ZoneAlarm 2016 Review: The Best Firewall and a Trusted Antivirus System

Are you looking for the strongest firewall protection in the industry coupled with the best anti-virus protection?

ZoneAlarm is known for its best in class firewall, which truly stands out from among the features included in the three major ZoneAlarm products.

And, if the firewall isn’t enough for you:

ZoneAlarm’s firewall comes paired with anti-virus capabilities licensed from Kaspersky, a well-regarded anti-virus software that has performed extremely well in testing.


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Is ZoneAlarm the internet security software you’ve been looking for?

Find out with our expert ZoneAlarm review.

ZoneAlarm - Best firewall and trusted antivirus system

Best Firewall & Trusted Antivirus System - ZoneAlarm

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Award-winning firewall among the best in the industry
  • Anti-virus capabilities licensed from Kaspersky
  • Identity Protection

Cons:

  • No ransomware protecion

30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Like the majority of other internet security and antivirus products, ZoneAlarm will honor a 30-day money back guarantee should you not be satisfied with the product in any way.

Along with that, they also offer 30-day free trials on all its products if a user wants to give ZoneAlarm a try without committing at first.

Background of ZoneAlarm

ZoneAlarm is known for one of the best firewall tools and a trusted antivirus system established by Zone Labs 16 years ago, which was then acquired by Check Point in March, 2004.

With headquarters in San Carlos, California and its products available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, ZoneAlarm is world-renowned for its cutting edge two-way firewall which includes inbound and outbound network intrusion detection.

The name ZoneAlarm isn't  just a coincidence; ZoneAlarm's programs are divided into "zones" for control of the different network connections: the local area network being the trusted zone and the Internet zone forming the everything outside the trusted zone.

In 2015, ZoneAlarm introduced free virus protection called Extreme Security Product.

Comparison: Which ZoneAlarm Product is Right for You?

ZoneAlarm’s pricing model makes it especially attractive to those looking to protect multiple computers!

Each ZoneAlarm software package includes a one year license for three installs.

I think that ZoneAlarm provides one of the best values for money available on the antivirus, firewall, and internet security market!

But, a word of advice:

I should note that PRO Firewall and PRO Antivirus + are currently priced almost equally.

Comparison Table of ZoneAlarm Home Products

ZoneAlarm Comparison Table of Home Products

My Recommendation

So, if you’re considering PRO Firewall, it might we worth considering upgrading to PRO Antivirus+ which represents the almost-free addition of the world-renowned Kaspersky anti-virus system.


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Business Packages

When it comes to ZoneAlarm, there are no specific products designed for businesses and enterprises.

The products mentioned above offer a formidable firewall and strong antivirus protection, so smaller businesses can invest in these products as well.

With zero-day protection, a virtual sandbox, infection prevention, and behavior and threat emulation, the Extreme Security package is the best bet for ultimate protection.


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Key Features

ZoneAlarm has lots of features and attributes to boast about; let's see which ones:

Antivirus Scan

ZoneAlarm's Scan option is on the toolbar at the top of the dashboard.

Users can run the antivirus anti-spyware scan in either a quick or full scan.

In ZoneAlarm’s paid software versions, you can configure the scanning further if you prefer.

You can also, of course, request an on-demand scan. 

I tested both the quick and full scan in order to determine the speed and performance outcome for comparison purposes.

I run all the tests on the same dedicated standalone computer to make sure that the results of all the antivirus providers are comparable.

The PC has a clean Windows 10 64-bit installation and all available Windows updates are installed. The computer hardware has 4GB RAM, and is an Intel Core i7 CPU 3.20 GHz. 

ZoneAlarm quick scan time

Quick scan time on ZoneAlarm

The quick scan took 3:49 minutes.

ZoneAlarm - Full scan in process

Full scan in process on ZoneAlarm

The full scan took 47:53 minutes.

That's pretty long, but when I ran this test for the second time it dropped right down to 2:55 minutes.

