A personal firewall should offer features that go beyond standard protection. The bare necessities include keeping the system hidden and keeping uninvited people and programs out. The best firewalls include tools to manage spyware, cookies and viruses. Some firewalls offer Internet filtering to restrict content.
Great firewall software will include extras like antiphishing, antivirus and antimalware tools. Parental controls and instant message protection are also nice features to find in these types of programs.
A computer novice should be able to understand and use the firewall product without help. The control panel should be intuitive and convenient. We’ve reviewed a few advanced firewall products that are powerful tools, but inappropriate for novices. When we include one of these products we note this in the “Ease of Use” section of the review.
The firewall software should give enough instruction for a computer novice to set up the product without help. The manufacturer should also have help online to answer common questions. Look for a firewall manufacturer willing to help you. Customer service telephone support is excellent; toll-free telephone support is a bonus. Some manufacturers use email or online question forms. Our favorite method of support is live chat online.