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Slimming Down ZoneAlarm Free On Windows XP

Slimming Down ZoneAlarm Free™ On Windows XP™

Inroduction:
ZoneAlarm Free™ is the only firewall I have ever used, going back to Windows 98 SE™. If I remember correctly, it consumed about 10-15 MB of disk space.

Over the years, and especially after ZoneLabs' acquisition by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd™, it has become more and more bloated, even though the basic function of a firewall has not changed: To block all unsolicited inbound traffic, and to allow outbound traffic only when requested, and only by applications that have been given temporary or permanent permission (whitelisted).

Observe the present system requirements for ZoneAlarm products on Windows XP:

Home / Professional:

* 32-bit, 1GB RAM
* 1 GHz or faster processor
* 250MB of available hard-disk space

250 MB! ... up from 10-15 MB.

The original model of the firewall being free for personal home use, and paid for by institutional users, hasn't changed. What has changed is that ZoneAlarm/Checkpoint now offer a multitude of other products for personal home use, including a "security suite" with anti-virus, anti-spam, e-mail scanning, anti-spyware, etc. All of these products, and the Suite, cost money. Yet, I receive each of those services from other vendors as freeware for personal home use.

What I discovered was that even if you download only the free home version, the entire suite of other products is included in the download, with lockout tools to prevent them from functioning until you pay for their license.

This may be more convenient for ZoneLabs (though it seems a waste of their bandwidth) IF you eventually decide to buy the Suite, as you are nagged to do at every update. But it's a huge waste of disk space if you don't. Furthermore, individual files in ZA can swell the disk space consumption much higher than the 250 MB specified, as we'll see shortly.

Updating:
Obviously, ZA had to be updated for each new Microsoft™ operating system. And bugs can be found in any software.

At some point, though, after XP was seven years old and becoming rather mature, and ZA likewise, it was hard to see what would be gained by further updating, assuming you didn't want any features besides the basic firewall. Each update seemed mostly an opportunity to push the paid products, and, undoubtedly, to update said anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc., even though you weren't using them.

So, I stopped updating at v.7.0.483.000. If anyone knows of any benefit of subsequent updates for the firewall only, on XP SP2, please let me know. It certainly seems to run fine, and I've never received any malware nor had any evidence of unauthorized outbound traffic. End of story for firewalls.

Plus, if you update, undoubtedly all of the below deletions will be undone by the update, and you'll have to do them all over again.

Conclusion:
Given that the paid products are wasting space, and that the present version works fine, I deleted all files relating to the paid products, and -- surprise! ZoneAlarm was back to the 10-15 MB size that it was ten years ago! ... with no evidence of loss of function.

If you would like to do the same, please read the following before continuing. If you do not agree, don't continue.

DISCLAIMER

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS NOT DOCUMENTED NOR ENDORSED BY ZONELABS, CHECPOINT TECHNOLOGIES, MICROSOFT, OR ANYONE ELSE. IT IS MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION, BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCES, PUBLISHED UNDER MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH, IN THE HOPE THAT IT MIGHT BE OF USE TO OTHERS.

HOWEVER, IT CONVEYS NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NOR CAN THIS WRITER OR ANYONE ELSE BE HELD LIABLE OR RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR LOSS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, RESULTING FROM YOUR USE OF THIS INFORMATION.

THE INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR PROFESSIONAL OR ADVANCED USERS ONLY. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE AND EXPERIENCED AT EDITING SYSTEM FILES, DO NOT PROCEED.

ALWAYS MAKE A SYSTEM RESTORE POINT OR FULL-DISK-IMAGE BACKUP, OR BOTH, BEFORE EDITING SYSTEM FILES. ALSO BACK UP YOUR VALUABLE DATA SEPARATELY, ON A SEPARATE MEDIUM. MAKE A COPY OF ALL FOLDERS AND FILES TO BE EDITED BEFORE EDITING THEM. STORE THIS COPY ON A PERMANENT MEDIUM SUCH AS CD OR DVD IN THE EVENT THAT THEY ARE NEEDED.

THE INFORMATION IS PRESENTED "AS-IS". NO SUPPORT IS OFFERED, HERE OR ANYWHERE ELSE. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK ONLY. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ALL OF THE ABOVE TERMS, DO NOT USE THIS INFORMATION, AND STOP READING IMMEDIATELY.

