i am using Free ZoneAlarm (Version 7.0.483.000) on Win-XP (Service Pack#3) and this causes some problems with Windows (background) "services" on my machine.
I installed 3 services manually (web-server, tor, distributed net client), they run all the time (even if no user is logged in) and they all use their own "user accounts" (never used for any "real" user for login). And they all access the internet, with the web-server and Tor also accepting connections from outside.
As long as noone is logged into the machine everything works fine. However as soon as a user is logged in, ZoneAlarm starts and these Windows-services have problems with their network connectivity. This happens even though they are defined within ZoneAlarm to be allowed to access both the "trusted zone" and the "internet zone", they are also allowed to accept connections from both of these zones.
Deleting these programs from the list in ZoneAlarm and adding them again does not help. However sometimes it suddenly starts to work (without the user doing anything), then again network connectivity for these services suddenly fails. Incoming connections seem to be more "critical" than outgoing ones, often incoming does not work while outgoing ones still do.
The problem can easily be reproduced with Tor, it happens very regularly with that program.
I have recently seen exactly the same problem on a Vista machine. After installing some "services" everything worked fine for quite some time, now suddenly its broken (even though programs have full permission in ZoneAlarm program-list).
ZoneAlarm lists data-packets for these programs in its listing of rejected connections.
When deleting such a program (that accepts incoming connections) from ZoneAlarms list,
it does not automatically prompt to ask if it should be allowed to accept incoming connections, it just asks about outgoing ones (even though netstat shows the service accepts incoming connections [whose packets are blocked by ZoneAlarm]).
Seems like a bug in ZoneAlarm to me - and its quite annoying, so i have to disable ZoneAlarm, even though i think it is a really nice program.