To be on the safe side, the software is set to a higher security setting so expect to see more pop-ups as you open different programs immediately after installation.
This gives you a great opportunity to track any unauthorised data transmissions via trojans or malware. You can choose to deny or allow any communication attempts and once you have verified them, you can proceed to do a full sweep of the computer.
It may be annoying to see many pop-up notifications in the beginning, but once you have set the settings, everything runs in the background. Settings for firewall and anti-virus are pre-configured so users do not have to worry about setting it.
If there is an intrusion on the firewall or a malware detected, a notification will prompt you about it. The surprising thing is the software is not embedded in the browser, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, to warn you when you visit dubious website. Other security suites like Norton grade the authenticity of all the websites, in case users are misled into visiting a falsely created site.
With phishing sites that try to extract information from your computer, a notification bar on your browser is handy for warning your whether a site is legitimate or not. When I tried accessing a website frequented by hackers, Zone Alarm did not inform me about it but Norton and McAfee did. So if you use your computer primarily for surfing, Zone Alarm may not be what you are looking for.
What worked well though are the parental controls. One can chooose to limit user access to sites which have pornography, drugs, or online games. There are also interesting block options such as the occult, weapons and military, to name a few. So if you set controls to limit "illegal drugs", a search for ecstasy will allow you to read online news about the drug but not visit websites dedicated to the drug itself.
Conclusion, Zone Alarm is easy to use and handles most of the work. However, the omission of any Internet surfing security features is glaring.