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ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall NextGen Review
Advanced firewall and phishing protection
Effective malware scan during setup
Clear and simple user interface
With its sharp new look and a set of improved features, we think ZoneAlarm has given us an all-round decent antivirus package. The protection from this ZoneAlarm software is comprehensive and wider than many basic antivirus systems.
ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall NextGen is made by Check Point Software Technologies, an internet security brand which pioneered its firewall and inspection technology across a number of major organizations. The ZoneAlarm consumer solution is used by more than 80 million people worldwide. The product we checked Pro Antivirus + Firewall, is markedly different from previous versions, particularly in terms of its clean-up technology and its interface. Do the changes make the system better, or slow things down? We checked out the advantages and disadvantages of the ZoneAlarm software.
One of the changes from ZoneAlarm for this year is the installation scan that checks for active malware as the system starts up. When we booted up the software for the first time this installation scan picked up some problems, removed them, then rebooted so the installation was complete and clean without us having to manually re-install. There’s no boot CD so if your system is extremely compromised you may have to use another clean-up product before you run the ZoneAlarm Antivirus.
Memory use is sound and the software doesn’t noticeably slow down the system. You need to remove any other antivirus software so you don’t have problems running two at the same time.
Pro Antivirus protects against viruses, spyware, worms, rootkits, Trojans and malware. The system analyzes your downloads and warns you if there’s any malicious content before it affects your PC. We though the system’s phishing capabilities were particularly impressive.
Internet – ZoneAlarm has anti-phishing capabilities, and serves to warn you if you’re visiting a dangerous website. ZoneAlarm features identity theft protection and an email update detailing any change in your credit status. And the firewall protection acts as an invisibility screen for your online PC, effectively locking out hackers and intruders. It’s two-way, and protects you against outbound attacks. There’s added Wireless Network Security too, which automatically kicks in the most secure firewall when you’re surfing on an unsecured network.
Email – Handy anti-spam filters protect against dangerous or just plain annoying emails.
ZoneAlarm does not feature in either AV-Comparative or AV-TEST.
Scans & updates
The full ZoneAlarm scan goes through all the files and folders on your computer and also checks for viruses inside the archives of your PC. This thorough scan is effective and it is also reasonably fast – we found it quicker than many other antivirus systems. If you want a speedier scan, choose the quick scan option which goes through all the most likely locations where a virus may be hidden. Both types of scan are effective.
However, if you have deep-seated problems you may benefit from the new advanced clean-up mode offered by ZoneAlarm. This scan asks you permission to switch to deep mode, where it disinfects the system and reboots automatically to leave you with a clean PC. When we carried out this process it fully restored the integrity of the system in over half of all cases.
Online backup – In addition to the antivirus protection you also get free online backup with this system, which means your photos, files, data and notes are automatically backed up at a scheduled time. While this is not exactly an antivirus feature, and you could probably get it for free anyway, it is useful.
Gamer mode – Game Mode kicks in at one click so your play or browsing is uninterrupted by alerts. However, ZoneAlarm claim they have reduced the number of alerts you see so the system should be fairly quiet anyway.
Ease of use
We liked the way the program learns through your behavior and configures settings based on this to run an automated process. This makes ZoneAlarm particularly easy to use. The interface is simple and you can click on the buttons that turn red, symbolizing an issue, to remedy any security problems.
If you’re looking for more advanced options, customize the system to your liking and use the advanced options for more control. For most people, however, the automated system is just fine.
Help & support
ZoneAlarm offers a self-service knowledgebase with the answers to your technical questions as well as any queries about purchasing. We noticed that live chat is available 24 hours a day, so you can always get an answer to your question online. There’s also a user forum if you need it, although it is not directly supported by ZoneAlarm. For an extra fee you have the option of premium technical support which includes one-on-one help to resolve incidents.
With this product you don’t only get antivirus protection but also a firewall and anti-phishing capabilities. The features add up to an interesting package, and we think you’ll be happy with the software if you are looking for a reliable and fast antivirus protector. ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall NextGen is not the most efficient at stopping threats, but it is good at what it does and suitable for home use.
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