Product is discontinued.
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Privatefirewall by PWI Inc. is one of the easiest firewall programs for beginners. This software offers limited choices. If you don't have time or patience to customize or if firewall terminology is foreign to you, Privatefirewall is a good, all-purpose choice.
With Privatefirewall you can control your software's Internet access; you can create a trusted website list and a blocked website list. Also, you can specify at what security level your software accesses these websites.
The main items you can customize include how your firewall controls your software; you can allow or deny each program access to the Internet. For example, let's say you have some children's software that pesters you to register constantly, even though you already have. Your firewall can block this request so your children can run their software without being interrupted by invitations to go online.
The control panel has three stop signs along the top bar; the green light allows full online access, the yellow light allows conditional access, and the red light lets you stop all Internet access immediately.
Some of the conditions you can set for Internet access include direction; you can block outgoing but allow incoming data for a specific website. You can get picky about which ports (doorways) the software uses to receive and transmit, you can specify a security level and you can set other conditions as well.
Privatefirewall has a log view that shows the time and date of every data arrival and departure for software applications.
Privatefirewall was easy to use. The view screens were intuitive. But after two days of Internet access, I never saw any traffic in the firewall log view. Either this log wasn't working right or I failed to set it up properly. One confusing part—the program has an icon of a police officer holding a stop sign; at first glance I thought this was the "stop all access" button. But this police button simply displays information about the current software version.
Privatefirewall passed all of our firewall tests except two, the cookie test and the referrer test.
Cookies are identifying bits of data stored on your computer by websites you visit. After I let my kids browse the Internet all day, I found that Privatefirewall had let a whopping 36 cookies into my computer—this is not acceptable for a firewall. One of the cookies was a hijacker that successfully changed my search engine and homepage preferences.
The referrer test checks a firewall's ability to keep quiet about our computer. Privatefirewall didn't keep our browsing habits, browser choice and region private.
As a basic firewall, Privatefirewall does a fair job, but there are reliability gaps.
We found that Privatefirewall allowed cookies into our computer without warning. One intrusive cookie reset our homepage and search engine defaults. The firewall also let over 30 adware cookies slip through; we began to get adware popups every time we went online. Privatefirewall would work much better with an anti-spyware supplement.