The latest rev of Zone Alarm Extreme Security does not play nicely with HP's Printer Toolbox. In order to run, the Toolbox needs Java and several files to operate at startup, but Zone Alarm blocks these.

If you click on the Zone Alarm control panel for anti-virus and anti-spyware, and then click on the link for Programs Secured under Application Control, you will see a listing of files beginning with HP as well as several Java files--these all need to be cleared for inbound and outbound access. In particular, you definitely need the HP Toolbox Start-up file, the HP T-TR Status Client file, hpwuSched file, and javaw.exe file cleared for inbound and outbound access. For some reason, Zone Alarm's default setting is to block all of those files.

Unfortunately, the latest rev of Zone Alarm has a short memory. If you clear inbound and outbound access for all HP and Java files and click OK to save the changes, the next time you boot your system, you will more often than not find that Zone Alarm has ignored the changes and is trying to block file access again.

Equally unfortunate, the way the HP Toolbox works is that when those files are blocked at startup, it will not try to initialize again once you manually clear access in Zone Alarm. Each time you boot, you are rolling the dice as to see whether or not you will be able to access the HP Toolbox.

This is an important issue for people using multi-cartridge HP printers, such as my HP LaserJet 2550L. The printer uses four toner cartridges and will stop printing when one is empty. Without the HP Toolbox functioning, it is impossible to tell which cartridge needs to be replaced.

I opened a service ticket about this issue last Tuesday, but have yet to receive a response. Would anyone at Zone Alarm care to comment, and is there a fix or is this just a "feature" people will have to live it with if they want to use the product?