Mixed Impressions on Outpost 4 Software Firewall

According to FirewallLeakTester.com, Agnitum Outpost 4.0’s leak-test functionality is designed to block a very broad range of leak tests. In its fully aggressive mode, Outpost 4.0 may make your life a living hell with repetitive prompts. It’s nice to know, however, that you can ratchet up the protective power any time, even if you wind up turning down to one of Outpost’s more permissive modes (as I did).

I installed Outpost Pro 4 on a machine running F-Secure Anti-Virus 2006. In other words, I tempted fate, since both products contain anti-spyware and F-Secure is noted for its strong tendency toward incompatibility. I disabled Outpost’s anti-spyware scan during installation, but the anti-spyware module came up running by default post installation. It is possible to fully disable it at that point.

With F-Secure running alongside Outpost 4, I quickly ran into difficulties. It worked fine for a while, but on subsequent reboots I found that Outpost froze or that my Internet connection died. I was also unable to make my VPN connection work, even though I directed Outpost to give it full rein.

Eventually I was forced to remove Outpost in order to get any work done. I’m currently setting up a test machine that will provide a cleaner environment for Outpost to give it a proper test. This first two-hour experiment was a little unfair.

I can draw some conclusions from installing and using Outpost even for that short period of time. Outpost 4 may well be the most powerful and comprehensive personal firewall I’ve examined. This product is loaded with good features. The graphical log file, which also allows you to make settings changes, is absolutely superb. The level of fine control is perfection.

On the other hand, the networking control features are less clear-cut than I’d like. And for my simple tastes, Agnitum has packs way too many extra modules into this package. I don’t want anti-spyware in my firewall. I also don’t want content filtering, ad blocking, Internet-based sharing of my settings, attachment quarantine, or DNS caching. I would be quite interested in “Outpost 4 Lite,” if such a thing existed, consisting of the firewall, application controls, intrusion detection, leak protection, and network monitoring.

So, bottom line, I will continue to test Outpost 4 to give it a fair shake. And if you’re looking for a top-notch firewall with a lot of bells and whistles, this is almost certainly it.

But I’m crossing it off the list of lightweight firewalls that are under consideration for my ongoing series: “Looking for the Right Software Firewall” because it it’s so much more than the simple firewall I’m looking for.

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