Zone Alarm

URL: http://www.zonelabs.com

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Rating: Needs some work

Review:

When I started using a cable modem I was quite concerned about people gaining access to my machine. I downloaded Zone Alarm (the free version) because just about every site I went to was recommending it. Zone Alarm installed very easily and appeared to be working exactly the way it was supposed to.

Some time after this I began to experience a lot of problems getting an online connection when I powered up my system. I would have to boot the computer several times before I could get connected to my ISP. I kept thinking that this was a problem with my ISP, I logged help calls with them, they would step me through the process of getting a new IP address established for the modem, and things would seem to be fine for awhile, then back to the same old thing.

Then one day I was telling one of the tech people at the company I work at all of my problems and his response was “get rid of Zone Alarm and get a router”. Since I had plans to connect a second computer and share the cable modem (just as soon as I could get everything working smoothly) I decided that this was a good time to try it.

I got the LinkSys 4 port router with the built-in firewall and hooked everything up. While talking to my ISP provider I had mentioned that I had been using Zone Alarm and that I had removed it from my Startup menu so that it would not run while I was installing the router. He immediately indicated that I would actually have to uninstall Zone Alarm because just stopping it from running would not be enough. According to this person, Zone Alarm goes into your registry and locks various settings. You can go through all the motions of changing things and saving the settings but the next time you boot, Zone Alarm just puts things back the the way it thinks they should be. This is a “Feature” of Zone Alarm designed to prevent hackers from changing your registry. I wasn’t able to find a mention of this in any documentation.

I uninstalled Zone Alarm and have been using the router for over 5 months now. In all that time there was only once when I could not establish a connection to my ISP, and that was because their server was temporarily down. It also only took about 10 minutes to get the second computer up and running on the router. Both machines have been sharing the cable modem without any problems.

Submitted by: Don Hannett

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