Installing a firewall on your computer is like putting locks on the door to your house. By doing so you are protecting yourself from people who may want to look through your personal belongings and even steal some of your information. A firewall may not protect your from burglars, but it will give you protection from unwanted intrusions from the Internet into your PC.
If you do not already have a firewall on your computer, you will need to download a software program for one. If however you are going to be part of a network of computers with network IP addresses, you are going to want to make sure that you have a hardware firewall. As it is wisest to have a firewall on every personal computer out there, here are some instructions on how you can install your Internet firewall.
Choose your firewall download
Installing a firewall is as simple as starting with choosing which firewall download is right for you. There are many free downloadable firewall options available; however you want to make sure that you find a downloadable program that you trust. Here are four no-cost firewalls that have proven themselves reliable: Kerio Personal Firewall 2; Outpost Firewall Free, from Agnitum Limited; Sygate Personal Firewall 5.1; and Zone Labs’ ZoneAlarm 3.7. These four firewall downloads have different features to better suit your needs so you may want to research each one of them to choose the best program for you.
Free firewall software is easy to install; simply go to the provider’s website and click on the free download icon. But, the download process can take some time. After all, the firewall takes time to detect your browser e-mail, network, and other programs that attempt to connect with remote servers. Your firewall needs to stretch to reach every part of your computer that you want protected so be patient and do not attempt to log out of the download process until the program has indicated that the download is complete and has been successful.
What to do about warnings
All four of the above mentioned free software firewalls will have pop up warning dialog boxes when a program attempts to connect for the first time. When this happens do not worry, you have done nothing wrong. What you need to do is click the button that permits or disallows the connection.
Select your settings
Most firewall programs will allow you to choose whether or not you want your settings to be controlled automatically or whether you would like to personally set your settings. If you choose to set your own firewall rules, you will need to go into the program and indicate what sort of interaction you want your firewall to have with your network. You may also consider regular updates as part of your firewall maintenance.
Other tips and warnings
Don’t make the firewall do all the work. Having a firewall is not a substitute for being reckless. You must always be on your guard and making judgment calls about which programs are safe and which are not. Stick to only downloading programs from application names that you are familiar with such as Outlook, Internet Explorer, and Netscape. Deny access to any program that you’re at all unsure about until you can receive confirmation that your safety on that site can be guaranteed.
More information about firewall downloads
If you are unsure about which programs are safe and which ones are not, choose a firewall that provides more information about the program in question. For example, the ZoneAlarm offers a bit more information about detected programs than just their file name. Kerio and Sygate don’t offer as much information and are thus better suited for users who feel more comfortable judging the safety of sites themselves.