Best firewall software of 2024

A padlock resting on a keyboard.
(Image credit: Passwork)

The best firewall software makes it simple and easy to set up a firewall to defend your computer or IT systems against unauthorized intrusions.

 The best firewalls act as a shield between your device and harmful files, preventing attackers from installing malware and other payloads that could encrypt and steal your data, or otherwise invade your privacy.

Taking the role as the first line of defense, the best firewalls often work in tandem with antivirus to form a layered protection against constantly evolving threats.

Firewalls can come as a standalone product suitable for individuals or small businesses, but can also be bundled up with internet security services and antivirus solutions that offer additional perks and features. Bigger companies may want to consider the more suitable protection offered by cloud firewalls.

We tested these firewalls for their primary purpose - keeping out malicious files - while also exploring simplicity, user friendliness, and the ability to tweak advanced settings.

So take a look below at the best firewall protection for your computer. We’ll cover the best paid firewall protection platforms first, followed by the best free firewalls

For Linux users, we've featured the best free Linux firewalls and the best Linux firewall distro.

The best firewall software of 2024 in full:

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Best firewall software overall

(Image credit: Bitdefender)
Best for all round security with firewall protection

Reasons to buy

High-end firewall protection
Anti-ransomware protection included
Microphone safeguarding
Up to 5 devices

Reasons to avoid

Some alternatives offer more for your money

Bitdefender Total Security is a powerful internet security suite that offers a firewall among a range of featured security protections. There's also anti-virus protection, but its multi-layered malware protection also protects against ransomware.

Other features include anti-phishing, anti-fraud, and anti-theft options, as well as a performance optimizer. A wide range of privacy protection options include anti-tracking, file encryption, and shredder, parental controls, as well as protection for microphones to prevent them from being used by a third party., 

Bitdefender Total Security isn't just for protecting Windows users either, but can also be used to protect against attacks on Android, macOS, and iOS as well. Even better, a single product license allows you to use the software on up to 5 different devices, so you can use Bitdefender Total Security for your home PC as well as smartphone.

Overall, Bitdefender Total Security pretty much does what its name suggests, offering a very wide range of security protections that goes beyond just a firewall. However, pricing is very reasonable at around $35 / £30 / AU$50 per year for up to five devices, making it cheap and easy to get peace of mind.

Read our full Bitdefender Total Security review.

Best multi-feature firewall software

(Image credit: Norton)
Best multi-feature firewall protection

Reasons to buy

Smart firewall tools
Secure VPN included
Dark Web monitoring
Password manager included
Online backup services bundled in

Reasons to avoid

Expensive price compared to some competitors

Norton 360 Deluxe offers an even richer and more feature-packed internet security suite than just providing a firewall. While it provides antivirus and standard anti-malware protections like the above internet security suites it dares to go further.

Additional features in the Norton 360 Deluxe include a secure VPN, parental controls, a password manager (although you may want to use the best password manager instead), and online cloud backup. There's also a feature for dark web monitoring so you can be alerted if any of your details appear for sale on the Dark Web.

This all comes at a more expensive price than the other internet security suites featured here, but the additional features and peace of mind are likely to be worth it for some people.

If you want to add identity protection you can upgrade to Norton 360 with Lifelock Select, which provides additional identity protection and credit rating monitoring as well as insurance provision in the event that your personal information is misused.

Read our full Norton 360 Deluxe review.

Best multi-platform firewall software

(Image credit: Avast)
Best multi-device firewall option

Reasons to buy

Firewall protection for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android devices
Anti-ransomware tools included
Up to 10 devices

Reasons to avoid

Annoying ads

Avast Premium Security is another paid-for full-featured internet security suite that comes in two main forms: single PC use, or up to 10 devices, including macOS, iOS, and Android.

As with Bitdefender, this means that you can protect both a home PC as well as mobile devices. However, because there's an option to protect up to 10 devices it means you can use a single license to protect the family as well.

As well as a firewall for all devices, Avast Premium Security also protects anti-ransomware protection, file encryption, and file shredder options. There are also anti-phishing and anti-fraud protections for safer online banking, and there's also protection against your webcam being hacked by a third party.

Overall, Avast Premium Security is another solid and reliable internet security suite, but one thing that does let it down is the constant pop-up ads pushing on cross-sell for PC tune-up and other software, something people who have paid for a license should not have to constantly deal with.

