Before downloading and installing any firewall product, whether free or paid, it's a good idea to put a little time into researching and reading firewall reviews. As more and more firewalls hit the market, these reviews can help you separate the gems from the scams.
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Importance of Researching Firewall Software
The purpose of a firewall is to protect your computer from intrusions such as hackers, viruses, and other malicious threats that try to access your system through the Internet or other network connections. In terms of security, a good firewall is one of the most important software products that you can own. While there are a lot of excellent firewalls on the market, there are also quite a few bad ones as well. So, before you settle on a solution, it’s a good idea to get as much information as you can from firewall reviews.
At the very least, poorly designed firewalls will leave your computer unprotected while wasting your time and money. At worst, they can do so much damage to your system that the only way to fix the issue is to reformat your hard drive, which could lead to losing all types of valuable documents and other stored digital information.
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Get More Information from Firewall Reviews
If you’re a Windows user, you may want do a little background reading on the built-in Windows Firewall before taking a deep breath and diving into the sea of third-party firewall reviews. How much security does this Microsoft solution offer, and is the default Windows Firewall good enough? As security specialist Donna Buenaventura notes, “Windows Firewall is better than no firewall, but it doesn’t offer the same protection as a third-party product such as Outpost Firewall."
On the other hand, if you’re a Windows 7 user on a tight budget, you may want to start your research by reading Mark Muller’s roundup of the top free firewalls for Windows 7. There are actually quite a few free firewall products that outperform their paid counterparts, particularly for typical users who are really just looking for a solid solution that requires little to no interaction unless a threat is detected. In addition to Mark’s recommendations, you may also want to take a look at the evaluation of the free version of Outpost Firewall along with Tolga Balci’s analysis of Ashampoo Firewall Free Edition.
Even among the leading firewall products, there are quite a few differences – especially in terms of ease of use and customization options. Two applications may offer basically the same degree of protection, but have radically different interfaces and alert methods. While some people may consider these features just “eye candy," they’re actually very important when reviewing security software. After all, if a firewall is too confusing or if it doesn’t work seamlessly with your operating system, it can become tempting to turn it off altogether – and that’s something that you really don’t want to do.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/DBGthekafu
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Methods Used to Evaluate Software in Firewall Reviews
When performing a firewall review, there are a number of things that conscientious evaluators take into consideration. Some of these points – like ease of installation, usability, and an analysis of included features – can be a bit subjective and may vary, depending on the application’s target audience. However, there are definitely some objective tests that are used when determining how well the firewall actually protects your computer.
One major type of evaluation performed on firewall software is a leak test. For a more detailed explanation of this type of tool, see What You Need to Know About Firewall Leak Tests. Some of these tests are even available for download, so you personally can check and evaluate how well a firewall application is performing on your PC. Other information is gleaned from personal experiences of the reviewer and other users of the software.
If you do encounter problems or issues with any firewall application, or if you find one that seems to work perfectly, please leave a note in our comments section. In addition to the information found in Bright Hub’s many firewall reviews, your feedback can help others make a more-informed choice.