Free Firewall Software Guide

by Shane Robertson

What does a Firewall do? Firewall software, is a protective boundary that monitors and restricts information that travels between your computer and a network or the Internet. This provides a line of defence against someone who might try to access your computer from outside the Firewall without your permission.

How does a Firewall work? And why do I need one? When someone on the Internet or on a network tries to connect to your computer, we call that attempt an “unsolicited request.” When your computer gets an unsolicited request, the Firewall software blocks the connection. If you run a program such as an instant messaging program or a multiplayer network game that needs to receive information from the Internet or a network, the firewall asks if you want to block or unblock (allow) the connection.

Because of the massive explosion in computer viruses and spy ware, the firewall works in tandem with your anti-virus software. This help prevents any virus that may have infected your computer from connecting to the Internet and sending personal information about you and your computer. Every computer that connects to the Internet or a network should have firewall software installed

What is the most well known Firewall Software? And how much are they? On a home computer the two major player in the Firewall market. The first is Symantec with their Norton Personal Firewall, which costs $49.99 per year. The second is McAfee Personal Firewall Plus, which costs $39.99. Both of these are excellent products and offer the ultimate protection. They both have regular Internet updates downloaded direct from their web servers.

What free Firewall Software is there? Any one with Windows XP SP1 or later will have built in Windows Firewall. I highly recommend this as through the security centre on Windows XP you can control the firewall. It also means that it is pretty much ’set it and forget it’ once it is installed, unless you get a threat to your PC. I recommend you update windows through the windows update, feature that will help keep out any known exploits to windows. You can also set the security centre to automatically download updates, which also helps. If you do not have Windows XP, I recommend Zone Labs’ Zone Alarm software.

Their free version is more than adequate to protect the majority of non Windows XP machines. Again it can download updates from Zone Labs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the free Firewall software? The advantages are that these Firewall programs are free and can save you up to $50 per year. Also the protection is almost identical. One major difference between the free and paid for Firewalls is the level of support. With the paid for software you get free web or phone line support. The free software generally have very little support.If you need just a good standard of Firewall software then I recommend the free options. If you need the best level of protection or a lot of support, then either the McAfee or the Norton Firewalls are highly recommended.

About the author:
Fatmunter is the author and editor of the Free Software Guides

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