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Fortinet FortiGate vs pfSense comparison

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Executive Summary
Updated on April 20, 2022

We performed a comparison between pfSense and Fortinet Fortigate based on our users’ reviews in five categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Fortinet Fortigate users overwhelmingly agree that deployment is easy and the initial setup is straightforward. Some pfSense users say deployment is easy while others say it is rather complex.
  • Features: Reviewers of the two solutions say they both have good stability.

    Valuable features of Fortinet Fortigate include a good user interface, great templates and good web filtering, application control, and intrusion protection. Users would like to see better monitoring and reporting, and improved performance and speed.

    Valuable features of pfSense include flexibility and good documentation. Users express that the interface as well as the ease of use need to be improved.
  • Pricing: Fortinet Fortigate users share mixed opinions, with some users expressing they think the pricing is affordable and fair and some users mentioning they think it is on the more expensive side. In contrast, pfSense is open source.
  • Service and Support: Fortinet Fortigate users are satisfied with the service and support they receive. Users of pfSense say they are able to rely on community forums and discussions when necessary.
  • ROI: Users of both solutions report seeing an ROI.

Comparison Results: Based on the parameters we compared, it seems that pfSense is the more favorable solution because it is open source and also offers great features.

To learn more, read our detailed Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense report (Updated: May 2022).
Buyer's Guide
Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense
May 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
609,272 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Q&A Highlights
Question: How do I choose between Fortinet FortiGate and pfSense?
Answer: I will choose FortIGate. It is a complete hardware and software and integrated solution for IT security and threat management
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"The implementation is pretty straightforward.""I like that Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is reliable. Support is also good.""The most valuable feature would be ASDM. The ability to go in, visualize and see the world base in a clear and consistent manner is very powerful.""IPS and Snort are very important because they also differentiate Cisco from other vendors and competitors.""It has a good security level. It is a next-generation firewall. It can protect from different types of attacks. We have enabled IPS and IDS.""Firepower NGFW has improved my organization in several ways. Before, we were trying to stamp out security threats and issues, it was a one-off type of way to attack it. I spent a lot of manpower trying to track down the individual issues or flare-ups that we would see. With Cisco's Firepower Management, we're able to have that push up to basically one monitor and one UI and be able to track that and stop threats immediately. It also gives us a little more granularity on what those threats might be.""The content filtering is good.""Its Snort 3 IPS has better flexibility as far as being able to write rules. This gives me better granularity."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pros →

"The most valuable feature is the ease of configuration.""From the firewall perspective, the rules and policies are very sufficient and easy to use.""The solution can scale well.""Their interface is very easy to use, it is without bugs.""The most valuable features of Fortinet FortiGate are the ability to work in proxy mode, which other solutions, such as Palo Alto cannot. There are some features that are better that come at no extra license or subscriptions cost, such as basic SD-WAN. The DLT is useful, other solutions have the same feature too, such as Palo Alto.""We have found it to be very reliable and that's why our teams and various users in our company use it as our main firewall every day.""The next-generation firewall is great.""The management console is pretty simple, so anyone who understands networking can initially deploy the solution."

More Fortinet FortiGate Pros →

"I mostly like all of it. Whatever we use is valuable.""A valuable feature is that the solution is open source.""Sophos Intercept X is scalable. Currently, we have almost 30 people using it in our company.""We've found the stability to be very good overall.""Technical support is perfect, excellent.""The built-in open VPN and the VPN Client Export are the solution's most valuable aspects.""I especially like the VPN part. It works like a charm.""I like pfSense's reports and how I can control access to the policies on the firewall."

More pfSense Pros →

Cons
"In a future release, it would be ideal if they could offer an open interface to other security products so that we could easily connect to our own open industry standard.""I believe that the current feature set of the device is very good and the only thing that Cisco should work on is improving the user experience with the device.""The solution could offer better control that would allow the ability to restrictions certain features from a website.""One issue with Firepower Management Center is deployment time. It takes seven to 10 minutes and that's a long time for deployment. In that amount of time, management or someone else can ask me to change something or to provide permissions, but during that time, doing so is not possible. It's a drawback with Cisco. Other vendors, like Palo Alto or Fortinet do not have this deployment time issue.""Most of the features don't work well, and some features are missing as well.""Implementations require the use of a console. It would help if the console was embedded.""We cannot have virtual domains, which we can create with FortiGate. This is something they should add in the future. Additionally, there is a connection limit and the FMC could improve.""The initial setup could be simplified, as it can be complex for new users."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Cons →

