If you are even a little tech-savvy you then you should be aware that using a good two-way Firewall is important for your internet security, as it allows you to monitor all network traffic entering and leaving your computer.
The problem is that most such firewalls continually pester you to make decisions about your network traffic when you have little or no understanding where it comes from. Some firewalls try to make this easier by making the decisions for you, but this removes control away from you, and the software can itself make poor decisions.
GlassWire fixes this problem by presenting network information in a beautiful and clear manner that makes it easy to understand what is going on, and therefore to make informed decisions about how to deal with it.
GlassWire Free, is… well… free, and although limited in various ways, it includes much of the functionality found in the paid-for versions.
Purchasing a license gives you some control over the Windows Firewall (‘Ask to connect’ on a per-application basis, and ‘Block all’), plus additional features such as ’Who’s on your network’, Webcam/mic detection, and a ‘mini graph’ mode. Paid-for licenses also allow you greater access to the history of your logs, and to monitor remote connections. What GlassWire does not do is allow you to create rules or filters, or block specific IP connections, and it therefore cannot be considered a full two-way firewall replacement. Prices start from $49.
Aesthetics, usability and customer support
Arguably GlassWire’s biggest strength is that it looks beautiful, presenting network traffic information in a clear and easy to understand way.
This is not a trivial consideration. Network traffic management is not sexy, and most firewalls make it difficult to understand where traffic originates and where it is going to. This makes it very difficult to make informed decisions about which traffic to block and which traffic to allow through.
By presenting all the necessary information in a highly attractive and intuitive form that can be easily drilled into for further details, GlassWire makes performing a job that is usually dull as ditch water… well, if not fun, then at least as enjoyable as it will ever be.
This may be particularly important for the casual home user who would otherwise be put off bothering with a firewall at all, but will also make the job of professional network administrators much easier.
As with the app, the website is attractively laid out and clearly explains GlassWire’s features. There is also a Quick Start Guide, a User Guide, and a FAQ to get you started, plus an active forum for discussing questions and making requests etc. If all else fails then an email address is also available.
In truth, the software is so easy and intuitive to use that we find it difficult to imagine most people needing much in the way of support, but it is good to see strong support options offered anyway.
Security and Privacy
GlassWire is a closed source product. However, being a firewall, GlassWire monitors its own internet connections, allowing the more paranoid out there to use it to block itself from contacting Glasswire.com (which it does daily.)
Doing this, however, will prevent the program from checking for software updates that may contain important security fixes, and from updating its suspicious host list.
All network history is stored locally only, and can be deleted at any time. There is also an “Incognito” mode that suspends logging for when you want some…er… private time with your computer.
GlassWire is currently available for Windows only.
The main window is a thing of beauty. You can see at a glance when new programs make a connection
Click anywhere on the graph to drill in for more information, or sort the information by app or traffic load
In addition to seeing how much (and what kind of) data is transmitted in real-time, GlassWire makes it easy to see which programs are hogging your bandwidth in aggregate form
Whenever new network activity is detected, you are alerted. GlassWire integrates with your already installed anti-virus software, allowing you to scan programs that you do not recognize. If a connection is made to an IP on GlassWire’s suspicious host list then you will be warned
GlassWire ultimately leverages Windows’ built-in Firewall, but gives you much more fine-grained control over what it allows in and out. This is particularly important for outgoing connections, which are not normally blocked (or blockable) using the basic system firewall
GlassWire Free allow you to monitor network connections, will alert you to new connections, and allows you to manually block connections (simply by clicking the flame icon to the left of the connection.) Paid-for versions offer ‘Ask to connect’ (which prevents all connections unless you specifically allow them) and ‘Block All’, giving GlassWire much of the functionality of a full two-way firewall (but without the ability to create rules and filters, or block individual IP connections)
When a new application tries to connect you are alerted (and in paid versions given the choice to Allow or Deny it)
Paid-for users can also see what devices are connected to their network, so can easily determine if someone is freeloading off their WiFi that shouldn’t be (or spying on it.) Free users can see how many devices are connected, but not the details. GlassWire will also detect programs that access your PC’s webcam and/or microphone, so you can be sure that no-one is spying on you through these devices
Paid-for users can also use a floating mini-viewer to keep track of network traffic
Paid-for licenses allow you to monitor remote servers
Intuitive – makes it very easy to understand what is happening on your network
Free version is very useful
Detailed usage information
See who is on your network
See which programs are accessing your webcam and microphone
Suspicious host list
We are nor so sure about
Paid for versions are pricey (GlassWire has asked us to point out that this is a one time fee, while most other similar software is a yearly subscription)
GlassWire truly is a thing of beauty, and this is important because it makes understanding the usually arcane art of network traffic management easy. With GlassWire it is possible to see exactly what is happening on your network at a glance, and to readily examine your History logs in order to troubleshoot problems.
As such it is a boon to home users and network administrators alike, and as far as we aware there is no other product on the market that matches it. There is, however, no getting away from the fact that licensed versions are not cheap, and that to get the most out of GlassWire requires purchasing a license.
That said, the GlassWire Free is still a great piece of software for understanding your network traffic, and can be usefully used alongside your regular firewall.