Langa Letter: Software Suites Versus Standalone Tools
The new version of ZoneAlarm illustrates both sides of the debate, Fred Langa says.
Reader Feedback: ZA6
Fred, I updated my ZoneAlarm Pro to version 6.x today. I performed the update, although I did briefly wonder if I should wait for one or more versions to appear, mainly because of the indicated improved features... Anyway I have had no major issues (after > 24 hours) however the new anti-spyware feature can't obtain updates at present (reported to ZoneAlarm). The only real issue, as you indicated, is that it is more complex, so: (1) Bad/good - you have to confirm many more WinXP actions (3 levels of defense, I assume) this makes it much easier for inexperienced users to create problems by not allowing specific actions and, worse, allowing bad actions because the last time they didn't allow something their computer didn't work properly. (2) Good -- you now get to stop programs like Real Audio from always adding items to Startup every time you use it or upgrade it. -- Bert
I installed the new version a week ago, but after an hour or so trying to get the settings properly set up, I abandoned it, did an uninstall, then re-installed the previous version. -- johnhbox
Fred, I upgraded to version 6 of ZoneAlarm Pro. The only problem I have had so far is ZoneAlarm 6 set the Internet Zone Security on the Firewall section to HIGH, by default. This caused Outlook Express to neither receive or send E-mail. I set this back to MEDIUM, and this solved the problem. On the versions 5+ of ZoneAlarm Pro, this was set to MEDIUM by default. If any of your other readers have this problem, this solution may work for them. -- Francis Arceneaux
Hi Fred. I opted to upgrade to the 6.0 after reading some excellent reviews. Ah, then the problems began. My home LAN went kaput and some programs were not allowed to function, no matter what the settings. After checking some blogs via Google, I checked into the ZA home page and guess what ... they acknowledge a "bug" in the program. They advise anyone who did an "upgrade" installation (which allowed one to save previous settings) to uninstall ZA and then do a "clean" installation. I'm still experiencing tons of problems with it and reverted back to my trusty ver. 4.5 (via a RESTORE). I am really disappointed with them. -- Don Naphen
Hi Fred, I have been running the new ZoneAlarm Pro for a few days now and it seems to be performing as advertised. I started with version 6.0.631.002 and then upgraded to 6.0.631.003 when the minor fix came out. Had a little problem with this upgrade and had to completely wipe the old version and reinstall 6.0.631.003 because it wouldn't take the License Key. I have been running ZoneAlarm for over 10 years now and it has always performed very well. I have it running on Windows XP Pro with a cable Internet connection. It seems to be going through some "Training" again, but that is OK. -- Dick Grunwald
I installed it after a full Ghosting backup and so far I've only had a few of problems. The first was that ZAPro 6's new OS Firewall feature went nuts for the first couple of days. During the installation it found every app on the system and decided that just about every program was exhibiting suspicious behavior. Once I got used to setting the correct Trust Level for various programs it was fine. But if I had to explain how to do this, and the decision-making process, to a newbie, I think their head would explode. This is suddenly a really complicated configuration. The next problem was that my mouse caused red-flagged behavior issues every time I came out of Hibernation or Standby. Twice it locked up my system. I believe it was being triggered by the Logitech's Smart Move feature. I resolved this by bumping up the Trust level of the "Logitech Events Handler Application" (EM_EXEC.EXE). One issue I haven't resolved yet is that launching Windows applications, ex. Windows Explorer, has suddenly slowed by several long seconds. Set the Program Control to Low (which turns off the OS Firewall) and it's back to normal. One possible solution posted on their forum by one of their ubergeeks is to add ps2.zonelabs.com as a Trusted host under Firewall. This is supposed to link the OS Firewall to some ZoneLab DB with information on Trusted Programs which the OS Firewall will use to speed processing of launch requests. The caveat is that you apparently need to go back and Edit the entry and click Lookup to update the IP addresses they're using. To me, this is way, way, too complicated. And I'm not convinced it even works.
