How To: Remove the ZoneAlarm Free Nag Screen

I’ve got some Windows virtual machines I use for when I need to do MS Office stuff or a brief bit of Win32 programming, and noticed earlier that each time I reboot Windows, ZoneAlarm Free decides to nag me to upgrade, and there’s no option to switch it off. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they’d gone a bit talkie-toaster… I can see why they’d do it, but I’m not going to upgrade to a full, paid security suite for a virtual machine I fire up only if and when I have to (which isn’t that often) – it’s a no-sale. So I did a bit of googling and found the solution.

The trick is that you need to modify the following registry keys and flip them from 1 to 0:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Zone Labs\ZoneAlarm\RunSwitchbackWizard
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Zone Labs\ZoneAlarm\RunUpsellNotice

However, the problem with doing so is that Zone Alarm has these keys locked, and quiting ZoneAlarm doesn’t unlock them, so you need to reboot Windows into Safe Mode to do it by stabbing F8 during boot a few times and then selecting to boot in Safe Mode.

Once you’re in Safe Mode, you can either go and flip the flags manually using regedit, or you could dump the following into a file with a .reg extension and then execute it:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Or, you could download and run a version I created earlier (Right click and Save As…): ZA-NoNag.reg

Done & done.

Credits: Many thanks to oldsod on the ZA forums for the fix!

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