March 2012: This program has been discontinued and replaced by Online Armor Premium (*Est. $40 for one year), which we have not reviewed. However we do have a report on Online Armor Free.
In testing, no firewall is as effective at stopping intruders dead as Online Armor Personal Firewall. Experts say that it is easier to set up and use and lighter on system resources than most other firewalls. A free version -- Online Armor Free -- is also available, but experts say the reduced protection offered and the lack of automatic updates make the paid version a much better choice. If you want a free firewall, the one that's included in Comodo Internet Security is a better choice, though you might want to only install the firewall and forget the rest of the suite. That firewall is rugged -- testing just a hair behind Online Armor Personal Firewall -- but it can be a little more challenging to set up and use. It is also not compatible with 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Matousec.com tests the effectiveness of Online Armor Personal Firewall and finds that it outperforms nearly all comers. Scot Finnie tests firewalls for 18 months and settles on Online Armor Personal Firewall as the best of the bunch in terms of effectiveness and usability, though that report has now become a little dated. You can find information on the free version, Online Armor Free, at Gizmo's Freeware and Download.com.
Matousec.com tests firewall programs for leaks, frequently updating its ratings as new versions are released. As of this writing, the paid version of Online Armor Personal Firewall receives a very high rating, catching 99 percent of the test threats.
Review: Proactive Security Challenge, David Matousek
2. Scot's Newsletter
Scot Finnie spends a year and a half assessing various software firewalls, combining his own research and testing with input from his contributors. In the end, he selects Online Armor Personal Firewall as the best because of its top-shelf protection and relative ease of use. The free version is not recommended, however. One negative with this review is that it is now growing a little older.
Review: The Best Firewall Software of 2008: Online Armor, Scot Finnie, Mar. 2008
3. Gizmo's Freeware
Online Armor Free -- the free version of Online Armor Personal Firewall -- is called a solid contender, finishing second among the other top-rated free firewalls here. The key differences between the free and paid version are described. The program's efficient use of system resources -- something that reviews say is also a hallmark of the paid version -- is hailed. Continuing reports from contributors and volunteers keep the information fresh and up-to-date.
Review: Best Free Firewall, Ian "Gizmo" Richards, "Rizar" and contributors, Mar. 17, 2010
Seth Rosenblatt provides a very brief look at Online Armor's free and premium versions at Download.com. He says that installation of the free version is very fast, but that the paid version has more features. Users give the two programs a good aggregate rating of 3.5 out of 5, though it appears that the latest update is causing installation difficulties for some.
Review: Online Armor Free Reviews, Seth Rosenblatt, Nov. 24, 2009