"It is stable, but its stability can be improved.""They sometimes hide some features and if you want to enable them, you have to go in the CLI, enable the feature and configure it through the CLI. Customers, typically, like everything to be done by the GUI.""The central management for the FortiGate Fortinet Firewall needs improvement. They have the manager to do the essential management for both SD-WAN and for the security policy. They should also improve the SD-WAN function.""The solution is very expensive.""They've become quite expensive.""There are SD-WAN network monitoring, SD-WAN features, Industrial Databases, Internet of Things, Detection, etc., however, we do have not licenses for those features. We thought that if you bought a product, you should have all of the features it offers. Why should you need to make so many extra purchases to enable features? They should have one price for the entire offering.""Fortinet currently has many products bundled with FortiGate including the basic firewall and load balancer, and I think that that they need to have separate product portfolios for each of these specialized services.""If they could extend their fabric towards other vendor environments for integration, that would be great."

More Fortinet FortiGate Cons →

"pfSense could improve by having a sandboxing feature that I have seen in SonicWall. However, maybe it is available I am not aware of it.""The security could be improved.""Lacks instructional videos.""The integration of pfSense with EPS and EDS could be better. Also, it should be easier to get reports on how many users are connecting simultaneously and how sections connect in real-time.""It needs to be more secure.""The interface is not very shiny and attractive.""We had training from an advisor for the configuring of this solution and it was not difficult. However, if we were not trained it would have been not as easy.""The solution requires a lot of administration."

More pfSense Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "Cisco, as we all know, is expensive, but for the money you are paying, you know that you are also getting top-notch documentation as well as support if needed."
  • "This product requires licenses for advanced features including Snort, IPS, and malware detection."
  • "This product is expensive."
  • "For me, personally, as an individual, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is expensive."
  • "The price of Firepower is not bad compared to other products."
  • "The solution was chosen because of its price compared to other similar solutions."
  • "The price is comparable."
  • "It definitely competes with the other vendors in the market."
  • More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "It's very affordable."
  • "Setup cost may be not so low, as you expect, because it depends on different factors, but TCO for 5 years may pleasantly surprise you."
  • "The Indian market is different than the European and American markets. When you compare they need to be a bit more aggressive on pricing."
  • "I think that the pricing is fair."
  • "For our organization, the licensing costs are approximately $7,000 per year."
  • "It's an expensive solution."
  • "The price is okay."
  • "If you purchase a one-year subscription with the hardware and then you want to renew for the second year, it is very costly."
  • More Fortinet FortiGate Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "We are using the open-source version, not the commercial one."
  • "It has almost zero cost, and it is open to us. It runs on a small appliance just for a couple of 100 bucks, and I've never had an appliance burn out on me yet."
  • "It is open source."
  • "I spent a couple of $1,000 on hardware, and the OS was free. A comparable firewall would cost me probably 20 grand. It saved a lot of money."
  • "I like the fact that it is open-source."
  • "pfSense is open-source, but the support is something that the customer pays for."
  • "The pricing is lower than some of its competitors."
  • "pfSense is open-source."
  • More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    609,272 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Answers from the Community
    Netanya Carmi
    Leon Pinto - PeerSpot reviewerLeon Pinto
    Consultant

    PFSense or Fortinet... That would depend on your used case....


    We are using pfSense for the past two years and it does mostly what you would expect of a firewall... Captive portal, site-to-site VPN, TLS based VPN, IPsec VPN, SNORT, Suricata, ACME, port forwarding, NAT, CA, DHCP, DHCP relay, VLANS, Bridges, LAGG, LACP, etc... etc... 


    Most of all, no paid licenses anywhere as it is open source and free... Support can be purchased but I personally never needed it so far...


    The only downside is that you need to be highly technical to get it working as per your needs...  Also, a lot of docs in Google/YouTube (though a bit of scouting and navigating through bugs is required) to get things moving assuming you already know firewalls as a concept...  


    With a Fortinet, in case you have the money to pay and justify the need for it, then it's worth going for because they will support you as long as they keep getting paid... In our case (in our small SMB), I have not yet come across a need to move away from pfSense because it basically does what it is supposed to do... 


    It has been running with us for almost two years with no reasons for complaints... Again, it's my own personal opinion...

    Richard Benfatto - PeerSpot reviewerRichard Benfatto
    User

    PfSense is the only product that would perform in a Symmetric NAT. Painful but OS-fingerprinting and impossible to do UDP NAT hole punching. Skype, Zoom uses that and even Kerio Operator, but that is all.