ZoneAlarm - Full scan time

Full scan time on ZoneAlarm

Independent Test Scores by Certified Labs

Despite the fact that ZoneAlarm's anti-virus engine is licensed directly from security giant Kaspersky, the tests tell a story which isn't very similar to that of Kaspersky.

FatSecurity.com Hands-on Performance Test

We always put the different antivirus software to the test, and ZoneAlarm is no different.

I ran a hands-on test to see why ZoneAlarm has the reputation of a trusted antivirus system.

I conduct the test on the same PC system I mentioned under the Antivirus Scan section above.

My goal is to investigate 3 parameter, namely:

  1. CPU usage
  2. Memory usage
  3. Hard disk (read/write) usage

These parameters are monitored by me during 3 key moments:

  1. A clean windows installation without any software.
  2. A full antivirus installation following software updates and a computer reboot.
  3. During a full scan process of the antivirus.

These are the results that ZoneAlarm achieved, which I displayed in graphs for your convenience:

ZoneAlarms's System Performance Impact

System performance impact by ZoneAlarm

Idle - Windows 10 without ZoneAlarm

Windows 10 without ZoneAlarm - Idle

ZoneAlarm idle installation CPU and memory usage

CPU and memory usage by an idle ZoneAlarm installation

ZoneAlarm during a full scan - CPU and memory usage

CPU and memory usage by ZoneAlarm during a full scan

Therefore the score for ZoneAlarm after I ran our hands-on performance test is 93%.

Malware Blocking

ZoneAlarm’s real-time scanning is constantly monitoring your device!

Every time you access a program or a file, ZoneAlarm is one step ahead of you, confirming that the accessed files or programs are safe to open.

Then the choice is the user's of whether to treat or ignore the detected malware.

A significant part of the antivirus engine is also the anti-phishing mechanism which ZoneAlarm has in place.

Every time the user enters a suspicious site, ZoneAlarm will block the page and display a warning message about the page being blocked.

ZoneAlarm anti-phishing warning

Anti-phishing warning on ZoneAlarm

An Advanced Firewall

For users concerned with using the strongest possible firewall available, ZoneAlarm is the perfect fit.

But, why do you need ZoneAlarm’s free firewall in the first place?

After all, the default Windows Firewall and antivirus software are enough to stop most internet attacks, right?

Wrong.

The best firewall protects against threats that the default Windows Firewall and other antivirus software don’t.

These threats include:

ZoneAlarm’s full suite of products, both free and paid versions, include this award-winning firewall that will help you keep hackers at bay and leave you with complete peace of mind.

The firewall performs these three major functions:

In testing, it was confirmed that the ZoneAlarm free firewall performed all of these duties and successfully stealthed all ports and resisted a wide variety of online attacks.

For those looking to configure their firewall and for bonus features, the Firewall PRO software version, discussed below the image, adds useful power and flexibility.

ZoneAlarm's advanced firewall protection

Advanced firewall protection on ZoneAlarm

Perhaps the most significant upgrade from free to PRO are the advanced features included with the premium firewall.

In this software version, tech-savvy users can have access to a huge variety of advanced settings and preferences, allowing them to configure the firewall to their liking.

ZoneAlarm isn’t known as having the best firewall for nothing. In PRO Antivirus + and Extreme Security, the true strength of this firewall is revealed.

In testing, the firewall was able to fend off all attacks, leaving the computer completely unharmed.

However, it’s worth noting:

For the majority of users who prefer a hands-off approach to internet security and don’t intend to spend time learning about and configuring firewall settings, the advanced features included in the premium version of the firewall might not justify the difference in cost between ZoneAlarm’s free version and the paid PRO version.


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Free Online Backup

You can easily activate 5 MB of hosted online backup and manage your storage directly through the ZoneAlarm dashboard.

This serves as a convenient location to manage your backed up files and as a gentle reminder to back up your important information.

Identity Protection

Identity Protection is included in the firewall, underneath the Mobility and Data panel.

This feature creates an additional layer of security by preventing unauthorized use of personal data (such as credit card details).

It also includes a credit-monitoring service.

