Security

PC Tools Firewall Plus 2.0: The Right Tool for the Job?

PC Tools Firewall Plus 2.0 installation file

Numerous options exist for protecting Windows systems from malicious traffic. While Windows boasts its own Firewall, many deride it as ineffective. More expensive (and more difficult to administer) hardware-based firewalls are another option. All many users require, however, is an effective software-based firewall. PC Tools Firewall Plus 2.0 monitors systems and prevents unauthorized access. Better yet, it's free and operates with no limitations or time limits.

You may download PC Tools Firewall Plus 2.0 here. Then, click through this gallery to see how it works.

PC Tools Firewall Plus is installed using the fwinstall.exe executable.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

136 comments
JCitizen
JCitizen

why it failed to work for me anyway. Of course I insisted on running it with PCTools Spyware Doctor fully enabled and PCcillin 2006 with firewall uninstalled. I doubt this should have been a factor - Commodo is running fine so far set this way.

lplarsen44
lplarsen44

All very interesting, but why did TechRepublic Daily Digest post this to me now? It's all rather dated is it not? Go to the PC Tools site and you won't find 2.0. They are up to version 3.0 and it comes in two flavors--free and register for a fee.

don2fsr
don2fsr

Why not try a bunch of differant firewalls and which one is best for your system? DF

dj
dj

Personally I would rather put my trust in well established firewalls (such as Symantic who have been around since 1982) to protect my personal and private data on my HDD. In my view, security is not worth risking just to get something for "free". I may consider PCTools Firewall Version 2 when they have 20+ years under their belt in firewall experience.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

When I surf the web what part of the computer do I use?I use the network or phone card for sure.My OS is running in the RAM and some CPU is used in the L1 cache.Some of the work is also done in the BIOS.I have noticed in 'Task Manager Processes' that my 'explorer exe' file increases in size as I surf.The Firewall looks at a site and asks me if I want to block the site is pretty useless.I unblock it and I get hit by an unknown virus.Some Firewalls will tell me that the hacker lives in Hawaii but they will not stop the attack.All computer invasions are virus and all virus need to be identified and stopped.

don.geiselman
don.geiselman

This is good information. I know this may be a stupid question. If I have a router that offers a hardware firewall, why would I need a personal firewall? What extra protection would I need beyond the Windows XP firewall? I have an anti-spyware program and virus scan software. Thanks for your feedback.

pyropakjim
pyropakjim

We use Zone Alarm exclusively at work, and I have it on 3 PCs of my home network. Have used Tiny Personal Firewall in the past, but it became less effective, in my opinion, and Norton is so bloated nowdays. On my other networked PC, I am running McAfee's suite of products, and like it as well. What really draws me to ZA is the configurability. If PC Tools is similar in its use, I may swap a couple of my machines to it.

jsullivan33403
jsullivan33403

I can not get this to run, please help. I am running MS Windows XP with Service Pack 2 jsullivan33403@yahoo.com

AWS72544
AWS72544

YOU GAVE NO SAVE TO DISK OPTION, ONLY INSTALL.

hmmmmm!
hmmmmm!

What ver's of Windows will this work with. Would like to send link to relatives with older PC win 98.. they need good firewall but use PC so little not practical to buy one... if not for WIN98 is there any good free one out there for them? Did not compatablity listing for this firewall..

pitchthunder
pitchthunder

This firewall devours system resources!!! Slows fast systems to a crawl. Has way too many annoying messages. Had to remove it. Try Comodo Firewall Pro if you want the best free windows firewall!!! Low resource use, best ratings in tests.

jos
jos

I installed on an acer notebook with XP pro (dutch version) and McAfee AV. After the reboot I could log on, but the windows GUI locked up tight as a drum. Ther mouse cursor was there (an arrow) but clicking did nothing. Even CTRL-ALT-DEL did not produce a result, which is rare. I had to boot in safe mode and remove the software. Hope there are no traces left......

