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Personal Firewall Reviews -- After important tips and comparative reviews, this page provides links to vendors and reviews for forty-nine personal firewall products:

  • Top Picks -- Norton & ZoneAlarm

  • More Choices -- BlackIce, eTrust, Fireball, Freedom/Hacker Stopper, F-Secure, Kerio, Look'n'Stop, McAfee, Outpost, Panda, PC-cillin, Preventon, PrivateFirewall, , Sygate, Terminet, Tiny & Trustix

  • Not Reviewed -- Armor2net, Bullguard, CheckIt, 8Signs, Firekeys, Firewall X-treme, Hackersmacker, InJoy, Kaspersky, Norman, Omniguad, pcInternet Patrol, Primedius, SecurePoint, SecureUP/3b, SphinxWall, Surf Secret, TGB::Bob! VisNetic & Webroot

  • Fading Away -- ConSeal, eSafe, HackTracer, PC Viper, NeoWatch, Steganos & Sphinx

  • Not Recommended -- Internet Firewall 2000, Mindsoft & VirusMD

"The perfect personal firewall would be inexpensive and easy to install and use, would offer clearly explained configuration options, would hide all ports to make your PC invisible to scans, would protect your system from all attacks, would track all potential and actual threats, would immediately alert you to serious attacks, and would ensure nothing unauthorized entered or left your PC." This great definition is quoted from Make Your PC Hacker Proof, Jeff Sengstack, PC World, July 21, 2000.

Important Tips -- Before installing personal firewall software on a Windows XP computer, be sure that the firewall built into Windows XP is turned off. Never use two software firewalls at the same time. Completely uninstall one before installing another. Use the vendor's uninstall utility or if not available, use the Windows XP add/remove software tool in the control panel.  After you install a firewall, be sure to check it with a service like the Security Space Desktop Audit to make sure that it is configured correctly. Testing your firewall is the only sure way to tell that your computer is really being protected.

Getting Started -- For background information, see Beginners Guides: Firewalls and Internet Security, Mike Dowler, PCStats, May 2, 2004, and How Firewalls Work from HowStuffWorks.

Comparative reviews of personal firewall software:

Top Picks Personal Firewalls

Norton Personal Firewall, Symantec, $50 list, annual renewal required, includes privacy features and cookie manager; Internet Security, $70 list, annual renewal required, adds anti-virus and parental control (formerly in the family edition). Both are based on the former AtGuard firewall program acquired in 1999 by Symantec; now refined and enhanced. Features -- Effective, works on inbound and outbound traffic, provides pre-written rules for novices, allow experts to write custom rules, suite provides other useful security features; 2002 version was ICSA certified.

  • See our Suites page for reviews of Norton Internet Security (2004 version has firewall, anti-virus, privacy control, anti-spam, and parental control; it costs less than buying separate products).

ZoneAlarm Free/Plus/Pro, See survey/chart at Zone Lab to pick one is free for personal use; the Plus version is $40 list and the Pro version is $50 list. Features -- Effective, easy to install and configure, blocks inbound and outbound traffic, MailSafe scans email. Note -- Zone Labs was purchased by Checkpoint in December 2003.

More Personal Firewall Products To Consider

BlackICE PC Protection, Internet Security Systems (they purchased NetworkICE in 2001), list price is $40 first year, annual renewal required. Features -- Effective for incoming traffic, easy to install and use, good intrusion detection and clear reports, back traces to identify hackers, and now blocks outbound traffic.

  • Practical PC review, Dave Cook, April 3, 2003

eTrust EZ FirewallComputer Associates, $30, 30 day trial

  • ZDNet Australia review, Mark Snell, November 1, 2002

Fireball CyberProtection Suite, Redcannon, $50, 15 day free trial, has firewall, intrusion detection, privacy, patch scan, VPN, parental control and mini-console. See our Suites page for reviews.

Freedom Personal Firewall, Zero Knowledge, $30 for download; CD sold as Hacker Stopper by Encore Safeworld.

F-Secure Internet Security 2004, $70, includes anti-virus and firewall. See our Suites page for reviews.

Kerio Personal Firewall, Kerio Technologies, free for home use, $39 for business.

  • PC Flank 4.0 review, Andrew Cooper
  • Personal Computer World review, Paul Rowlingson, July 22, 2003
  • PC Update review, Ash Nallawalla, April 2003

Look'n'Stop Soft4Ever, $28, free trial available, lite version is free, French, Italian, German & English versions.

McAfee Firewall (vendor's site) $30 list; and Internet Security suite with personal firewall, surf & chat room for kids, anti-virus, private information safeguard and ad blocking, $70 list. The firewall is based on the former Signal 9 ConSeal Private Desktop which was acquired by McAfee in 1999. Features -- Works on inbound and outbound traffic. Cons -- Requires configuration; other products offer more bang for the buck.

