We spent over 120 hours researching internet security programs that include a personal firewall. In addition, we spent 160 hours physically testing each one to see if it recognized threats after visiting popular gaming websites, blocked or alerted us to known unsafe webpages, and detected keylogger software we installed on our test computer. As part of our research, we looked at test results from third-party antivirus software testing laboratories and found that our findings were in line with theirs.
We also tested how easy each program is to use and how much lag it creates on a computer as well as checked which additional security tools the software has. Based on our research and testing, we believe Bitdefender Internet Security 2018 is the best personal firewall solution.
Best Firewall Software
Best Firewall Software: Bitdefender
Bitdefender Internet Security 2018 is the best Windows firewall software. It has multiple layers of security to keep sneaky and sophisticated hackers from breaking into your system, and it also protects your personal information when you are online. Bitdefender has tools that protect your system when you visit social media sites, and it keeps apps from accessing your webcam, another vulnerable point for computers. This program consistently earned perfect or near-perfect scores in tests performed by third-party labs. In addition, we found it to be very powerful at blocking unsafe websites.
Best Firewall for Mac
Best Firewall for Mac: Intego
Mac computers and laptops are not immune to internet threats. We found that Intego Mac Premium Bundle is the best Mac firewall software. Third-party testing laboratories gave it near-perfect scores for blocking Mac viruses, including spyware, phishing attempts and ransomware. Intego doesn’t use a lot of your computer’s resources while it runs, and it includes both parental and time control tools so you can decide when you child uses the computer and what they can do online.
Best Firewall for Mac: Kaspersky
Another Mac firewall software to consider is Kaspersky Internet Security. This program is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers, so you don’t have to purchase more than one firewall solution if your home has computers with different operating systems. This is especially helpful since many Mac-specific internet security programs don’t block Windows malware very well, which makes it easy for you to accidentally infect a Windows computers simply by sending an email or chatting online from your Mac. Kaspersky also includes parental and time control tools, and it has a gamer mode that suspends some security scans so it doesn’t interrupt while you watch movies or play games online.
Other personal firewall solutions are good for specific situations such as for mobile protection or if you have young children who need additional safeguards. Here are a few firewall solutions that best meet these needs.
Best Mobile Firewall
Best Mobile Firewall: McAfee
McAfee LiveSafe has a multi and unlimited device option that includes mobile protection. This extends the personal firewall and malware protection to your cell phones and tablets, and it is compatible with both Android and Apple devices. If you don’t want to protect all your devices and just need a firewall for your cell phone, then McAfee LiveSafe single device is still a good option. Along with a firewall, McAfee includes a password manager, cloud storage and web-browsing safety tools.
Best Firewall for Families
Best Firewall for Families: Norton
Norton Security Premium is our top pick for the best firewall for families. This is because it has a firewall and powerful antivirus protection as well as the best parental control features we found. You can use the parental control tools on every device, including smartphones and tablets, so you can decide when your child is allowed online and filter inappropriate content while they browse, search and play on the internet.
Best Free Firewall
Best Free Firewall: Avira
Avira is a top-rated antivirus program that consistently receives high scores for protecting home computers against known and new malware, including ransomware. It includes this virus protection in its Free Security Suite, which also has a personal firewall feature.
It also includes a safe browsing tool that lets you search online anonymously and deletes your browser history to keep your personal information safe. It doesn’t use many of your computer’s resources, so you shouldn’t notice any slowdown while it runs. It also has an automatic gamer mode that senses when you’re playing a game or watching a video and suspends some scans and functions so it doesn’t interrupt at an inopportune moment.
Because it is a free version, there are a fair number of popup ads for the more powerful, paid version, Avira Internet Security Suite. This paid version includes a firewall manager, so you’re not stuck with the automatic, nonadjustable settings in the free version.
What is a Firewall Router?
If you have an Internet of Things (IoT) home, there are vulnerabilities that stretch beyond your computer and cell phone. Everything connected to your internet network, including thermostats, appliances, televisions, security systems and baby monitors, is an access point hackers can use to get into your system and wreak havoc. Network firewall devices, also known as firewall routers, connect to your modem and create a shield at the point of internet entry to protect all your internet-enabled devices. The biggest advantage of a firewall router is you don’t have to install software on each device that connects to the internet, which saves a lot of precious storage space.
The biggest drawback of firewall routers is they aren’t easy to set up and connect. When we tested these network firewall devices, we had to call the manufacturers’ customer support teams to find out how to reconfigure our router so the firewall would work correctly. We learned that not all modems are compatible, and sometimes messing with the router causes a loss of internet connection. During our testing, one device took down our internet for over three hours. In the end, we had to contact our cable provider and hard reset our modem to get everything back to normal. Because the setup process isn’t easy for most people, we don’t recommend investing in a firewall router just yet.
As the technology advances, we anticipate network firewall devices will become more user-friendly and easier for us to recommend. Until then, check out this article on the Bitdefender BOX from our sister site, Tom’s Guide, to learn more about firewall routers and get a feel for what they can do, common setbacks and what you can anticipate in the future.