Re: Completely replace software firewall with hardware firewall?

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1 - Up to you. A hardware firewall is good for protection from all
intruders gaining direct access to your PC/network, but no good at
detecting things from calling home. It is also much easier to set up. A
software firewall gives you the extra protection in detecting things from
calling home, but they can be quite easy to configure incorrectly and
leave you vulnerable. A hardware firewall is independent of your PC and
so uses no PC resources.

2 - You want a Router. This automatically provides firewall protection.
Before you get a recommendation, you need to decide if you want a
wireless or wired setup (although some routers support both). To
complicate things, some routers can act as print servers which can help
with sharing printers.

Personally I only run a hardware firewall, but I am looking for a free
software one which fits particular criteria as well. Jetico may be the
one for me when thay have sorted a blocking bug for me. Kerio 2.1.5 is no
good for one of my apps, and 4 does not support WinME. ZoneAlarm did not
used to do something I wanted, but it may do now, so I might try it
again. I never got to grips with the old Outpost.

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