Zone Labs – ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 review

Heavy-duty protection from Internet nasties
Photo of Zone Labs – ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5
£34

To be safe and work responsibly on the Internet, you need a firewall. It protects your PC from unwanted attacks by miscreant hackers and can keep you ‘invisible’ when you’re surfing the Web. ZoneAlarm Pro is one of the most respected software firewalls and version 4.5 adds significant extras to the product, making it easier to set up and more effective in what it does.

Installation is straightforward and includes registration, which gives you one year’s free updates to the program. During the setup procedure, ZoneAlarm seeks out any networks to which your PC is connected, including both local intranets and the Internet. It asks which of these you want to allow access to and at what level of security, so you can be more lenient with your requirements for a home or small-business network than you are when connecting to the rest of the world.

There are three different levels of security within the program and at the higher two you can choose to close off the ports by which data moves to and from your PC or to ‘hide’ them completely, so your PC goes unseen when browsing the Internet. If a PC can’t be seen, it can’t be hacked.

While active, ZoneAlarm Pro pops up small Alert dialogues every time a program tries to make access to the Internet, asking you for permission to let it continue. You may not know what a particular program on your system does, but clicking on the More Info button takes you to a dedicated ZoneLabs Web site, providing information on a wealth of common applications, for guidance.

As time goes on and the program tailors itself to your PC, fewer and fewer of these pop-up Alerts appear. The program monitors traffic out from your computer as well as that coming in, so it can prevent malicious worms from bulk mailing through your PC to all the names on your contact list.

As well as its core function as a firewall, ZoneAlarm Pro includes useful additions, such as control of pop-ups and other advertisements. Using its built-in utilities, you can suppress all these marketing ploys.

Version 4.5 also includes Cache Cleaner, which removes temporary files from your Internet browser, including your browsing history and cookies. It can also go through your hard drive and remove temporary files in general, including those in your recycle bin. The cleaner can be tailored to your needs, so it only deletes what you request.

If you fancy trying out ZoneAlarm Pro before buying, you have two free options. From the ZoneLabs Web site you can download a trial version of the full software or, if you just want the firewall without the ad-blocking or cache-cleaning facilities, there’s a version that’s completely free for personal use.

Company: Zone Labs

Contact: +1 415 633 4500


Verdict
ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 continues to provide one of the best software firewall solutions in the business. The sensible addition of privacy-related utilities enhances its core protection in important areas.