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WatchGuard Firebox vs pfSense comparison

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Featured Review
Find out what your peers are saying about WatchGuard Firebox vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: March 2020.
564,322 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"One of the most valuable features is the AMP. It's very good and very reliable when it comes to malicious activities, websites, and viruses.""The most valuable features of this solution are advanced malware protection, IPS, and IDS.""Its Snort 3 IPS has better flexibility as far as being able to write rules. This gives me better granularity.""It's got the capabilities of amassing a lot of throughput with remote access and VPNs.""Feature-wise, we mostly use IPS because it is a security requirement to protect against attacks from outside and inside. This is where IPS helps us out a bunch.""You do not have to do everything through a command line which makes it a lot easier to apply rules.""The solution offers very easy configurations.""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."

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"I like the connectivity to the open VPN. It's very smooth.""pfSense allows us to spread the hours of connection and do the filtering on the pfSense site.""It works. I put pfSense in, and it works. I can't think of any trouble I ever had with it. It runs on heat-sensitive appliances. They don't need a fan, so they don't overheat. It is affordable, fast, and very high-speed. It is built on BSD Unix, and it pretty much runs on any Intel processor.""The most valuable features of pfSense are the reports, monitoring, filtration, and blocking incoming and outgoing traffic.""I have found pfSense to be stable.""The scalability is very good, where you can do an HA configuration and then bring in another box, if necessary.""I especially like the VPN part. It works like a charm.""I am happy with the EPLS, the radius, and I am happy with the captive portal."

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"The policy monitoring and allowing different traffic flows are the most useful features for us; regulating which traffic comes in and out.""It saves us time in the respect that we now have the template built for it so we can get in and get it done. We've had much less problem supporting Voice over IP technologies from different companies. Because our client base has grown over the years, we're probably saving 20 to 30 man-hours a month now that we've got this on a good stable level.""The ports that I have assigned appear to be unattainable to outside 'mal-actors,' unless they have an address registered on the internet that this thing is expecting. That's a layer of security.""The main features of the solution are the control of the site-to-site network access and the overall features.""The set up of the VPN is pretty straightforward. Being able to build VPNs on the fly for certain users, if need be, is also valuable.""There are no problems with the technical support. If a problem occurs it gets resolved immediately with our technical support partners.""WatchGuard has a very easy VPN and branch office VPN setup, so we use those pretty extensively.""I like that this product has very few issues."

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Cons
"The initial setup was a bit complex. It wasn't a major challenge, but due to our requirements and network, it was not very straightforward but still easy enough.""Web filtering needs improvement because sometimes the URL is miscategorized.""I would like to see improvement when you create policies on Snort 3 IPS on Cisco Firepower. On Snort 2, it was more like a UI page where you had some multiple choices where you could tweak your config. On Snort 3, the idea is more to build some rules on the text file or JSON file, then push it. So, I would like to see a lot of improvements here.""When you make any changes, irrespective of whether they are big or small, Firepower takes too much time. It is very time-consuming. Even for small changes, you have to wait for 60 seconds or maybe more, which is not good. Similarly, when you have many IPS rules and policies, it slows down, and there is an impact on its performance.""The central management tool is not comfortable to use. You need to have a specific skill set. This is an important improvement for management because I would like to log into Firepower, see the dashboard, and generate a real-time report, then I question my team.""The solution could offer better control that would allow the ability to restrictions certain features from a website.""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.""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."

