I've used free ZA 6.1.744 for many years because subsequent versions were too quirky on my Windows XP Home SP3. Yesterday I became curious so am trying the latest free 9.2.102.
It seems light on resources, perhaps less processor usage than the older version. That's just from eyeballing the processes in Windows Task Manager.
I was surprised to be required to accept/reject some Networking items for ZA permission when I first rebooted my computer. I don't know anything about networking, zilch, so didn't know what to do. I accepted them but am worried. That added a couple of items to my Firewall Trusted zone:
"New Network" 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 Network Trusted
"DHCP Server" 192.168.1.1 IP Address Trusted
Are those correct and safe?
The first couple of times I rebooted my computer, there was a ZA nag screen that came up and had to be clicked off before I could proceed. That's unacceptable. Fortunately it has disappeared during the last few reboots. I don't know why it vanished unless it's because I changed some settings. If the nag screen comes back I'll probably revert to ZA 6.1.744.
SmartDefense is something new. Either it's not working right or I don't understand it yet. Even though I set SmartDefense Advisor to Manual, some programs do not produce a query (ask my permission) and appear in the Programs list as Auto. Even if I set them to Custom then remove them, they come back later as Auto - never asking my permission. The only choice seems to be to leave them in the program list with the Custom designation, then they don't switch to Auto. However I'm worried that I am/was never asked permission for them to proceed.
There are a lot of new items that appear in the program list that I didn't see with the older ZA version. I don't recognize most of them. Examples: Client Server Runtime Process, LSA Shell (Export Version), Server Driver, Services and Controller app, Userinit Logon Application, Windows NT Logon Application, Windows NT Session Manager. I don't really know what to do with them but have set them to Custom with Server rights blocked. They never ask for my permission, so it's pointless to set their Trusted and Internet Access to Allow (might just as well leave the ? there).
I know that Generic Host Process for Win32 Services is supposed to have Server rights in the Trusted zone. I'm not aware of anything else in the Windows XP op system that should have Server rights. Is there anything else?
One of my programs (DVDFab) produces a spray of 6 entries in the Programs list. It only appeared as a single entry in the older ZA version. It never asks permission. That concerns me. All I can do apparently is leave the spray of 6 entries and block/allow them in a Custom manner. If it's removed while set as a Custom app, it comes back automatically as an Auto without asking my permission to proceed.
As best I can recall, all my apps and processes asked for permission to access the internet with the older ZA version, so that appears to be a weakness of the new ZA version. Am I overlooking something here, such as a special setting or method that makes everything ask for permission?
I'm surprised to discover the ZA now includes an anti-phishing feature built-in, and I don't see any way to turn it off. Everybody and their cousin has this feature now, so it's redundant! I don't need it or want it. Is there any way to disable or remove it from ZA?
I'm pleasantly surprised that the email and antivirus monitoring features in the older version have been removed in ZA 9.2. I don't want them or need them. Again everybody and their brother has these now via other softwares, so they're likely to conflict.
I guess that's about it. The jury is still out. I don't yet know if I'll keep the new version or revert to the old one. It's a toss-up (50:50 chance) at this point.
The main thing that attracts me to ZA is the simplicity of operation and relative ease of understanding, and both the old and new versions have that virtue - although the older version was a little easier. The other firewalls I've tried require technical wizardry and are very complex to setup & operate. So I'm likely to stick with ZA, the only question is: which version???