Back in the early 2000s, when most system defenders were compact primitive programs that cleaned junk temp files and registries and grew bigger out of annual updates, there was one firewall accessory that stood out above the rest. It was separately introduced to little fanfare but was made by a company called Iolo as part of their System Mechanic series which is currently in its 12th pro volume. While most system fix applications integrated firewalls into the software itself, this add-on afterthought boasted a simple streamlined GUI and special features unseen or unheard of elsewhere.
It included a rare stealth mode only seen in browsers, the ability to block unwanted or unused connections and settings options easy enough for lay persons. It was such a software gem that it was too good to be true. So much so, that soon it was no longer supported by Iolo and for those who would not give it up, it thereafter traded code verification with the SM package which led to installation conflicts seemingly meant to disable it. Could it be Iolo designed such a protective product that it was discouraged by powers that be? One could think of no other reason why it disappeared.
While other firewalls were part of slow, bloated system protection packages far more complicated and much less secure, this one could be set to go and be forgotten since it was an inconspicuous bit of net defense immune to outside tinkering without advanced notice. If bugs, glitches or hackers compromised its function, startup errors were a quick warning. In more than a decade of use, savvy Iolo product fans stubbornly refused to give it up because there was no way to beat the firewall other than to force its reinstallation. And at this time, it endures as quite possibly the best firewall software ever.
In a 24/7 online day and age when your brand new OS is designed for social network apps and is automatically configured to log on to unsafe wireless connections without your consent, built-in operating system firewalls can't be trusted. You used to be able to find this late great firewall on Ebay or Amazon, but its product life support has long since run out and there is no guarantee of its renewal without being forced to upgrade to the latest System Mechanic Pro version. If you find it for sale anywhere, it's a must buy. Yet whether it will work independently of the original SM is anyone's guess.
For those lucky to still have it as loyal customers of Iolo, it is a comforting piece of net throwback engineering reminiscent of an earlier time when the web afforded more protective privacy to consumers who knew a good product when they saw it. While most discontinued software is stuck in beta mode or is debranded due to incompatibility malfunction, this classic firewall had to be given up due to superior performance coupled with Iolo's unwillingness to sell it as part of its more fixer oriented flagship software pack. Still, in the greatest hits of firewalls, all others come in second.