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Last post Author Topic: Best free firewall for Windows?  (Read 149395 times)

Curt

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #125 on: January 30, 2008, 11:58:03 AM »
The only two problems I have found after the first 24 hours of using Online Armor Free are 1) ....-And 2) that Online Armor is too intrusive when I want to uninstall some program. Why on earth must it know if it is okay that I am running an uninstaller?

This mis-feature turned out to be too much for me. The final nail was when I wanted to remove IconBee and had to confirm 3 times that I really wanted to remove the thing! Online Armor is way too intrusive for IT testers.

Online Armor too has left the building...  :down:

ciderman

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #126 on: January 31, 2008, 04:42:58 AM »
Hello!

Curt and Darwin, i am sorry to hear that you had problems with Online-Armor.

To Curt that is the Hips side of the Online-Armor which is doing that. I agree that it can be annoying at times, but then again i dont install/uninstall lot of programs. If i do, i use the learning mode, because this way it doesnt pop up...well i am cheating a bit  :)
Something to think about: "Pain is your friend, it lets you know that you are still alive"

Darwin

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #127 on: January 31, 2008, 01:53:32 PM »
Hi ciderman - my experience with OnlineArmor was generally positive, but the serious hit that it made on my processor means that it was not a viable option for my computer. Also, to add insult to injury (in my case), I discovered this morning that OA's uninstall routine had left a dll and the OAGUI.exe file on my system and both were still set to run at startup! Thus, they were still running in the background this morning and I had to use Unlocker's delete on next system start to get rid of them. These were in the C:\program files\Tall Emu\Online Armor folder, Curt - you might want to see if they are lurking on your system still!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Curt

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #128 on: January 31, 2008, 03:02:44 PM »
Thanks for the headup, Darwin, but No, I removed the folder at once when I uninstalled the program, and besides, I am using a startup manager.

But I too will like to make it clear that I found Online-Armor to be quite a good firewall, only, I had this one or two items...

Target

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #129 on: February 01, 2008, 12:18:19 AM »
I've just been browsing over at wilders and been reminded about the the NVidia NForce firewall that came with my motherboard

I used this for a while but switched (for no good reason that I can remember), now i'm wondering if it might be worth going back to...

anyone else got any feedback or experience of this app?

Target 

update - hmmm, after a little googling it doesn't seem like this is a particularly good option (though personally I don't recall it ever being a problem)
« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 12:54:43 AM by Target »

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #130 on: February 01, 2008, 01:45:12 AM »
update - hmmm, after a little googling it doesn't seem like this is a particularly good option (though personally I don't recall it ever being a problem)

Target, like you said elsewhere, there is, "... no silver bullet." 

In looking at this and other threads it almost looks like each computer setup has its own "personality."  As a result of this, the "Ultimate Solution" for every case is looking more and more like a myth.  If the Nvidia FW worked before and there are no glaring problems with it, maybe it would be the "flavor" that would be just right for your box?

Just my duo of copper coinage.

f0dder

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #131 on: February 01, 2008, 05:58:11 AM »
STAY AWAY FROM THE NFORCE FIREWALL!
(If there was only a bbcode tag for blink...)

It leaks like hell (try running a torrent client for some hours), it's unstable to the point of BSODs, it installs several megabytes of apache httpd server just for it's configuration, etc.

Sounded like such a great idea when nvidia introduced it, but implementation is so useless that you shouldn't bother. I think they even removed it completely for later chipsets, which screams "danger bloody danger!" to me.
- carpe noctem

a_lunatic

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #132 on: February 01, 2008, 06:44:05 AM »
I think they even removed it completely for later chipsets, which screams "danger bloody danger!" to me.


Yeah on my nForce 590 SLI it doesn't have it.

All so if installed the Nvidia network access manager which is where you configure it alone can cause BSOD & problems so I all ways make sure I never install that with the chipset drivers.

