Free firewall with advanced options.
I’ve long avoided mainstream firewalls, such as ZoneAlarm and Comodo Firewall, because in the past I’ve either had bug trouble with them (as in BSoD or other serious failures such as connection not working anymore without a full OS reinstallation) or was disappointed by their lack of configurability (as in, no or very poor control over which programs to allow or disallow to connect to internet).
So, I stuck with “indie” firewalls for as long as I could. But unfortunately, Sygate Personal Firewall got bought and killed by Symantec (Norton), so was never made available for Windows 7 (still works great on XP though). And PC Tools Firewall had the same fate (bought and killed AGAIN by Symantec – looks like they do the buy and kill much better than the actual product creation), only a bit later so I could run it on Windows 7, until it eventually broke (seems like it works with Windows 7 RTM but not with Windows 7 SP1, although I’m not 100% if that’s the SP1 that broke it).
So, because there was no other choice, I decided to give Comodo another try. My previous try dated back in Windows XP times, and it was quite terrible because of the lack of control over programs (it was either allow things “automatically”, ie any signed program would pass without questions, and maybe some others too, or ask about _everything_, and by this I mean it even detected the mouse driver, so whenever I clicked to open the browser it would pop a dialog asking for confirmation that the mouse driver could run a connection via the browser…) and because when I uninstalled it (because of previously-mentioned troubles) it broke my connection, requiring a system reinstallation.
But since that time, they made big progresses. There is FINALLY a way to control programs just like there used to be in Sygate and PC Tools: ask for every new program, and then propose to remember or not the choice you made about it. Plus actually a lot of other options which I haven’t browsed in details yet. I haven’t tried uninstalling it, though… but from the look of it, there’s no need to anyway 🙂