Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

ZoneAlarm Security

Recommended security software

Obtaining | Installing | Uninstalling | Issues | Updating

ZoneAlarm products by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved.

© Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved. Check Point, the Check Point logo and the ZoneAlarm logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. or its affiliates. ZoneAlarm is a Check Point Software Technologies, Inc. Company.

You NEED a Security Suite

Today's devices are continually connected to the Internet so you NEED a decent security suite.

My recommendation of ZoneAlarm products is based upon the superior firewall protection and ransomware protection.

ZoneAlarm's antivirus component includes some elements of ransomware protection, enough that I had to disable the antivirus portion before I could directly test the ransomware system.


In testing, ZoneAlarm detected all my file-encrypting ransomware samples and recovered most affected files. One ransomware sample encrypted all the other samples — ZoneAlarm didn't recover those, but then, executable files aren't the usual target for ransomware.

The newer versions of ZoneAlarm not only have a pleasing interface, but they require little hands-on configuration. This is ideal for those that want the protection without the hassles of configuring their security software.

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Obtaining ZoneAlarm

Ensure you choose the right ZoneAlarm product:

Both have been updated with a modern interface and are supported on Windows 11.

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ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen is the complete security & privacy suite that guards you against the most sophisticated cyber threats and attacks. Supported on Windows 7/10/11, Android, iOS.

Enjoy enterprise-level security technology, adapted for home users and small businesses.

NextGen Advantages

Extreme Security NextGen is a new product that guards you against the most sophisticated cyber threats and attacks. It includes web content filtering, supports Edge and Firefox as well as Chrome, has an updated engine and a new modern interface.

NextGen is much simpler to use than the legacy ZoneAlarm Extreme Security.

NextGen checks websites and web forms for malware and phishing attacks. This may slow the loading of pages slightly, but protects you from online threats.


Customization options are fewer. NextGen lacks a gaming mode, keylogger and manual update option.

I would recommend NextGen for most folks. It is much simpler to use and the “hands-off” approach is a bonus for non-technical users.

Purchase Extreme Security NextGen

Get Extreme Security NextGen (5 devices for US$44.95)*. When placing your order:

*Prices indicated are for a one-year subscription and subject to change.

Keep a copy of the license key in a safe place in case you need it.

What You Get

Get the complete security & privacy suite that guards you against the most sophisticated cyber threats and attacks.

Here's what you get with ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen:

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ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall

ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall is free, reliable and powerful.
Supported on Windows 7/10/11.

While free security products are enticing, it is better to go with better security than to regret your decision later.

The freeware security packages make quite an impressive showing in the test, but anyone who wants the highest level of security is required to use one of the commercial packages.


The free products tend to concentrate mostly on their pure protection function.

Here's what you get with ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall:

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security Recommended

I strongly recommend you purchase ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen for advanced Antivirus features and even better protection. Review the advantages.

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Installing & Updating ZoneAlarm

These instruction will help you to install or update ZoneAlarm smoothly and avoid issues.

The installation of major updates follows essentially the same process except that you seldom need to uninstall the current program or to re-enter the license key.

Uninstall Other Security Products First

ZoneAlarm isn't compatible with any other security software except MS Windows Defender.

Ensure Windows Update is Current

Installing ZoneAlarm while Windows Updates are pending can create conflicts.

Before beginning any ZoneAlarm installation:

  1. check for Windows Updates (Start ⇒ Settings ⇒ Updates);
  2. finish installing any pending updates; then
  3. restart the computer.

Check again to be sure that there are no pending Windows Updates.

Preparing for the Installation

When installing ZoneAlarm, be sure you choose the right product:

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen requires that you purchase a license if you intend to use it after the trial period ends.

Download the Installer

You'll need to download the most recent version of the product you want to install. This download will update an existing installation of the same product.

To install a different ZoneAlarm product you need to

  1. uninstall the existing product;
  2. restart Windows;
  3. then install the new product.

You can update the same ZoneAlarm product without removing it first.

Installing ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen

Be sure that no other programs are running and that Windows Updates are complete to avoid conflicts.

Double-click on the ZoneAlarm installer. ZoneAlarm downloads necessary files. Review the licence agreement, then select Agree. The installation continues:

The ZoneAlarm installatin screen.

