Firewalls work like a filter between your computer/network and the Internet. You can program what you want to get out and what you want to get in. Everything else is not allowed.

A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to delete information, crash your computer, or even steal your passwords or credit card numbers. Depending on which operating system you have on your computer, you might already have a firewall and it might already be turned on for you. Never turn off your firewall.

Firewalls can be used in a number of ways to add security to your personal use or business. For your computer for your exclusive use, firewalls work much more simply. The main goal of a personal firewall is to protect your personal computer and private network from malicious mischief.

Malware, malicious software, is the primary threat to your computer. Viruses are often the first type of malware that comes to mind. A virus can be transmitted to your computer through email or over the Internet and can quickly cause a lot of damage to your files. Other malware includes Trojan horse programs and spyware. These programs are usually designed to acquire your personal information for the purposes of identity theft of some kind.

There are two ways a Firewall can prevent this from happening. It can allow all traffic to pass through except data that meets a predetermined set of criteria, or it can prohibit all traffic unless it meets a predetermined set of criteria.

But there are various types of firewalls. How do you choose the right one?

Make sure you have a hardware firewall in place

Hardware-based firewalls are usually integrated into a router, which sits between your PC and a cable or DSL modem. Hardware firewalls are valuable especially for protecting your computer from outside attacks, and they can protect a network of PCs that share a broadband connection. So, if you share your internet connection, opt for a hardware firewall.

Software firewall for customisation

If you often browse the internet, then you need to get this type of firewall – because it allows you to adjust settings according to your need. The application or software firewall is probably the most common type. It is a software program running on your computer that allows the data to pass through it, if you have programmed the software to allow it. You simply select which of your applications, like web browsers, email client, mIRC, etc. you want the “firewall” to allow to access the Internet. These firewalls are mainly designed to protect the single computer that is running the software.

Opt for paid firewall if you have the budget

If you do not want to use a free firewall and have some money you can go buy a full security suite, almost all security suites now have firewalls built into the suite. Why, because since these firewalls have to be paid for, they offer an advanced level of protection for your computer. This is recommended if you often access critical files like bank deposits and legal documentation on your personal computer.

Choose the best that works for you and your need

If the first firewall you chose does not work for you, you can uninstall it and try a different one. In a process of trial and error, as long as you have the time, patience and determination, you can choose from the vast options available in the market. However – always remember use only one firewall at a time.

Adjust settings as you go

If a program is acting weird after you blocked a program go and unblock any files that are used with that program. No sense inconveniencing yourself just to accommodate a firewall which limits your full use of your computer.