Additional Features of ZoneAlarm

PC Tune-Up

While this isn’t precisely a feature that will protect you against online threats, it serves as a bonus feature that should speed up your computer’s performance in general.

Licensed from Large Software, this feature contains a wealth of different scans and tools to clean up junk files and erroneous Registry items, optimize system settings with a single click, and more.

Parental Controls

As with many other features found in this suite, ZoneAlarm’s parental controls are licensed from another product, Net Nanny.

This feature is not installed by default, so you’ll have to install it in addition to installing the rest of the suite.

After you’ve installed it you’ll create an account with which you’ll be able to configure and use the parental controls from the comfort of your browser.

The configuration options are surprisingly diverse!

You can choose age-based content filters for each child, or manually select the categories of pages that you’d like to allow, warn, or block.

But, that’s not all!

The parental controls also allow you to configure daily or weekly maximums for browsing.

You can also apply a weekly schedule to indicate which hours are approved for browsing and which hours access is blocked.

Device Anti-Theft - Find my Laptop

You won’t think you need this feature until you’ve misplaced your laptop, or it suddenly disappeared when you took your eyes off it in a public space.

This feature isn’t enabled by default, so make sure that you manually configure it immediately upon installation – why not?

ZoneAlarm allows you to geo-locate your laptop from a remote device, even keeping a time-stamped record of different locations your laptop has connected to the internet.

The software also allows you to take pictures remotely using the webcam, send a message to the current user of the laptop, or lock down the device.

Web Monitoring

Should you stumble upon a questionable page, ZoneAlarm will block access, generating a large notification in your browser window.

Cloud Protection

Supplemental protection by ZoneAlarm’s cloud provides the system with updated, additional information to keep your device safe, even against the newest attacks.

Anti-Keylogging

Most antivirus suites don’t protect against the threat of keylogging, in which your keystrokes are recorded by a malicious program.

However, ZoneAlarm comes to the rescue with an effective tool that blocks these programs, providing an additional level of security.

Anti-Spam

ZoneAlarm’s Anti-Spam filter helps solve your inbox woes by combing through your incoming messages, determining which ones are genuine and which are garbage.

Powered by SonicWall, this feature offers the user a huge amount of control in determining how your email gets sorted.

But:

In testing, this feature didn’t work particularly well with the default settings. 

This means that the anti-spam feature’s sensitivity for various senders and email types will have to be manually controlled in order for spam to be effectively blocked and for genuine emails to be let in.

Threat Emulation

Threat emulation provides an additional layer of security for new PDFs, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files on your system.

Imagine this:

You receive an email that seems to be from a known contact with an attachment that you’ve been waiting to receive.

However, as soon as you’ve downloaded it you’ve been infected with malware!

But, with Threat Emulation the situation looks different.

When you download a new document to a predetermined folder, this tool performs an exhaustive scan to check for any malicious behavior.

After the scan, which takes several minutes, the program reports back that it has been cleared to open or quarantines it.

Mobile Security for Androids

Although you might not realize it, the personal information that you store on your Android device is just as susceptible to attack as the data you store on your PC.

But, you’re in luck:

ZoneAlarm provides a fully-fledged solution to every type of mobile internet attack through its Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android app.

Hacker Shield

ZoneAlarm’s Hacker Shield helps to protect your Android device and the information stored on it by blocking hackers from remotely accessing and controlling your device, as well as stealing passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive data.

Public Wi-Fi Protection

While accessing public Wi-Fi is certainly convenient, it isn’t without risks.

And, while you’re vulnerable to attacks at any time, connecting to the internet through a public network multiplies the chances for your data to be exposed.

But, there’s a solution:

Public Wi-Fi Protection stops hackers from accessing your bank account information, spending your money, draining your accounts, and stealing your identity by encrypting all your communications.

It ensures that you’re always safe and protected regardless of the Wi-Fi network.

Privacy Protection

If you’re not properly protected, hackers could access your photos, text messages, and location.

However, Privacy Protection keeps these details safe through a VPN that makes you invisible to hackers by hiding your IP address and location.

App Permissions Monitor

It’s a well-known problem:

Mobile apps can seem safe, but they can actually steal our private information and record our location without our consent.

