pfSense Review

A firewall and router combined with unified threat management


What is our primary use case?

We have all sorts of users. We have admins, we have the finance guys, and we have salespeople using it. We created a captive portal for our teams as well as a guest portal. So in general, we are more or less happy.

Right now, I use it not only for intrusion detection but also for ETLs. We are a telephony integrator. We use it for applications and radius, etc. I use it as much more than a firewall. I use it for telephony applications as a certificate authority. 

How has it helped my organization?

Well, we do have the versatility of a fully functional firewall at practically no cost impact... So its a good investment for us in terms of the time spent on it... Most of all, we can see where our Internet etc can be well managed from the real time graphs that we see...

What is most valuable?

It's quite an awesome product with so many good things packed into it. I am happy with the EPLS, the radius, and I am happy with the captive portal. All in all, it's a good product. And considering that I get it for paying nothing, it's really worth the time invested in it.

What needs improvement?

As I said, the product is fantastic. It could use a little bit of improvement in the reporting — the reporting is virtually non-existent. Something like a reporting module would be a benefit. Otherwise, in terms of the performance, at least for my organization, I don't see much of a problem.

By this, I mean that we cant generate reports of trends etc that could be exported out of PFSense in terms of a PDF etc to see how the firewall is functioning...

Though I must say that the work around for this could be to use the pfsense zabbix plugin and integrate to a Zabbix platform and then use the Zabbix reporting capabilities to get the required reports... Not much of an effort for the technically sound persons but definitely not in the scope of those from a non technical perspective... 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for roughly 10 months. I started with version 2.4, but about four days ago, I upgraded to version 2.5. It's been a good product so far.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability-wise, it's fine. I've only experienced one issue in the last 10 months. But in general, I am happy with it. Scalability-wise, as I said, our organization is just about 10 to 15 people, so we have not had much of a problem. I can't comment on how it would scale up with hundreds of VLANs and tens of thousands of people operating on it. But in general, for a small organization, I think it's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As we are in SMB, I cant comment on big traffic situations but for a small organization like ours (10 to 20 users) and with various integrations that we need (e.g., OpenVPN, WireGuard, LDAP authentications, Tens of VLANS, Captive portal, DHCP Relay, EAP-TLS, IDS, Adblocks etc.) We are ok with it...

How are customer service and technical support?

I think the documentation is good enough because I've never had the need to contact technical support. I just use Google to get the information that I need.

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

We used to use Fortinet in our office in Dubai. But where I am right now, I thought an open-source was the option for me because I'm very involved in open-source projects. It came down to pfSense and OPNsense — the first one we downloaded was pfSense and I stuck by it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. I come from the IT industry, so I had no issues. Within 20 minutes, I had it up and running.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented it myself.

What was our ROI?

Too early to comment... Though all I needed to invest was a small desktop and ofcourse, time and effort to configure it... 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Well, its opensource... So for the tech-minded, its not so difficult but yes, the configuration is understandable for those with good prior firewall knowledge... 

If you can get it working, its great... But yes, thats the first part... Get it working... 

Oncw working, all licenses etc are not a problem as it is opensource... So no restrictions there... so far...

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did use Sophos-XG free but I stick to pfsense as it is free and open source...

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend pfSense for the simple reason that it's open-source and it's free. Anything for free is good. I personally got much more out of it than I expected. I never expected this product to be so worth the time. It's a good product. For my needs at least.

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution a rating of eight. I have not used it for thousands of users, but for our usage, for an SMB organization, I would give it a rating of eight.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Version 2.5
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: integrator
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