Lashiec

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #133 on: February 01, 2008, 01:14:06 PM »
Last time I installed the Network Access Manager the only things I could configure were some of the most advanced options of the Ethernet ports. Can you really activate the firewall from there? Even nVidia doesn't mention nothing about their Firewall in the documentation and features pages for the later nForce chipsets (IIRC, the firewall was introduced with the nForce 4).

a_lunatic

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #134 on: February 01, 2008, 06:47:07 PM »
I am not sure but there was a firewalll link in there first time I install tried clicking on it but didn't do anything.

lanux128

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #135 on: February 01, 2008, 09:26:05 PM »
this nForce firewall sure does suffer from serious flaws in its design but the nVidia forums contains threads with work-arounds..

Darwin

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #136 on: February 01, 2008, 11:25:40 PM »
STAY AWAY FROM THE NFORCE FIREWALL!
(If there was only a bbcode tag for blink...)

It leaks like hell (try running a torrent client for some hours), it's unstable to the point of BSODs, it installs several megabytes of apache httpd server just for it's configuration, etc.

Sounded like such a great idea when nvidia introduced it, but implementation is so useless that you shouldn't bother. I think they even removed it completely for later chipsets, which screams "danger bloody danger!" to me.


Go on then, f0dder, tell us what you really think  :P
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

nosh

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #137 on: February 03, 2008, 11:53:49 AM »
Update:

Since I had some time on my hands today I caved in again and after reading user opinions online decided to give Comodo another shot, this time with a little more determination.  :)

I do miss Sygate's main window and all the info it provided. The most important factors for me are (rather obviously) connection speed and resource usage - it isn't degrading the connect speeds at all and uses around 5 MB more RAM than Sygate did. Process Explorer shows its CPU usage at 0% even with uTorrent running at full blast. Other than a few custom rules I'm using it on default mode so with a little bit of learning and tweaking it can only get better.

Two advantages over Sygate that I've noticed so far (other than being eyecandy):
It's more user-friendly when it comes to rule creation.
It has a thriving forum, reminiscent of DC. Reading their forums was what decided me in the end - with that kind of a user-base behind a product it's very unlikely it'll stray or be left to languish like my beloved SPF.

Also, it's free (or "free forever", as they put it) - with security apps being in the must-upgrade category this is obviously a huge plus. Unless it breaks something on my system, I think it's here to stay.

Lashiec

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #138 on: February 03, 2008, 11:59:46 AM »
Hmmm, that's pretty impressive, considering that µTorrent conflicts with nearly every other security app out there. The only problem you may face is something similar to the high resource usage Armando experienced in brief moments, due to the Defense+ feature. Of course, that depends of your usage of the computer and all that.

nosh

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #139 on: February 03, 2008, 12:08:36 PM »
Oh, I'm not using Defense+, chose not to install it. Forgot to mention. I've used anti-spyware apps in realtime mode to know exactly how much havoc they can wreak.  :'(

Armando

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #140 on: February 03, 2008, 04:12:35 PM »
1) that the systray icon doesn't pop up any menu when the icons are "hidden" inside PS Tray Factory. Online Armor Free is the only program I have with this weakness.

Actually, X1’s icon does the same. So my wild guess is that there are a bunch of other tray icons that might not behave properly in ps tray factory — not only OA or X1. Isn’t giving a firewall a :down: because it’s not perfectly compatible with PS tray a bit… extreme (Curt : do you have Irish blood?  :P) ??

And concerning the other problem you had, which ciderman addressed :

To Curt that is the Hips side of the Online-Armor which is doing that. I agree that it can be annoying at times, but then again i dont install/uninstall lot of programs. If i do, i use the learning mode, because this way it doesnt pop up...well i am cheating a bit  :)

Exactly. This is actually one purpose of the learning mode : before uninstalling an app, just click on "learning mode"! That's it. It pretty much has the same function as Comodo's "installation  mode" (or something like that). Because a good HIPS (Host-based Intrusion Prevention System) WILL tell you if an app wants to make changes to your OS or to installed programs… unless you explicitly tell it to NOT to do it. Which you can do with OA’s HIPS. No problem there!

