Online Armor Version 3 Beta Supports Vista

Yesterday, Tall Emu, makers of Scot’s Newsletter’s Best Software Firewall of 2008, Online Armor, released public beta 1 of a significant new version of its firewall. Online Armor version 3 supports Vista, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. The list of features is quite long and very intriguing.

Tall Emu CEO Mike Nash tells me that the public beta of the free version of Online Armor will be released shortly (probably today). In addition to Vista support, the free version will now be able to check for and install updates automatically as well as upgrade to newer versions (free or paid) of the OA software without having to uninstall the previous version. That takes care of my chief criticism of Online Armor’s 2.x free version. (The paid version of the product was able to perform both of these functions.) I’m glad to see Tall Emu make the products equal in this area. It’s the right thing to do. But in the same breath, I also urge my readers to pay for the commercial software products they adopt and use regularly. It is equally the right thing to do.

So here’s a quick top-level list of what’s new in Online Armor 3. For more detail about what’s new, see Mike Nash’s post in the Tall Emu forums.

Online Armor 3 Beta 1 Highlights and New Features

  • 32-bit Vista compatible
  • Updated user interface
  • Additional threat protection
  • Updated help file (http://www.tallemu.com/webhelp3/Welcome.html)
  • New language support, including French and Italian.
  • Multi-desktop support
  • Manage your hosts file with Online Armor’s HOSTS editor.
  • “Trust All” option in the Safety Check Wizard allows fast setup on new computers.
  • MAC Filtering
  • Online Armor can be set not to start at next boot.
  • Filter by program added to firewall status screen.
  • Default “Run Safer” for unknown programs added to OA options.
  • Keylogger detection detects more types of keylogger.
  • Advanced-mode options screens allow finer control.

8 Responses to “Online Armor Version 3 Beta Supports Vista”

  1. rmiller1959 Says:

    I’ve used it for a couple of days now and it’s not given me any troubles at all. I’m very pleased with it and can’t wait for the final version.

  2. xram Says:

    I used it for over a month, no problem with it at all, needs lots of attention from user in my case as it is with Comodo, so I changed back to Comodo because first it is free, second it has a 64 bit version, and third I am more familiar with its settings.

  3. mjt328 Says:

    I’ve been using the version 3 free edition beta for several days now and apart from putting up way more pop-up messages than I expected, it seems to be working very well in terms of keeping my computer safe from threats. The only down side has been a much longer connection time when launching both IE7 and Firefox 3 browsers compared to what I experienced with version 2.

  4. rmiller1959 Says:

    I agree with mjt328. Even compared to Comodo Pro, I thought the Online Armor beta threw up a lot more pop-up messages, particularly when installing new software. Comodo Pro essentially gets out of the way once you select installation mode; Online Armor either doesn’t consistently offer the choice of installation mode or when it’s in installation mode it still intrudes frequently.

    I also had problems with my e-mail in Outlook when Mail Shield is active. In one instance, Outlook refused to download a file with a 1.5 MB photo attachment, something it hadn’t done before. On a whim, I turned off the Mail Shield, restarted Outlook and it downloaded the message without a problem. Today I noted that it was downloading mail slowly and hanging on the last message and, after a restart of Outlook, it began downloading all the same messages again. Once again, I disabled the Mail Shield, restarted Outlook and it seemed to correct the problem. It could be that Mail Shield conflicts with the mail scanning feature of my anti-spam software (IHateSpam 5.0) or the e-mail malware scanning feature of my anti-malware software (PC Tools Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus) but their suggestion to turn those features off wasn’t acceptable to me.

    As a result, I switched back to Comodo Pro. Just based on my experiences, Scot’s recommendation of Comodo Pro for Vista users is still golden.

  5. rmiller1959 Says:

    Scot,

    After several weeks of mucking around with various security products, you’ll be happy to know that it’s come down to ESET NOD32 Antivirus, Comodo Firewall Pro, and PC Tools ThreatFire. I had PC Tools Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus because of a computer magazine’s recommendation but I started having blue screen system crashes that pointed to a file associated with that application. I uninstalled it and put NOD32 back on my system (it’s been off for a while) and things are working OK once again. ThreatFire seems to augment my anti-malware protection without conflicts and Comodo is a first-rate firewall. Thanks for your contribution to my decision-making!

