The Windows Club

Comodo Firewall Review – A Little Too Much Extra?

The default Windows Firewall is good. You do not have to configure and mess up with it even initially. Just turn it on and it will take care of your software, computer ports and surroundings (home, office and public places) etc. Easiest by far, the Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 firewall have proven to be good for normal use. Still, there are many who want additional protection & features, and when talking about third-party firewalls, Comodo Firewall is considered to be one of the best.

Comodo Firewall Review

Until two years back, I was also using Comodo firewall as I felt it offered better protection over the default Windows 7 firewall. There were two main reasons for me to believe Comodo firewall was the best. First was that it gave plenty of pop ups asking me whether or not to allow programs from accessing different ports – a feeling that I am in control of what’s happening on my machine. Second, it seemed to pass almost all the different types of firewall tests I could find on the Internet (References are given at the bottom of the article). Comodo is the best when it comes to software firewall, but I did not use it for long.

Comodo Firewall 6.0 & The Geek Buddy

The reason why I did not use Comodo firewall version 6.0 was the extras it includes. When you install Comodo firewall, it installs a few more things. One of these is the Geek Buddy. This piece of software bundled with Comodo firewall can be removed while installing. Just click on Customize Installation beneath Install button and deselect the check box against it. Then click Back (this is confusing as most of us are used to click Next to move forward). After clicking Back, you click on the Install button waiting to see if Comodo does not indeed install Geek Buddy.

Anyway, the Geek Buddy can be both useful and frustrating. Most of the users will not notice the Customize option and continue with Install so expect Geek Buddy to be present on your computer. This Buddy is a little too much proactive and pops up whenever it thinks you are having a problem. This problem may or may not be related to security but to anything related to the machine on which you installed it.

I am not saying this is bad. In fact, for people with average knowledge of computer applications and ports required for functioning, Geek Buddy is a good thing. For others, it can be irritating and has the option to be removed from Programs and Features. I do not know for sure if the problem was my computer or the removal of Geek Buddy but I faced problems launching Comodo Firewall after removing the unwanted extras using Program and Features. The computer I used to test this version 6.0 is a 1.6GHz processor with 2GB RAM running Windows 7 Ultimate. The other computer still runs Windows XP SP3 and I had to remove entire Comodo firewall from it to prevent slowdown of that machine having 3.something GHz CPU and 2GB RAM.

Comodo Firewall: The REAL Thing

Coming to the firewall part, Comodo’s is the best among all of the software firewalls. There are hardware firewalls and then there are software firewalls. Hardware firewalls are basically router or modem based and offer best protection to anything behind that firewall – a computer or an entire network. That means if you have a router based firewall working, you do not need a software firewall. That also means there is no harm in using a software firewall in addition to the hardware firewall. The Windows Club has an article on differences between hardware and software firewalls.

In addition to normal firewall processes, Comodo firewall version 6 offers you HIPS based protection. This is visible under the name of Defense+. This Defense+ was present in previous versions too but the one in version 6 is completely customizable. In short and simple words, HIPS means prevention based technology. If the firewall suspects any application, it will run the app in a light sandbox. This, sandboxing, is a plus point for Comodo firewall over other software firewalls. For average users of Internet, there is no need to get into Defense+ and configure it. It learns automatically as you use your computer and as time passes – the alerts you receive – reduce significantly.

The only problem I still found with this firewall during my short duration of use was that it won’t specify the IP addresses of applications trying to access your computer ports. ZoneAlarm does this well and that is why a year ago, I said ZoneAlarm is better than Comodo Firewall as it allows me to know the origin and destination of packets that my ISP sends via my computer to test the authenticity of Internet usage. However, the free version of ZoneAlarm does not appear in the green list at Matousec so I stopped using it.

Comodo Firewall Extras

Among the extras are the Geek Buddy we discussed above. The other significant extras that come with Comodo free firewall ver 6.0 are a Dragon Browser and a free secure DNS. The Dragon Browser is good but the interface may use some improvements. I did not find any special need for the browser as I am already using IE, Chrome, TOR and Epic – depending upon what I intend to do. We have a review of Comodo DNS on The Windows Club.

PS: If you are using a VPN or a proxy, exit before installing Comodo DNS (firewall) as your computer might stop responding in middle of installation. Also, it is not good per security point of view when you don’t wish to appear on the Internet. You can restart the proxy and/or VPN after installing Comodo firewall.

Comodo Firewall Review – Verdict

If you need a third-party firewall, Comodo is the best firewall software in the industry so far. It does install some extra software that can be removed later. My experience with Comodo’s earlier versions was much better than this version 6.0 that seemingly consumes a little more resources compared to its previous versions.

References:

  1. Matousec, Comparison of Security Products
  2. PC Flank, Advanced Port Scanner
  3. HackerWatch, Port Scan
  4. CNET, Review of Comodo Firewall (ver 6.0).