ZoneAlarm and Home Firewalls

Question: I am running WIN XP, have the free edition of ZoneAlarm running, and have two user accounts set up. I have a two-part question:

First - Is there any way that I can set the inactivity delay before Windows logs me out of my user account?

Second - When I get logged out due to inactivity, ZoneAlarm locks me out of any Internet activity. I am connected via a cable modem, and cannot get my browser to connect once I get logged out and then back in. I can, however get back online if I shut ZoneAlarm down.

The IT Guy says:
It sounds like you have downloaded and installed the free version of ZoneAlarm, a home firewall software product for Windows computers. The company, ZoneLabs, sells more capable firewall software products for which they provide technical support. I have some thoughts and several options for you to consider.

First, as a broadband Internet user, you are wise to be looking into firewall options. Hacking threats are real and you are more at risk as a broadband Windows user. Macintosh users, being a statistically smaller percentage of computer users as well as enjoying the tighter security setup of the operating system, are at a much lower risk for hacker attacks generally. Still, it can pay to be vigilant.

Before using a free or commercial firewall option, consider using the built-in firewall options that are included with your computer. GetNetWise has online movies showing the steps for enabling the built-in WindowsXP firewall on.

Second, I would recommend that you consider purchasing a router/switch that will allow you to share your Internet connection with more than one computer at your house, but also provide much better security protection for your computer than most software firewall programs can. A router/switch like the Linksys EtherFast® Cable/DSL Router with 4-Port Switch will be the device on your home network that actually has the “live†Internet address (IP address) provided by your cable company, while your WinXP computer will have a local IP address not directly accessible by hackers out on the Internet. This is a more secure protection scheme for your computer, may permit faster Internet access and computer performance (since firewall software may slow down your computer), and also affords this same protection for other computers you may want to connect to the Internet at home.

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