The recent release of a new version of the Zone Alarm software firewall (see this Update Alert regarding version 4.5) lowers the level of user control within the application in a single regard, that being the control of Automated Product Update Checks. Previous versions of Zone Alarm had an option within the user interface to set "Check for product updates:" to either "Automatically" or "Manually". With the v4.5 release this choice has been removed. The function is now permanently set to "Update checks are automatic for your protection." Clearly this will not be a problem for the people who use automated update processes on their systems. However, for people who prefer to check for updates manually and who like to fully control these processes and their software, this may be a concern. Automated update checks appear to be done at least once per session. Zone Labs has a workaround to prevent automated update checks. It involves setting the following two options: "Alert me with a pop-up before I make contact" and "Disable check for update backup channel". Once this has been done, the update checks will still be attempted but the user will be given a pop-up window to which they can respond "Do not send", effectively blocking the operation. The issue with this solution is that the user has to respond to this popup at least once per session. A better solution would be to return the user interface option for setting updates to manual. At the very least, this functionality should be returned to those people who have purchased one of the commercial products (ZAplus or ZAPro). In my opinion this change by Zone Labs is a mistake. Some people like to control their systems and applications as much as possible. Removing one level of control because they think it is for our own good is an arrogant position to take, especially given that we are the paying customers. This move causes me to lower my opinion of the Zone Alarm product set. While to me this is not a make or break level issue, it is important enough that from this point forward I will include this issue in any responses made to questions asking for recommendations involving Zone Alarm. To the best of my knowledge this is Zone Labs current position on this issue: http://download.zonelabs.com/bin/updates/cfu.html Update There appears to be another possibly more effective workaround for this issue, however it is not supported by Zone Labs! It is posted here. The workaround involves modifying an undocumented registry key to disable automatic updates. This is the same registry key that in past versions of ZA was changed when the user switched from automatic to manual update checks. Users who attempt this must understand that they do so at their own risk.