Also please note that these deletes were tested on XP SP 2 only, as my OEM *does not support* XP's Service Pack 3, and in fact, recommends against users installing it. I'm not aware of any changes made by SP3 that would affect this information, but can't guarantee that it will work on SP3. If you try it on SP3, please drop me a short note and let me know whether it worked for you, or if not, if there are any modifications to be made to the advice, and I'll be glad to include them. Let me know if you'd like your name or username posted with a note of thanks.

I have no knowledge of Vista™ or Windows 7™, nor of what modifications might have been made to ZoneAlarm to support those systems. Contributions in those areas are welcome also.

Of course, Server editions will have different firewall needs not applicable to this discussion.

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Still with us? OK, we're ready to start deleting. After you've made your backups as recommended in the Disclaimer, you will need to boot your computer into Safe Mode, as Zone Alarm very sensibly blocks file alteration while full Windows is running.

Of course, if Windows is installed on a drive other than C:, substitute that drive letter for C, which is used here for convenience as being the most common active drive.

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PART I

C:\Program Files\ZoneLabs\ZoneAlarm

Size before trimming: 31.8 MB, 142 files, 13 folders

SUBFOLDERS:

The subfolder, "repair", can be deleted, but *KEEP A BACKUP COPY* on a CD, for example, as with everything else deleted here. I've never needed it, but who knows what might happen in the future.

Keep the subfolder, "images", and one file in it,
style_IE5_pc.css

The rest of the files in the "images" folder can be deleted:

background.gif
blockedcontent.gif
Cerb_logo_small.gif
DOS_Title.gif
spacer.gif
topbar.gif
topbend_purple.gif
ZAP_logo_small.gif

The "Mail Frontier" folder can be deleted, since the Free version does not scan email.

The "Help" folder, which is larger than 1 MB, can be deleted once you are thoroughly familiar with ZA and how to use it. However, like all deletions, keep your backup. If you ever need it, just copy it from your CD or whatever into the main folder.

MAIN FOLDER:

Keep the following files:

alert.zap
firewall.zap
framewrk.dll
programs.zap
security.zap
zlclient.exe.

The following can be deleted:

cam.zap
email.zap
ErrorLog.txt
expert.dll
filter.zap
idlock.dll
imsecure.zap
INSTALL.LOG
instmtrd.exe -- About 8 MB right there. Description: SonicWALLAnti-Spam Desktop.
license.txt
multiscan.exe
privacy.zap
readme.html
scan.zap
scan.zmx
zatutor.exe .... once you no longer need the tutorial
zauninst.exe ..... but know where your backup copy is if you ever want to uninstall ZA
zl_priv.htm
zlavscan.dll
zonealarm.exe ...Despite sounding necessary, the description is: "Stub program for ZAPro".

The total size of this folder should now be slightly over 3 MB, 7 files, 2 folders

Savings: About 21.5 MB, 135 files, 11 folders

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PART II

C:\Windows\system32\ZoneLabs

Size before trimming: 52.7 MB, 444 files, 12 folders

SUBFOLDERS:

Delete subfolder "avsys". Anti-virus is for Pro only. Of course, you *do* have a separate AV program, don't you?
Delete subfolder "streamapi"
Delete subfolder "Updates" - it's for anti-spyware updates and related features only.

Keep only these subfolders and contents:

In subfolder "lib":

zlsvc.zip.dll
zpy.zip.dll
zui.zip.dll

In subfolder \"pyd" inside "lib":

_socket.pyd
pyexpat.pyd
pyvsinit.pyd
signedDll.pyd
zpui.pyd

In subfolder, "\plugins":

subfolder \rpc_server, contents:
rpc_server.dll
manifest.xml

subfolder \vsmon_plugin, contents:
vsmon_plugin.dll
manifest.xml

MAIN FOLDER:

Keep these files:

fbl.dll
featuremap.dll
oswfrules.xml [1]
safePrograms.xml
ssleay32.dll
vsdb.dll
vsmon.config.xml
vsmon.exe
vsmondll.dll
vsruledb.dll
zlparser.dll

Delete these files:

xxxxxxxx.key, an alphanumeric string.
appinfo.kli (Kapersky Lab, provider of anti-virus info to ZA. Keep this fact in mind.)
av.dll
camupd.dll
cerbprovider.pvx
dbghelp.dll, a copy of which is also in your Windows\system32 folder
imsecure.dll
qrbase.dll
qrsred.dll
scheduler.dll
spyware.dat
srescan.dll
srescan.sys
streamapi.config.xml
upd_core.dll
updating.dll
updclient.exe
updtrsdk.dll
vsapro.dll
vsvault.dll
zlasdbup.dat
ZLCommDB.xml, which is a zero-byte (empty) file on my unmodified XP Pro installation.
zlquarantine.dll
zlsre.dll
zlupdate.dll
ZoneAlarm.xml, which contains the URL of the update server and a public key for verification.

