I have been using online armor free for a few months. I am very unclear about what the program is allowing or blocking at any given time. Under Options -> Firewall, I have "automatically allow trusted programs to access the internet" as UNchecked, and "Notify me when programs are allowed to access the internet" is checked. But recently I was not being notified or asked anything. I also have "Notify when Online Armor auto trusts a program" and "Notify when Online Armor blocks a program" checked in Programs -> Options. I do not use IE 8 for security reasons, but after making some adjustments to internet options, something was insisting on opening Internet Explorer. But it could not connect to the web, or download any extensions, etc. I searched on the web for possible solutions, re-checked all my internet settings, and tried disabling virus software. I also disabled HIPS, but nothing helped. I finally checked the Online Armor history and saw that a whole slew of actions relating to "Network diagnostic" were recently blocked. and I was not notified, or prompted for permission for any of them. My internet explorer simply stopped working. iexplore.exe was listed in programs as trusted. I remembered something I had read about update problems, so I deleted iexplore.exe, and then I was prompted for permission to run it the next time I tried. At some point I also re-enabled HIPS, since that hadn't made a difference. Now Internet Explorer does seem to work.
1. Why wasn't I getting prompts when those Network diagnostic processes were being blocked?? If I would have known the problem was in the firewall, it would have saved me a lot of trouble.
It still seems that trusted programs are automatically allowed to access the internet.
2. Do my settings mean that I will only be asked, or notified the FIRST time a program accesses the web? In general, I do not feel "in control" of the firewall. A number of programs are listed more than once in the Programs list - with the identical names. There are also multiple listings of identical autoruns. I have very little understanding of ports. Some processes are listed as using 10 different ports. Also here on the ports list, there are multiple entries for the identical process.
3. Are multiple entries for the same thing normal? I do not know if the firewall is working properly. Is there any way to check?
I have read http://www.emsisoft.com/en/info/oa/ numerous times, but I still feel like I'm in the dark. I have gotten the gist of allowing processes that are obviously a result of a program I'm intentionally trying to run. I don't know when I should "allow" and when I should "trust". I currently have quite a bunch of programs listed as trusted, that I don't know what they are. It is possible that I created that setting while a program I initiated was trying to run these processes. How can I know?
4. Should I just delete them? 5. Is there a recommended set-up for people like me who really don't understand the set-up options? I don't know if my configurations are correct.
6. Is there any way to check if I've created any serious holes in the firewall with broad permissions?
7. Lastly, but probably most simply, I have Avast and Online Armor both trying to start when I log in. (Each has exclusions for the other). They are definitely slowing down XP startup - I assume they are competing for the same resources at the same time. Is there a way to have one load after another? Which should load first? Can my internet connection be set to connect after the security is set up so as not to be vulnerable while waiting for these protections to start?