Published on: March 16, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best free firewall program in 2023:
Norton 360: Norton includes a Smart Firewall that’s more customizable than Microsoft Defender’s firewall and gives you 100% protection against network intrusions and other threats. Plus, Norton offers a flawless malware scanner, a VPN, dark web monitoring, and much more. It isn’t free, but it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free.
Finding the best free firewall program can be tricky. A lot of older firewalls are incompatible with modern devices and have stopped receiving updates, and there are also a lot of fake and malicious cybersecurity tools on the web claiming to contain free firewalls. Unfortunately, these fake tools will attempt to download malware or adware onto your device when you install them.
I tested hundreds of firewalls to find the top 5 best free programs in 2023. I cut through all the sub-par products and found a few firewalls that provide excellent network monitoring tools, extra security features, and a wide range of customization options.
That said, a firewall isn’t a replacement for a good antivirus package. A firewall will only prevent network threats — it won’t offer protection against other malware types. Many premium antiviruses, like
Quick summary of the best free firewall programs in 2023:
- 🥇 1.
Norton 360— Best overall antivirus with a premium firewall.
- 🥈 2.
Intego— Best premium firewall for Mac.
- 🥉 3. TinyWall — Best overall free firewall program.
- 4. ZoneAlarm — Feature-rich free firewall.
- 5. GlassWire — Free firewall that works on Android.
- Bonus. Comodo — Lightweight firewall that’s good for beginners.
- Bonus. Sophos Firewall Home Edition — Full-featured firewall with its own OS.
- Comparison of the Best Free Firewall Programs.
Norton 360 — Best Overall Antivirus With A Great Smart Firewall
Norton’s Smart Firewall protects against unauthorized connection attempts, port access, and other network intrusions. It’s simple to use and you can easily add or tweak firewall rules, block programs, and customize the firewall to your liking. During my tests, Norton successfully blocked 100% of network intrusions and other threats (even more than TinyWall did), and I found its network monitoring tools to be simple to use.
On top of a great firewall, Norton also includes:
- An unlimited-data VPN.
- Dark web monitoring.
- Real-time protection.
- Web protection.
- Cloud storage.
- Parental controls.
And a lot more…
Norton’s dark web monitoring helps protect your identity online. It’s available in 20+ countries including the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many European countries. It constantly scans the web for a wide range of your personal details, like credit card info, addresses, insurance documentation, phone numbers, and more — and alerts you to any data breaches. Norton’s dark web monitoring is the best I’ve tested, and it’s an excellent way to strengthen your online security.
Plans start at $54.99 / year with
Norton 360 offers the best antivirus on the market with a fantastic Smart Firewall. While the Smart Firewall will give you tools to monitor your network and block network intrusions, the malware scanner detects and removes all kinds of malware from your devices. Norton also has great dark web monitoring, an unlimited-data VPN, web protection, and more. Each of its plans is backed by a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Norton 360 review here
Intego — Best Firewall for Mac
Intego is optimized for macOS, enhancing Apple’s native security with features like:
- Smart firewall.
- Real-time protection.
- Mac system optimization and cleaning tools.
- Network security options.
- Parental controls.
I like that the smart firewall, NetBarrier, is highly customizable — it lets you set up custom rules and permissions while automatically adjusting its settings based on your network environment. It monitors incoming and outgoing data for you and will alert you to any programs trying to connect to the internet, which is especially helpful for detecting hidden spyware on your device.
NetBarrier is also really easy to navigate, the layout is very intuitive, and while advanced Mac users will appreciate the customization options, beginners will be equally happy using the firewall with its default settings.
Intego offers 2 affordable plans that include the smart firewall. The cheapest plan,
Intego is the best antivirus for Mac. It includes a highly customizable smart firewall that blocked every network threat during my tests. It also has a lot of useful extra features, like real-time protection and the best Mac system optimization tools on the market. You can try it out yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Intego review here
🥉3. TinyWall — Best Overall Free Firewall Program
TinyWall is a secure and lightweight firewall for Windows with a uniquely non-intrusive design. Sometimes PC users experience “security fatigue” — they’re met with such frequent pop-ups from their firewall that they accept everything without questioning it (or just ignore it).
TinyWall solves this problem by removing pop-ups entirely. If an app triggers your security settings, you can’t access it until you’ve manually created an exception for that app. While this adds an extra step, it helps keep your device safer than traditional firewalls because you can’t blindly allow permissions on every network request.
TinyWall is intuitive and very beginner-friendly — during my tests, it was easy to install, set exceptions, tweak settings, and even do more advanced things like change ports. But while there are advanced settings experienced users can take advantage of, it doesn’t require any technical background to operate.