Total size of Windows\system32\ZoneLabs folder should now be between 6 and 7 MB., 23 files, 5 folders.

Savings from trimming: 46 MB, 421 files, 7 folders.

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The folder Windows\system32 has several ZoneAlarm dll's, fom vsdata.dll through vsxml.dll, plus vsconfig.xml and vsdatant.sys. These total about 2 MB. Leave them there.

However, you may delete these files:

zlcomm.dll
zlcommdb.dll

Savings: About 150 k

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PART III

C:\Windows\system32\drivers

Delete these files unless your anti-virus program uses files supplied by Kapersky Lab™. Check your AV documentation for this.

fidbox.dat (6.54 MB) Kapersky Antivirus. See this post for a user who saw this file grow to 541 MB. (My entire anti-virus program, including database, is only about 45 MB.)

fidbox.idx
klif.sys (Kapersky mini-filter)

*******************

Total "before", "after", and savings, excluding Windows\Internet Logs and the required system32 files:

Before:     93 MB, 591 files, 25 folders
After:   < 10 MB,     30 files,     7 folders
Saved:       83 MB, 561 files, 18 folders

PART IV

C:\Windows\Internet Logs

This folder can easily grow to 20, 40, or 60 MB or more. Some users have seen it grow to over 300 MB. It can be reduced to less than 1 MB, but still grows continuously. See the directions below to keep it trimmed, automatically.

In the ZoneAlarm User Interface, under "Alerts and Logs" > Log Viewer > Advanced, uncheck "archive log files daily", unless you think you'll have some reason to view a log from two years ago. Activity still will be logged until the computer is shut down, so if there is some problem, you can view the logs in the ZA UI "Alerts and Logs" > Log Viewer. But these log files mount up over time, both in size and number of files. (You might also wish to reduce the number of events saved in the Log Viewer from the default of 999 to some more reasonable number, like 50 or so, unless your firewall has reason to be extremely active.)

Another file, called vsmon.zip, seems to serve no useful purpose, but is the chief culprit in the size growth mentioned above, just as the log files are the culprit in the number of files.* Thus, the total space occupied by an unmodified ZA Free Home can easily exceed 150 MB, perhaps 300 or more. There is no limit to the growth of either the log files, the tvdebug.log, or the vsmon.zip.

*Remember that every file, no matter how small, consumes 4k of disk space plus its entry in the Master File Table.

Keep:

BACKUP.RDB
COMPUTER.ldb
fwdblog.txt
fwpktlog.txt (you can delete these two, but they just come back, and if logging is disabled, they stay at < 1 Kb.
IAMDB.RDB
(COMPUTER NAME).ldb
tvDebug.log     BUT see the instructions below for keeping this small.

Delete all ZALog*(date).txt. You may have several years' worth of these files.
The files intstaller_(date/number).log, which may be many, seem to delete fine without causing problems, but keep a backup of the most recent one, "just in case".
Delete all Temp files.

If you have multiple users who use different ZA settings, you will probably need to keep (OEM)-USER.ldb or (USERNAME).ldb. I don't know the size of this file, as I am the only user on this machine. You might try deleting it, especially if all users on the machine use the same ZA settings. Be sure to keep it conveniently backed up in case ZA breaks for any user.

WHY THE RDB AND IDB FILES GROW:

Let's say you download and install App X. During the installation process, App X asks for permission to access the Internet, to obtain the latest update of all files, etc., and you allow it. You now have an entry in the UI under Program Control > Programs. Yet once the installation is complete, why do you need this entry any more?

These and other unneeded entries grow over time, until you find 50 - 100 entries or more. You can manually delete the unneeded ones (right-click the name of the program and click "remove") but a much more thorough clean-out can be done as follows, per this post from a senior member at the ZoneAlarm support forum:

(Write down your settings in ZA UI Firewall > Zones before proceeding. ZA will sense most of them on reboot, but you might, e. g. have information for a friend's wireless network whom you visit with your laptop computer. ZA won't know those.