JCitizen
JCitizen

blink you eyes and it will change again. Old reliable softwares are old hat or don't work; tommorow the list changes completely. Then again the old reliables could make a come back too. Anytime a corporation buys out a good AV vendor that vendor immediately becomes suspect in my books. There is no such thing as label loyalty anymore.

cathysgardens
cathysgardens

I uninstalled Norton with the help of a special program knowing it would be a problem getting all of it off my pc. and sure enough file map by bb caught it trying to install virus's on me. Since I got rid of Norton my computer has never ran as good. I will never go back to Norton Norton makes itself important lol

deepsand
deepsand

Identifying & stopping all "viruses" is [b]impossible[/b]. The only perfect security is to deny ingress & egress to all. BTW, it is [b]not[/b] the job of a firewall to deal with viruses, worms, trojans, or any other type of traffic [i]content[/i]; rather, its function is to allow/disallow certain types of [b]traffic[/b] itself.

mark
mark

Balthor - Knowing the most intricate happenings of how surfing the web stresses your PC isn't really that important. The fact is that at some point the data hits both your hard drive (cache and cookies) and your memory which leaves you vulnerable to attack. A Firewall is like the gatekeeper or sentry on guard at the front (and back) doors of your PC. It will make some "intelligent" decisions as to whether the traffic flowing to and from your machine should or should not be allowed through. Where the firewall is unable to make a decision of it's own it will pop up a box asking the user (ie you) to make the decision for it. It is common for software firewalls to have configuration options that allow the user to customise how often the firewall passes off the decision to the user. MOST web page traffic travels across port 80 so it is common to allow you browser unlimited access to this port so you do not have to manually allow each and every web page access as you move around the web. WHAT A TYPICAL FIREWALL DOES NOT DO is to vet the actual content if the web pages it allows through - that is the job of the on-access component of your AntiVirus / AntiSpyware. It rather sounds like you need to either update/upgrade/install an effective AV product or be somewhat more cautious as to where you surf / what you download. If you believe you have been virus infected p urely by clicking on a web page link you should review the ActiveX / Javascript permissions in your browser as you may have lowered the security setting inadvertently. Resetting both IE and Firefox to their defaults should be secure enough for most common usage. Sounds like you need an effective AV solution urgently. Comodo offer FREEWARE firewall and antivirus products which are both very stable and easy to administer. The PC Tools products are generally very good as well (though not truely freeware). Good Luck.

Endoscopy
Endoscopy

A router firewall is a good first line of defense. The computer firewall does things that a router firewall can't do. It protects outgoing as well as incoming traffic. It protects against other infected computers on the network. It is configured for that particular computer. There are more but this should help you understand.

JCitizen
JCitizen

for such things. Maybe you should try Commodo, that is what I did. Has been working way better so far. But I haven't done any leak testing on it yet.

kanthkvl
kanthkvl

Hi i am working as a system admin i want to do join course which center is good for ccna course can you help me out...?

bkleonard
bkleonard

I don't know if the PC Tools product works on 98 but I can tell you that Sygate is a great choice if you're looking to protect a 9X environment. I think Symantec has bought the company but the freeware version is still available @ Tucows.com

g_riding
g_riding

I had the same issue with CA firewall. I finally had to uninstall it from my pc. So far I have not had the problem again.

Endoscopy
Endoscopy

I installed it on my new Vista computer. I am running AVG free AV. It killed my activation with an error code. That code in the knowledge base stated that PC Tools AV of a certain vintage conflicted with activation. Using this clue I removed the firewall in Safe Mode and my activation problem disappeared. Has anyone else had this problem?

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

of the Norton AV systems have a "hidden" firewall to protect the av executable I would presume...I have seen this several times. Having never used McAfee, I can not say for sure, but would guess its a similar set up. I would bet that what killed your system was McAfee and PC tools arguing over traffic control, and attempting to "block/deny" each other, thus bringing down your system. As for... "Hope there are no traces left......" I would be surprised if much remained.

Mond0
Mond0

Cathy, I find that REALLY hard to believe. Did you send in a sample of the "virus" to Symantec's or McAfee's Emergency Response team? (their competition would LOVE to get ahold of something like that!) You should at least have sent something as nefarious as that to the CERT labs!

J T CUNNINGHAM
J T CUNNINGHAM

After having tried a number of 'paid', firewalls,(Norton - 3 versions, Symantic, and Sunbelt-Kerio) I find 'Comodo' the best of the bunch, and free!

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

"The computer firewall does things that a router firewall can't do. It protects outgoing as well as incoming traffic." A good router/firewall should be able to do this through packet filtering at the least. But the majority of consumer "firewall" products are mostly nat devices with stealthed ports and some packet inspection for obvious exploits, mangled packets etc. Not that I am knocking these devices, as they are required in todays on-line world, and many consumers would not or would not want to configure outgoing packet filters, or even worse, configure them wrong and then remove the device all together.

