Online Armor Free is a powerful software firewall that also includes a host of other useful security features.

Once installed, the program immediately begins to monitor network connections to and from your PC. Unsolicited incoming connections are blocked, keeping hackers firmly locked out of your system. And your installed applications aren't allowed to make internet connections unless Online Armor knows they're safe, or you give your specific permission.

In our tests Online Armor also did a good job of allowing legitimate connections on our local network, while blocking everything else. If you have any problems, though, the flexible rules-based interface means you can quickly tweak the system to suit your precise needs.

Malware protection features include behaviour monitoring, that will alert you if programs are behaving suspiciously. You get built-in keylogger detection, and Online Armor will also alert you to new programs that try to set themselves to run automatically when Windows starts, giving you a chance to block this behaviour if you don't approve.

And script protection aims to prevent your PC being compromised by malicious scripts.

Please note, Online Armor also comes in two commercial flavours.

Online Armor Premium ($40) adds browsing tools including a phishing filter, banking mode and DNS spoofing protection. And Online Armor ++ ($60) takes the Premium version, and extends it with a complete antivirus tool and rootkit scanner.

If you'd like to try either of these, then the good news is that they all use the same download - just choose whether you'd like to install the Free, Premium or ++ versions during installation.

Online Armor 7 new features include:

Windows 8.1 compatibility
Faster updates
Better performance
Improved banking mode
300+ bugs fixed

Verdict

An excellent free firewall with a lengthy list of useful bonus features