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Thread: Why upgrade to "Pro" version?

  1. #1
    inventus Guest

    Default Why upgrade to "Pro" version?

    Hi ZoneLabs,

    I've been using the free version of ZoneAlarm for some years now, and while I would much like to have a more "advanced" personal firewall, allowing me to produce better "rules" and giving me a bit more information about what is going on on my network and what is being blocked and not etc. I have NO use for all those "benefits/features" you list in your "Pro vs. Free" comparison charts.

    As such, I would like to hear some reasons for upgrading to the "Pro" version, including what added firewall functionality I can expect, and if I will have the choice NOT to install all the stuff I don't want, need or use..?

    Here's your list of "Pro-only features", along with my comments:

    - Advanced Network and Program Firewall

    This one sounds GREAT, especially if it includes better rules, more flexibility and more information about what is going on (what is done by ZoneAlarm as well as what is done by programs attempting network access etc.)

    Please tell me more (or provide linkage) about what this precisely entails, in contrast to what is provided by the free version?

    - Operating System Firewall (OSFirewall )

    I have NO idea what this is supposed to be or do?

    I sure hope that even the free version will block any and ALL programs, including "OS" ones, if I tell it to?!?

    - Anti-Spyware
    - Antivirus Protection
    - Anti-Spam & Anti-Phishing
    - Email Security
    - IM Protection
    - Wireless PC Protection

    Don't need it, don't want it, got it already. In fact it will be a BIG minus for me, if these "features" (aka "bloats&quot can't be deselected during installation and thus not be installed at all (which is to say: Cause NO increase in the run-time resource-usage by ZoneAlarm, nor impair its firewall-performance or increase its CPU load).

    - Spy Site Blocking
    - Identity Theft Protection
    - Privacy Protection

    I would have assumed these to be amply covered by some or all of the above "features", so please explain to me what further "protection" they provide, and why you consider this to be part of a "personal firewall"?

    - Game Mode

    Don't need it - But, unlike the above, I will probably be quite able to live with having this "feature" installed along with my "Pro" version firewall, since I must assume it will use no significant resources, likely being akin to the "Internet Lock/Block" feature(s), which simply change the way the firewall behaves, rather than requireing a lot of extra code and/or its own executable etc.

    As you might have gleaned from the above, I prefer my applications to be free of "bloatware", which is to say my text-editor should do NOTHING but edit text, and likewise I would like my "personal firewall" to do NOTHING but provide me with a "personal firewall". When I need e-mail security and/or anti-spam protection I will install a secure e-mail client and/or use a server-side spam-filter (which ALWAYS works better), when I need anti-spyware I will install a (DEDICATED) anti-spyware program, and so on and so forth.

    The tendency to make any and all applications do everything imaginable (or even just "slightly related to its main goal&quot is NOT something I like. It was most likely invented by Micro$oft, when they started to sell OS'es with built-in web-browsers which can't be uninstalled without ruining the OS. It now seems as if everybody thinks this is THE way to go, not realising that most users will end up having 10 of each of these "added functionalities", none of which will likely be made with the same level of care and expertise as when done in an exclusive software-package.

    Looking at it from the other side, I MUCH prefer my various programs to be "lean-and-mean", in the sense that they should do what they were originally designed to do, and do this as well as possible, preferably while doing little else. This mainly since someone else will most likely have made a dedicated program for any such thing already, which is then bound to make a better job of it, but also because I value being able to choose EXACTLY what software, and which "features" I install on my PC. This "choice" is blatantly taken away from me, whenever I'm presented with a "bundle" solution, like your "ZoneAlarm Pro" product now appears to be

    If I should be mistaken, and it is, somehow, possible to purchase and/or install just your "Pro" version personal-firewall application (ie. ZoneAlarm without all the non-firewall stuff), DO let me know, and DO tell me how this is done...

    Thanks in advance,


    P.S. To all non-ZoneLabs employees: While I would much value your input, as per my specific requests above, please DO refrain from flaming me regarding my viewpoints (in general or in relation to ZoneLabs products). I'm well aware that my views are probably not shared by all of you, but like I won't flame you for being the way YOU are, I would appreciate your likewise acceptance of MY ways (even though you may find them different, stupid or whatever).

    Operating System:Windows 2000 Pro
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm (Free)
    Software Version:6.5

  2. #2
    socalreviews Guest

    Default Re: Why upgrade to "Pro" version?

    Hello Inventus, All the contributors posting in this forum with the exception of the Forum Moderator are volunteers so you will not get a response from ZoneLabs in this forum unless you happen to find the information you were looking for already posted by a Forum Moderator in the yellow sticky area near the top of each forum section. There is so much information on the ZoneLabs web site about the differences between the various products that I prefer not to provide any obvious links here. I also do not want to write a technical essay about the differences between ZA free and ZA Pro but if someone else wants to then by all means I encourage them to do so. However here I will provide my simple answers for what I believe are the most important differences while taking into account most of what you have already stated in your post.

    In my opinion the most important differences would be:

    1) A much higher degree of configurability and more settings options including auto-configuration.
    2) The OS Firewall.
    3) Email file attachment protection if you use Outlook or Outlook Express.
    4) Antispyware component.