ZoneAlarm’s App Permissions Monitor provides a convenient solution to this problem by displaying all the apps that access your personal information.

You can then decide to change the permissions on these invasive apps, or alternatively to delete them from your mobile device.

In summary:

If you have an Android device, you need to be protected by the best Android anti-virus and mobile security app…

And there’s no better choice than ZoneAlarm!

Ease of Use

ZoneAlarm’s software has a ton of features – especially its more robust offerings like Extreme Security.

ZoneAlarm does a great job of organizing its features into three main categories in order to enhance navigation:

On Free ZoneAlarm Antivirus + Firewall, the categories are: Antivirus, Firewall, and Identity and Data.

ZoneAlarm's easy user interface panel

Easy user interface panel on ZoneAlarm

In the paid versions, the breakdown is this:

Antivirus & Firewall, Web & Privacy, and Mobility & Data.

Changing settings or running an on-demand scan is as quick and simple as making two clicks.

Additionally, the installation of ZoneAlarm is flawless:

While some competing companies require several separate installations of different software components, all the components of the ZoneAlarm antivirus and firewall products can be installed in one click!

However: 

ZoneAlarm’s user interface is simply not as slick as that of some of other antivirus software options.

Users who are particularly concerned with having a slick design could be put off by ZoneAlarm’s only average design.

System Requirements

ZoneAlarm supports all Windows versions, but it is preferable to have versions 8-10.

You will need 32-bit/64 bit Intel Core processor with 2GHz or faster, 2 GB RAM, and 1.5 GB of available hard-disk space.

Android users will need version 4.2 and up.

Good Customer Support

The installation and operation process of ZoneAlarm’s various software packages is extremely smooth!

The vast majority of users report satisfaction in using the product, with no need to contact customer support.

However:

Should an issue arise, ZoneAlarm customers will discover a highly responsive support team accessible via e-mail and live chat. The US and international numbers and Live Chat link are provided when you click on the different links and questions.

Users who pay for the Pro Antivirus + product and the Extreme Security will get 24/7 support.

Additionally, ZoneAlarm has a huge support site, where users can access tutorials, answered questions, and manuals.

A quick search of ZoneAlarm’s Knowledge Base can uncover a wealth of information that will provide a quick and easy solution to your problem.

Certifications and Awards

ZoneAlarm has been awarded certificates and awards by renowned antivirus independent research labs and industry publications.

PC Magazine, Virus Bulletin, CNET Downloads, PC World are among some of the industry majors that have awarded ZoneAlarm with top ratings and certifications.

When AV-Test used to test ZoneAlarm, it also received lots of awards and recognition for its strong performance and speed.

Value for Money

ZoneAlarm puts its money where its mouth is!

Users are guaranteed the best firewall and a trusted antivirus system, even if they opt for the paid versions. 

With good customer service, an easy user interface, and lots of features, ZoneAlarm is a strong competitor in the world of antivirus protection.

My Conclusion

Pros:

  • Award-winning firewall among the best in the industry
  • Anti-virus capabilities licensed from Kaspersky
  • Identity Protection

Cons:

  • No ransomware protecion

ZoneAlarm’s three products and their correlating firewall, anti-virus, and other features provide internet security options for everyone.

Those who want a streamlined, hands-off approach, as well as those who want to delve into the nitty-gritty of their security settings will find a solution with ZoneAlarm.

So, what’s not to like?

The only decision to make is this:

Which version of ZoneAlarm is right for you?


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Danielle P

A creative and literary prodigy with an astounding ability to write about anything. While Danielle doesn’t have a vast technical background, her research capabilities are limitless and she can write about anything her heart desires.

ZoneAlarm provides an excellent award-winning firewall and implements the excellent Kaspersky virus protection engine in its software. This is a low cost anti-virus with a heart of gold and tons of nice features to protect your identity online, to monitor your children's online activities, and to backup and protect your data from getting into the wrong hands.

ZoneAlarm
Date published:March 6, 2017
7.7 / 10 stars

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