Despite being as good as some premium firewalls, TinyWall is completely free — and I love how there are no annoying ads, paid upgrades, or price-gated features. You get everything TinyWall has to offer at no cost at all. It’s compatible with Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and 11, and it’s super lightweight, barely taking up any resources on your system.
During my tests, TinyWall blocked more threats than the firewall in Windows Defender. As a standalone firewall, it’s excellent. However, TinyWall has no antivirus packages, so while it’s my favorite free firewall program in 2023, it won’t provide comprehensive device security. Consider a premium antivirus like Norton 360 to access a quality malware scanner, a VPN, dark web monitoring, and more.
TinyWall is a lightweight and truly free firewall that helps prevent security fatigue by removing all pop-ups from its program. It has an intuitive design and requires no expertise at all — anyone can use it. TinyWall offers more customization options than Microsoft Defender’s firewall and is completely free for anyone to install and use.
4. ZoneAlarm — Feature-Rich Free Firewall Program
ZoneAlarm is a highly secure free firewall program with several standout features — plus it offers better protection than Microsoft Defender’s firewall. That said, it’s only compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 10, so if you have a different operating system, consider TinyWall instead (which is compatible with all modern Windows OSs).
ZoneAlarm has a lot of extra features — the free version includes:
- Wi-Fi protection. Monitors programs for suspicious behavior while you’re on an unsecured network.
- Early boot protection. Helps your PC detect whether it’s running a trusted OS or a dangerous rootkit.
- Traffic protection. Monitors in- and outbound network traffic and blocks any malicious connections.
- Identity protection. Alerts you to any changes in your credit report (US only).
In my tests, ZoneAlarm was able to block the vast majority of network intrusions, performing substantially better than Microsoft Defender’s firewall. I appreciated ZoneAlarm’s extra features, too — the Wi-Fi protection gave me some peace of mind when I was out and about using public networks, and I like that US users get access to identity protection, which no other free product on my list provides. That said, if you’re willing to pay a bit more, Norton’s LifeLock plans offer far more comprehensive identity theft protection than ZoneAlarm.
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall is pretty good, but its best features are locked behind a paywall. ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall costs $22.95 / year for 1 device and comes with anti-phishing protection, the ability to configure the firewall’s rules, and 24/7 customer support — plus it removes ads. You can also pay extra for up to 50 device licenses.
The premium version of ZoneAlarm is a bit pricey compared to some competitors (like Norton 360, which includes a lot more than just a firewall), but all of ZoneAlarm’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try them out risk-free.
ZoneAlarm is a secure firewall with several good free features, like Wi-Fi protection and identity protection. The free version doesn’t offer much customization but it’s simple to use. The best features are included in ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall, which offers more customization and web protection, but it isn’t free. That said, you can try out ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. GlassWire — Best Free Firewall for Android
GlassWire is one of the few free firewalls that’s great on both Windows and Android. It’s very easy to use, with a lot of graphs and visuals displaying what would normally be complex info in a very simple way. I really appreciate the clean, well-designed interface. On both Windows and Android, it has an intuitive layout and lets you easily tweak many of the settings to your liking.
GlassWire Free doesn’t have as many features as ZoneAlarm or even TinyWall. Instead of a complete firewall, the free version only gives you network monitoring tools, letting you check for malicious Wi-Fi networks and track your bandwidth usage.
The free version also offers remote desktop protocol (RDP) connection detection, which alerts you if anyone has gained remote access to your PC. Since GlassWire Free offers network monitoring tools rather than a full firewall, it’s a great addition to other firewall programs (such as Norton 360).
I really like the network monitoring tools in GlassWire Free, but GlassWire Premium gives you a complete firewall. It includes unlimited remote connections, more customization options, a lockdown mode, and more advanced network monitoring tools. GlassWire Premium costs $24 / year for 1 device, but there are also plans that can cover up to 200 device licenses. It comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee, so you can ensure it’s the right tool for you before committing.
GlassWire Free contains great network monitoring tools and it’s user-friendly — it presents information using well-designed charts and graphs so you can keep on top of everything happening on your network. GlassWire Premium has a complete firewall, customization options, and other features like a lockdown mode. The paid plans include a 14-day money-back guarantee so that you can try them out risk-free.
Bonus #1. Comodo — Lightweight Firewall That’s Good for Beginners
Comodo Firewall is a reliable free firewall for earlier versions of Windows. It can protect your device from unauthorized access and comes with a decent number of customization options.
