A fairly hassle-free solution for keeping you safe online.
Platform: Windows Vista, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 7, Windows Vista 64-bit
License: Free for personal use only
Most firewalls are based on the same interaction principles. Basically, whenever an application is trying to access the internet, display a popup asking the user what to do. This is not only annoying for the user, but also less than secure. On an average computer, a lot of applications are trying to access the internet but not all of them actually require a network connection. Displaying a popup for each app makes it very probable that unneeded applications will gain access to the network, as it increases the likelyhood of the user granting unnecessary rights to some applications. Also, depending on how a particular firewall works, the user can be asked multiple times for even the same program, which will also lead to the user becoming less and less aware of what he actually allows.
TinyWall takes a different approach. It does not display popups that "urge users to allow". In fact, it will not notify you of any blocked action. Instead of showing popups, TinyWall makes it easy to whitelist or unblock applications by different means. For example, you can just initiate whitelisting by a hotkey, then click on a window that you want to allow. Or, you can select an application from the list of running processes. (Of course, the traditional way of selecting an executable also works.) This approach avoids popups but still keeps the firewall very easy to use. It will also limit the list of unblocked programs to those that the user really needs, which is optimal from a security standpoint.