Some experts question the need to install a third-party firewall on Macs, but if you want a firewall that's more robust and user-friendly than the built-in Apple software, reviewers recommend Metakine's Hands Off! Hands Off! protects against inbound and outbound connections -- something no other single well-reviewed or preinstalled Mac firewall can boast. It also includes a network monitor that tracks all network activity, and it has the ability to warn users when applications try accessing local files stored on a Mac.
In addition to being the most full-featured firewall available for Macs, reviewers say Hands Off! is simple to install, easy to use and updates automatically. That's a good thing, as tech support is limited to a brief and not too technical FAQ and email support.
TechRepublic.com and AppStorm.net both review Hands Off! and compare it to Little Snitch (*Est. $30), the program's closest competitor. The reviews are long, and they are based more on the interface, features and installation than actual firewall effectiveness. Users at MacUpdate.com also rate the program.
Jonathan Garro's long and screenshot-heavy review directly compares Hands Off! against Little Snitch on a category-by-category basis. Hands Off! wins in every single showing, including price, although Garro says Little Snitch trails Hands Off! only by a hair in virtually every aspect. Garro also dedicates a paragraph to whether third party firewalls are needed on Macs.
Review: Little Snitch vs. Hands Off: Which Monitoring Utility is Better?, Jonathan Garro, Feb. 10, 2012
Vincent Danen, a longtime Little Snitch user, explains why Hands Off! has become "the default watchdog" on his MacBook. Danen says he appreciates the extras Hands Off! brings to the table -- namely, the protection for local files and inbound connection attempts.
Review: Enhance Security on Your Mac with Hands Off!, Vincent Danen, April 20, 2011
The editors of MacUpdate.com do little more than provide a basic description of Hands Off!; the real usefulness comes from the hundreds of user ratings, which award the program a 4-star out of 5 overall score. While many download sites have limited user interaction, there are almost 100 comments in the Hands Off! page at MacUpdate.com, complete with crowd-sourced technical support and discussion about the handful of program quirks that pop up.
Review: Hands Off! 1.5, Contributors to MacUpdate.com