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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
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.