  • See reviews of McAfee Internet Security on our Suites page.
  • IT Week UK review, Cliff Joseph, January 22, 2004
  • ZDNet Australia review, Mark Snell, November 1, 2002
  • CNet Firewall 4.0 review, Gregg Keizer, September 13, 2002

Outpost, Agnitum, freeware; Pro version $40 for single user, family license for up to five computers $76, business licenses also available. They also offer a discount if purchased with their Tauscan anti-Trojan product.

Panda Platinum Internet Security, $70 with one year of updates, free trial available, has antivirus, firewall, blocks spam, privacy protection, web content filtering, anti-spyware, PC security diagnosis and repair, and automatic updates. See our Suites page for reviews.

PC-cillin Internet Security 2004 -- Antivirus, firewall, and anti-spam. See our Suites page for reviews.

Preventon Personal Firewall (vendor's site), UK, $37 USD

  • VnuNet review, Ashley McKinnon, June 13, 2002
  • Webuser review, Benny Har-Even, April 19, 2002

PrivateFirewall, Privacyware, $30, free trial available. Note: Formerly Deerfield Personal Firewall (vendor's site).

  • Zen Security review, August 13, 2002 (Deerfield)
  • WebAttack review, August 3, 2001 (Deerfield)
  • review

Sygate Personal Firewall (vendor's site), regular version is free for personal use and $20 for business use; the Pro version is $40. Sygate also offers networking software; see our network page for more information. Note: PCWorld Best Buy (July 2002) and PC Magazine Editor's Choice (2-26-02).

TermiNet, Infotecs, multilingual -- English, Swedish, Danish, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, Russian, Italian & Portuguese, demo available.

  • Internet Magazine review, Darren Cole, April 2001
  • Vnunet review, Kyle MacRae, March 10, 2001

Tiny Personal Firewall (vendor's site). Note: Version 5 is not freeware.

  • Scott Finnie review, July 24, 2001
  • IT Reviews, June 20, 2001
  • Canada Computes review, Dave Chappelle, June 20, 2001
  • LAN Locked, Keith Schultz, InternetWeek, May 14, 2001

Trustix Personal Firewall with spyware killer and pop-up blocker, $40, free trial available.

Personal Firewall Products Not Reviewed

Product descriptions on software download sites do not qualify as reviews. Nor do end user write ups on sites like Epinions because they seldom include firewall testing.

Armor2net, Armor2net Software Ltd, 30 day free trial, $20.

Bullguard Suite -- Antivirus, firewall and storage; $40 per year with 100 MB storage, 20 day free trial available.

CheckIT Firewall, Smith Micro Software, $50 list.

8Signs (vendor site) Note: Replaces the ConSeal PC Firewall that was acquired by McAfee in 1999.

Firekeys, Software Appliance Company, 10 day free trial, $29.

Firewall X-treme, StompSoft, $40, trial available, from the makers of BackUpMyPC.

HackerSmacker -- $20, $50 for 5 users, free trial available.

InJoy -- Denmark company, $30 for the personal version, 30 day free trial available.

Kaspersky Anti-Hacker $39.

Norman Personal Firewall, Norman, $30.

Omniguad -- there is a freeware version, the pro version is $39.

pcInternet Patrol, Internet Security Alliance, $100 per year.

Primedius -- the lite version is free, the pro version is $30.

SecurePoint Personal Firewall, freeware

SecureUp Personal Firewall, SecureUP, 30 day free trial, $29. 3B Software appears to be offering a rebranded version of SecureUp for $39.

Surf Secret Personal Firewall, SurfSecret, 30 day free trial, $40.

TGB::BOB! TheGreenBow, France, French & English versions, $43.

VisNetic Firewall (formerly Ambra), Deerfield, $50 for one work station.

Webroot My Firewall Plus, free trial available, $40.

x-Wall Series, Sphinx Software, just the firewall is free, additional features require payment.

Fading Away or Gone Completely

ConSeal PC Firewall, replaced by 8Signs, conversion tool available.

eSafe Desktop 3.0, Aladdin Knowledge Systems, no longer available or supported.

HackTracer, Sharp Technology, (NeoWatch by Neoworx was a related product)

PC Viper, Source Velocity, $20:

  • PC Magazine review, Neil Rubenking, February 26, 2002
  • ZDNet brief review, January 15, 2001
  • Security for Cable Networks review notes (scroll down), August 9, 2000

NeoWatch, NeoWorx was purchased by McAfee in Fall 2001, related to HackTracer.

Steganos Online Shield, $25, free trial available

  • Vnunet review, Andrew Zarkesh, August 9, 2002

Sphinx, BioData, went out of business.

Personal Firewall Products Not Recommended By Reviewers

Internet Firewall 2000, Digital Robotics, $40.

  • review, Robert Richmond, November 4, 2000

Mindsoft Firewall (vendor's site), Spanish.

VirusMD Personal Firewall, (vendor's site) $20, 30 day trial available.

  • Vendor's Note: "VirusMD Personal Firewall� is a micro-firewall and should not be use as your primary virus scanner or as your primary firewall. It does not pan-block incoming or outgoing data. Rather, is a diagnostic and therapeutic utility designed to help professionals save time and effort in eradicating Trojan horses."
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