I would have to go with sygate as well. The permissions of programs you will have to do can be annoying at times (examples- first time you run internet explorer it will ask if you want to allow the program to access the internet, same if you have yahoo messenger and want to run it.. etc.. basically any new program will have to have permission from you first to access the internet). I was under the opinion that xp however came with a built in firewall. Maybe that is why your tech friend suggested you not put ZA on your machine. Anyway, once you get your permissions set after the first few days of internet use, sygate then is a pretty quiet program in my opinion. If you have an always on connection (cable,dsl) a firewall is a must. However after reading many different forums on firewall's, the must use of one with dialup is debateable.