Tiny Software Personal Firewall v1.0A great ICSA certified software firewall
The first thing I wanted to see was how big of an impact the Firewall software would have on network performance. I just did one test and decided to use the Thief2 demo from Download.com as a testing platform. It's a very large demo (130MB), that isn't downloaded too frequently anymore. It seems the demos real home is the FTP server of Dailyradar now though.
I started the downloads and stooped them about 30 seconds later (after things had stabilized). There was less than a 1% difference in speed with the Firewall running, so there was almost no impact on throughput because of the Firewall. On the flip side, home Firewalls like Norton's Internet Security 2000 (more features but twice the price - and they didn't write the Firewall, they bought AtGuard out), is a now violator of bandwidth. Not to mention it's installation is like exploding a can of Norton spray paint on your registry (I hate that).
My first stop on the security checklist was Steve Gibson's Shields Up test:
I should point out here that ) if you are running your system without a Firewall of some type, Microsoft OS's do almost nothing to protect you (especially if you have Cable or xDSL). You might has well just take your computer over to a hackers house and leave it on the doorstep. I actually felt somewhat creepy while the "naked" tests were running. I don't like feeling that "exposed" with an always on connection. I usually log 10-20 attacks per day, and sometimes much more.
Look at that...... "smack"
I've tested a lot of Firewalls (hard and soft - insert joke here), and a score of "0" is very rare for anything a normal human can afford for home use.
Again, if "normal" security settings are selected you will be questioned on every unsolicited request. Normally this will be a rare occurrences, and I think it is much better to get a choice.
Let's wrap things up