It Was The Firewall After All
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 10, 2008
Two weeks ago, while sitting in a hotel room, I was having problems getting onto the internet from my laptop. It was irritating me because I’d had no problems getting on the day before. Nothing was working, and I was already irritated because the internet connection in the hotel is much slower than what I’m used to.
I was talking with the customer service people over the course of a couple of hours, when one of them suddenly asked me if I had a firewall program. I don’t know why I thought that was an odd question, but I said yes, and he asked me to turn it off. I thought it was a stupid request, but I did so, and lo and behold, I was online again.
I was stunned, because I’d always run the same firewall program, Zone Alarm. Now I didn’t know what to do, because I wanted that extra level of protection. I decided to load the firewall to the same program I’m using for my antivirus, CA Security Suite, which comes free with my Road Runner subscription. So I did, it worked, and I figured that was that. At the same time, my wife called me and said she was having problems getting online, and I figured she was having the same problem I was having, but since she’s not technically savvy, I told her I’d have to take care of her computer when I got home, and I did.
However, that wasn’t the end of it. Over the next couple of weeks, things started happening that didn’t make sense. I couldn’t sign into sites with my passwords anymore, as everything kept telling me I’d turned off cookies, but I knew I hadn’t. Then I started having problems with my music files, which wouldn’t play through Media Player anymore, even after upgrading to version 11 (which I hate); that just didn’t make sense.
A friend recommended I run CCleaner, which helped some, along with my Error Doctor program. It brought back my music files, but I still couldn’t sign onto any sites. The odd thing about all of this is that my main computer at home was fine, for once; not a single issue.
Now, during this time I had learned that Microsoft had sent out a patch on the same day I started having problems that, in effect, killed Zone Alarm for everyone who was using it, and put through a fix a couple of days later. I had already switched to the different firewall program before that happened, so it missed me completely. I just figured to stick with what I was running and that all would be just fine.
Finally, Saturday morning, back on my own turf, I decided I was going to get to the bottom of all these problems. And I finally did, after lots of research. Turns out that the CA Firewall program is automatically set on the highest level, which blocks all cookies; what the heck is that? And, at least on the laptop, even when I figured out how to lower it, things didn’t work. So I removed it from the laptop completely, and everything finally came back. And, since Zone Alarm and CA Security Suite don’t like each other (in more ways that one, but I’m not getting into it), I had to uninstall the antivirus program, load Zone Alarm again, then reload the antivirus program, and all is right with the world once more.
Sort of. There’s a couple of things about CA Security Suite. One, it seems to be hinky. Every time I start any of the computers anew, some of the programs has decided it’s inactivated itself and I have to start from scratch again; not sure I like that much. Every once in awhile it’s the antivirus; that’s irritating also. I have had that problem with McAfee, which I actually used to love, and may go back to. Two, I learned that CA can’t be loaded onto a computer or laptop running at 64-bit. I learned that yesterday after trying to install it into my wife’s niece’s laptop 5 times, then finally decided to do more research on it. By the way, Zone Alarm can’t be loaded onto a 64-bit laptop either, and they’ve said they have no plans on making it available for it either, even though they did do a trial run of it about a year ago.
And there you are. I need to learn, from now on, to start off with the firewall and work backwards, instead of starting off by running my antivirus and working from that angle. I could have saved myself a lot of time; hopefully, I’m going to save someone else some time also.