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"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.""Lacks instructional videos.""pfSense has some limitations in detecting site sessions. We want to control internet usage based on sites and their content, and pfSense doesn't perform this function.""The solution could use better reporting. They need to offer more of it in general. Right now, the graphics aren't the best. If you need to provide a report to a manager, for example, it doesn't look great. They need to make it easier to understand and give users the ability to customize them.""I'd like to find something in pfSense that is more specific to URL filtering. We have customers who would like to filter their web traffic. They would like to be able to say to their employees, "You can surf the web, but you cannot get access to Facebook or other social media," or "You can surf the web, but you're not allowed to gamble or watch porn on the web." My technicians say that doing this kind of stuff with pfSense nowadays is not easy. They can implement some filters using IP addresses but not by using the names of the domains and categories. So, we are not able to exclude some categories from the allowed traffic, such as porn, gambling, etc. To do that, we have to use another product and another web filter that uses DNS. I know that there are some third-party products that could work with pfSense, but I'd like the native pfSense solution to do that.""If you want to take advantage of all of the solution's options, you need to have a bit of a technical background. It's not for a layperson.""In terms of areas of improvement, the interface seemed like it had a lot. The GUI interface that I had gotten into was rather elaborate. I don't know if they could zero in on some markets and potentially for small, medium businesses specifically, give them a stripped-down version of the GUI for pfSense.""There's a bit of a learning curve during the initial implementation."

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"The solution can improve by adding a feature to tag a MAC address of a computer system in the policy and more IP configuration settings.""I would like to see more tutorials on setting up the Firebox.""The pricing could be improved. It is definitely one of the more expensive products.""Some of the configuration options are somewhat confusing.""I don't think I can get a full-blown DNS client from it. I've been trying to have DNS services. It has forwarding, but I don't get the services of a full DNS client. My main difficulty with it is that I can't run a complete service. I need NTP. I need DNS. I need DHCP for my domain, but I only get forwarding. As far as I can tell, I don't get caching and the kinds of reporting and registration needed to host a DNS for a domain. I have to have a separate solution for that.""There is room for improvement on the education side, regarding what does what, rather than just throwing it at a person and assuming they know everything about it. A lot of times, you have to call WatchGuard support to get the solution that will work, rather than their just having it published so that you can fix the problem on your own.""There are a couple of things I wished that it would do, but I can't think of those off the top of my head.""I would like to have a little more control over access points and the ability to see the bandwidth that is passing through a specific access point. We are not able to see that. We can see what traffic is passing through the Firebox itself, but we can't identify if it is coming from a particular access point or not."

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Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "Cisco pricing is premium. However, they gave us a 50 to 60 percent discount."
  • "There are additional implementation and validation costs."
  • "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."
  • More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "This solution provides enterprise-level features at a fraction of the cost of an enterprise firewall."
  • "It is an open source firewall."
  • "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."
  • More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "We don't have any other costs other than the licensing stuff."
  • "I usually tell people that it's really affordable as well, particularly compared to Cisco."
  • "The pricing of WatchGuard is probably a little higher than the SonicWall, but it makes up for it in dependability. It's worth it to me, especially since it's not much higher. For just a little bit higher price you get the dependability of the firewall with the WatchGuard brand."
  • "The pricing was in line with everyone else; maybe slightly higher."
  • "I think the larger firewall packages are much better because a normal firewall is not enough for these times. You need IPS, APT, and all the security features of a firewall that you can buy."
  • "WatchGuard had a very competitive price. It was only 10 to 20 percent more than a single instance device but with that extra cost it provided a second load balancing device... unlike other brands whose method of hardware and software licensing would have doubled our cost."
  • "They license it. When we buy it, we buy it with a three-year license. That's the most cost-effective way to do it. So, if you're going to buy it, then buy it with the three-year licensing."
  • "I spent $600 or $800 on this product and I'm paying a couple of hundred dollars a year in a subscription service to keep the lights on, on it... It works out to $100 or $200 a year if you buy several years at once. It's fair."
  • More WatchGuard Firebox Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    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: 
    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: 
    pfSense is a nice product, and I find that there's a lot of information out there. There are some good tutorials on… more »
    Top Answer: 
    We are providing our services to all WatchGuard customers in the region. 
    Top Answer: 
    We just use it as a secondary WiFi device. We're a small office and we needed to set up a WiFi device for a few of our… more »
    Top Answer: 
    We're a hospital and we use it for developing our incoming and outgoing policies, and we also use it for VPN.
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco Firepower NGFW, Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, FirePOWER, Cisco NGFWv
    Learn More
    Netgate
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    Overview

