ZoneAlarm review: summary
ZoneAlarm is ranked #22 out of 28 antivirus software.
ZoneAlarm offers solid antivirus protection with its cybersecurity suite. Its malware scanner performs well, while its advanced firewall offers robust protection and customization. The software also provides anti-phishing, anti-keylogging, and anti-ransomware features.
However, it falls short of competitors like Norton and Bitdefender due to a lack of essential tools like VPN, password manager, and parental controls.
Crucially, ZoneAlarm does not participate in the independent tests by AV-Test, which is not a good sign. Without these tests, we have no benchmark to compare it against. We would stick to one of the proven winners, such as Norton or Bitdefender.
If you want the best protection, we recommend Norton.
|Ranking||#22 of 28|
|Operating systems||Windows, iOS, Android|
Test score comparison
We’ve compared the 10 most recent test scores of all antivirus brands. The tests were performed by AV-Test, the German anti-malware test lab. They use three factors:
- Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
- Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
- Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.
We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:
Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.
Brands not listed in the table haven’t participated in the analysis by AV-Test. This is usually not a good sign. Because most reputable brands, except Panda, ESET, and Sophos, partake in the test.
ZoneAlarm antivirus review
ZoneAlarm is a trustworthy antivirus with capabilities including malware scanning, a reliable firewall, real-time protection, and defenses against phishing and ransomware. It offers a decent free plan and two premium plans, Pro Antivirus + Firewall and the extensive Extreme Security NextGen, covering up to 50 devices.
Extreme Security NextGen, while more expensive, has superior features and presents better value. It identifies all malware, uses behavioral scanning for latest threats, updates its database hourly, and completes a full scan in about 45 minutes. The firewall prevents unauthorized network access and shields against spyware, making your PC hacker-proof.
The program uses AI to counter ransomware attacks, prevents file encryption, and can recover encrypted data. Web Secure ensures safe browsing, blocking access to dubious sites. Threat Emulation scans suspicious files in a sandbox environment, protecting against unidentified threats and updating the cloud database.
The anti-keylogger stops thieves from recording keystrokes to steal personal information. Despite these robust features, ZoneAlarm lacks certain tools like a VPN, parental controls, and a password manager, which its competitors offer.
The free antivirus plan, available only on Windows, includes a malware scanner, Wi-Fi protection, and traffic monitoring but lacks key web protection and real-time cloud security tools. Pro Antivirus + Firewall, starting at €20.85/year, adds real-time and anti-phishing protection and safe browsing but misses ransomware protection.
Extreme Security NextGen, priced at €32.66/year, includes anti-keylogging and anti-ransomware protection, and content filtering. However, it doesn’t offer additional features like a VPN and password manager. It covers Windows, Android, and iOS, making it ideal for multi-device security, though not for Mac users.
While affordable, ZoneAlarm’s plans are less comprehensive than competitors like Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee. However, a 30-day free trial and money-back guarantee allow you to assess the plans risk-free.
Ease of use
Setting up ZoneAlarm, particularly the Extreme Security NextGen Windows app, is hassle-free and intuitive. It categorizes features into four key areas: Antivirus, Two-way firewall, Web Secure, and Hacking Protection, all easily accessible from the main interface.
With default protections activated upon installation, you can easily deactivate them as needed. Additional features include a Gaming Mode, suspending alerts, updates, and scans during gameplay. Despite this, it falls short of the best antivirus software for gaming that also include game boosters.
ZoneAlarm’s mobile apps, with intuitive interfaces, have tools like Safe Browsing, a vulnerability checker, and Safari protection on Android and iOS respectively. While VPN protocols are used to block harmful sites and oversee browser traffic, they don’t serve standard VPN functions like masking your geographical location.
ZoneAlarm’s support channels, encompassing 24-hour weekday live chat, a forum, and email support, provide responses in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Response times were rapid with detailed answers and offered transcripts for future reference. Additionally, an informative community forum and resource-rich knowledge base further aid users.
ZoneAlarm’s refund policy proved reliable in tests, with requests approved within an hour and money returned within a few business days.
Despite its strengths, ZoneAlarm has limitations. While its antivirus engine is robust, it lacks key features offered by other brands, notably a VPN, password manager, and parental controls. Compatibility extends to most devices, but macOS users are left out. ZoneAlarm provides effective ransomware and anti-phishing tools at an affordable price, but it could benefit from enhanced features to compete with top antivirus products.
How do we test antivirus software?
The best antivirus software offer virus protection, identity theft protection, and privacy protection for Windows, macOS, and Android. Some also offer security features for iOS and Linus.
To evaluate which providers are worth your money, we run 11 tests:
> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test
We analyze antivirus software’s capability to detect and eliminate known and unknown malware, using heuristic analysis for behavior monitoring.
We conduct in-house tests and analyze those from labs like AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives to determine the best malware protection.
Malware includes adware, keyloggers, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Other cyber threats, usually not classified as malware, are (zero-day) exploits, hacks, identity theft, phishing attacks, scams, and social engineering.
> Test 2: False positives test
False positives occur when antivirus software misidentifies legitimate software, files, or websites as malicious. We rely on AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in its usability test to guide our evaluations.
> Test 3: System performance test
We measure the CPU load during antivirus software system scans and consider AV-Test’s performance results on the slowdown caused by antivirus software when opening websites and handling software.
> Test 4: Firewall test
We evaluate two-way firewalls that filter incoming and outgoing data and allow users to set rules to regulate data streams. We use the ShieldsUP! test to determine if the antivirus software blocks all ports.
> Test 5: Password manager test
We assess password managers’ ability to create, store, and autofill secure passwords, as well as additional features like two-factor authentication and biometric login.
> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test
We evaluate built-in VPNs on their security, privacy, speed, compatibility with streaming services, unlimited data access, and support for peer-to-peer networks and torrent clients.
> Test 7: Parental control test
We examine parental control features, such as screen time rules, website/app blocking, and real-world location tracking. We test these features on a device and attempt to circumvent them, checking if the activity is accurately reported in the parental control admin.
> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test
We evaluate antivirus browser extensions that block phishing sites by installing them and attempting to visit dangerous URLs.
> Test 9: Ransomware protection test
We assess security suites’ ability to prevent data encryption through exploit prevention and behavioral detection during ransomware attacks.
> Test 10: Bonus features test
We test any additional cybersecurity tools such as:
- Ad Blocker
- Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
- Email protection
- File encryption
- File shredder
- Gaming mode
- Microphone protection
- PC maintenance features
- Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
- Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
- Spam filter
- Startup optimizer
- Tune up tools
- Virtual keyboard
- Webcam protection
> Test 11: Operating system and multiple devices test
Operating system and multiple devices: We test antivirus software on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices and award bonus points for unlimited device protection.
> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test
We analyze the trustworthiness of antivirus companies, especially concerning customer data. We read press releases, news articles, and privacy policies to determine their reputation.
Sources and tools
Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:
- Apple Platform Security
- AV-Comparatives Consumer
- AV-Test Android
- AV-Test macOS
- AV-Test Windows
- GRC Firewall Test
- Microsoft Defender
- SpeedTest VPN
- Trustpilot Security Software
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
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