(You don't need to write down the Program control settings, as this will rebuild quickly -- to the *minimum* -- the first time you open your browser, or the other very few programs that need Internet access. Check "Remember this setting" as you allow your browser, etc., and your Programs will quickly be where thy need to be -- and a lot smaller. -- T.T.)

"Do a ZA database reset: Boot your computer into the Safe Mode.
"Navigate to the c:\windows\internet logs folder
"Delete the backup.rdb, iamdb.rdb, *.ldb and the tvDebug files in the folder
"Clean the Recycle Bin
"Reboot into the normal mode.
"ZA will be just like new with no previous settings or data"

UPDATE: Faster way, from Windows, no Safe Mode required: Ctrl+Shift+right-click on the ZoneAlarm logo in the system tray (lower right), and click "reset". Click "yes" on the confirmation prompt.

To eliminate the wasteful tvdebug.log, first create a new (empty) text file in that folder, and name it tvdebug.1. Then copy and paste the following, which was from an old ZoneLabs forum post that I can no longer find, into a text document:

@ echo off
XCOPY /Y "%WINDIR%\INTERNET LOGS\tvDebug.1"
"%WINDIR%\INTERNET LOGS\tvDebug.log"
ATTRIB +A "%WINDIR%\INTERNET LOGS\tvDebug.log"
ATTRIB +A

(These commands are not case-sensitive; I don' know why the poster used upper case, unless he's an old Unix programmer or something. You can use lower case if you like.)

This will overwrite the real file with the empty file, thus emptying the real file without going into Safe Mode every time. You don't even need to stop ZoneAlarm to do this.

To eliminate the dreaded vsmon.zip, which some users have seen grow to over 300 MB AND consume System Restore space, copy and paste this right below the above:

DEL "%WINDIR%\INTERNET LOGS\vsmon*.zip"

To keep your individual computer's backups reasonable, add this line. (my own, no longer ZoneLabs Forum)

del /f /q "%WINDIR%\INTERNET LOGS\(COMPUTER NAME).ldb"

Save this file with whatever name you like, e. g. "ZA cleanup.txt"
Proofread carefully, then change the extension to .bat: "ZA cleanup.bat".
When prompted about the extension change, click Yes.

You may store this batch file (.bat) wherever you like, including in the same folder with the items you are deleting. Just double-click it, and in a second or two, the garbage will be deleted.

I like to have this file run automatically at each startup.
Open C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. Right-click the batch file and drag it to this folder. Upon releasing the mouse button, choose "Create Shortcuts here". Done.

If you ever want to stop the automatic running, just delete the above shortcut. You can still run the file manually.

Done in this manner, the Windows\Internet Logs folder can be as small as 2-300 Kb, unless you have a whole lot of apps accessing the internet, but it still should not be more than some hundreds of Kb after running the cleanup file.

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Therefore, the total space consumed by ZoneAlarm is now between 13 and 15 MB, compared to ~100 to 300+ before trimming (plus additional wasted space in System Restore).

Savings in disk space: 85 - 300+ MB plus whatever System Restore space is used, plus whatever size the Kapersky driver fidbox.dat has grown to; thus, potential savings are in the GB range. (Personally, I no longer use System Restore, because I make frequent data backups and full-disk-image backups, which everyone should do anyway. IMHO. YMMV.)

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[1] Optional, and probably not worth the time:

In Windows\system32\ZoneLabs, the file osfwrules.xml was 375 kb before the trimming. If you're comfortable with editing an xml file, you can eliminate all lines and sections having to do with anti-virus, spyware, e-mail, etc., which are easily identified by the section headers and comments. It's a bit tedious, but I got it down to 15.8 kb, a 360k savings. Probably more could be deleted, but the time to experiment compared to saving a few more k wasn't worth it.

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Your comments are welcome! Please click the reCAPTCHA link below to e-mail the author. (Please note that support is not offered, as these changes are undocumented; however, the author will make a reasonable attempt to answer reasonable questions or comments. No guarantees.) © 2009 Tom T. All rights reserved. E-mail: tomm...@yahoo.com




ZoneAlarm and ZoneLabs ®Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.
Kapersky ®Kapersky Lab.
Windows, 98 SE, XP, Vista, and Windows 7 are all ®Microsoft.
No endorsement by any of these is implied or intended.

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