    Now for my simplified explanation on the benefits of each of these features:

    1) Allows you to customize your system to allow or not allow internet or network access for computers your network while providing the degree of security and functionality that you choose. Allows you decide the degree of internet and network access for every program on your computer. The SmartDefense Advisor gives you the option to have the ZA program automatically provide permissions for a set of known trusted programs while alerting you when known malicious programs try to gain access.

    2) Protects your critical Windows system files and internet settings from potentially malicious changes and allows you to give permission for programs that may require access to those files or settings. This is an essential feature that most other major security software programs are trying to add to their security software to help prevent the effect of malicious programs that are able to sneak past the antivirus or antispyware detection engines you are using. You are allowed you to configure the degree of Windows operating system and Windows settings access for each application requiring access through the OS firewall.

    3) If you use Outlook or Outlook Express for email this is a very nice feature that helps prevent the accidental opening of file attachments in email by automatically quarantining known executable files. If you don't use those programs for email then this feature does not apply to you. Although there are some basic settings for the opening of attached files in updated versions of Outlook and Outlook Express and a limited feature in ZA free version this feature available in the ZA paid versions is still very useful to help prevent possibly malicious executable files from being run on your system.

    4) Although you seem to quickly dismiss the ZA antispyware component this is actually a really nice feature to have since it uses very few resources and it provides a nice secondary spyware scanning engine to protect your system as a backup any other main antispyware application you may be using. Even while using as many as four major real time antispyware scanners I have seen the ZoneAlarm antispyware component catch malware that the others missed.

    Finally, There are so many features to the paid versions that I am sure I did not point out many important differences in this reply. Therefore I still suggest that you review the product descriptions using the links on the main ZoneLabs web site. I wish you the best with your future computing with whatever you decide. Please post in this forum with any more questions or information you obtain while you make your decision regarding what ZoneAlarm products you decide to use.

    Message Edited by SoCalReviews on 10-21-2006 05:08 AM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: Why upgrade to "Pro" version?


    In addition to SoCalReviews reply, I would like to add that the Zone Alarm has been and still is a great software firewall. It will continue to always be a great firewall. Using either the ZA Free or a paid version is a good approach to internet security.

    The Zone Alarm paid features:

    RE Privacy features- this is needed today more than ever. A few years ago users had no reason to block or allow the java, javascripts, cookies. referer, images or such. Today with the prominence of malware and the intrusion upon personal privacy it is a must. The new Internet Explorer Seven offers Proxomitron as an addon as a security/privacy feature- is this a joke? The FireFox offers NoScripts, AdBlock and various others addons- nice browser becomes bloatware, plus these privacy features will not work for the other browsers.

    RE AntiSpy scanner- This is a an unobtrusive and non conflicting antispy that provides additional security for the general security and various specific security PC vulnerabilities. I use the Zone Alarm AntiSpy firewall, not the ZA Pro-for the sale price of twenty U.S. dollars I got both a ZA paid and a spyware scanner- a bargain by itself.

    RE OS Firewall is required today. It is a HIPS especially for the firewall and the PC itself. Again, fives years ago it was not really needed, since leaks and various attcks did not exist. Today these vulnerabilities/attacks do exist and thus it is very much needed. The competition knows this - one has introduced this in it's latest version, the others have this capability at present and the other software firewalls that do not have this feature will soon introduce it also and become thus become firewalls for the 21st century.

    RE Configuration for complicated networking is required for some users. The average home user with one PC behind a router does not need advanced networking or any advanced internet capability. The Zone Alarm Free is fine for many users, while a business, commercial or advanced home user will need the added capability of the Zone Alarm Pro.

    RE Zone Alarm with the Antivirus is a one stop solution for both antivirus and software firewall. A bargain in terms of both price and interfacing the antivirus and firewall together.- no conflicts or clashes. The followup of the Zone Alarm Security Suite includes Parental Controls and IM Controls and AntiSpam.

    RE I use the Zone Alarm AntiSpy firewall- the "bloat" is gone.
    a) The Email is set only for the outbound not the inbound. The resident antivirus handles the inbound very well and is set to ignore outbound.
    b) AntiVirus monitor is off. The Windows Security Center is off.
    c) The Zone Alarm Updater is off.
    d) Opera browser is used almost 98% of the time. It's builtin Privacy features are adequate for my needs. The addition of a adblock.css and a large filter.ini and a customized javascripts is powerful, nobloat and allows the controls within the browser to have instant access to the privacy. The Internet Explorer is used exclusively for amd ActiveX sites and nothing else.

    Take care and hope this helps your concerns.


    Message Edited by Oldsod on 10-21-2006 08:00 PM

    Operating System:Windows XP Home Edition
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware
    Software Version:6.1
    Best regards.

  4. #4
    inventus Guest

    Default Thanks for (both) the replies

    Dear SoCalReviews & Oldsod,

    Thank you very much for your informative answers.

