I work for a university who provides free Symantec Endpoint Protection to all employees for home/off campus use. I installed on my XP-64bit 2003 Sp2 but notice that this version only included AntiVirus and AntiSpyware Protection, not any kind of Personal Firewall.
Do I need Firewall? Could provide good paid and free options?
I'm also afraid now to uninstall or otherwise mess with Symantec after it conflicted with a patch and blue screened my parents Vista32 --- it ended up taking me hours to uninstall Symantec completely - I've never seen a program that was so difficult to remove.
If I need to uninstall Symantec - would it be easier to reinstall the OS rather than leaving bit and pieces of that program all over.
Symantec and basically anti-virus software itself may be a waste to use. Although it can stop certain infections, it does nothing against the shitload of spyware on the web, and unknowing people will get infected by something pretty fast, even with 20 anti-virus packages installed. I never really used anti-virus myself in the past, as i found it too much resource consuming; it makes your system go slowwwwwww. And its hardly effective at all.
On the other hand, a firewall can make sense. Firstly to prohibit unauthorized applications from contacting the internet; especially when you're on windows you're running software that doesn't benefit the user but benefit their creators. So you can't trust all software that's why every pc should have an application-level firewall.
However, if you're behind a NAT gateway; this means people from the internet can't connect directly to you. In this case, you may not need an inbound firewall. Nothing can come in; unless you initiate the communicate. For example: i can ping your IP but it won't ping your computer rather the NAT gateway handling your and other people's connection. If this is the case you're already quite secure and might not need a firewall.