One of the best things about Comodo Firewall is how easy it is to install and set up, even if you’re not a tech wizard. Plus, it’s compatible with most older versions of Windows, including 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. You can also use it on Windows 11, but it caused compatibility issues and frustration in my tests, so I don’t recommend doing so.
Comodo Firewall has a useful feature called Defence Plus, which is a host intrusion prevention system that can detect and block malware attempting to execute on your device. It analyzes the behavior of applications and processes running on your system to identify suspicious activity. If it detects something unusual, it will automatically block the application or process and notify you of the potential threat.
But while it has a decent set of features, Comodo Firewall isn’t perfect. Sometimes it can be overprotective, blocking applications you know to be safe. Its notifications and pop-ups can also get a bit annoying, so I’d recommend TinyWall if that’s something that you think will bother you.
Overall though, Comodo Firewall is a good free firewall. It’s lightweight and can give you the essential protection you need to stay safe online. If you’re looking for more comprehensive protection, you could consider upgrading to Comodo’s full antivirus package, which includes a virus scanner, a VPN, and other security features for $29.99 / year. That said, most of its features are second-rate, so if you’re going to pay for an internet security suite I’d recommend checking out our best antivirus software of 2023.
Comodo is a lightweight firewall for older versions of Windows. It offers a lot of customization options while remaining very beginner-friendly. It has a decent set of features, including a host intrusion prevention system. The premium versions of Comodo come with a malware scanner, a VPN, and more responsive customer service, and they’re backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bonus #2. Sophos Firewall Home Edition — Full-Featured Firewall With Its Own OS
Sophos Firewall Home Edition is a free firewall with its own OS, replacing Windows on your device entirely. It will overwrite your existing OS and all of your files when you install it, creating a dedicated security device that your other home devices can connect to. While this can be an effective setup, it won’t work unless you have a spare Intel-compatible PC. Other firewalls like TinyWall, ZoneAlarm, and GlassWire work on Windows and don’t require an extra device.
That said, Sophos Firewall Home Edition is an effective and comprehensive free firewall — it protects you from viruses, increases your bandwidth, monitors your entire network, and uses dual antivirus scanning engines to catch threats at your network gateway. During my tests, it effectively blocked viruses in emails, file downloads, and those embedded on malicious websites.
Sophos Firewall Home Edition includes a ton of free features, but for full antivirus protection, you should check out Sophos Home Premium, which offers excellent malware scanning and removal (though not quite as good as Norton’s), basic parental controls, remote device management, and more. It costs $44.99 / year, covers up to 10 computers, and comes with a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Sophos Firewall Home Edition is a great free firewall that uses dual AV scanning engines to catch threats in real time. It installs its own OS onto any Intel-compatible PC and has many features that make it a great alternative to Microsoft Defender’s firewall. Sophos also offers a premium antivirus plan that includes excellent malware protection, basic parental controls, and more. It offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee on the premium plan.
Read the full Sophos review here
Comparison of the Best Free Firewall Programs in 2023
|Firewall||More Customization Than Windows Firewall?||Pop-ups and Notifications?||Windows 11 Compatible?||Starting Price (Paid Version)||Money-Back Guarantee|
||✅||✅||✅||$54.99 / year||60-day|
||✅||✅||✅||$1.67 / month||30-day|
|🥉3. TinyWall||✅||❌||✅||N/A||N/A (truly free)|
||✅||✅||❌||$22.95 / year||30-day|
|5. GlassWire||✅||✅||✅||$24 / year||14-day|
||✅||✅||❌||$29.99 / year||30-day|
|Bonus #2. Sophos Firewall Home Edition||✅||✅||N/A||$44.99 / year||30-day|
How to Choose the Best Free Firewall Program in 2023:
- Choose a firewall with an intuitive design. Many firewalls are complex and require a lot of technical knowledge to use properly. All of the firewalls on my list have intuitive and beginner-friendly layouts. Tampering with more advanced settings will still require some expertise, but beginners should have no trouble installing and using any of these products.
- Make sure it’s better than a native firewall. To be worth downloading, a firewall has to be better than or offer more customization options than native firewalls like the one included in Microsoft Defender. Norton, for example, can block more network intrusions than any built-in firewall.
- Opt for a reliable cybersecurity company. Many cybersecurity companies offer outdated and unsupported products that simply aren’t fit to protect your PC. Not only that, but some companies offer scam products that may actually weaken your system’s defenses or download potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). I picked firewalls from reliable companies with proven track records for preventing network intrusions.
