A free suite with impressive features
Zone Alarm's free firewall program now has free antivirus protection thrown in. This makes it one of only a handful of free products to offer both products in one package. At the time of writing it didn't support Windows 8 though.
Installation was fairly painless using the Quick Install option. As is common these days, users first download a small installer file and this then downloads the main program during setup. During setup we were given the option of installing the Zone Alarm toolbar and setting Zone Alarm's secure search page as our home page. The toolbar provides shortcuts to search and website-checking features, along with Facebook and Twitter links – plus a rather puzzling internet radio player.
The main program interface has hardly changed (apart from the obligatory Facebook and Twitter buttons) since the major redesign of the 2012 version. This isn't a bad thing as it is pleasantly simple with coloured boxes for each of the three main components: anti-virus, firewall and identity/data protection. The default settings worked fine for us, with no annoying warnings or pop-ups. The 24-hour database update schedule cannot be changed unless you upgrade to the paid version, although scans can be scheduled freely.
Plenty of advanced settings are available if needed. Right-clicking the icon in Windows' Notification Area brings up a list of useful shortcuts. A quick scan on our test PC took just over five minutes, with memory usage of around 160MB.
Unsurprisingly, there are no advanced features such as parental controls, but there is 5GB of free online storage, courtesy of a Zone Alarm-branded version of Idrive. This can continuously monitor folders for changes and back them up online. The identity theft-prevention modules are limited to anti-phishing and spyware checking on websites. There is a one-year Identity Guard subscription included that monitors credit activity, but this only works for US customers.
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For a free product, Zone Alarm is impressive
Includes advanced firewall; 5GB online backup storage; plenty of advanced settings
Database only updates daily; no Windows 8 support
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