The cost for a yearly prescription for one PC is around $40 / £35 / AU$60 or you can choose the second option to protect up to 10 devices costing about $50 / £45 / AU$75 per year.

Read our full Avast Premium Security review.

Best value firewall software

(Image credit: Panda)
Best value firewall and internet security solution

Reasons to buy

Lots of features
Can cover unlimited devices

Reasons to avoid

Interface won't be for everybody

Firewall, real-time malware detection, speedy cloud-based scanning, URL filtering to block malicious websites: Panda Dome Essential antivirus has all the essentials – not to mention, the goodies – you'd expect from the best antivirus software.

And, that's just the beginning. Panda Dome is brimming with added extras that some of the other plans on this list can’t match – from port scanning and ping handling to in-depth process monitoring and an integrated VPN.

The interface will be a little bit decisive, too. With so many weird and wonderful features included, Panda Dome does a very capable job of making sure that they can all be accessed and you can go as in-depth as you need. However, on the other hand, this might put off users who just want a quiet, simple antivirus package.

One undoubted advantage here is the price - Panda Dome Essential is one of the best value programs out there. And, you even have the option of paying a little more and upgrading to cover an unlimited number of laptops, phones, tablets, and desktops with a single subscription.

Read our full Panda Dome Essential review.

Best lightweight firewall software

(Image credit: Webroot)

5. Webroot AntiVirus

Best lightweight internet security option

Reasons to buy

Extremely light on system resources
Lightning fast speeds

Reasons to avoid

No testing data from the top labs

Just about every antivirus tool claims to be ‘lightweight’, but Webroot AntiVirus is really the only one to deliver on this front. Installation takes seconds, the program files barely use 2MB of your hard drive, the RAM footprint is tiny, and there are no bulky signature updates to tie up your bandwidth.

Considering this, there's no compromise on features, which makes it all the more impressive. Along with the core protection, there's smart behavior monitoring, accurate real-time anti-phishing, network connection monitor, enhanced anti-ransomware, and of course firewall protection.

It's not easy to compare Webroot's accuracy with the competition, as the big testing labs rarely evaluate the company's products. However, when they are reviewed, they generally score high, and our own tests show solid and reliable protection.

There's a lot to love about Webroot AntiVirus, and the 70-day 100% money-back guarantee suggests the company is confident in the product as well. If you're sick of overly complex and bloated engines, Webroot is a worthy contender for you.

Find the best deals on Webroot products with our Webroot promo codes.

Best free firewall

Best free firewall software overall

(Image credit: ZoneAlarm)
The best free firewall

Reasons to buy

Easy to use interface
Great antivirus engine

Reasons to avoid

Best features are paid-for

ZoneAlarm has been one of the most popular firewall solutions for more than 20 years and has been downloaded more than 20 million times.

ZoneAlarm comes in both Free and Pro versions. The former has ads and lacks several features, including expert rules, 24/7 support, component control, and other advanced settings. What it will do is identify potentially unsafe traffic, hide open ports, and disable malicious programs.

It also features a two-way firewall that monitors traffic coming into and going out of your network, makes your PC invisible to hackers, and stops spyware from broadcasting your personal data. Furthermore, early boot protection will protect your computer from being booted from a dangerous rootkit aimed at taking over your PC.

ZoneAlarm also includes anti-phishing scanning of URLs to make sure you don’t enter your personal information on websites identified as being security threats. And it will remove malicious code from any files you download.

Read our full ZoneAlarm review.

Best free firewall software for features

(Image credit: Comodo)
Best if all you need is a decent feature set

Reasons to buy

Sandbox for testing apps
Low resource usage

Reasons to avoid

Needs configuring

For a free product, Comodo Firewall offers a healthy serving of features. It will check that all incoming and outgoing traffic is legitimate, hide your computer’s ports from hackers, and block malicious software broadcasting your private data. If there is any suspicious activity, it will warn you immediately.

It also includes a secure browser, a ‘virtual kiosk’, and a host intrusion protection system (HIPS). The HIPS will detect suspicious behavior by a program and ask you whether to allow it, block it, or treat the program as an installer.