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

A review of PC Firewall 2.0 is an odd place to ask that question. How about starting your own thread instead of interrupting this one?

JCitizen
JCitizen

the time before that it just led to Symantec. And of course they don't want you to have it! (EDITED) Correction well; this time I was able to down load directly; go figure!

hmmmmm!
hmmmmm!

Wonder why incompatibility's not listed for the firewall or did I miss it somewhere..

vyper
vyper

Hell I still use it on my XP system works like a charm, just sits in the back ground with no worries at all

molnarferenc
molnarferenc

Hello, I have a T60 Lenovo Thinkpad notebook with XP Pro and Novell client. I installed PC Tools Firewall Plus 3.0 (2.0 was unavailable). The next day I could not login :( IPCONFIG showed nothing, clone net drivers appeared in Device Manager. LKG config did not help, drivers could not be removed. Just before reinstalling the whole OS, I gave a try to WinsockXPFix.exe from snapfiles.com. It worked! network connection are restored. I will NEVER try ANY stuff on my live, primery PC...

Oktet
Oktet

I thought Vista had a firewall built in that allows you to control both inbound and outbound traffic? I have a Vista box for educational purposes only: It is running the Business Edition of Vista and did not see the need for an additional firewall on top of the already pre-existing firewall.

martin.77084
martin.77084

If you have Norton or McAfee on your system, you might as well have a virus infection. Your system doesn't belong to you, it belongs to them, and you won't be able to fairly test any protection software. First priority ... get rid of the infection to regain ownership of "your" system. (Most people only have those infections because they bought a computer made by one of the unscrupulous manufacturers that have accepted bribes to load their computers with "free trial" garbage, and the naive purchaser presumes that the "free trial" junk is good because it came on their new computer, and activates it, and then pays and pays and pays, not just with money, but with hampered performance and usability of the computer that they paid for, but that is owned by the infection.)

JCitizen
JCitizen

and it is a keeper! Wonder if he'll make a Vista version? I've been made aware of undefined keyloggers first with this utility; then later updates to my anti-spyware root out the offender. There is no password protection to the console, but I have never noticed that it was ever disabled or had the deny list modified. Which has happened to my clients and I with OTHER security software.

cathysgardens
cathysgardens

What does Maximum Level Reached mean?? Here is another useful program. With it in your mind that no programs AV or Spyware programs never mind $MS$ messenger, need to read your keyboard,deny access to them all. Your going to be amazed at how many think they should be reading your keystrokes. Once you deny them all, it stays in the background and runs smoothly. Cathy http://www.download.com/SnoopFree-Privacy-Shield/3640-2092_4-10336141.html

Mond0
Mond0

I'd like to thank you, also! I've been using FileMap for a month now and it's a great little app.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

Just a quick post to thank you again Cathy...file map is a wonderful program. So useful, and you don't know its there until it detects some changes..

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

I really like what I see. If it works half as well as it looks like it will, it will be going on all my computers. This functionality is the basics of an IDS/Rootkit alert system, great for windows users whom are fairly safe in their browsing and computing habits. This looks to have the potential to end up in my "essentials" tool box. Thanks again Cathy!

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

for mentioning filemap, I just browsed over to his page, and I like what I see. I appreciate the nod to a new utility, and a freeware one at that =)

cathysgardens
cathysgardens

Mond0, Your right I'm not sure it was a virus but it was a extremely large file and I know it would have made life miserable to me thats a virus in my opinion. I was so relieved to catch it . I will go to Filemap quarantine and find it and report it to Spyware warriors and the ones you named Thanks this is what I like Tech republic for, the different opinions and knowledge gained I'll repost when and if I find out for sure what it was. I'm pretty sure I can find it in the Quarantine Files One thing is for sure Norton is a resource hog and I can't believe how much better and faster my PC is running without it. Everyone should have the program Filemap by BB excellent program to catch anyone installing any files to your PC without your knowledge be it spyware malware rootkits viruses any of the nasty's they have to put a file on your computer to make them work and watch who phones home. I try to make sure no one phones home without my knowledge. There are all kinds of programs to monitor whats coming in and going out of your PC . Thanks Cathy

