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Value of Zone Alarm ?

shermans
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Value of Zone Alarm ?

I know this old chestnut has been discussed before but I cannot find where !  Is there really any value in installing Zone Alarm ?
I have used the free Zone Alarm on and off for many years. Every now and then, Zone Alarm causes me grief and I uninstall it.  Then a few months later I put it back on.  I finally got rid of it about a year ago.
I also uninstalled  Avast ! at least a year ago because it also sometimes caused problems, and had installed in its place Malware Bytes which I have had to run manually since then.  Then recently I caught a virus because I had been relying on Malware Bytes and had forgotten for a while to run a virus check.  My own fault entirely.
So having learned my lesson, I re-installed once agaiin both Avast ! and Zone Alarm.  Something started to slow my computer down (I am running XP) and grabbing all the resources.  Furthermore, images from the internet kept being blocked.  Eventually, I traced both causes back to Zone Alarm.  So once more I have uninstalled Zone Alarm, and everything is again running smoothly.
I have left Avast ! in place, because it does not seem to be causing any problems (yet), but I wonder whether Zone Alarm really does offer any protection.  I know I have read opinions saying Zone Alarm is a waste of space but now that XP is no longer supported by MS, I really do not know what to do.
I know some people will say change the computer but that is not practical for me for a variety of reasons, not the least because it would mean buying three computers and changing my two good laser  printers with old parallel ports (I have two residences), and I obviously also carry a laptop in addition to the the two desktop computers.  It would also mean buying three new sets of Outlook and Office and the whole process is just not affordable at this time.  When one of the computers finally gives up the ghost, I may be forced to think again, but definitely not at this time.
So the simple question is whether Zone Alarm serves any real purpose or not ?  I would be interested in views.
18 REPLIES
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

First point - and possibly the cause of the problem - you shouldn't run two anti virus programs at the same time. This assumes that you weren't just using the Zone Alarm Firewall
Second - for protection the latest results would indicate that Avira is better than Avast but either should protect you
shermans
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

Thanks, but no, I was using Zone Alarm only as a firewall, not as antivirus.  Virus protection is Avast ! with Zone Alarm as a firewall, now deleted.  I could try Avira, but it is really the reliance only on the XP standard firewall that concerns me.  Does Zone Alarm really give any added protection ?  I know that there are those that have said in the past "No", in which case it is not worth the hastle.  But I really do not know whether it does anything or not.
rongtw
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

windows firewall is fine , its all i use but PN have a router firewall too , if you are worried .
also as for a AV you cant go wrong with MSE , microsoft and its FREE !
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

I had similar experiences with ZA free firewall, and eventually ditched it several years ago.
You may find this Ask Leo article useful.
Not young enough to know everything
shermans
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

Force 'E'
Brilliant.  Just what I wanted to know.  Very helpful article indeed.
rongtw
Thanks for sharing your experience.  That is also re-assuring.
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

I have got into so much trouble on this forum in the past by suggesting that ZoneAlarm was more trouble than it's worth - at least for the majority of computer users.  Are people finally coming round to my way of thinking? 
Basically an outbound firewall will tell you things you would not otherwise know.  You may or may not be able to make use of this knowledge.  In order to make use of what the firewall tells you, you will definitely need to spend time in trying to make sense of what those outbound programs/processes flagged by the firewall actually do.
shermans
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

ReedRichards
Thanks again.  I had already drawn that conclusion from the article and from what others have said.  I will not be bothering with Zone Alarm again.  Saves on resources too !
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

I know I was late to this party and the others had already said or cited what you needed to know, but it seems only a short time ago when my contention that ZoneAlarm (firewall) was more trouble than it's worth attracted  a very negative response from other forumists here. 
the_groundsman
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

for what its worth ...... I recall reading that debate, and you persuaded me that dumping Zonealarm was the way to go. No regrets there I never recommend it.
The OP mentioned that they are running XP still. I have bitten the bullet and decomissioned my XP machine now. You're fighting a rear guard action against MS to  keep it going .
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

If you go back a decade then Windows XP and earlier versions did not have a decent firewall, most of us connected to the internet using a modem without any sort of built-in firewall and ZoneAlarm was really useful and valuable.  Then in August 2004 Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released and that had a perfectly good firewall.  But the Windows firewall was much more laissez-faire about outbound connections than ZoneAlarm and it took a long time for some people to accept that it was better not to "sweat the small stuff".  Perhaps we are finally there now? 
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

As an aside - I run Kaspersky Internet Security and I never get any popups from the firewall part and looking at the reports - there aren't any so I am not sure what it would have detected
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

Ha! Very very late to the party on this one! I was searching the board for something else and saw this. But just for the record -
Quote from: ReedRichards
...................
Basically an outbound firewall will tell you things you would not otherwise know.  You may or may not be able to make use of this knowledge.  In order to make use of what the firewall tells you, you will definitely need to spend time in trying to make sense of what those outbound programs/processes flagged by the firewall actually do.

The above is the most valuable statement that has been made on this topic!
Windows XP Firewall gives you no outbound protection and I disagree with a number of assumptions and remarks in the Ask Leo article. An outbound firewall could stop you becoming part of a botnet for example! Your router would not!
Unless your machine is that low on resources, it is worth installing a firewall giving outbound protection but you do need to spend time customising the setup and understanding the pop-up messages it may give from time to time.
Later versions of Zone Alarm Free Firewall can be problematic, and on an XP machine I've stuck to using version 6.5.737.000 which has generally given me sterling service and protection for a number of years. It also (by virtue of the pop-up messages) is letting me know when certain installed software wants to "phone home" and so I can decide whether I want it to or not!!
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

Any protection from an outbound firewall is based on the assertion that when you have the botnet software or other malware and the firewall software both running on your computer, the firewall software is going to win. There are plenty of bad things the malware could do which the outbound firewall won't protect you from, and the malware could communicate with the outside world by interfering with your web browser.
A bad analogy for the outbound firewall protection would be like insisting on carrying a parachute with you whenever you fly anywhere. It might save you if you need to jump out of the plane, but it won't protect you from everything like the plane crashing into a hillside while attempting to land. You really don't want to be in the situation where you need to rely on it.
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Re: Value of Zone Alarm ?

Whilst that may all be true, malware could also make your machine totally unusable. But in the case of a botnet for example, they want the machine working well - otherwise the botnet won't be effective. For a piece of botnet malware to contain all the necessary code to manage to bypass every possible outbound firewall that any user may have, is unlikely. So the chances are that you will get some warning.
But it should be remembered that nothing - no AV, no Internet Security package, whatever is 100% effective. Users need to pick what they have on their machine consistent with machine resources and usage as well as user experience and of course no conflicts with any other packages.
But the main point is, that to give the impression that an outbound Firewall is of no value is complete and utter bollocks.