- Check that it’s truly free. Many “free” firewalls have hidden costs, and you’ll often find that most of their features are locked behind annoying paywalls. It’s hard to find programs that are truly free and fit every other quality you’d want in a good firewall. While a free program will never compete with a premium antivirus, nearly every firewall on this list is truly free. The premium antiviruses I recommend (Norton and Intego) offer generous money-back guarantees so you can try them without risking anything.
Risks & Disadvantages of Using a Free Firewall
Using a decent free firewall is definitely better than nothing, but you shouldn’t rely on free cybersecurity tools to protect your device. Many cybersecurity companies that offer free tools have a poor track record and lie about their ability to block network intrusions. Some will even attempt to install potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) onto your PC.
Even a quality free firewall (like the ones on my list) can’t replace a full antivirus suite. Firewalls don’t offer real-time protection against malware or additional security features like a VPN, dark web monitoring, or anti-phishing protection. Their main function is to protect your network from intrusions and threats. I’d recommend a premium antivirus suite like Norton 360 instead, which offers all of those additional security features and much more. It also comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free for 2 months.
Affordable Antiviruses with Firewalls
If you want a great firewall bundled with a full antivirus, I suggest Norton Antivirus Plus. It’s an affordable plan with real-time protection, a password manager, a Smart Firewall, 2 GB of cloud storage, and much more for $19.99 / year. It covers 1 device and is backed by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Intego is a great low-cost antivirus with the best firewall for Mac. I like Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 — it includes an excellent smart firewall, a flawless malware scanner, real-time protection, parental controls, and great system optimization tools. For $34.99 / year, it can cover 1, 3, or 5 devices and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- NetDefender. While still available for download, NetDefender is a much older program that only works on Windows XP and Windows 2000 and doesn’t receive regular updates. Because of that, it’s not fit to deal with modern threats, nor is it suitable for a modern OS.
- Ashampoo Firewall. Ashampoo Firewall is another firewall that no longer receives updates and is only compatible with Windows XP and 2000. Because it is no longer supported, it won’t be able to keep up with modern or complex threats and may not be compatible with your modern software.
- Privatefirewall. While Privatefirewall is compatible with Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10, it hasn’t received any updates in a long time. Although it might be better than nothing, I’d highly recommend only using a firewall program that continues to receive updates. All the products on my list continue to receive regular updates to tackle advanced malware.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can’t I use my firewall program?
Try disabling your computer’s native firewall if you just installed a firewall program and are having trouble getting it to work. Using a native firewall (like Microsoft Defender’s firewall) at the same time as a good firewall program (like Norton) might prevent either from functioning properly.
When two firewalls run simultaneously, it becomes almost impossible to manage the consistency of rules. Plus, you’ll most likely experience a huge delay in network traffic flow, and if one firewall attempts to disable the other they both will fail. It’s important to only have one firewall running at a time, so choosing the right one is vital.
Why is a firewall important?
A firewall protects your device from thousands of known threats — it acts as a shield between your devices and the network you’re on. Without a firewall, you’ll be vulnerable to threats like network intrusions, malware, and hackers gaining illegal remote access to your device.
That said, while finding a good firewall is an important first step if you value your online security, it’s not enough in itself. I recommend opting for a full-featured internet security suite like Norton 360, which combines a highly effective Smart Firewall with excellent antivirus protection.
Do I need an antivirus if I have a firewall?
Yes, you definitely still need an antivirus if you have a good firewall. While a firewall can block network threats and help maintain your online privacy, it doesn’t provide a malware scanner, real-time protection, web protection, or useful extras like a VPN or a password manager. You’ll be a lot safer with a good firewall than with nothing at all, but if you want comprehensive security, you’ll need to download a quality antivirus.
My favorite antivirus in 2023 is Norton 360. It comes with its own Smart Firewall (that performs better than any free tool I’ve found), the best dark web monitoring on the market, an unlimited-data VPN, and much more. All of Norton’s plans come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free.
What is the best free firewall for Windows?
TinyWall is my favorite truly free firewall for Windows. Not only does it keep your device safe from hundreds of types of known threats, but it’s also very beginner-friendly. It’s a firewall without pop-ups, preventing users from experiencing “security fatigue” (ignoring security pop-ups and just accepting everything because it’s tedious to read through every pop-up).
While TinyWall is great, I’d still recommend a premium antivirus package for more comprehensive device security. Norton 360 has its own smart firewall and tons of extra features, like an unlimited-data VPN and a good password manager. Plans also come with a helpful 60-day money-back guarantee, so you have time to ensure Norton works for you.