Seeking alternative to ZA Pro

Discussion in 'other firewalls' started by pipspeak, Mar 15, 2009.

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  1. pipspeak

    pipspeak Registered Member

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    I have used ZoneAlarm Pro firewall (7.0) for a few years and endured the bugs and hiccups but been fairly happy. Finally I've decided it's time for a change after seeing ZA slip down the rankings and also after discovering that ZA is repsonsible for constant disc activity on my XP machine. I've no idea why and i'm not going to spend days trying to find out but the fact that there is brief disc access every couple of seconds means the HDD is never idle and therefore never spins down, resulting in less than stellar battery life on the laptop.

    So I'm now looking at the top 2009 contenders (OA, Comodo, Outpost, PC Tools) and wondering which satisfys my broad criteria of a solid firewall with minimal bells and whistles, minimal CPU and memory useage, and a quiet HDD!

    It'll be protecting an XP laptop that travels with me a lot and uses a fair number of public access points. AV/AS software is Eset NOD32 3.0 with Spybot and Ad-aware. Some P2P use. I'm fairly tech savvy so don't mind helping configure the software and dealing with its learning process.
     
  2. mvdu

    mvdu Registered Member

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    I would recommend Outpost 2009. Easy to make rules from a prompt, lightweight, good leak protection, network protection - just turn off ad/spyware detection if you don't want too many bells & whistles.
     
  3. gery

    gery Registered Member

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    Online Armor is a very good firewall and Outpost is also a good and light one
     
  4. markcc

    markcc Registered Member

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    I agree with mvdu, I am using Outpost Pro 2009 & like it very much. I am a long time user have found it easy to use, secure & light on my system.
     
  5. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    I really do not put all that much stock in the rankings, myself. Still, I was looking at alternatives awhile back myself and came up with these. One thing to consider is ZA V7 was superceded by ZA 8 awhile back and there was a recent update to ZA 8 (in February). FWIW, I am still running ZAAV, along with some other products, although I am also running Vista, not XP.
     
  6. pipspeak

    pipspeak Registered Member

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    Thanks all... I did a thorough uninstall of ZAP and installed Outpost Pro. Smooth install and so far so good. A bit ligher on the resources by the looks of things, EXCEPT it is also doing the constant HDD reads/writes just like ZAP, perhaps a bit less.

    I'm gonna give it a few days to get used to the system and see if the HDD can spin down when I leave the machine alone. If it's still clicking away every second I'll just assume it's a unique feature of my system setup and give up :(

    I have the web control enabled, and I also have web control eneabled on Nod32... is it worth having them both monitoring web access? It looks like Outpost has the better options.
     
  7. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    Interesting. I've not seen that.
     
  8. fax

    fax Registered Member

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    +1 must be something local...

    Fax
     
  9. NNard

    NNard Registered Member

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    Running the latest version of ZA-AV on VISTA without any problems.

    NNard:D
     
  10. chrome_sturmen

    chrome_sturmen Registered Member

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    :thumb: :thumb:
     
  11. Rules

    Rules Registered Member

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    hi,

    Running Za Pro 8.0.298.004, with Antivir Premium and Prevx Edge on vista business x64, without problems, very secure, very fast.

    My HDD run silently, when i don't work he sleep, no strengh noise:)

    Regards

    Rules
     
  12. fax

    fax Registered Member

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    004? Is that a localised version?

    Fax
     
  13. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    Clearly it is not ZA causing this. I would probably run SysInternals DiskMon to figure out what was going on with my hard drive.
     
  14. Rules

    Rules Registered Member

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    hi Fax,

    004 termination is for ZAP French but it's same like 000.

    you are right:)

    Regards,

    Rules.
     
  15. pipspeak

    pipspeak Registered Member

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    I assumed it was ZA because after spending hours shutting down various services one at a time it was only when ZA was shut down that the activity stopped. I suspected ZA was interacting with something else, but various other issues I'd had with it over the last year made me decide to switch.