The only ting that could be sexier is if OA could detect when one is actually installing/uninstalling an app and automatically offer the “learning mode” — like Comodo (and I believe Vista's firewall) does. As far as I’m concerned, the first security popup appearing when I install/uninstall something reminds me to do it.  But then, what would be good is if a second popup could also remind me of putting the firewall back into normal mode… That is lacking. But, no big deal, really, IMHO.

Oh, I'm not using Defense+, chose not to install it. Forgot to mention. I've used anti-spyware apps in realtime mode to know exactly how much havoc they can wreak.  :'(

Oh! that explains much. Because Comodo with defense+ DID slow down my internet connection + 6s freeze with farr and Gridmove (both slowdowns related to INI files see this thread : http://www.donationc...71.msg96875#msg96875, and this post http://www.donationc...71.msg97613#msg97613 — NOD32 had a part to play, but was easily fixed, Comodo with Defense+ had the biggest part when t came to farr’s freezes). That'S the main reason why I finally decided to drop Comodo entirely, especially after reading that Comodo without Defense+ isn't worth much... See that post in this thread : http://www.donationc...59.msg98810#msg98810 .


I've used Outpost Pro Firewall (non-free) in the past. What I like about it is the level of detail in the information it provides me and in the range of actions I can choose from. But despite being better at such things compared to other software FW I tried it was still somewhat limited. It often asked me for decisions based on scarce information and few choices.

Example 1: some component had changed but there was no easy way for me to get more details about it (its path, its "track  record" of changing, related components and I couldn't just copy its name to the clipboard for web searches)

Example 2: some process wants net access but I can only choose between "create rule" (subcategories always allow/always block/custom), "allow once" and "block once". (I don't remember the names Outpost uses exactly, but something like that). I would often have preferred "allow the next ___ minutes" where a dropdown would let me set the time.

So, can anyone here point me to an in other regards decent free firewall that provide VERY much information and have VERY many alternative actions?

I am/was personally  happy with Comodo or Online Armor’s degree of precision. But I guess that it’s a personal thing. As for the "allow the next ___ minutes" — a very good suggestion IMO, if you know what you’Re doing ! — I don’t remember seeing that anywhere… Or maybe have I seen it in ZoneAlarm, at some point? Dunno.

Now, after almost one week of heavy testing, I’m happy to semi-confirm that OA's works really well on my system, with 99% of my applications. Only one old app I purchased years ago, “Audio Caller ID”, refuses to start if Online Armor is already running; BUT it will run if I temporarily disable OA, execute ACID, and restart the firewall. I haven’t tried to find what’s the source of the problem yet... and I probably won’t wince it works with that small workaround. Lazy me.

1- Online Armor generally doesn’t slowdown my 1.5 years old 1.8 ghz dual core. Its process is generally between 0 and 5%, and when doing heavy downloading (tried downloading the last Ubuntu with uTorrent!) or browsing, it doesn’t go much higher (some temporary peaks at 30, but it doesn’t stay there all the time — and that’s really not a problem for me since I’m not a heavy torrent user). And that’s with HIPS enabled.

2- Promptly blocks everything I haven’t given any special permissions/given any privileges (yes, you can choose to “permanently” lower an applications’ privilege with OA — “run safer”);

3- No internet perceptible slowdowns after intensive testing with different “speed testing” Web sites. (I'm not talking about about the firewalls popups for application permissions, etc.);

4- IMHO, the interface is much more cleverly designed than Comodo’s (and MUCH MUCH less sluggish) : simpler and more intuitive, less features though. Yes, the free version has simpler features (lacks some of the more advanced features of the advanced version, off course), but it's still effective. See Matousec's leak tests results.

Now, I’m not saying OA’s perfect. I’ve had enough problems with firewalls to know that some can appear after a month of daily use! Darwin obviously had problems with it, and I did have some small issues (with StrokeIt — but that’s easily fixed). But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best firewall I’ve tried so far… If they can fix some of the CPU “peaks” with uTorrent (and maybe others… like in Darwin’s case, I don’t know), it would be almost perfect for my needs. (I'm talking about the free version here -- the paid version might be even better... who knows.)