JCitizen
JCitizen

Perhaps you had a compatability issue will some other AV/anti-malware. I couldn't get PCTools firewall to work - although I still like Spyware Doctor even though it is a resource hog. So far Commodo is one of the easiest firewalls I have evaluated for a while. Hopefully the leak test hype is true.

kpdriver
kpdriver

The Comodo firewall slowed my browsing down significantly.

martin.77084
martin.77084

And it will soon be ready for Vista. Meanwhile, I'm running a beta of a firewall-antivirus combination from Eset (free while beta), which works very well in Vista. While I've always opted for standalone programs, this combination seems very attractive to me.

imcuriousg81
imcuriousg81

Firewalls seem to be a matter of preference. First what does your machine and os like and cooperate with and second what can you at your skill level get your head around and make work for you. The machine part you should be able to figure out pretty quickly. The personal part may take just a little of your time. To the best of my knowledge none are just install it and forget it or set it and forget it (this is not Ronco and we are not cooking chickens on TV).With that all said I run Sygate pro on 3 of my personal machines for years without any problem (Thank God norton didn't get to it first) Kerio bombed out long ago as did Kasperski. We have several machines running ZA and it is not bad. Have not tried Comodo but after reading every remark here and checking the test results offered I will install it on an extra test machine and try to smash it. Lastly it does not seem that paid for fire walls are any better than free fire walls it depends how you use them. Don't want it lock it out or you will have it. The only way to be 100 percent safe is disconnect and shut down.

Oktet
Oktet

Just thought I would point him in a helpful direction, is that illegal on this thread? Oh, and your reading comprehension sucks, who said anything about wanting a job?

mark
mark

Thread Hijack Alert: Code Red - This post will Blue Screen in 5 seconds format c: now... Just darn rude guys - start a thread of yer own if you want a job...

sborger
sborger

They were the best. You could even backtrace where the hacker is comeing from. Unfortunately, it was bought out by Symantic(Norton) and dismantled. Now your link to Sygate will take you too Norton's firewalls. Sygate was free, Norton products are not. Those who had Sygate before the buy out, were legally able to keep it. But if removed from your computer, you will not be able to put it back. Hold on to it as long as you can.

shokman88
shokman88

I used it for two years until norton bought and destroyed it. Are you talking about a norton version or the older one??? It was great, the best firewall I've ever had... Actually I'm using the kerio personal firewall, freeware edition. Somebody has compared PC tools firewall with the kerio firewall.

JCitizen
JCitizen

in the last year; and have to agree with you. I also like Mond0's blended approach. Lately I've been trying find anti-maleware that will work around Spyware Doctor, which of course PCTools firewall should work. Am having initial problems with it[the firewall], but I'm sure it will iron out in the end. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are using ZoneAlarm's firewall though; but as light as it is, who cares? Kaspersky uses Trend mini-port firewall drivers so I suppose that is who wrote that one. Got a BSOD installing it too! McDaffy I have not tried lately because they blew up my local church's unit during an update, and the company admitted it was a bad update. I don't hold it against them but they seem bloated like the rest..

mark
mark

I would have used more foul language but then it has been a long day :) Both McDaffy and Nerdton are bloated, underperforming, over priced tech trash that trade on their affiliations with Mikael Hell and MC (MicroCoughed) to seduce uninformed users into a false sense of insecurity. I spend much of my time reloading windows boxes due to the mess Mc and N have made of core installations when knee jerking to the latest online threats - what gets loaded in their place? AVG / Comodo or PCTools - clients choice all superior and above all F-R-E-E-E (with a treble E) - leaving a little more cash in clients pocket to spend on that 1G memory upgrade they should have fitted as standard when they bought the machine "for Vista"... As said - it's been a long week / month / year etc etc...

Mond0
Mond0

I must agree with your assessment of Norton products. I've "fixed" so many computers by uninstalling their software that I've lost count. The stuff is a resource juggernaut! As for McAfee, their stuff is usually more tightly coded and, thus, not as bloated. But the more thorough the defense, the larger the code needed provide that security. They are, after all, one of the best AV companies for a reason. Having said that, I would recommend, however, that users pick and choose the single apps instead of the "suite" package. It seems that even the venerable McAfee can't be all things to all people. Research *any* product that you intend to buy and only lay down good money for Best-In-Class software. Vote with your wallet; that's the only thing corporations understand. And remember that you get what you pay for (or don't pay for in some cases). Look at what you need and buy the application that fills that need. Don't let the hype "up-sell" you!