pfSense Review

Robust but complex and requires quite a bit of technical knowledge


What is our primary use case?

The solution pretty much is our only firewall security at the moment. It handles the integration with our active directory and makes sure that all communications are channeled through a secure network.

What is most valuable?

The solution is very robust.

What needs improvement?

The solution can be complex. It needs a bigger team with more coding skills than what we have at our disposal. With our skillsets, we're facing a lot of limitations. We're a team of four who handles 12 independent companies under a larger umbrella. Our workload is already quite high. We need solutions that lessen it, not enhance it.

The solution requires a lot of administration.

The solution would work better for us if the user interface had some kind of unifying feature that didn't just do firewalls. Sophos, for example, offers so much more. You get one license and you're good to go. Everything's handled from the anti-virus to the network and the traffic and monitoring. Sophos is really user friendly and easy to master. It's easy to get rules put in. pfSense offers none of these things beyond just the firewall capabilities. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using pfSense as of early last year, around about February 2019. It's been just over a year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have about 350 people at our organization that this solution covers.

How are customer service and technical support?

Although the solution offers a lot of documentation, has a large knowledge base, and has a support forum, when it comes to actually contacting technical support directly, we didn't have access to that level of attention. Everything, therefore, was really on the team. We had to figure out how to troubleshoot on our own and tried to use documentation to guide us.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We originally used this solution way back in 2011. We used it for about 18 months. Then we then migrated on to a system called Kerio Control. We realized that we needed something a little bit more robust than Kerio Control. So we then moved back to pfSense as of last year.

How was the initial setup?

The deployment didn't take too long. I have experience in pfSense, as does my junior. We were able to deploy it within a couple of hours - at least for what we wanted it to do off the bat.

Basically, you need to get all the rules together. We were able to do that within a couple of hours. Obviously, I must say, if we wanted to do a lot more, it would take us quite some time. Unfortunately, we're quite a small team, so we've got quite a lot on our plate and we just honestly did not have the time to get really granular. 

That's the reason why we're moving to something a little bit more user friendly for our size.

What other advice do I have?

We're just users of the product. We're not consultants or resellers.

It's your basic firewall setup. However, when we looked at Sophos, we found that Sophos offered a lot more as it's a fully unified solution and had a firewall, as well as anti-virus and network monitoring capabilities.

This solution really gives us a greater extensive array of modules or features than we would not necessarily see in managing the system as administrators. The solution is quite extensive in that there was a lot of material that we had to read about. It just was not user-friendly for the team. We needed a solution that can handle itself without our intervention.

I'd rate the solution five out of ten.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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