Check Point Software Technologies has released ZoneAlarm Free AntiVirus + Firewall, the company’s first attempt to make major inroads into the free security suite market.
The core of the package is exactly what its name suggests: ZoneAlarm’s free firewall, plus a basic antivirus engine licensed from Kaspersky. But there’s also a strong antiphishing module, basic identity theft protection, and 5GB of online backup space available if you need it.
We did also spot a few technical issues in our first look at the program. It seemed to have more of an impact on performance than average, for instance. And memory use is relatively high (the TrueVector service, vsmon.exe, required anything from 200-400MB RAM on our test PC).
And, of course, as it’s a free build there are also some notable limitations. The most serious of these is that automatic updates only happen daily (the commercial editions auto-update every hour), although that’s not quite as bad as it sounds because you can run manual updates whenever you remember. And there’s also no technical support for those who stick with the free version.
Otherwise, though, ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall seems a capable suite, with plenty of features and plenty of configuration options to help you set up the system just the way you’d like.
And if you do decide to upgrade, then there are a couple of alternatives which are both currently available at a discount.
ZoneAlarm’s Internet Security Suite ($39.95, that’s $30 off the usual price) has all the features of the free package, with hourly updates, technical support, and parental controls.
And ZoneAlarm’s Extreme Security ($44.95, a $35 discount off the regular price) takes the Security Suite feature set and adds sandboxed browsing, as well as a PC Tune-up module to optimise your system for the best possible performance. Find out more on the ZoneAlarm site.