TinyWall includes a combination of features that sets it apart from both commercial and freeware firewalls.
Most firewalls are based on the same interaction principles. Basically, whenever an application is trying to access the internet, display a popup asking the user what to do. This is not only annoying for the user, but also less than secure. On an average computer, a lot of applications are trying to access the internet but not all of them actually require a network connection. Displaying a popup for each app makes it very probable that unneeded applications will gain access to the network, as it increases the likelyhood of the user granting unnecessary rights to some applications. Also, depending on how a particular firewall works, the user can be asked multiple times for even the same program, which will also lead to the user becoming less and less aware of what he actually allows.
TinyWall takes a different approach. It does not display popups that "urge users to allow". In fact, it will not notify you of any blocked action. Instead of showing popups, TinyWall makes it easy to whitelist or unblock applications by different means. For example, you can just initiate whitelisting by a hotkey, then click on a window that you want to allow. Or, you can select an application from the list of running processes. (Of course, the traditional way of selecting an executable also works.) This approach avoids popups but still keeps the firewall very easy to use. It will also limit the list of unblocked programs to those that the user really needs, which is optimal from a security standpoint.
Microsoft started to include its own firewall product in versions of Windows XP, known as "Windows Firewall". That firewall however, had seriously limited capabilities and usefulness, making a separate firewall product more than desirable. This bad reputation of Windows Firewall is still existent today, although somewhat unjust. In fact, newer versions of the operating system, Vista and Windows 7 include a totally new firewall technology, known as "Windows Firewall with Advanced Security". This newer version corrects most of the defects of its predecessor, and is capable of filtering IP packets based on various protocols, local or remote ports, addresses, subnetworks, application and packet direction etc., separately or in combination. It turns out, it possesses almost everything a man could ask from a firewall engine. So why is Windows Firewall still fighting its reputation? Mainly:
TinyWall addresses most of these problems: TinyWall 1) gives Windows Firewall a sane and secure configuration and 2) presents you with a simple interface where you can easily define what has network access and what not, while 3) preventing other programs from modifing or overwriting your firewall settings.