  6. tklp Says:

    I am reading here with great interest. I am a middle aged woman who did not grow up with computers. I just got my first computer with Vista. I have OA installed on another one and just have another day or two to take advantage of their discount for 3 computers, which I would like to do. However, in reading all this discussion about the OA beta version for Vista being new, and Comodo being more tested on Vista, I am wanting to know people’s experience very recently with regard to OA on Vista. Have they fixed more bugs just lately, or even at this date, should I hold off on OA on the Vista & install Comodo on it for now? I’d rather not switch back & forth if I don’t have to. If I buy the 3 computer deal, would it be wise to just hold off on installing it on the Vista for a month or two??
    The OA seems to be running smoothly, though there are a couple of entries I don’t recognize under the allowed sites (or programs? I forget).
    I don’t do a lot of fancy stuff on my computer, just basic things. I really don’t like it when it asks me if I want to allow something that I don’t know the answer to! But this would be the case with any FW, right? I just learned that Windows FW is inadequate!
    If anyone could answer me soon concerning the recent acceptability of OA for Vista, I would really appreciate it. As I said, I will be deciding in a day or two & I’d like to just go with it if you experts think it’s fine. Then I wouldn’t have to switch & understand/learn two different programs.
    Thanks!
    tklp

  7. THVanderWall Says:

    I have been looking forward to Online Armor supporting Vista for quite awhile; both my wife and youngest daughter received computers with Vista pre-installed, and an XP “downgrade” was not in the family budget. All of the family’s XP computers use Online Armor, having switched from Comodo because of the *constant* user interaction required by that product. However, I don’t think it would be good practice for me to put a beta on either my wife’s or daughter’s machine (not enough experience). Therefore, I anxiously await the final OA v3 product.

  8. Rusk Reeder Says:

    Scot,

    I have finally gotten around to trying Online armor. I have the official free 3.0 version.

    I think it has some issues and you might need to rethink your recommendation.

    First, in a way, it has become a little more than a firewall. It has a program control that controls not only programs that connect to the Internet, but any program that starts up. You can turn it off, but for the average lay user this creates far too many confusing pop ups.

    Also, in some instances it doesn’t seem to remember my responses. When I launch a game, which I’m retired from now, it sometimes asks if I want to let the a3d.dll something–I think it’s the game’s hook to Direct X–to run. I told it the first time, but every now and then–not all the time however–it asks me again if I want to allow this. And I’m thinking, “I already told you I wanted you to allow it.”

    Today, when I woke up, there was a Java update. And sitting waiting for me was Online Armor asking me if I wanted to let Java connect to the Internet. I leave my computer in standby mode, so it probably wouldn’t have done it anyway, but still, one would think that a firewall would know that Java is a program to be trusted. And then when I installed it I had to go through about four or so confirmation pop ups concerning the new Java build. Winpatrol, a free new program monitor that I use, had only one confirmation.

    It also has a filesystem scan. It scans all the files on our computer to look for suspicious files. From what I can surmise, it is a quasi-anti-malware scanner. To me, this is a bit more than a firewall.

    Also of note, Comodo has finally come out with a paid suite. I have not tried it, but you might want to check in out. Also, I think you can purchase some separate components. And it seems that Comodo has some other unique tools now. In other words, it has revamped its product line.

    Also, I don’t want to go into too much detail right now, but Online Armor feels like it has a few more rough edges.

    I would like to recommend you take a look at a free firewall from the PC Tools folks. It scored very good in the Matousec tests and seems fairly well made. I tried an earlier version of it, and liked most of what I saw.

    And the second option might be to go with the Norton Suite now. Yes, it is a suite, but all current reviews have commented on how streamlined it is and how few system resources it uses. And its firewall makes decisions automatically. It’s one of a new generation of firewalls that make decisions based on behavior. The firewalls in Kaspersky and Panda apparently work the same way. Furthermore, the firewall in the Norton Suite scored well in the Matousec tests–just a hair below Online Armor, essentially where the PC Tools free firewall scored. In other words, it scored very good.

    It might be better to have a firewall that scores very good, but that is also smooth and causes no problems.

    Anyway, food for thought.

    Sincerely,

    Rusk Reeder

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