Zone Alarm Pro
If all you want is a good efficient Firewall then the free version of Zone Alarm is excellent, far better than that offered by Microsoft with XP.
Often when you switch to a suite of programs you find that everything slows down. The download of the basic Zone Alarm is around 10MB while the Zone Alarm Pro suite is 26.5MB. My PC took just on three minutes to fully boot to the point there was no hard disc activity. With Zone Alarm uninstalled it was 45seconds faster. Once Zone Alarm Pro was installed it took 198 seconds so in fact the slowdown on full booting was only 18 seconds.
Initially you will get a lot of messages from Zone Alarm, 'xxxx is trying to access the Internet' allow or deny. If it is a program you know then access is the way to go and there is a box that says 'remember this answer'. If you are unsure answer deny but do not click the 'remember this answer'. If you then cannot do what you wanted then you probably need to click allow next time.
It soon learns and you will then see fewer and fewer messages, after a while any message is probably a rarity however still be vigilant.
So what has Zone Alarm Pro to offer that would make you want to shell out $39.95. There is an enhanced Firewall that protects not only your Internet visits but also all your programs and the operating system.
Anti Spyware, this analyses your PC and removes Spyware, AdWare and third party cookies, it takes most of the decisions for you but if you are unsure it can quarantine the item until you are certain. Remember certain cookies are required to visit some sites and without them you will have to enter lots of information on every visit.
Popup and Ad Blocker, these are normally a minor annoyance but can be easily removed with this module, I see very few popups today, great for getting work done but annoying for the advertisers.
Email Security, any suspicious email attachment is automatically quarantined and should you try to send an email with a potential virus this should stop you doing it unknowingly.
ID Lock should stop any personal data leaving your PC so for example your bank details should remain on your PC and not be spirited away elsewhere.
Finally Wireless PC protection should enable your PC to remain in your control at work, at home or on the road.
Should you wish you can try before you buy by going to www.zonealarm.com and downloading a 15 day version at the end - or during the trial you can purchase the code to activate the full version or if you are unimpressed simply uninstall it.
The current price is $39.95 and by my reckoning that's about £21.50 at the current rate of exchange.
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