When it comes to online protection, having a reliable antivirus is vital. A useful addition to antivirus software is a firewall, which is commonly described as a virtual shield that stops all types of cyber attacks before they reach your computer. When combined with modern antimalware, a firewall provides protection from unauthorized success to the system.
You may not be aware of it, but most Wi-Fi routers come with a so-called hardware firewall, which protects the entire home network at the root. Moreover, if you use Windows 10 OS, you also have a built-in firewall that comes as part of the Windows Defender tool integrated into the system.
Both solutions are good but not flawless. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a new dedicated firewall app. In our guide, we’ll review the best home firewall products to use in 2019.
How a Firewall Protects Us from Cyber Attacks
To understand the mechanism of action of a firewall, try to imagine a powerful filter that is placed between your computer and the rest of the Internet. It analyzes all the incoming and outgoing data and either lets it through or not. It works in both directions, which, on the one hand, prevents the leakage of sensitive data, and on the other hand, protects from cyber threats penetration.
In particular, firewall effectively stops the following types of threats:
- Transferring your data to third parties by some apps that can be installed on your PC.
- Hacker attacks that can destroy the system if not neutralized timely.
- Viruses, worms, Trojans, and other forms of malware.
No surprise firewall products are in demand in the software market. You’ll find dozens of both free and paid solutions not only for Windows 10 but for other operating systems as well. Keep on reading to find out about the best firewall tools available in 2019.
Is Windows Firewall Good Enough?
Before we proceed to review third-party software, let’s make it clear what pros and cons the native Windows 10 Firewall have. In general, both experts and regular users share the view that it is not bad. In other words, it does work, and when combined with a reliable antivirus, it delivers pretty good results.
There are two major complaints about Windows 10 Firewall. From the user’s point of view, it is a sort of incomplete in terms of features. It is less flexible than some third-party products, and its setup is a bit complicated. Also, experts believe that despite recent improvements, Microsoft’s firewall is still vulnerable to some types of threats, such as Trojans. The holes in its security system prevent it from being the number one solution.
8 Top Free Firewalls
Contrary to popular belief, the most expensive firewall is not always the best firewall. More than that, there are some great products available for free. We are glad to introduce you eight top free firewalls to use for home network protection in 2019.
Comodo Free Firewall
That is a flexible and rich in features software for Windows 10, 8, 7, and XP, which is frequently mentioned in expert reviews as the number one firewall in the world. Its database of threats is upgraded automatically, which allows stopping the majority of them before they reach the system.
Comodo uses machine learning to analyze the normal behavior of the system and blocks all non-typical activities as soon as they are detected. Every time you download new software, you can take advantage of the sandbox and check it for hidden threats. Also, you can forbid transferring data by particular apps. The game mode helps reduce the impact on the system.
- fast and effective
- compatible with Windows 10 through XP
- low impact on the system
- a game mode available
- flexible and customizable
- no exploit attacks protection
- it changes your homepage automatically
Essentially, Glasswire is an add-in for the default Windows Defender tool for Windows 10, rather than a separate firewall. It provides the same level of protection but offers expanded possibilities and a more informative interface.
Apart from detecting and blocking incoming threats, Glasswire continually monitors the system’s behavior and blocks all suspicious actions. You can manually choose what apps are allowed or not allowed to access the Internet. Another exciting feature is traffic management, which allows distributing the bandwidth between the apps in a smart way.
- effectively protects from cyber threats
- provides detailed reports
- allows blocking individual applications
- the feature of traffic management
- can monitor all the computers of the home network.
- some features (webcam & mic protection, reports storage) are available only in the premium version
- the interface is complicated
As the name suggests, TinyWall is a small and lightweight tool for home use. Like Glasswire, it is not a full-fledged firewall app but a tool for the improvement of Windows Defender. Its distinctive feature is unobtrusiveness – unlike most firewall apps, it won’t disturb you with pop-up notifications. Instead, you can click on a small icon in the system tray to check the information of new threats (if there are any.)
However, there is the reverse of the coin. While pop-ups can be rather annoying, they are effective, as you are notified about potential threats immediately. In the case with TinyWall, you are risking to miss important notifications, as they are shown on demand only.
- lightweight and easy to use
- no pop-up notifications
- uses machine-learning technology
- allows adding apps in the safe list manually
- requires just 1 MB of space
- you can miss important notifications
- no exploit protection
ZoneAlarm is a secure firewall, which is often ranked about the best firewall options around. It uses auto-learning technology to fight with newly created threats most effectively. Also, it protects your device when you connect public Wi-Fi networks.
The feather in the cap of ZoneAlarm is its stealth mode, which adds an extra layer of protection. ZoneAlarm is one of the few firewalls that are close to antiviruses in terms of malware protection. The software protects your identity, stops hacker attacks, and prevents malware infections. Also, it offers to its users 5 GB of free online data backup.
- a powerful and rich in features firewall
- several layers of protection
- 5 GB of cloud data backup
- protects from multiple cyber threats
- good customization possibilities
- many false positives; tends to block harmless apps
Privatefirewall is a flexible and easy-to-use firewall took for Windows XP through 8.1. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has stopped developing this product, so the upgrade for Windows 10 doesn’t exist. However, the app for the older versions is quite usable; it is available for download on some third-party sites.
The firewall allows to add apps to black, and white lists monitor the Internet activity and block suspicious and infected sites. Also, it continuously scans the system for non-sanctioned and unknown changes by tracking the logs. Finally, there are options of forbidding outgoing emails, blocking specific IPs, and some others.
- easy to customize
- continuous system scanning
- useful extra features
- no severe impact on the system
- no upgraded version for the latest Windows version.
While being limited in features, NetDefender is an excellent entry-level option for beginners. It has a bare minimum of functions, but they are enough to keep your Windows PC protected all the time. The firewall filters both incoming and outgoing traffic prevents unauthorized data transfer by apps and allows specific IP addresses blocking.
The software is lightweight and easy to use. It doesn’t disturb you with irritating pop-up notifications. Keep in mind, though, that its official free version is available for Windows XP and 2000 only.
- lightweight and very simple
- easy to navigate
- no pop-up notifications
- protects your PC from most cyber threats
- prevents data leakage
- an entry-level solution
- for older versions of Windows only
That is a flexible firewall tool with some interesting and useful features on board. It continuously scans the system for all kinds of non-typical and non-sanctioned alterations in the registry. Also, it allows blocking undesired URLs and IPs, pop-up advertisement and banners. Of course, it filters all the incoming and outbound traffic and blocks suspicious attempts of establishing an Internet connection.
One of the useful features offered by AVS Firewall is parental control. It helps to block “adult” content and monitor users’ online activities. AVS keeps user logs and allows to check the history of Internet connections if necessary. It works on Windows XP through 8.
- rich in features
- easy to use and customize
- a parental control feature
- acts as an ad-blocker
- continuously scans the system for potential threats.
- it is available for download on some third-party websites only
- not updated for Win 10
Unlike other firewall tools, OpenDNS doesn’t come in the form of an application. Instead, this is a special set of parameters for a router, which helps to direct all the traffic through dedicated OpenDNS servers. It protects the entire home network from numerous threats and acts as a powerful content filter.
OpenDNS Home is a tool that can be combined with a conventional firewall to enhance protection. It is compatible with an array of devices, but its installation can be complicated for an inexperienced user.
- no need to download software
- protects the whole network
- adds an extra layer of protection
- compatible with conventional firewalls
- the setup process can be complicated