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A personal firewall is a software application used to protect a single Internet connected computer from intruders or in some cases also control applications from connecting to the internet. It should also be noted that many people use both personal and network firewalls as a layered form of security. A network firewall can either be protecting your entire network or an individual computer from incoming or both incoming and outgoing connection to the internet. For many of us this is our router or NAT modem.
Further reading about both types of firewalls can be found on Wikipedia here for network firewalls and here for personal firewalls.
These are the results of the Software Forum's Member Choice Personal Firewall Poll 2008:
»[POLL] Personal Firewalls - 2008 Member Choice.
Added this year was the option to choose using a software firewall in combination with a router. Over 20% of the members here are using this combination as part of a layered defense. Among the advantages of this setup are having both a fallback defense and a line of defense within a network from other computers on the same network.
Once again, the Windows XP firewall placed first among our members. The XP firewall has the advantage of being included in XP SP2 and provides user friendly inbound protection. It should be noted that the XP firewall is not configurable for outbound control. The Windows Vista firewall currently ranks in fifth place but as Vista is more widely adopted, it will continue to gain ground on the XP firewall.
Zone Alarm, our favorite add-on firewall from last year has been edged out of second place by a slight margin by Comodo Personal Firewall. Comodo getting 11.7% of the vote compared to Zone Alarm's 11.3%. This is quite an accomplishment for Comodo, a relative newcomer that ranked only 2% in last year's poll. Both Zone Alarm and Comodo firewalls are available in free versions. At the time of this writing, Comodo is also preparing to release a Vista version of it's popular firewall.
Kerio 2.1.5 still has strong support from our members, even though it has long since been unsupported. The Broadband Reports support forum has been closed to active posting but still remains archived as a reference. The archives are here.
Another interesting result in the poll is that the number of people using no firewall at all has dropped from 5.7% to 1.5%. Although this number may be skewed due to the inclusion of the 'using a router' option in this year's poll.
Here are the choices we presented members with:
•Kaspersky Internet Security
•Kerio 2.1.5 (unsupported)
•(Sunbelt) Kerio Personal Firewall
•Lavasoft Personal Firewall
•Look 'n' Stop
•McAfee Internet Security
•Norton PF / Norton Internet Security
•NVidia Active Armor
•Windows Vista Firewall
•Windows XP Firewall
•Windows Live OneCare