solution than relying on a blacklist — what if the blacklist has overlooked a threat?

A premium version is also available. It includes the company’s professional anti-virus suite, more firewall options, around-the-clock malware support, and a thoroughly impressive $500 “Virus Free Guarantee.” It costs $40 per year.

5. PeerBlock

PeerBlock is a fork of the once popular PeerGuardian 2 firewall. It’s designed to protect users who do a lot of filesharing over P2P networks.

Its narrow focus is both a positive and negative; while it does a great job of keeping you safe while using torrent software, it does nothing else. If you want a holistic app, it’s not for you.

peerblock

Support has dwindled in recent years (the last major release is three years old), but don’t let that put you off. It’s still the best-in-class at what it does. Setup is simple; when you launch the app, it’ll prompt you to choose which type of websites you want to block, then it’ll diligently work in the background to keep you safe.

6. Little Snitch [Mac]

All the apps I’ve discussed so far have been Windows-based, so I’ll conclude the list with two choices for Mac users Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Dig through your Mac's settings and you'll find a firewall, turned off by default. Isn't that insecure? Why would Apple be so irresonsible? Read More .

Little Snitch will set you back around $32 (depending on the EUR > USD exchange rate). It focuses on outbound traffic; every time a new app wants to connect to the web, Little Snitch will ask whether you want to allow it. Naturally, the app will inundate you with requests in the first few days of usage, but it’ll soon settle down.

little-snitch

In an age where almost every app wants to “phone home,” it gives you a fantastic level of granular control over your privacy.

7. Private Eye [Mac]

Unlike Little Snitch, Private Eye is free to use. It’s not a full-blown firewall — instead, it lets you monitor all the incoming and outgoing internet traffic on your Mac.

private-eye

This has some oft-overlooked benefits. For example, you can see which URLs they are accessing and establish whether there’s anything suspicious about them. Secondly, it’ll help you determine if your machine has picked up any malware, and lastly, it’ll show you how much bandwidth each app is using so you can see what’s hogging all your resources.

Which Firewall Programs Do You Use?

Ultimately, using a dedicated firewall app isn’t for everyone. Some people will be perfectly secure by relying on the computer’s native software and an anti-virus suite’s built-in features.

But if you use a lot of internet-connect programs or have a penchant for visiting unscrupulous sites, a firewall app could save you from a frustrating and costly malware experience.

Now it’s time for you to share your experiences. Have you tried any of the apps in this list? Which one is your favorite? Have you found a great little app that I’ve overlooked?

As always, you can leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Pingingz via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Roben
    January 7, 2017 at 10:53 am

    SpyShelter Firewall ...

  2. esam
    April 16, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    i tried Comodo and it sucks because it does not save my option ,so if i want to block a program from accessing the internet it does but if that program want to access the internet at later time it can !

  3. Frank Lobach
    November 12, 2015 at 1:38 am

    What about Avira or Avast?Frank Lobach

  4. Martin Don
    May 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Hi,

    Since i have been using Comodo Firewall https://personalfirewall.comodo.com and i feel comfortable with it and i am totally happy to share it here.

    Thanks
    Martin

  5. Daniel Domingues
    April 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    ops, thanks! very helpful :-)

  6. Daniel Domingues
    April 18, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Thank! Very helpful :-)

  7. Cole Gotcher
    December 19, 2014 at 12:07 am

    I might be asking a stupid question but is there an article for free macbook air compatible fire walls?? if yes please put it's link in a reply to this comment :D

  8. Sir Jhon
    August 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I know about Fire wall plus and and its a very good PC tool for your computer..

    news

  9. Therube1
    July 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I LOVE OUTPOST Firewall.

    (I have already tried Zone Alarm; Online Armor and Comodo Firewalls)

    . . . and I Am STAYING with OUTPOST (Made By http://www.Agnitum.com)!!!

  10. Therube1
    July 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I LOVE OUTPOST Firewall.

    (I have already tried Zone Alarm; Online Armor and Comodo Firewalls)

    . . . and I Am STAYING with OUTPOST (Made By http://www.Agnitum.com)!!!

  11. Ed
    July 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Windows 7 Firewall Control by Sphinx Soft
    http://www.sphinx-soft.com/Vis...

    Enables fine control of the Windows firewall and doesn't experience the drawbacks of the other firewall products.

  12. Ed
    July 24, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Windows 7 Firewall Control by Sphinx Soft
    http://www.sphinx-soft.com/Vista/index.html

    Enables fine control of the Windows firewall and doesn't experience the drawbacks of the other firewall products.

  13. Cr0ft
    July 24, 2010 at 9:07 am

    The built-in firewall has one critical issue I think that disqualifies it, and that is the ability to control it properly and easily. Windows 7 Firewall Control is something I find really makes up for that - it adds things like pop-ups when new apps want to access the net and allows for really easy per-app settings. The free version gives those benefits as well, the pay version gives more choices though. It still utilizes the perfectly functional built-in firewall in Vista and Win 7 - it just gives you a far less painful way of configuring it. For me that's plenty good enough which saves me from having to install any new firewall app when I already have a good one.

  14. Steve Campbell
    July 24, 2010 at 9:14 am

    The article was meant to be a list of alternatives to Windows built-in
    firewall, although Windows 7 does have a pretty good one. Thanks for
    pointing that out!

  15. Elvin
    July 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

    You forgot Windows 7 firewall. It's very powerful if you know how to use it.

    • Steve Campbell
      July 24, 2010 at 7:14 am

      The article was meant to be a list of alternatives to Windows built-in
      firewall, although Windows 7 does have a pretty good one. Thanks for
      pointing that out!

  16. irha
    July 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Also worth checking out the personal firewall comparison at: http://www.matousec.com/projec...

  17. Anonymous
    July 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Also worth checking out the personal firewall comparison at: http://www.matousec.com/projects/proactive-security-challenge/results.php

  18. smaragdus
    July 24, 2010 at 1:44 am

    ZoneAlarm is by far the worst firewall.
    I cannot trust anything created bt Comodo.
    Ashampoo FireWall looks good, but this is all good about it. It's development has long ago stopped. It cannot pass the simplest leakage tests.
    Online Armor is extremely intrusive and severely slows down Windows.
    I have never tested Filseclab.
    PC Tools Firewall Plus is good, but I prefer Outpost.

  19. smaragdus
    July 23, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    ZoneAlarm is by far the worst firewall.
    I cannot trust anything created bt Comodo.
    Ashampoo FireWall looks good, but this is all good about it. It's development has long ago stopped. It cannot pass the simplest leakage tests.
    Online Armor is extremely intrusive and severely slows down Windows.
    I have never tested Filseclab.
    PC Tools Firewall Plus is good, but I prefer Outpost.

    • Blueimagineer
      July 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      I second Agnitum's Outpost Firewall...