You Might Be Low On Resources: The ZoneAlarm Firewall Factor

The topic I am going to talk about relates to all of us, because we simply just want our computers to run applications and software as fast as possible, right? As you might know, ZoneAlarm is a powerful security software package that is recommended to everyone to protect his/her computer from threats like viruses. ZoneAlarm protects our PCs from people who want to penetrate into our systems. In fact, it can keep hackers away from us, but it uses a lot of our computer resources.

By resources, I mean the amount of free memory our PCs have. This is usually measured by the amount of random access memory or RAM we have installed on our computers. Naturally, the higher amount of RAM on our systems means the more applications and calculations our computers can handle at the same time, and therefore, making our computers run faster.

A couple of years ago, 256MB of RAM was considered more than enough, but today people buy desktop and notebook computers with 1,024mb of RAM. You can see how our computing lives have changed.

Now, back to ZoneAlarm. After installing, by default, this useful program is turned on whenever we are using Windows, so it is consuming some of our computer’s memory. This is the point where the speed of our computer is affected to some extent.

Suppose you have started Windows and want to type a letter in a Word document. Well, you click on Microsoft Word, but you notice it takes a few more seconds than when ZoneAlarm was not installed on your system. Now, when you turn ZoneAlarm off, you may notice that your system is again as fast as it was before. What is going on?

This means ZoneAlarm is a powerful program and in order to stay powerful, it needs a lot of energy. This amount of energy comes from our system memory or resources, so we devote some part of our system resources to enjoy the benefits of ZoneAlarm.

When we turn ZoneAlarm off, we in fact take a load off our computer memory, so there would be more free memory or resources for our computer to use and to allocate to other software that may be running.

This is never a shortcoming for ZoneAlarm. Instead, it means if we want to have a fast and secure system, we should have enough memory installed so that programs like ZoneAlarm can be turned on all the time. This means while we’re online and offline to ensure our computer security. If we have enough memory installed, we do not experience any decrease in speed of our computer.

I highly recommend that you have at least 512MB of RAM installed on your computers, even if you use your PC only for some light tasks, such as typing and checking your e-mail accounts.

Now, suppose you only have 256MB of RAM installed and do not intend to upgrade your system. What should you do now? You have ZoneAlarm installed and know it’s a great software with many features, but whenever it’s turned on, you feel your system runs slower than when it’s turned off.

Let’s take a look at two images I have prepared from a sample PC with 256MB of RAM. In the first image, ZoneAlarm is turned on and in the second image, it is turned off.

You too can see how your computer operates by pressing Alt+Ctrl+Delete to open the Windows Task Manager window. You then click on Performance to learn about your CPU usage, which is the same as memory usage. The number shows the percentage of resource usage. The more it is near zero, the faster your computer is going to run.

In the next image, you see the same system with the ZoneAlarm turned off. Now you see a change in CPU usage, meaning the system runs applications faster because it has more percents of free memory to use.

My recommendation to you is that whenever you are online, use ZoneAlarm or any other firewall you have installed or want to use. When you are offline and you know the software or application you are working with is virus and spyware free (for example, when you’re having fun playing games with your computer), it’s better that your turn your firewall off and let your PC have more unused resources of RAM for faster calculations.

Another case happens when you want to install programs from a CD onto your computer. In such cases, it might take a long time for the software to install. The reason is that the antivirus section of ZoneAlarm checks the files to be installed on your computer one by one to minimize the risk of virus infection. So, again it’s recommended that before you start installation, scan your whole CD with your ZoneAlarm program and/or your other antivirus software. After that, you can turn the firewall off and install the software with ease, faster and securely.

If you don’t know much about ZoneAlarm yet, check it out here.

Hamid Reza Soroush Zand