pfSense Review

Provides good security as well as scanning and filtering traffic; web interface could be enhanced


What is our primary use case?

This solution is for my personal use, I've had a hobby of using it for a long time. I use it to protect my home network. Nothing is bulletproof but I'm happy to have a firewall at home scanning the ins and outs of my network so that I have a degree of security.

What is most valuable?

pfSense is a free firewall that you can download and install on your own hardware and establish a VPN for it. If you have remote users who need to connect securely, pfSense can do that. The solution has multiple use cases. It's good for scanning and filtering traffic. It's a good network security appliance which you can install on your own hardware or on their hardware. Some companies will invest in a really big firewall for their main branch, and will install pfSense in remote sites because they don't see the value of buying an expensive firewall for each branch.

What needs improvement?

I'd really love to see the web interface enhanced. It's good but it could be clearer and more straightforward. As a FreeBSD fan, I'd love to see a BSD license code, rather than a GPL license code. I'd also love to see a Sandbox and more security features. pfSense is a mature product, but if you compare it to other products in the market, you realize that pfSense is a little behind. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for five years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is scalable, it has the HA options that other firewalls also have. It's a software-defined solution, so you can pretty much put it inside a virtual machine and scale it up. Or you can load balance, or have an HA set up between two pfSense proxies, it's all possible.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't have contact with technical support. If you have an issue, you can go to the online community and wait for someone to respond. There's no SLAs for that. The only way I would have access to their support is if I actually purchased a Netgate appliance.

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

I've previously used vendor-based firewalls, like Sophos. They have Sophos XG and Sophos XG, UTMs. Those are the firewalls that I have the most expertise with and I also have some experience with Fortinet. pfSense is normally installed on x86 hardware which uses CISC architecture, a complex instruction set that runs on laptops and computers. They generally make calculations much slower than what we call risk architecture. As a result, firewalls with a risk-based architecture or reduced instruction set architecture are preferred because they provide better throughput. That's the case with FortiGate. They are very well known in the market to have the highest IPS throughput and that's one of the major factors for choosing a firewall.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very easy, it takes about 15 minutes. 

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution, it's one of those technologies anyone should at least try out. If you want to protect your home network, and don't want to invest in a firewall, pfSense will do the job. It's good for home use and for small businesses or remote sites of large companies. It's a good strategy because it's generally more critical to invest in defending your main data centers. It's important to choose the hardware wisely, make sure it's compatible. Netgate, the company sponsoring pfSense, manufactures hardware that is really optimized towards it. For small or medium businesses it's not a big deal. But for enterprises, this is important. 

I rate this solution a seven out of 10.

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