Grorgy

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #141 on: February 03, 2008, 04:30:37 PM »
While not strictly a free firewall i suppose, eset here in Australia are offering ESS for the same price as for NOD32, well it may not be the best firewall in the world I really couldnt say, but it does all i need and the price was right (50% student discount as well  ;)

Darwin

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #142 on: February 03, 2008, 04:49:34 PM »
1) that the systray icon doesn't pop up any menu when the icons are "hidden" inside PS Tray Factory. Online Armor Free is the only program I have with this weakness.

Actually, X1’s icon does the same. So my wild guess is that there are a bunch of other tray icons that might not behave properly in ps tray factory — not only OA or X1. Isn’t giving a firewall a :down: because it’s not perfectly compatible with PS tray a bit… extreme (Curt : do you have Irish blood?  :P) ??

Yeah, I've a number of icons that I can't hide using PSTrayFactory and still access context menu functionality for - Broadcom's Bluetooth controller app is one of them. Can't recall the others as I got fed up and simply stopped having them run in tray!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

nosh

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #143 on: February 03, 2008, 05:56:44 PM »
Armando,
Thanks for the heads up! I reinstalled with Defense+ to see what kind of an impact it would have on my system and ... how shall I put this... everything went down the tubes! It didn't just slow down the PC, it brought almost everything to a complete halt for full five minutes.

In my defense...
Clipboard01.jpg

Defense+ is an out and out anti-malware app and asks me crazy stuff like "Process Explorer is trying to create a file, would you like to allow this?"
Anyhoo - I will look into the HIPS issue in some more detail tomorrow, maybe the truth lies somewhere inbetween "isn't worth a s***" and "industrial strength"  ;D - my needs for outbound protection are limited, I just want to stop regular apps (as opposed to malware intelligently finding its way around things) calling home without my permission. I think Comodo just might suffice.

Target

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #144 on: February 03, 2008, 06:07:32 PM »
thanks for the, err...'passionate' responses regarding the NForce firewalls, they echo what I'd been seeing in a lot of places...

FWIW I gave PC Tools a whirl and have to say I was mightily disappointed. 

first problem (for me) - it blocked the internal network for some reason (and I'm not even on a network!!!), wouldn't let me play CounterStrike (single player).  Tried tweaking the rules to no avail (probably my lack of expertise didn't help here...)

second problem - inability to connect to the net.  It may be a good firewall, but I never found out 'cos it either blocked my connection, or dropped it after a very short time.  I spent well over an hour trying to establish a reliable connection, and in the end simply disabled the firewall (problem solved!!).  Maybe I'm a slow learner, but I can't for the life of understand why an app that is apparently as well considered as this one appears to be shouldn't work straight out of the box...

On top of that it was so intrusive (I'm still installing stuff after a rebuild) - every install required a response (some several).

Now I know this is a 'good thing', but it's irritating in the extreme.  Clicking on the 'remember this' option shortcuts some of this, but creates a useless rule.  Uninstalling was an equally frustrating exercise (why would I want to create a rule to uninstall something???).

all in all a very unproductive session (well, apart from the fact that now I know not to use PC Tools firewall)

Target


4wd

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #145 on: February 05, 2008, 05:04:57 PM »
So for a software firewall I've settled on PCTools Firewall V3.

With or without ThreatFire ??

Sorry, for the slow reply - only visit when the moon is blue, red, green or purple  :P

Without, I don't use any form of HIPS.  Since anything 'nasty' that starts to run has to:

a) get onto my PC - which is hard for anyone to do physically.
b) get through the router's firewall, the only open ports go to a dumb NAS not capable of running software - and the router uses SPI, so the connection has to be originated at my end first.
c) get through NAT translation.
d) get through PCTools Firewall V3, which also has SPI on plus it has basic 'software-not-doing-the-right-thing' protection, (in the Application rules).
e) and finally I've even found avast! AntiVirus free edition works remarkably well for picking up stray malware/spyware.

I used to run HIPS of one kind or another, (was a while ago and can't recall any of the products - damn alcohol!),  but just found that they caused to much interference with my normal operation of my computer.

I'll also mention here another scenario I have:

I have a XP-SP2 PC, it's an old Dell Optiplex GX150 PIII-1GHz running as a headless, (no keyboard, mouse, monitor), Usenet downloader.  It runs 24/7/365.