A warning to uninstall the ZoneAlarm Web Secure Chrome extension may be displayed:

Warning about ZoneAlarm Web Secure Chrome extension.

Since Chrome extensions are used by Microsoft Edge and other browsers like Opera and Vivaldi, you'll need to check those browsers for the extension as well.

Once the installation process is complete, you'll see the NextGen interface. Initially it is set up for a free 30-day trial:

The ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen screen before activation.

Click on the green Activate button at the top left to activate ZoneAlarm Extreme NextGen with your six-character license key (purchase a license, if you haven't already).

Once entered, the program is activated and the red bar at the bottom is removed:

The ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen screen after activation.

Installing ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall

Be sure that no other programs are running to avoid conflicts.

Double-click on the ZoneAlarm installer. ZoneAlarm downloads necessary files. Review the licence agreement, then select Agree. The installation continues:

The ZoneAlarm installatin screen.

Once the installation process is complete, you'll see the ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall interface:

The ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall screen.

Extra Features Require Activation

Web Secure and Anti-Ransomware protection are not included with the Free Antivirus + Firewall.

The “Buy Now” buttons will take you to ZoneAlarm's site to purchase ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen.

Click on the green Activate button at the top left to activate the Web Secure and Anti-Ransomware options with your six-character license key:

The ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall activation screen.

Once activated, you will be running ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen.

Configuring ZoneAlarm

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen and Free Antivirus + Firewall are much less complex than legacy ZoneAlarm. Little user interaction is required (or possible) for protection.

The interface is relatively plain, although you can make changes by clicking on one of the Antivirus, Firewall, Web Secure or Anti-Ransomware icons on the bottom.

Keep ZoneAlarm Current

ZoneAlarm automatically performs minor updates within the program including new antivirus & malware definitions and component updates.

Major updates provide security fixes and feature updates. These must be downloaded and installed.

Checking for a Newer Version

Check the current version (Help ⇒ About) then see if an update is available:

After you've downloaded the update, you must install it. Updates can be installed over the currently installed product — as long as the downloaded and installed product are the same.

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Uninstalling ZoneAlarm

If you want to stop using ZoneAlarm, be sure to uninstall it properly.

Disabling ZoneAlarm Will Cause Problems

Disabling the startup of ZoneAlarm will cause you problems because it continues to run invisibly. This feature ensures that ZoneAlarm can't be disabled by malware.

Don't Manually Delete ZoneAlarm Program Folders

ZoneAlarm makes changes to your system that require it to be properly uninstalled, either from the uninstall program in the Zone Labs program group or by going to Settings and selecting Apps & Features.

ZoneAlarm Registry Entries

Some users have experienced difficulties when improperly uninstalling ZoneAlarm. Be sure to remove any relevant registry entries.

Improper changes to the Windows registry can make your computer inoperable. Make these changes carefully or seek out professional assistance.

Resolving ZoneAlarm Program Issues

If you have problems updating or maintaining ZoneAlarm, you may need to uninstall it, reboot, then reinstall the same version.

Try the Windows Uninstaller First

First try uninstalling ZoneAlarm using the uninstaller built into Windows.

If ZoneAlarm was improperly uninstalled, you may need to reinstall it before uninstalling it again to complete the process successfully.

Clean Install

If uninstalling then reinstalling ZoneAlarm didn't work, you'll need to download the ZoneAlarm removal tool (CLEAN.exe).

Running the removal tool completely removes the settings and changes made by ZoneAlarm. Reboot Windows when the process is complete.

Now reinstall ZoneAlarm following the regular instructions.

Because the clean install removes ALL settings so you'll need to have your license key to activate ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen.

Manual Removal

If the ZoneAlarm uninstaller AND the ZoneAlarm removal tool both fail you'll need to remove the program manually. This is not a task for novices. I suggest you contact ZoneAlarm support for help.

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ZoneAlarm Issues

Why I Moved to Kaspersky

When ZoneAlarm Extreme Security legacy product was retired, I found that NextGen does not meet my requirements.

NextGen quickly quarantined some file on my system without asking, then took well over a day to restore them (a number failed altogether).

While these are files that should not be on most systems, I use them in recovering corrupt computers as part of my work as a consultant. A number were products I'd paid for.

