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Online Armor Free

Posted 14 Nov 2009 | Comments Off on Online Armor Free | 1,266 views

Publisher: Tall Emu
Version: v4.0.0.10
Cost: Free

A firewall is a necessity for any computer that connects to the internet, and Windows even has a built in firewall. Unfortunately, the Windows firewall only provides minimal protection to defend against attackers. Online Armor Free fills the gaps that are needed for a desktop firewall solution.

Online Armor Free goes a couple steps further. Not only does it restrict traffic in both directions, but it also restricts which programs can make network connections. For example, if you do not use Internet Explorer, it can be prevented from making any connections.

The installation is very simple. Online Armor Free is installed with just a few mouse clicks and a reboot. After the reboot, you have the decision to trust everything on the computer or run a wizard to manually set everything. The wizard will scan the computer and present options to allowblocktrust or ask. We set everything to ask. This may be a little annoying on a system that has been around for quite a while, but we wanted to see how the firewall behaved as applications were launched.

With each application that we launched, we were presented with the options to allowblock, or trust the application. We ran tests with IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safare, Microsoft Office, iTunes, and several other common desktop applications. Some made unexpected (but legitimate) connections for various purposes such as update checks plugin checks. Everything performed perfectly well, and there was no noticeable latency added into any of the connections.

The behavior of version 4.0.0.10  is slightly different from 3.5.0.49. In our testing, we noticed some differences in the behavior of the Putty SSH tools. Both pagaent.exe and putty.exe had to be tagged as trusted programs to work properly. Without being trusted, Pageant would not dock in the task bar, and Putty could not reference the key loaded into Pageant. This is a slight change of behavior from the previous version, where they did not need to be tagged as trusted.

With a quick click on the status icon in the task bar, you can get the real time status of traffic passing through the firewall. The real time display even shows active connections for each process, which makes it a good tool basic connectivity trouble shooting. It’s also a quick way to measure bandwidth to and from you computer. One of the nice features is the ability to right-click and kill a connection. We managed to use this feature once to regain control of a misbehaving process.

Online Armor Free is just the basic firewall. It does not include any antivirus or spam protection. If you’re dtermined to stick with free software, you’ll need to get that protection from another product. (More reviews later.) However, Tall Emu has just reduced the prices of Online Armor Premium, which includes all of the features. Tall Emu is a reputable company and listens to their customers (unlike these guys).

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