Okay! I'm bleary-eyed and frazzled-brained, after spending too many hours trying to find a satisfactory answer to several issues. I've scoured the Zone Labs knowledge base and the Zone Labs Forum and the Internet as a hole (sic).
The good news is they haven't been wasted hours. I've learned a bunch of new stuff. The bad news is I haven't found the info. I want/need and now I'm having a lot of trouble staying focused on the issue. (Perhaps, because I've got too much new stuff spinning around in my brain... vicious circle.)
First, a little background information: I've been using one Zone Labs firewall product or another since I first found out about the 'freeware' version of ZoneAlarm. As best I can recall that was back around the time of the Microsoft Windows 95 OSR2, and certainly had to be shortly after I began to have serious doubts about whether or not I had the patience to browse the WWW through a 56 Kbaud dial-up modem.
The point to my mentioning this is over the years between then and now I've become so used to the ZoneAlarm processes startup sequence being a certain way that I almost immediately noticed a recent change. As I've understood it, the TrueVector Security Engine service ("vsmon") should always start as soon as possible in the OS boot sequence. That's how I've always seen it to be in the Windows Task Manager Process listing. The "vsmon" process has always had a relatively low PID number and the "zlclient" process (Is that the Control Center? - What is it?) has always had a higher PID number.
Now, and this is the issue that has me somewhat concerned, in the Task Manger Process list I'm seeing the "zlclient" process frequently having a PID number smaller than the "vsmon" process. Sometimes "zlclient" is appearing as the #3 item on the PID listing, right after the System Idle Process and System processes. And, the "vsmon" process is frequently showing up with such a high PID number that it appears near the bottom of the listing.
For example, when I booted my computer this morning (used to be called 'cold boot') the "zlclient" appeared in the Task Manager Process list as PID #176 (3rd process on the list) and "vsmon" appeared as PID #1904 (27th process on a listing only containing 35 processes!). I've logged off & on my computer several times today, and as I prepare to post this message the processes appear in the order I've come to expect seeing, over the years. The TrueVector (vsmon) service is PID #1564 and the ZoneAlarm Client (zlclient) process is PID #2704.
To make this "vsmon" startup sequence issue more interesting, when I restart my computer (used to be called 'hot boot'), or log off and log back on, the startup sequence of "vsmon" and "zlclient" will *sometimes* change order so that the ZoneAlarm processes appears like I've been accustomed to seeing. If I restart again the "vsmon" and "zlclient" sequence frequently changes order yet again. It's kind of like throwing dice!
The recent change I've made to my system setup is this: I decided not to renew my updates subscription for the particular anti-virus product I've been using. Thus began my waking nightmare! Well, it hasn't been that bad, but the last week has been kind of like that old Chinese curse. It's been a little more 'interesting' than I'd prefer.
Long story... short: I located an anti-virus product that was reputable enough and I didn't, at that time, find any information suggesting that the product was incompatible with ZAP. Unfortunately, I didn't look hard enough for compatiblity info. It turns out that anti-virus product apparently contains some sort of firewall. So much for that 30-day 'free' trial... which ended in less than 6 hours. Thank goodness for Safe Mode and System Restore!
Moving on, I now have yet another anti-virus product 'free' trial successfully installed... apparently going well, so far. Seems to play well with ZAP.
But, there's this nagging issue with the TrueVector service not 'acting' like I've come to expect.
1.) Is "zlclient" starting before "vsmon" an issue I need to be concerned about?
2.) Has my computer become vulnerable due to the relatively late TrueVector security engine (vsmon) start up?
3.) Should I upgrade this "issue" to a "problem" and submit a Tech Support request to Zone Labs?
Operating System:Windows XP Home Edition
Product Name:ZoneAlarm Pro