    It is a very broken product and when you need IPS (the " free one" is 30 days old database) you need to pay Cisco for Snort... I would not use pfSense on its own. Period.


    Fortinet is one of the best products. Lots of other things rely on one CPU to do the job. Sophos & pfSense (just to name a few) when you start adding inspection modes it is like having a 3 tonnes car with a 2 cylinder engine. The CPU goes to 90%.


    Fortinet has been ultra clever from day number one to have custom chips to do the work in hardware, so throughput with all protection features can happen without suffering speed of service to users, compare to others.


    The new OS7 is very good.


    So, I would not touch pfSense. It Is like comparing a Toyota Yaris to a Kia K 900 car. Sort to speak.

    João Garcia - PeerSpot reviewerJoão Garcia
    Real User

    Many people said that depends on your needs, and I agree.


    Fortinet and many other vendors are more than a set of level 2 or level 3 rules. They also have IPS, Antivirus, SSL Inspection, stateful inspection.


    If I have to choose between Fortinet and pfSense for my company, I would think twice. Fortinet.

    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer: When you compare these firewalls you can identify them with different features, advantages, practices and… more »
    Top Answer: The Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is a very powerful and very complex piece of anti-viral software. When one considers… more »
    Top Answer:It is easy to integrate Cisco ASA with other Cisco products and also other NAC solutions. When you understand the Cisco… more »
    Top Answer:As a solution, Sophos UTM offers a lot of functionality, it scales well, and the stability and performance are quite… more »
    Top Answer:I have experience on both from Disti and channel experience. Please find below my comments (nothing new as such)… more »
    Top Answer:Fortinet’s Fortigate is a firewall solution we use and are very much satisfied with its performance. We find Fortigate… more »
    Top Answer:Two of the most common and well recognized firewalls, PfSense and OPNsense both support site-to-site IPsec VPN and… more »
    Top Answer:It is very easy to use. The interface is quite understandable. There is a good community, and I can take over at any… more »
    Top Answer:We are using its Community Edition, which is free. My company is a government school, and we don't have much budget.
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco Firepower NGFW, Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, FirePOWER, Cisco NGFWv
    FortiGate 60b, FortiGate 60c, FortiGate 80c, FortiGate 50b, FortiGate 200b, FortiGate 110c, FortiGate
    Learn More
    Netgate
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    Overview

    Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) is a firewall that provides capabilities beyond those of a standard firewall and delivers comprehensive, unified policy management of firewall functions, application control, threat prevention, and advanced malware protection from the network to the endpoint.

    Cisco NGFW Firewalls include advanced threat defense capabilities to meet diverse needs, from small offices to high-performance data centers and service providers, and are deployed in leading private and public clouds. Available in a wide range of models, Cisco NGFW can be deployed as a physical or virtual appliance. Cisco NGFW firewalls are also available with clustering for increased performance, high availability configurations, and more.

    Key Features of Cisco NGFW Firewalls

    • Breach prevention and advanced security: Prevent attacks before they get inside. Cisco provides its firewalls with the latest intelligence to stop emerging threats and employs filtering to enforce policies on hundreds of millions of URLs. Cisco NGFW offers built-in sandboxing and advanced malware protection that continuously analyzes file behavior to quickly detect and eliminate threats.

    • Comprehensive network visibility: Constantly monitor your network so you can rapidly spot and stop bad behavior. Cisco NGFW provides a holistic view of all activity and provides a clear picture of threat activity across users, hosts, networks, and devices, as well as information on threats and website, application, and VM activities.

    • Flexible management and deployment options: Centrally deploy, customize, and manage all your appliances.

    • Fast detection: Detect threats in seconds and detect the presence of a successful breach within hours or minutes. Cisco NGFW allows you to deploy consistent policy that's easy to maintain, with automatic enforcement across all the different parts of your organization.

    • Automation and product integrations: Seamlessly integrate with Cisco tools and automatically share threat information, event data, policy, and contextual information with email, web, endpoint, and network security tools. Cisco NGFW automates security tasks like impact assessment, policy management and tuning, and user identification.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Cisco NGFW stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its extensive discovery abilities that enable you to constantly see what is happening on your network and take action when necessary, and the high level of protection it provides.

    Mike B., a director of IT security at a wellness & fitness company, writes, "It is one of the fastest solutions, if not the fastest, in the security technology space. This gives us peace of mind knowing that as soon as a new attack comes online that we will be protected in short order. From that perspective, no one really comes close now to Firepower, which is hugely valuable to us from an upcoming new attack prevention perspective."