    Cisco NGFW firewalls deliver advanced threat defense capabilities to meet diverse needs, from
    small/branch offices to high performance data centers and service providers. Available in a wide
    range of models, Cisco NGFW can be deployed as a physical or virtual appliance. Advanced threat
    defense capabilities include Next-generation IPS (NGIPS), Security Intelligence (SI), Advanced
    Malware Protection (AMP), URL filtering, Application Visibility and Control (AVC), and flexible VPN
    features. Inspect encrypted traffic and enjoy automated risk ranking and impact flags to reduce event
    volume so you can quickly prioritize threats. Cisco NGFW firewalls are also available with clustering
    for increased performance, high availability configurations, and more.
    Cisco Firepower NGFWv is the virtualized version of Cisco's Firepower NGFW firewall. Widely
    deployed in leading private and public clouds, Cisco NGFWv automatically scales up/down to meet
    the needs of dynamic cloud environments and high availability provides resilience. Also, Cisco NGFWv
    can deliver micro-segmentation to protect east-west network traffic.
    Cisco firewalls provide consistent security policies, enforcement, and protection across all your
    environments. Unified management for Cisco ASA and FTD/NGFW physical and virtual firewalls is
    delivered by Cisco Defense Orchestrator (CDO), with cloud logging also available. And with Cisco
    SecureX included with every Cisco firewall, you gain a cloud-native platform experience that enables
    greater simplicity, visibility, and efficiency.
    Learn more about Cisco’s firewall solutions, including virtual appliances for public and private cloud.

    Providing comprehensive network security solutions for the enterprise, large business and SOHO, pfSense solutions bring together the most advanced technology available to make protecting your network easier than ever before. Our products are built on the most reliable platforms and are engineered to provide the highest levels of performance, stability and confidence.

    WatchGuard's approach to network security focuses on bringing best-in-class, enterprise-grade security to any organization, regardless of size or technical expertise. Ideal for SMBs and distributed enterprise organizations, our award-winning Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances are designed from the ground up to focus on ease of deployment, use, and ongoing management, in addition to providing the strongest security possible.

    Offer
    Learn more about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
    Learn more about pfSense
    Learn more about WatchGuard Firebox
    Sample Customers
    Rackspace, The French Laundry, Downer Group, Lewisville School District, Shawnee Mission School District, Lower Austria Firefighters Administration, Oxford Hospital, SugarCreek, Westfield
    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
    Ellips, Diecutstickers.com, Clarke Energy, NCR, Wrest Park, Homeslice Pizza, Fortessa Tableware Solutions, The Phoenix Residence
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider22%
    Financial Services Firm16%
    Government8%
    Non Profit8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider33%
    Computer Software Company21%
    Government7%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    University10%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Marketing Services Firm8%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider44%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Government6%
    Media Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    Manufacturing Company17%
    Construction Company14%
    Healthcare Company8%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider35%
    Computer Software Company17%
    Government6%
    Wholesaler/Distributor4%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business43%
    Midsize Enterprise28%
    Large Enterprise29%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business22%
    Midsize Enterprise13%
    Large Enterprise66%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business56%
    Midsize Enterprise14%
    Large Enterprise30%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business65%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise11%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business85%
    Midsize Enterprise3%
    Large Enterprise13%
    Find out what your peers are saying about WatchGuard Firebox vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: March 2020.
    564,322 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 60 reviews while WatchGuard Firebox is ranked 3rd in Unified Threat Management (UTM) with 27 reviews. pfSense is rated 8.6, while WatchGuard Firebox is rated 8.6. The top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". On the other hand, the top reviewer of WatchGuard Firebox writes "Competent, basic front-end; the ports that I have assigned appear to be unattainable to outsiders". pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos UTM, Sophos XG and Zyxel Unified Security Gateway, whereas WatchGuard Firebox is most compared with Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Cisco ASA Firewall, SonicWall NSa and Azure Firewall. See our WatchGuard Firebox vs. pfSense report.

    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.