With the advent of the internet, it’s really easy for anyone to connect to the internet and access other computers (i.e. servers) across the globe. However, this also means that other computers across the globe can actually access YOUR computer in a similar fashion. By doing so these evil, evil men can actually take control of your computer, insert malicious files that will track your password/credit card number and/or use your computer to do something evil.
How do you protect yourself from other malicious programs or people from accessing your computer? With a Firewall of course! But like most things in the computer software world, Firewalls often come at a price. Although this price might be minimal (around $20 – 30 on average, some times you might have to renew it every year), considering the safety it provides, it might still be worth it to get a free firewall that will be able to do almost the same thing.
Here are a few things that you might want to try out. Keep in mind though that sometimes having a firewall might actually be more annoying, since it will often ask you whether or now you’d like to connect to a server or website. However, in the long run it might save you the trouble of reinstalling your computer or calling up your credit card company to report a fraud. Also, it might slow down the speed of your computer as it constantly monitors your incoming/outgoing connections from every application that connects to the Internet. But given the speed of average computers the speed should be “negligible” or at the most unnoticeable.
Additionally, you might at least want to turn on your Windows Firewall (although this will only prevent incoming connections and not prevent any outgoing connections) if you don’t plan to use a third-party firewall. If you do use a third party firewall, you should disable Windows Firewall.
Some free firewalls, in order of preference
Comodo Firewall – Comodo make a lot of great products that I like, and their firewall is one of them. For the most part it is unobtrusive, but does a good job of notifying you of any incoming/outgoing connections that it thinks are ‘suspicious’. Plus, it has an easy to use interface that doesn’t look like anything from “the Matrix”. If you’re looking for a simple free firewall that does it job quite well, Comodo should probably be your first or second choice. Also, do note that when you download the firewall, it actually might download their firewall AND their antivirus suite. So you you already have an antivirus suite, and you’re okay with it, you should only install their firewall.
Free Zone Alarm – The free version of the Zone Alarm Firewall is not as powerful (or so they say) as it’s paid big brother, but I still thing that it does a fairly ok job of making sure that no internet packet goes unnoticed. It also has a pretty simple interface to use, so if you aren’t an experienced Firewall user, you might prefer to have something like this.
Sunbelt Kerio Firewall – If you’re using Windows XP (but it also works for Vista now apparently, although I haven’t tested it out) then this firewall is still one of the best ones out there. It does the job of every other firewall out there, and also provides some of its premium features (like ad-blocking) for a period of 30 days. If you don’t want to buy it (you probably don’t need to… unless you’d like to support their software), then after 30 days, it’ll just function in the normal firewall mode.
Tall Emu Firewall – Again, this is a fairly good free product, but doesn’t have all the pro features such as ‘Keylogger detection’ and so on. But obviously, you don’t need these features if you have a little common sense (i.e. if you are getting an incoming connection from some random computer on the internet, you probably shouldn’t allow it to access your system files).
Of course, there are several other Free Firewalls out there, but I’ve never used or heard of any other good ones. So, if you feel like you know about something else that might be worth while… do share!
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