Free Software Comparison

December 28, 2006

Free firewall Comparison

Filed under: Firewalls — theymos @ 1:33 am
Introduction

This is a comparison of free firewalls. These are the top user rated free firewalls on download.com. The computer running these firewalls has 1GB of RAM and 3.6Ghz CPU. The same applications were running during all firewall tests. MultiTrack Stopwatch was used for the usability test. These tests were performed on each firewall:

port scan

This will measure if the firewall is properly covering the computer’s ports. Full stealth is best, closed is ok, open is really bad. If it has full stealth, it gets one point, if it has open ports, it gets -1 points.

memory and CPU used

The amount of RAM and CPU the application uses. I used task manager to test this. I also tested how it changed while I was doing the port scan. The application with the least memory gets one point, the one with the most gets -1; the same for CPU.

size

The size of the program on the disk after default installation. The least gets one point, the most gets one subtracted.

ease of use

This is measured on how long it takes me to figure out how to make an application exception for the firewall. N/A indicates either that feature isn’t included, or I couldn’t figure out how to do it in 5 minutes. The least gets one point, any with N/A get one subtracted.

proper uninstall

After uninstalling and rebooting if it tells me to, I’ll search the computer for signs of it. If yes(it was properly uninstalled), it gets one point; points will not be subtracted.

blocks outgoing?

I will run a batch file that runs a tracert(trace route). It should block it, to prevent malware from communicating with the outside world. If yes(it blocks it), it gets one point; points will not be subtracted.

Data
tests
firewalls port scan memory(idle/”under attack” in KB) CPU usage %(idle/attacked) size ease of use clean unistall? block outgoing? notes points
filseclab 5 ports were closed, but not stealthed 17,428/17,428 0/2-4 about 21MB 20 .lnk file remained yes Simple firewall, not the best or worst. 0
GeSwall closed only 6,372/6,372 0/0 about 6MB 25 no no Not really a firewall, it puts your applications in a “sandbox” where they can’t do any harm. Great memory and CPU usage, but not the best security. 1
C.O.M.O.D.O full stealth 20,000/20,300 0/1 about 16MB 18 no no Comodo is bulky, but good for new users. Easy configuration and good security. 0
safety.net closed only 15,000/15,000 1/1 about 9MB 47 no no Poor firewall. It has high resource usage, bad security, and a hard to understand user interface. I don’t recommend using this firewall. 0
Jetico full stealth 8100/8300 0/1 about 3MB 50 yes yes Low resource usage, perfect security, and many options make this one of the best firewalls. This one is not for inexperienced users and the user interface is hard to navigate. 3
Ashampoo closed only 12300/12300 1/2 about 11MB 20 no no This one has the best looking user interface of all of them. A good one for inexperienced users. It has bad resource usage and security, so I wouldn’t recommend this to experienced users. 0
AS3 closed only 9656/9656 2/4 about 636KB N/A no no Worst.Firewall.Ever. It dosn’t ask you whether it should accept or deny programs it hasn’t seen before. It just blocks them. On top of that, there is no way to allow all connections from a certain application; ports only. At least it’s small. 0
hurricanesoft closed only 15,100/15,700 2/4-10 about 2MB N/A No, the uninstaller dosn’t work no Very simple. You can’t add your own rules in this application, and almost everyone needs to do that at some point. I don’t recommend this one. -2
ZoneAlarm full stealth 4,500/4,500 0/0 about 8.5MB N/A yes no Great resource usage and security, but I couldn’t figure out how to add an application exception. 3
WyvernWorks Some ports were open! 10,000/10,000 0/1 about 2.4MB 12 no no Stylish and easy to use, but some ports were open with this! It looks like the software was made in 2004 but the company’s website, wyvernworks.com dosn’t seem to exist any more. 0
Windows firewall closed only N/A N/A N/A 15 N/A no Not actually too bad, it’s easy to use and security is ok, but not great. Very inexperienced users with XP SP2 should probobly stick with the windows firewall. 0
Summary

The best two firewalls were Jetico Personal Firewall and ZoneAlarm. If you can handle the interface, I recommend Jetico. Inexperienced users should use ZoneAlarm or COMODO. If you want a really nice looking application, go with Ashampoo. If you want extra security, you can run GeSwall along with your firewall. Avoid AS3, Hurricanesoft, and WyvernWorks.

12 Comments

  1. I like this review. Maybe the gurus will find it too easy going, but it is quite useful and based on real testing. Thanks a lot for this resouce you gave to all the web-surfers :)

    Comment by User Unknown — January 22, 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  2. …ah, I forgot… Is Jetico Firewall release 1 or 2 beta ?

    Comment by User Unknown — January 22, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

  3. I’m very happy you liked it, it took me a day to do it and I’m glad it wasn’t a day wasted. The jetico version I tested was version 1. I used the latest stable release on all of the firewalls. Tell your friends about this comparison!

    Comment by theymos — January 22, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  4. Hey, what about Sunbelt Kerio. It’s also free and it would be nice to see how it compares to these other ones.
    Thanks for a good review.

    Comment by Alen — January 28, 2007 @ 9:41 am

  5. I’m glad you liked it. I cant do any more tests because I got a new computer and transfered some hardware from my old computer to the new, so I couldn’t accurately test any more firewalls without redoing the entire thing or tearing apart my computer. I’ve run kerio before, and it’s a decent firewall; it has good security and it’s “set and forget”. The reason I switched from it was that I wanted to add a port exception and I couldn’t figure out how.

    Comment by theymos — January 28, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  6. Low resource usage for ZoneAlarm? Are you kidding? Test it on your laptop, after installing it, as the most basic example, windows and desktop load lasts much longer… I prefer Sygate, even though it is old and gone, it still passes every leak test. Use and test Sygate, and see the total difference… BTW- I am going to test Comodo and Jetico too.

    Comment by vega — January 28, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

  7. okay, I know you can’t find and test every firewall, and maybe I’m just a little too “old school” to “know any better”, but I prefer softperfect’s personal firewall.

    Comment by maxnort — March 15, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

  8. I’ve used softperfect before. I liked it, but I switched from it because it was messing up my computer. If you do the port scan, size, uninstall, and outgoing tests, I’ll put it in my post. I can’t include the other tests because those are dependent on my computer and me.

    Comment by theymos — March 16, 2007 @ 12:39 am

  9. It’s hard to find a decent free version for Vista 32/64 bit. Wish Zonealarm would hurry up with a version. I’ve found the new “PC Tools Firewall Plus Free Edition 2″, on C/Net, to be very lacking on the details of most settings. How would it compare with the others?

    Comment by Shawn — March 17, 2007 @ 10:05 am

  10. Agnitum outpost free?
    Still use v 1.

    I don`t like new 6 version –
    it is good in low resource consumtion etc
    but block most mode is a fiction -
    it keeps adding applications to list

    And – jetico is it free?

    Comment by meme — November 21, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  11. Diky za zajimave informace

    Comment by Dyncendutty — March 3, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  12. I have a problem with zonealarm sometimes using up all of my cpu and basically shuts down my computer. I finally got rid of it on my XP. I have it on my mom’s W7 and wife’s W7 and they have no problems.

    Comment by theporch — May 3, 2012 @ 4:54 pm


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