It doesn't have a firewall, (not even the default XP).  It doesn't have antivirus.  It's only form of protection is the router, (firewall/NAT).  It has run for more than a year.  It has never had a virus/spyware/malware/software problem.

Why?

It runs ONE program only, (SABnzbd - which is compiled Python).  It doesn't execute anything it downloads, (it doesn't even get unarchived).  It doesn't do Microsoft updates, it doesn't do any updates.  It is permanently stuck at SP2.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2008, 05:23:48 PM by 4wd »

4wd

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #146 on: February 05, 2008, 05:50:57 PM »
Darwin,
I was tempted to try it myself but I read somewhere it doesn't have checks for dll injection. You may want to look this up (I'm not sure if it's been rectified in the newer versions) before you make it a permanent fixture.

The free version of PCTools Firewall V3 allows you to set the following permissions for applications:

Memory Injection
Access through Child process
OLE object activation

All can be set for Allow, Block or Prompt.

I say free version because it allows you to enter a registration code but I don't know whether you need to buy it or just register online - I haven't bothered and it still works.

I will mention that under Settings->Filtering you can turn on 'Protection against Code Injection' - I don't know if this is what you mean.
The only time I turned it on I stupidly answered Block to a requester, (when I should have Allow'ed), and that was the last time I saw the Desktop for a couple of hours while I recovered the system  :-[

Oh, as a bonus it is about the only free firewall I've found, (besides purely rule-based, ala Ghostwall), that installs and runs on Windows Server 2003.  Most of the others won't install either because they don't support it, (eg. Comodo), or because it's automatically assumed you're a corporation, (ergo, you need to buy the Enterprise Edition or some such).

Darwin

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #147 on: February 05, 2008, 05:55:35 PM »
Now, I’m not saying OA’s perfect. I’ve had enough problems with firewalls to know that some can appear after a month of daily use! Darwin obviously had problems with it, and I did have some small issues (with StrokeIt — but that’s easily fixed). But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best firewall I’ve tried so far… If they can fix some of the CPU “peaks” with uTorrent (and maybe others… like in Darwin’s case, I don’t know), it would be almost perfect for my needs. (I'm talking about the free version here -- the paid version might be even better... who knows.)

Armando is right - if the few wrinkles could be ironed out I'd happily run OA FW. I feel pretty comfortable with my current setup - Windows Firewall and my router firewall. However, I'd be perfectly happy running a more robust software firewall if I could find one that didn't make such a dent in my resources. I don't mind popups and distractions - a good firewall learns from your responses and pretty quickly just leaves you alone. I can't stand my CPU being tied up though... The perils of single core! Actually, I suppose I should be a good netizen/software freak and submit a bug report to the developers. Right, off to do that now...

EDIT: just cleaning up.... darn tenses!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: February 05, 2008, 06:00:00 PM by Darwin »

nosh

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #148 on: February 05, 2008, 06:03:48 PM »
I tried OA, it kept popping up runtime errors. The other apps didn't freeze up like with Comodo but everything went into slow-motion, including my download speeds. I have to assume that something on my system doesn't like HIPS or more likely, the other way round. Judging by the hit a PC takes with HIPS installed, anyone installing it should give some serious thought to whether it is _really_ worth it. For me getting rid of HIPS wasn't even a security decision, more like whether I wanted to keep using my PC or not. Am back with Comodo (sans HIPS, of course) Maybe my experience was a lot worse than some of you considering my P4 3GHz Prescott is kinda dated... and yet, kinda state-of-the-art, compared to other frying pans!

Curt

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Re: Best free firewall for Windows?
« Reply #149 on: February 05, 2008, 06:08:34 PM »
... Isn’t giving a firewall a :down: because it’s not perfectly compatible with PS tray a bit… extreme  ?? ...

I have a license for Outpost Pro, so I don't have to tolerate any problems.  ;)

The Danes ruled certain parts of Ireland a thousand years ago, so there may be some Irishmen with Danish blood, but I am quite sure that I don't have Irish blood...