I chose to remove NextGen and replace it with Kaspersky Total Security (I had an existing subscription for my Mac). Kaspersky gives me the control I require — control that I used to have with the legacy versions of ZoneAlarm Extreme.

Antivirus Updates Stopped Working

Older versions of ZoneAlarm may no longer install antivirus updates.

If your Antivirus updates have stopped working anytime since Oct 25, 2021 you will need to install the latest version of ZoneAlarm to correct the problem.
ZoneAlarm Support

Instructions are included on the ZoneAlarm support site.

Windows 11 Doesn't Support Legacy ZoneAlarm Products

Only ZoneAlarm Extreme NextGen or ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall are supported for Windows 11.

If upgrading to Windows 11, it is strongly recommended that you uninstall all ZoneAlarm products before upgrading. Once the upgrade has completed successfully, you can install ZoneAlarm.

Replacing ZoneAlarm Extreme Security

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security was declared a legacy product on May 13, 2022. This makes it unsafe to continue to use it.

The final update for ZoneAlarm Extreme Security ( on August 26, 2022) hardens security and provides bug fixes and improved stability.

Switching to NextGen Recommended

Extreme Security users will have to move to Extreme Security NextGen to remain supported. No purchase is required if your license is still valid.

You cannot install a different product over top the one currently installed.

Uninstall your current product, reboot, then install the new product.

NextGen requires the six-character “mobile” key (not the 31-character legacy key used by ZoneAlarm Extreme Security).

Conflicts with Security Software

ZoneAlarm isn't compatible with any other security software except MS Windows Defender.

When multiple software firewall programs are installed, there is no way of ordering which firewall will get a packet and which will report it, the determination as to which product gets operating system preference to monitor the traffic will be made at random.


When running more than one firewall, ZoneAlarm might not be able to report on incoming port scans or hack attempts.


In some cases, running two software firewalls at the same time can cause more problems than running only one.
ZoneAlarm Support

To install ZoneAlarm, you must first uninstall other security software or you may experience OS stability and computer performance issues.

This includes different ZoneAlarm products.

To change your security product, you must:

  1. uninstall any existing security software;
  2. reboot Windows; then
  3. install the new software.

Conflict with Windows Update

If Windows Update is installing new updates, that can corrupt a ZoneAlarm install in progress.

Always check to see that there are no Windows Updates before installing ZoneAlarm, including major updates that you had to download and install.

Other Conflicting Programs

Some name-brand computers may run programs that prevent ZoneAlarm from loading or cause a blue screen error (BSOD). Tracking these down can be difficult.

Run MSconfig to stop all startup programs except ZoneAlarm to verify the problem is resolved. Restore the startup programs one-at-a-time until the program creating the conflict is determined. This is usually (but not always) a driver issue.

Disabling the problematic program using Piriform's CCleaner may be easier than via the MSconfig interface because a normal startup for Windows is possible.

  1. Open CCleaner, then click on the Tools icon and select Startup.
  2. Look for potentially problematic startup listings and disable their startup.
  3. Now restart Windows.

If your computer continues to function okay with the startup of the problem program disabled, then you've resolved the issue. You can restore the startup of disabled programs one at a time (rebooting in between) to determine if the problem returns, but only if you want those programs to run.

Internet Access Issues

The most common reason people cannot access the Internet is because they have stopped ZoneAlarm from loading or have tried to delete ZoneAlarm's files without uninstalling ZoneAlarm properly. This can also happen if ZoneAlarm doesn't load correctly at startup.

By default, ZoneAlarm (like many security products) disables normal access to the Internet. This is how a firewall works

If ZoneAlarm is not running, it is unable to process permission for new programs to access the Internet. Programs that have been given access without asking (either a program recognized as safe by ZoneAlarm or configured manually by you) may continue to have access. An updated program may cease to work.

Other Reasons You Can't Access the Internet

There are additional potential causes for loss of Internet access including:

Operating System Issues

When new versions of Windows are first released, ZoneAlarm (and other security software) may not work.

Because of the long Windows release candidate programs, ZoneAlarm is usually available for early Windows adopters (but not necessarily during the beta phase).

Windows 7/10/11 Supported

ZoneAlarm current system requirements for most of their products:

Legacy products do not support Windows 11.


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Updated: December 16, 2023