    Some (rather longwinded, I'm afraid) comments:

    First of all, I'm rather saddened by the fact that your automatic assumption, that I would be using the "usual" XP+IE+OE combo, is probably correct in most cases, despite the well known fact that this is, by FAR, the most dangerous combination of OS and web-/mail-client software possible, at least with regard to security and privacy (some would say with regard to everything).

    As it happens, I've long since made the (rather easy) choice of using FireFox and ThunderBird instead of IE and OE, since these clients are MUCH safer (and, IMHO, better). Likewise I have (so far) refrained from "upgrading" (I'm not sure the term actually applies here) my Win2K to XP, even though I'm aware of the "limitations" this imposes on my OS (mostly since MS have decided not to provide further updates to Win2k, likely to force us to use XP?) Making this a somewhat more "difficult" choice (and moreso as time goes by).

    (On a side note: I've still not heard of ANY feature of XP, which I view as being a useful improvement over whatever similar features, or lack thereof, present in Win2k. It is my clear impression that 99% of "new XP features" are purely eye-candy and other useless stuff. I've yet to find a single application that won't run just as fine on Win2k as on XP, with a single notable exception, which didn't work because MS didn't want it to, NOT because it couldn't have done so, if only MS hadn't made the installer explicitly refuse to install it on anything but XP.)

    These software choices of mine invalidates a few of your, otherwise very good, arguments for using some of the pro-features in ZA. As such I neither can nor need to use the various e-mail related pro-features (since ThunderBird is not only unsupported by ZA, but also comes with its own set of such security features), nor do I have nearly as much use for the spyware-features (since FireFox is not only more "secure" in this regard, but also since most such mal/spy/viral-ware tends to be targeted towards very IE-specific security-holes). Finally my mailserver is equipped with a decent spam-filter, ensuring that I'm VERY unlikely to recieve e-mails with infected attachments, while my LAN is secured by a dedicated firewall PC (running m0n0wall), which have so far stopped 100.0% of incomming "attacks".

    This, however, is NOT to say that a lot of what you say doesn't still apply to me. First of all, I am indeed what you might call "an advanced home user", being a software developer working out of my home and a bit of a nerd in my sparetime too. Thus I would MUCH like to have that "higher degree of configurability" you mention, at least with regard to the "program rules".

    It would also seem that I might not regret having the anti-spyware feature, even if I've so far been satisfied with the dual-combo of SpyBot and AdAware, since it would appear to be the case that ZA might well catch something they will not?

    I do remain a bit concerned by the implication (if I understand you correctly) that the ZA anti-spyware feature works in "real time" (assuming this to mean "on a continous basis, when enabled&quot. As such I've NEVER felt any need to use "real time" spyware- or virus-scanners, finding that I get infected so rarely (less than once a year) and typically become aware of this sufficiently quickly, that "offline scanning" (ie. running my scanners manually from time to time / when I suspect something is amiss) have so far provided quite sufficient. This especially since I refuse to believe that any software that will continously "monitor" program-execution etc. won't have a SERIOUS impact on the performance of my system (keep in mind that such a scanner have to compare a given executable against a VERY long, and always growing, list of "spyware/virus identifiers&quot.

    I take it that the "OS Firewall" isn't actually a firewall at all, but rather some kind of "file-protection scheme" for "important" files (ie. OS-related stuff). While I won't dismiss the need for such a feature completely, I must again conclude that my current setup doesn't seem to be very voulnerable towards this kind of thing? As I see it, if ZA will just make me aware if/when something (including OS files) is trying to access the internet, I can then do an imidiate virus and spyware scan, which will hopefully find and fix any such "infected OS files", just like it would any other kind of infected file on my system. But perhaps I'm missing the point here?!?

    In conclusion I'm rather interested in that "ZA AntiSpy firewall" mentioned by Oldsod, since I gather that this is some kind of "lean" version of ZA Pro (if I understand correctly?) I will certainly look further into this product, as it seem to contain only a small subset of the many "features" which I either find no need to have OR which are already covered by other applications I prefer to use for these tasks. As I explained in several ways, I remain a strong believer in the "one application - one purpose" concept, which is why I really don't see the non-firewall elements of ZA Pro as "features", which is why I'm so piqued by Oldsods "bloat is gone" comment...

    Once again, thanks for your replies. They are indeed helpful, as I now know a bit more about what the various "buzzwords" (including the "OS-firewall" misnomer) are all about. I also have a much better idea of what to look for on the ZoneLabs site.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: Thanks for (both) the replies


    ZA antispy is an ondemand scanner, not full time scanner.

    ZA OS is not a firewwall is correct. It should be called ZA HIPS instead. However things seem to be moving into this direction as antispy, firewalls, antivirus, antitrojan and antimalware all move into realm of HIPS.
    One of the better freeware equivalents of the ZA OS is the SSM (System Safety Monitor). The freeware version is supported for the Win98/2000 while the paid version in not. It is a good HIPS that is quite effective as well as being light on the PC resources (usually 8,000 k mem). This is a valiable option for ZA Free users or the older ZA Pro versions.

    If you are setup properly, secure and content with the setup. why change it? Don't really see the point to do so.

    Best regards.

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