Comodo also includes its own more secure versions of popular browsers Chrome and Firefox, called Dragon and IceDragon respectively. The Comodo browsers offer security, privacy, and performance enhancements that aren’t available in standard browsers.

Comodo’s Virtual Kiosk is a virtualized sandbox, like an isolated operating environment for running unknown applications. Apps run in the Kiosk won’t affect anything on your real computer, which makes it ideal for testing out new, untrusted apps.

Read our full Comodo Firewall review.

Best lightweight free firewall software

(Image credit: TinyWall)
Best if you want an unobtrusive free firewall

Reasons to buy

No annoying popups
Lightweight compared to some rivals

Reasons to avoid

Manual whitelisting
Not very attractive looks

TinyWall is actually designed to be used with Windows’ built-in Defender firewall, so its performance impact is minimal.

TinyWall will actively block trojans, viruses, worms, and other forms of malware, and prevent the modification of Windows firewall’s settings by malicious programs. And it will do all of this without you needing to know about ports, protocols, or application details.

But probably its most appealing feature is its no-popup approach. Most firewalls will display a popup asking you what you want to do whenever an application is trying to access the Internet. Not only is this annoying, but eventually you’ll just start granting access to everything to get rid of the popups, which isn’t very secure.

TinyWall gets around this problem by expecting you to whitelist programs that you actually want to be able to access the Internet. When you find a program has been blocked, it’s easy to add it to the whitelist, and then you can continue with what you were doing.

Read our full TinyWall review.

Best basic free firewall software

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Best if you don't want to install anything

Reasons to buy

Already installed with Windows
Low false positive rate

Reasons to avoid

Lack of additional features

If you have a PC running a version of Windows more recent than XP, then you already have a free firewall installed, and unless you’ve changed any settings, it’s already active and running.

Known as Windows Defender since the release of Windows 10, the firewall is part of a suite of security tools included by default with Windows installations. Microsoft recommends that you leave the Defender on, even if you’re also using another firewall. 

To manage its settings, simply search for 'security' in Windows and select the Security app. When it opens, set the Windows Defender Firewall toggle to on. Turning it off again simply involves clicking the same button.

You can also configure the firewall to allow a certain app through the firewall. From the same place as where you turn it on/off, you can select ‘Allow an app through firewall’ and then choose the app in question.

Read our full Windows Defender review.

Best designed free firewall software

(Image credit: GlassWire)

5. GlassWire

Best designed free solution

Reasons to buy

Stylish design
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

Limited features compared to some rivals
Amount of info can overwhelm

GlassWire is one of the most attractive free firewalls available. With its beautiful interface, you’ll be able to see your current and past network activity, making it easy to detect threats to your computer.

GlassWire will also warn you of any changes to your PC or apps that were related to Internet activity. And it will monitor your network and alert you if unknown devices try to connect.

Probably its best feature is the presentation of detailed statistics of network usage broken down by IP/Host, application, and type of network traffic. GlassWire has an ‘Ask to Connect’ mode to allow or deny new app connections. And you can create custom profiles, for instance, when you’re connected to your home WiFi or when you’re at work.

And if you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed by the amount of information available, you can clear the logs in a few seconds to bring them back to a more manageable state.

We've also listed the best endpoint protection software.

Best firewall FAQs

How to choose the best firewall

When deciding which firewall to download and use, first consider what your actual security needs are. Sometimes free and budget software may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a paid platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, higher-end security software suites can usually cater for every need, such as providing other tools such as as a built-in VPN, antivirus, and malware protection, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require from your firewall.

How we test the best firewalls

To test for the best firewall we first set up an account with the relevant platform, then we tested the service to see how simple and easy it was to set up, configure, and use. The aim was to see how useful the basic tools of each firewall were, and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools. Additionally, we needed to make sure that each of the firewalls worked as intended.

Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

Get in touch

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict has been writing about security issues for close to 5 years, at first covering geopolitics and international relations while at the University of Buckingham. During this time he studied BA Politics with Journalism, for which he received a second-class honours (upper division). Benedict then continued his studies at a postgraduate level and achieved a distinction in MA Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy. Benedict transitioned his security interests towards cybersecurity upon joining TechRadar Pro as a Staff Writer, focussing on state-sponsored threat actors, malware, social engineering, and national security. Benedict is also an expert on B2B security products, including firewalls, antivirus, endpoint security, and password management.

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