pfSense Review

It has good documentation with a fantastic community and enterprise support


What is our primary use case?

  • Firewalling
  • Routing
  • DHCP
  • Transparent proxy
  • DNS cache
  • VPN, etc.

How has it helped my organization?

  • Outstanding support
  • Great packages to expand the solution to your needs
  • The same config can easily be migrated to better hardware when you need it.

What is most valuable?

  • Super easy to manage. Anyone who has been working with firewalls can handle it.
  • There is good documentation with a fantastic community and enterprise support.
  • The strongSwan IPSec is a great implementation.
  • Proxy features are excellent (except MITM).

What needs improvement?

  • The central point of management, like the long-rumored pfCenter.
  • Better parsing of logs: At the moment, you have to use an external server for this if you want a deeper analysis. 

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Our appliance is under constant heavy load by several services, and it's rock solid stable.

I had stability issues only with a GUI that used to hang. It didn't affect any services, but it was a little annoying that we needed to restart the PHP often.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

pfSense scales well.

How is customer service and technical support?

They are just fantastic. They usually respond super fast, and usually with a solution if you describe the problem correctly. In more complex situations, they will set up a personal lab environment based on the customer's case.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We used to use a lot of different solutions.

After comparing a lot of solutions, the choice was Netgate pfSense.

How was the initial setup?

It is very straightforward and much easier than the previous Clavister FW. Config is easy. 

What about the implementation team?

99 percent in-house implementation and 1 percent Netgate implementation. Netgate has the highest level of expertise you can get.

What was our ROI?

This solution was about $150,000 cheaper than the closest competitor over a three year period. 

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

All costs are low compared to other solutions. The hardware is stable and cheap.

There is no licensing fee except for the enterprise support, if you want it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Cisco, Fortinet, and Sophos.

What other advice do I have?

If you don't have a policy that says "only proprietary software" in your company, there is no reason not to go for pfSense. If you are still in doubt, take the cheap (and excellent) Netgate academy course. It's only for two days, and you will learn how to manage pfSense at a comprehensive level.

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