I had norton's firewall and although it looked good and seemed to block everything (when tested on symantec's site), when I tested it on other test sites ports showed up as closed not blocked. I went back to tiny personal firewall - no probs and shows up blocked or stealth on every test site I've tried.
Zonealarm Pro or free - excellent user friendlyness, best if you want a caffine free method of protecting your system - that is if you don't want to mess about with advanced setting or tweaking parts of the interface. I would reccomend this for people who like things to be uncomplicated and easy as it is very easy to protect your system with the slider system.
Tiny PC - not the most user friendly but very powerful if it is set-up to your needs. I use it myself but I would only reccomend it if you enjoy tweaking with firewall settings, so I would say its best for adavanced or extremely picky users.
I've been using sygate personal firewall since reading about it on this post...i like it a great deal. it's free, easy to install, and runs very quietly down there in the systray...i have no way to test it's effectiveness, of course....but i've tried zonealarm free and it gave me problems in xp plus was a pain in the ass to set up. black ice lulls you into a false sense of security (my opinion) by scaring your pants off every ten minutes
when i had 56kbs, i started out with Conseal PC Firewall, it's cool, if u are willing to customize it to suit your own needs, although this firewall has been discontinued; Zone Alarm Pro: good firewall, very customizable, haven't used it in xp yet; norton firewall, seems cool when tested at their home website, but as it was already said here, has holes that are not blocked. Anyway, does the XP built-in firewall work with cable connections?
That is funny I have used Nortons Firewall for years and have tested it on several 3rd party test sites. All my ports have always come back as Stealth. What version are you guys using and what test site are finding these vonurable ports?
I've used Zone Alarm Pro for quite a while now and have never had any complaints. Sygate Pro V5.0 is another one thats good, they both have the ability to block not only incoming, but also outgoing attacks / intruders / "phone-homes". Sygate might be a little heavy for home use though, as it also incorporates a configurable file protection facility which keeps an eye on system files by default, and this tends to be a total pain in the ar** in the learning period.