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Rating: Needs some work
Several months ago I reviewed Black Ice Defender and gave it highest of marks and recommended it without reservation: reviews/sw/blackicedef.html
It’s difficult to bite the bullet and eat crow, but times change and the Black Ice Defender I knew and loved is no more.
When Zone Labs released Zone Alarm, Network Ice began releasing new versions of Black Ice Defender. It was during these 1.9.x releases that things took a turn for the worse. Black Ice Defender began to fail, giving filter failed errors that meant that Black Ice Defender was no longer offering protection. Had this been an event solely experienced by myself it would be one thing. However, the Black Ice Forums began seeing a lot of traffic with users having the same and in many cases worse problems. For a long while the solution was to uninstall Black Ice Defender (which requires a special utility) and to install an older version, in this case 1.8.6, which would solve these problems. Yet Network Ice continued to release new versions that did not solve the problems users were experiencing, including the recent release of version 2.1x, which included some much needed interface enhancements but it still has not solved the stability problem.
Furthermore, Black Ice Defender is still overly sensitive to network traffic, which means that you will get many, many false alarms. At least the new version allows you to select when you will see the flashing red icon. However, with its default settings it will make inexperienced users feel they are under constant attack. Since the program is not very well documented, many users will not know how to change the settings to prevent seeing all these warnings.
Technical Support from Network Ice is hard to come by. There is no phone support provided, and e-mail support is slow to respond to say the least. The best support is provided through the Black Ice forums – http://bidhq.homestead.com – which are user provided and not part of Network Ice.
At this point Black Ice Defender still does not offer Outbound Monitoring; something AtGuard (now Norton Internet Security), Conseal PC Firewall, and Private Desktop (now McAfee Personal Fireall), and Zone Alarm provide.
Computer security programs must be stable and able to provide the protection they are designed for. This is especially important for firewalls and anti-virus software! Unfortunately Black Ice Defender no longer does that and for a product that cost $39 plus an additional $19 after the first year this is unacceptable!
I can no longer recommend Black Ice Defender to anyone who is seriously interested in their security. Zone Alarm and Norton Internet Security offer more protection and get my recommendation. Since Zone Alarm is free for personal use it now gets the nod as my personal recommendation as a software firewall for Windows based PCs.
Submitted by: Zenwolf