Unless your computer is not connected to the Internet, you will need a firewall. A Firewall protects your computer by blocking all the unwanted and malicious incoming connections and keeping an eye on your network services. The good thing is you don’t actually have to pay big bucks for a reliable firewall. Here are a couple of free firewall applications for Windows.
1. Windows Firewall
Starting from Windows XP, every version of Windows has its own built-in firewall which gives you total control over all the network connections and the programs that are connected to the Internet. Surprisingly enough, Windows Firewall works quietly in the background and leaks very little data over the network (like the MAC address). Though the interface is a little intimidating, you can get through it once you get used to it. Since Windows Firewall is so well integrated and powerful enough, most third party Internet Security suites use it in the background while providing a pretty interface to manage the clumsy firewall settings. If you don’t mind the learning curve and a not-so-pretty user interface, Windows Firewall is as good as it gets.
2. Comodo Firewall
Comodo Firewall is a free and robust firewall application with tons of advanced options and beginner-friendly user interface. Comodo Firewall not only uses traditional methods to block intrusions but also does behavior analysis of the applications connecting to the Internet so that it can protect the sensitive areas and information. Other than acting as a firewall, Comodo Firewall can further secure your computer using the built-in sandbox, hardened web browser, and Comodo DNS. I’ve been using Comodo Firewall for well over three years, and it has never let me down.
That being said, Comodo Firewall occasionally shows pop-up banners recommending their products and will also try to change your default search engine and homepage while installing. So be sure to uncheck those options while installing if you don’t like changing your browser’s default homepage and search engine.
Well, TinyWall is actually tiny and technically isn’t a full-fledged firewall like Comodo Firewall but does provide a cleaner and toned down user interface to manage the default Windows Firewall. The good thing about TinyWall is that it is a set-and-forget solution with almost no pop-ups or other annoyances. Since TinyWall is such a low profile software, it only allows programs in its whitelist to have access to the network. Though TinyWall has no dedicated main window, you can always access and change the required options and features by right clicking on the system tray icon. If you are looking for a free alternative that provides the best protection while using native features and being low profile, then TinyWall is the choice.
ZoneAlarm by Check Point is quite popular when it comes to free firewall applications due to its features and tight security. One of the best things about ZoneAlarm is that it leverages the data from the other ZoneAlarm firewall users to provide real-time protection against threats. ZoneAlarm can block almost all the direct network intrusions and can set application level restrictions for outgoing connections.
Just like with the Comodo Firewall, ZoneAlarm tries to change the default homepage and search engine of your browser. So be wary while you are installing and make sure that you deselect the options to avoid any unnecessary annoyance.
As was mentioned, firewall is an important piece of software. Don’t neglect to have one installed. Though a firewall can effectively block the incoming attacks, it can’t do much on an already compromised system by your wrongdoings. Always follow the best practices while you are using the Internet to be safe and secure.
What is your choice for a free Firewall? Have you ever used a native Windows Firewall to secure your Windows computer? Do share your thoughts and experiences using the comments form below.