One bad thing I noticed was that the install added a number of sites to the Privacy list including passport.net, msn, checkpoint, and bestbuy.com. All of the entries removed all of the cookie controls (including 3rd party). I couldn't find anything in the docs or on the Web site that warned me about this. I found them by accident and removed them immediately. I don't like sneaky stuff added during installs! Overall, ZoneAlarm Pro 6 is overly complicated, minimally documented for the complexity, and could drive away new users who are easily intimidated by lots of red flags being thrown at them. Especially when the support seems to be "did you look in the forum?" I don't think this latest version is going to win them many new fans. I'm disappointed. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm giving it a generous 6. -- M. Jessen
Dear Fred, The new Zonealarm security suite is just fine. Works perfectly. However, my one gripe with it is its ad-blocking module doesn't block the ever-increasing flash ads that show movies and are very distracting. The ONLY utility I could find that blocks them is the fantastic ad-blocking utility called SuperAdblocker available here. I think this ad-blocking utility is fantastic. No more annoying flash movies all over the net! Otherwise, ZoneAlarm Security Suite handles everything else. I also use Spybot and SpywareBlaster, even though the new Spyware blocker in ZoneAlarm I'm sure will get better and better. -- Donald A. Lachot
Fred, Just this week I installed ZoneAlarm 6 and boy I wish I had waited. The install went fine. After rebooting, ZA6 took forever to load at startup as it wanted to scan everything. After about 5 minutes of waiting while alert boxes came up and information boxes flew onto the screen telling me to wait a few minutes, I was good to go. With ZA6's antivirus feature and anti-spyware running, it took forever for any program to load. Try loading your browser and you're in for a few minute wait while ZA6 scans everything, and if you try to multitask, forget it. Finally I turned off the Antivirus and spyware parts of the program and rebooted and I was able to get things to load normally. After installing ZA6 I went to Steve Gibson's site to check the firewall out, and the results came back all stealth. Now my only problem is that Web surfing is very slow, pages won't load, graphics won't load, it's like being back on dial-up. I checked my system for viruses and spyware and it came back clean. But when I try to load a page my system tries to go to 127.0.0.1:1026 or 1028 and then the browser errors out with a page not found. It looks like I will be uninstalling ZA6 and I will go back to ZA5 were there were no problems, and I will wait for the fixes. -- Dave
Dear Fred, I've installed the new Zonealarm Security Suite on 3 systems here, all running Spyblaster and Spybot, and I'm having zero problems. It's very sweet! Much improved. No problems at all. -- Donald A. Lachot
Greetings, I've been using Sygate for a while now. But, I thought I'd give ZoneAlarm a try as I've seen it recommended frequently. So I downloaded it, disabled Sygate, removed Sygate from startup, and installed ZoneAlarm. After rebooting I would click my username and enter my password and after a moment the computer would simply reboot. I tried this several times before booting to safemode and performing a System Restore. -- John Sercel
Hi Fred, Just to let you know, I have installed the new version 6 on two machines now (one workstation, one laptop), with no problems to date. The installations went smooth, and the program seems to work well so far. FWIW, I use the Zonealarm antivirus solution, so I don't have any other antivirus program installed on my systems. -- Ted
Fred, I have just updated three PCs (2k & XP) with the new version of ZoneAlarm. Seems to work AOK with maybe one exception. When using the anti-spyware function, it seems that every process that wants to connect to the internet or act as a server gets a pop-up asking for advice. I don't have much of a problem with this because I am familiar with most process activities, but someone who isn't familiar with process loading and actions will be stymied. The two XP PCs that I updated have novice or beginner-status users and they are petrified when one of these pop-ups arrives. Hence, I turned off the anti-spyware function and use other tools manually on these machines. Other than that, it seems to work very smoothly, which is what I would expect from ZoneAlarm. By the way, these are all the Pro versions of ZA. -- Ron Smith
Fred: I downloaded and installed [the new ZA]. Immediately I couldn't get my E-mail downloaded and after 2 hours with techs from the phone company they gave up and said it must be my Internet Explorer and referred me to Microsoft. In trying to solve the problem I shut off Zone Alarm and Norton and still couldn't download. So before blaming IE I uninstalled the latest ZA and put a last March edition back on and, lo and behold, my mail came thru! Something in the software is obviously interfering with other stuff on my computer. -- Brian
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