    Zhulien K., the lead network security engineer at TechnoCore LTD, notes, " The most valuable feature that Cisco Firepower NGFW provides for us is the Intrusion policy. Again, with that being said, I cannot shy away from giving kudos to all of the other features such as AVC (Application Visibility and Control), SSL Decryption, Identity policy, Correlation policy, REST API, and more. All of the features that are incorporated in the Cisco Firepower NGFW are awesome and easy to configure if you know what you are doing. Things almost always work, unless you hit a bug, which is fixed with a simple software update. "

    Fortinet FortiGate is an innovative line of firewalls that aim to protect organizations from all types of web-based network threats. They come in a wide variety of product types. Fortinet FortiGate’s solutions are available in a large range of sizes and form factors and are key components of the Fortinet Security Fabric, which enables immediate, intelligent defense against known and new threats throughout the entire network.

    Fortinet FortiGate provides users with next-generation firewall solutions that provide proven protection with unmatched performance across the network, from internal segments to data centers to cloud environments. You can protect every part of your network without exception. Additionally, your protections can be managed from a single central location. This ensures that the task of protecting your network is infinitely easier to accomplish.

    Benefits of Fortinet FortiGate

    Some of the benefits of using Fortinet FortiGate include:

    • The ability to manage your firewalls from a centralized automated control console. Fortinet FortiGate’s FortiManager enables administrators to exercise control of their firewalls in a streamlined manner. Administrators have full visibility and control over their system from a single location. It utilizes automation that collects information in real time, which greatly simplifies and reduces the cost of running various types of workflows. Administrators can free up resources by automating the most basic tasks.
    • The ability to produce uniform, appropriate, and coordinated responses to threats across networks. Fortinet FortiGate’s FortiGuard feature generates system protections in near real time. This allows administrators to address threats to the system with custom-made solutions that can be uniformly enforced.
    • The ability to scale up your security to fit your changing security needs. Fortinet FortiGate’s design allows users to accelerate the transfer of data between users and escalate the number of users that are covered without compromising security of performance. This means that users can grow their networks and continue to collaborate without worrying about the system slowing down or coming under attack.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Fortinet FortiGate’s firewall solutions are cutting edge. They stand out from competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are the robustness and power of their firewalls. Fortinet FortiGate’s firewall provides users with many valuable features that allow them to maximize what they can do with the solution. These firewalls enable users to use a single piece of software to accomplish tasks that often require the use of multiple pieces of software.

    PeerSpot user Eric S., a Solutions Engineer and Consultant at a tech-services company, notes the robustness of this solution when he writes, "One of the nice things about FortiGate is that it can be deployed on the cloud or on-premises. You can actually do both. That's the biggest reason why I stick with this solution as opposed to something like Cisco Meraki. Another nice thing is that I can log directly into a FortiGate or get to it through their FortiCloud access products. They're pretty reliable and consistent. One of the reasons why I started using the product was their single pane of management. I can deploy their line of firewalls in conjunction with their switching and access points, and I can manage the entire network from one interface.”

    PeerSpot user Jim M., a network admin at Penobscot Valley Hospital, notes the power of Fortinet FortiGate’s security software when he writes, "It does a lot for you for intrusion protection and as an antivirus. The threat management bundle is worth the money. You don't need another company to monitor your web traffic for you. You can do everything yourself on the firewall. You restrict your own black list for people on the firewall.”

    pfSense is a free and open-source operating system for routers and firewalls, and is typically configured as DHCP server, DNS server, WiFi access point, VPN server, all running on the same hardware device. It is operated through a user-friendly web interface, making administration easy even for users with limited networking knowledge.

    In addition, pfSense is feature-rich, has a mature platform, is customizable, is flexible by design, and can be used on a small home router as well as run the entire network of a large corporation. pfSense puts you in control of your networking, is regularly updated, and works to promptly patch security issues. pfSense has recently become the favored alternative to the industry leader, Cisco.

    pfSense is:

    • Robust
    • Powerful
    • Easy to use
    • Secure
    • Scalable

    pfSense Key Features

    pfSense has many key features and capabilities, including:

    • Strength and accuracy: pfSense is able to always follow either default or custom rules, making it a stronger firewall than some of its competitors. It also filters traffic separately, whether it’s coming from your internal network of devices or the open internet, allowing you to set different rules and policies for each.

    • Flexibility: pfSense can work both as a basic firewall and as a complete security system because it gives you the flexibility to integrate additional features as code where necessary.

