Firewall programs’ configuration is different from the other programs, but something similar to anti-spam programs. The software needs to understand which programs can access the Internet and then blocks the others based on what you tell it. I, as a do-it-yourself type, go on with the Manual configuration that I told you above. I want to see every program that tries to access the Internet and then decide what to do. When you begin to use the program from zero, you will see a lot of alerts, so much to lose your sanity. But I suggest you to be patient and decide on which program the firewall asks you to allow or deny access.
The software identifies the programs with their hash codes and stores in its database. If any change happens to a particular program, then the hash code will not match the one that ZoneAlarm has in its database and it asks for your decision, whether to allow access or deny it. There is a catch here: if you have updated any of your programs, say Firefox from 3.0.1 to 3.0.5, then the hash code will change and ZoneAlarm will ask your permission to grant access. Do not think that ZoneAlarm is stupid to ask you about the same program once in a while, it is a good and sure thing to do.
You will see your configured programs in ZoneAlarm’s configuration. The programs are allowed as Local/Internet and Allow Connect/Allow Server matrix. That means, you can allow a program to “allow connect" to the local area network, but “deny access" to the Internet. Please also note that some programs, like P2P file sharing and Torrent programs need to be configured with “allow server" option to function properly. Otherwise, for a torrent program, you will not be able to seed and leech at the same time, because ZoneAlarm will block the seeding feature.