    I have diskmon, but I have no idea how to mapthe sectors to specific services or processes. If someone can point in the right direction I'd appreciate it.
     
  16. fax

    fax Registered Member

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    Have you added ZA zlclient and vsmon to the antivirus/antimalware exclusion list? Often this is the problem...

    Fax
     
  17. fax

    fax Registered Member

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    Thanks! :)
    Fax
     
  18. pipspeak

    pipspeak Registered Member

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    Good point... I just did that (for op_mon.exe and acs.exe). Having looked at what the machine is doing in the background using filemon I determined that most of the problems lie with fidgety bluetooth, a Thinkpad power manager utility, a fidgety print spooler/driver and and windows once a minute trying and failing to create a store.xml file in the application data/microsoft/provisioning directory then trying to open the non-existent file. Any idea what that's about?
     
  19. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    A few years back I had this Hdd constant access issue as well. I went to MS support at the time and got it resolved, it had nothing to do with ZA Pro or any of my softwares but everything to do with the way xp was configured on my PC. My memory is not 100% but I think it had to do with indexing being turned off. :doubt:

    Just a thought.
     
  20. pipspeak

    pipspeak Registered Member

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    Yeah, indexing and auto-run are the two most common reasons for constant HDD activity... I hit those very early on in my diagnostics.

    I solved the provisioning issue... I turned the windows Network Provisioning service back on (I can't remember why I disabled it in the first place). Now after writing the store.xml file sucessfully, windows has stopped accessing that directory.

    I also scaled back the logging in both outpost and Nod32. Outpost was logging some stuff in minute detail, which accounted for some of the disc writes, and every time outpost logged something Nod32 of course has to scan it and log something itself :rolleyes:

    I guess this is why we love and hate XP... easy to tweak configurations, but why should we need to?!
     
  21. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    It has been several years since I ran XP myself, so my memory is fading; however, the usual culprits in Vista are: Indexing; Restore Points; BT; WMP.

    You might also the the Process Monitor from SysInternals.

    Your store.xml is probably a repeated failed attempt to contact a now non-existent MSN group.
     
  22. pipspeak

    pipspeak Registered Member

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    BT is gonna be my main issue methinks. Every other potential culprit is off already (my restore points are created on startup only). I do want to get to the bottom of the provisioning system but that can wait.

    I generally use filemon and process explorer to figure out what the machine is doing... diskmon looks potentially useful if it's possible to map the disc sectors being written to actual files. No idea if that's possible.

    I've cut disc acccess down to every 2-3 minutes when idle now... still not ideal but a lot better than it was.
     
  23. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Great news! Why wear out our hard drives? As too why do we have to tweak?

    Sort of like the mountain climbing question, why climb mountains? Answer, because they are there!

    I'm dreaming of a day when PC's have the OS really hardened, not SW at all but hardware. Impervious to attack! But this is only a dream as it would put a lot more guys out of work.
     
  24. Keyboard_Commando

    Keyboard_Commando Registered Member

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    Indexing sent my laptop through the resources roof for some reason. So I disabled it. No known disadvantages. I hear search and whatever else is supposedly slower because of it being disabled. Cant say Ive noticed.

    I have it disabled on every computer of mine. Annoying uneeded microsoft junk! IMO.

    Interestingly Ive just put Comodo on my computer and it has quite a small usage footprint.

    CMDAGENT.EXE 1.852K
    CFP.EXE 7.552K

    Firewall and D+ are on. Maybe im missing another component process but thats all I can see running right now. Impressive
     
  25. alex_s

    alex_s Registered Member

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    This is only 1/5-1/10 of the memory it really takes. To know more or less real resources you need to look also to virtual memory usage, total process time and pagefaults. The figures you posted only reflect so called "working set" which can be set programmaticaly and never reflects actual memory usage.
     
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