Zone Alarm suite: 6 weeks later

Rick asks:

Judi, wondering how [Zone Alarm suite is] working for you? Are all the parts adequate, like the anti-spyware? Is it easy to manage? I ask because I teach a Defensive Computing class to seniors and at the moment recommend standalone programs for antivirus, anti-spyware (usually Spybot and AdAware, and firewall (zonealarm), partially because they are free and partially because the suites can be more problematic than individual programs (Norton Systemworks anyone?)

Thanks for asking, Rick.

So far, so good. Zone Alarm gets in my face far less often than Norton did. That said, it will pop-up asking for manual intervention from time to time. 98% of the time, I know exactly what it is asking and it’s because I’m running a new application for the first time or installing something new. For folks who don’t experiment with new applications that often, it should rarely be seen.

I installed Zone Alarm suite on my Mom’s computer, and she’ll ask me every time a screen pops up in the corner…even when the text in the pop-up is self explanatory. “It’s asking me if I want to allow the installation of (whatever)…what should I do?” “Well, you’re in the middle of installing (whatever) so say ‘allow’” So I would say that is the biggest issue…no matter how nicely designed firewall software is, it will interfere with daily activities as it learns about what you’re doing and folks have to read the box and know when it’s okay to panic.

Zone Alarm is a snap to configure compared to Norton. I have had no complaints about its anti-spyware features. It scans on a regular basis. It has only caught tracking cookies. From time to time, I do a backup scan using other utilities just to be on the safe side, but nothing extra is caught. I think it helps that I use Firefox as my main browser so I’m less susceptible to these things.

As far as whether to use stand-alone apps versus the suite, I think it’s a matter of preference. I wanted something that I could support for my Mom, and I know that it would be more complicated to maintain a lot of different pieces on her computer. She uses Firefox too, at my insistence, so she’s safer in that regard.


2 responses to “Zone Alarm suite: 6 weeks later”

  1. Judi:

    The alerts you mentioned are one of the major points we are always working to refine and make easier for users — so thanks for letting us know we are focusing on the right area. We actually have something we call internally the “Grandma test” where we try to ensure our own Grandparent (or Mom/Dad, or someone close) could operate the software rather than just tech heads.

    I wanted to point out the ZoneAlarm blog (it’s kind of pre-release right now) — it may have some useful tips for you and your mom ;):

    If you or your readers have any news tips or would like a writeup on some specific feature in ZoneAlarm, there is an email address on the URL above where they can send questions or comments.


    Technical Product Manager

    Zone Labs