    • Open-source: Because it is open-source, not only is pfSense free to use, but community members can contribute to the code to make it a better software.

    • User-friendly: Usually firewall products are not user-friendly because they often include complex settings, options, and features that require fine-tuning. pfSense’s interface is simple, direct, and easy to use.

    • WireGuard Support: Instead of building your own VPN using pfSense, or settling for a commercial VPN provider, you can directly integrate WireGuard with the pfSense firewall.

    • Speed Management and Fault Tolerance: pfSense’s multi-WAN feature allows your system to continue operating in case components fail.

    • Well-supported: pfSense regularly has security and feature updates. It also has a documentation site and a well-informed and knowledgeable support forum.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below is some feedback from PeerSpot Users who are currently using the solution.

    Bojan O., CEO at In.sist d.o.o., says, “The classic features, such as content inspection, content protection, and the application-level firewall, are the most important."

    Another PeerSpot user, a chef at a media company, explains what he finds most valuable about pfSense: "The plugins or add-ons are most valuable. Sometimes, they are free of charge, and sometimes, you have to pay for them, but you can purchase or download very valuable plugins or add-ons to perform internal testing of your network and simulate a denial-of-service attack or whichever attack you want to simulate. You can also remote and monitor your network and see where the gap is."

    T.O., a VP of Business Development at a tech services company, mentions, "What I found most valuable is the cost of the platform, the flexibility of the platform, and the fact that the ongoing fees are not there as they are with the competitor."



    Offer
    Learn more about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
    Learn more about Fortinet FortiGate
    Learn more about pfSense
    Sample Customers
    Rackspace, The French Laundry, Downer Group, Lewisville School District, Shawnee Mission School District, Lower Austria Firefighters Administration, Oxford Hospital, SugarCreek, Westfield
    Pittsburgh Steelers, LUSH Cosmetics, NASDAQ, Verizon, Arizona State University, Levi Strauss & Co. Whitepaper and case studies here
    Nerds On Site Inc., RKC Development Inc., Expertech, Fisher's Technology, Ncisive, Consulting, CPURX, Vaughn's Computer House Calls, Imeretech LLC, Digital Crisis, Carolina Digital Phone, Technigogo Technology Services, The Simple Solution, SwiftecITInc, Rocky Mountain Tech Team, Free Range Geeks, Alaska Computer Geeks, Lark Information Technology, Renaissance Systems Inc., Cutting Edge Computers, Caretech LLC, GoVanguard, Network Touch Ltd, P.C. Solutions.Net, Vision Voice and Data Systems LLC, Montgomery Technologies, Techforce, Concero Networks, ASONInc, CPS Electronics and Consulting, Darkwire.net LLC, IT Specialists, MBS-Net Inc., VOICE1 LLC, Advantage Networking Inc., Powerhouse Systems, Doxa Multimedia Inc., Pro Computer Service, Virtual IT Services, A&J Computers Inc., Envision IT LLC, CommunicaONE Inc., Bone Computer Inc., Amax Engineering Corporation, QPG Ltd. Co., IT 101 Inc., Perfect Cloud Solutions, Applied Technology Group Inc., The Digital Sun Group LLC, Firespring
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider19%
    Financial Services Firm17%
    Government13%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider28%
    Computer Software Company21%
    Government7%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider16%
    Financial Services Firm10%
    Computer Software Company10%
    Manufacturing Company8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider33%
    Computer Software Company20%
    Government6%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    University12%
    Marketing Services Firm10%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Manufacturing Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider40%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Government7%
    Educational Organization4%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business40%
    Midsize Enterprise26%
    Large Enterprise34%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business26%
    Midsize Enterprise20%
    Large Enterprise55%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business47%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise29%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business29%
    Midsize Enterprise23%
    Large Enterprise49%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise48%
    Buyer's Guide
    Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense
    May 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
    609,272 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Fortinet FortiGate is ranked 1st in Firewalls with 166 reviews while pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 61 reviews. Fortinet FortiGate is rated 8.4, while pfSense is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of Fortinet FortiGate writes "Stable, easy to set up, and offers good ROI". On the other hand, the top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". Fortinet FortiGate is most compared with Cisco ASA Firewall, Sophos XG, Check Point NGFW, Meraki MX and SonicWall TZ, whereas pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Sophos XG, Untangle NG Firewall, Sophos UTM and Zyxel Unified Security Gateway. See our Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense report.

    See our list of best Firewalls vendors.

    We monitor all Firewalls reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.