Mid Boss
I see there are a plethora of firewalls... is there any that anyone recommends? Horror stories?

I'm currently using Tiny Personal Firewall, and have experience w/ Zone Alarm. TPF is uses very few resources, but I'm finding now it's making my system somewhat unstable. I'm liking Proxy+, because it does a bunch of things in one, but if there's a firewall that is simply outstanding, please let me know.

Thanks in advance.
Tiny seems best for most. no conflicts with other programs at all. just a simple program designed specifically to only allow stuff that is for certain programs (i.e. filters out internet background noise aka port scanning et al.)

Zonelabs ZoneAlarm is many people's first pick. does a good job, though is way too simple and limited for real users. not to mention a pain to train.

Norton Personal Firewall also works well. the other stuff Norton has tends to conflict and give false readings on the scanning.

Mcafee is also a good choice.

now, me, I use Tiny Personal Firewall, which is free. I haven't noticed any system stability issues. pherhaps another program is running that is sucking enough CPU time to lag everything?

a link to a bunch of firewalls, and surprising that AnalogX hasn't made a firewall (proxy isn't really a firewall)
I hear good things about Tiny. As for Norton, McAfee or BlackIce, you couldn't pay me to use those. ZoneAlarm was once a great app that I used for a long time, but they've become a sad example of an underground "must-have" turned commercialized crap/unstable/incapable of uninstalling itself (I call these kinds of apps tentacleware because they worm themselves so deeply into your Windows files and registry. I kept discovering remnants of ZoneAlarm for WEEKS after uninstalling it).

The one firewall I really like is Sygate Personal Firewall. Appears to have moderate resource use, esp. if you have a lot of network connections going on (think browser, filesharing, email, instant messaging, etc. all at once), but is simple to use and reliable.

The one problem I've encountered with Sygate is that it keeps active log files in its home directory which become corrupted if Windows crashes for any reason, and may prevent Sygate from starting up upon reboot. Therefore I simply inserted a DEL command in my AUTOEXEC.BAT which deleted all files named *.log in the Sygate directory before Windows starts. Works perfect
interesting. not enough to convince me to switch, but certainly looks good.

MTX, what stability issues have you with Tiny? I've run tiny+2 file sharers + a few web windows + a download + DAP downloader + pop up killer and it works just fine.
Which of these are free? I use ZA and have been unhappy with it since 2.6. I can revert back to that if need be, but if there's another free and easy to use firewall I'd like to know about it. I'm retarded when it comes to networks, so ZA's novice-friendly setup is great for me.

Looking real quick I see that Sygate is free. How easy is it to use compared to ZA?
I agree with ZA going downhill after 2.6, and I really do recommend Sygate Personal Firewall (the free one). It's actually easy to use without being dumbed down and treating you like a complete idiot the way ZA does, so I think you'll do just fine with Sygate. It has a main window (normally hidden but accessible from the system tray) that shows graphs for up/down transfers, which apps are running that access the network, and a few other stats. As for settings, there's the list of apps that Sygate maintains which can be allowed, blocked, or set to ask you everytime they are launched - much like ZA. However, you can set advanced properties for each app also, such as allowing/blocking TCP only, UDP only, a range of ports, etc. but you can just ignore that unless you do have to configure permissions for a particularly finicky application to get it to run OK. (Has not happened to me, but might if you have a physical setup involving a local network, routers, etc. - something that goes beyond a plain PC-to-modem-to-cable/DSL connection.)

Finally, there's the options dialog which is largely self-explanatory, and even in the one tab where you choose which particular protections you want to enable/disable, there isn't much to pick from. That's the only part that can be confusing at first, however, hovering over each option with the mouse cursor brings up excellent pop-up explanations of what each item does. Many of the options are greyed out and pre-set to enabled/disabled because they're reserved for the Pro version of Personal Firewall. Trust me on this, though, only hardcore networkers really need the Pro version - the free version is totally adequate to provide good all-around protection. I trust Sygate completely.

If you, or anyone else, decides to install Sygate Personal Firewall and you're running a 9x version of Windows, definitely add the following line to your AUTOEXEC.BAT:


(I have Sygate installed in C:\Program Files\Sygate Personal Firewall.)

What this does is: in case you experience a crash and the harddisk needs to be SCANDISK'd upon the next reboot, all Sygate log files will be deleted before Windows (and thus Sygate) starts up again, preventing any trouble because of corrupted log files. Sygate keeps these log files open and active at all times so they're not properly closed if Windows crashes.

And in case you wonder: using this DEL line *before* SCANDISK is run to fix the harddisk is not a problem either