WatchGuard Firebox vs pfSense comparison

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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on May 30, 2022

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

  • Ease of Deployment: Most pfSense users say that its initial setup is straightforward, but a small percentage disagree, feeling that the setup is complex and requires a higher level of technical expertise. WatchGuard users say that its initial setup is straightforward.

  • Features: Users of both products are for the most part very satisfied with their scalability and stability. pfSense reviewers like its VPN features and say it is robust and performs well but could be more secure. WatchGuard reviewers say it has a good interface, advanced security features, and is reliable. Several WatchGuard users mention that it needs better documentation.

  • Pricing: pfSense is an open-source solution and is free of charge. WatchGuard reviewers feel that its price is fair.

  • Service and Support: pfSense offers commercial support in addition to free online support forums. Reviewers of both solutions report being satisfied with the level of support they receive.

  • ROI: Reviewers for both solutions report seeing an ROI.

Comparison Results: Both products received high marks from reviewers, but WatchGuard ultimately won out in this comparison. According to reviews, WatchGuard appears to be a more secure solution.

To learn more, read our detailed WatchGuard Firebox vs. pfSense Report (Updated: November 2022).
655,465 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"ASA integrates with FirePOWER, IPS functionality, malware filtering, etc. This functionality wasn't there in the past. With its cloud architecture, Cisco can filter traffic at the engine layer. Evasive encryptions can be entered into the application, like BitTorrent or Skype. This wasn't possible to control through a traditional firewall.""I have not contacted technical support. There is a lot of information on the internet for troubleshooting. All you need to do is use a search engine and you will find the information you are looking for easily.""The management aspect of the product is very straightforward.""I think Cisco ASA Firewall is the most stable firewall solution.""Netting is one of the best features. We can modify it in different ways. Site-to-site VPN is also an awesome feature of Cisco ASA. The biggest advantage of Cisco products is technical support. They provide the best technical support.""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.""This solution helped us to identify the key areas where we need to focus to block traffic that is malicious to our organization.""Cisco ASA Firewall is a well known product. They're always updating it, and you know what they're doing and that it works."

More Cisco Secure Firewall Pros →

"pfSense helped us during COVID-19 because we used OpenVPN to connect from home.""The VPN is my favorite feature.""It is very easy to use. The interface is quite understandable. There is a good community, and I can take over at any time I want. If there is anything wrong with it, I could just reinstall the whole thing and start all over again, and I'll be up again in less than a few minutes""The features I have found best are ease of use, GUI, and performance.""I have found pfSense to be stable.""I am happy with the EPLS, the radius, and I am happy with the captive portal.""We've found the stability to be very good overall.""It has a very nice web interface, and it is very simple to use. The way policies are working is also good."

More pfSense Pros →

"The most valuable features of the WatchGuard Firebox are all the security and updated features. You are able to configure the solution from the cloud platform and the application and web interface are very nice.""What I found most valuable in WatchGuard Firebox is that it's a functional platform that works, and each of its features works well. The solution also has good reporting and dashboard capabilities. I also find the overall performance of WatchGuard Firebox great.""The most valuable feature of WatchGuard Firebox is its ease of use.""This product offers great protection using the default settings.""The set up was quite straightforward and we handled it in-house. It took a few hours to deploy the product.""There are many fantastic features.""The ease of use is most valuable. You can quickly train someone who hasn't seen a firewall in life. You can get people up to speed, and in a few months, they are able to manage this product very easily. It is a very user-friendly, scalable, and stable product. Its price is also spot-on.""Their support is excellent, and the stability is very good."

More WatchGuard Firebox Pros →

Cons
"We don't have any serious problems. The firewall models that we have are quite legacy, and they have slower performance. We are currently investigating the possibility of migrating to next-generation firewalls.""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.""I think they need to review their whole UI because it feels like it was created by a whole bunch of different teams of developers who didn't fully talk to each other. The net policy screen is just a mess. It should look like the firewall policy screen, and they should both act the same, but they don't. I feel like it's two different buildings or programming, who don't talk to each other, and that really annoys me.""The access layer of this solution could be improved in terms of the way the devices interconnect with our network. We need to be able to analyze the traffic between the different interconnection in these areas.""Most of the features don't work well, and some features are missing as well.""It can probably provide a holistic view of different appliances because many customers do not have only one brand, besides the traditional SNMP protocols, to cover all their devices. There are some specific requirements in terms of configurations or actions that sometimes have to be done in a very manual way because of the different versions or brands in a customer's infrastructure. It could also have some additional analytics capabilities. It has some very interesting ways to monitor the traffic and identify false positives from the architecture and the environment. It would be good if there is a way to patch with some other industry-specific solutions and synchronize some of the information, such as what other customers experience in their operations and probably share some additional information that could be leveraged or shared among the industry. Such information would be something interesting to see. It could have AI capabilities related to how the appliances could benefit from learning the current environment and different exposures.""Cisco still has a lot of work to do. You can convert an ASA over to a Firepower, but the competitors, like Palo Alto and Juniper, are coming in. And believe it or not, they are a little bit more intuitive. Cisco has a little bit more work to do. They're playing catch up.""In the next release, I would like to see the VPN and UTM features included."

More Cisco Secure Firewall Cons →

"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.""We are at the moment looking to use it as a proxy service so that we can limit what websites people go and view and that sort of thing. That's an area I've struggled with a little bit at the moment and it could be a bit easier to set up.""They can improve the dynamic of the input of IPs from outside.""I would like to see pfSense integrate WireGuard. Currently, pfSense uses OpenVPN, and there's nothing wrong with it, but WireGuard is a lot leaner and meaner.""The hotspot and the portal feature in this solution are not stable for WiFi access. We use it at least once or twice every day and it crashes. Some modules can be better by improving detection and having new updates. Additionally, we have some issues with clustering and load balancing that could improve.""The main problem with pfSense is that it lacks adequate ransomware protection.""It could use a little bit of improvement in the reporting.""ClamAV AntiVirus can cause some crashes. That service should be improved."

More pfSense Cons →

"There could also be better reporting. For example, there should be more out-of-the-box management reports.""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.""It's sometimes not easy to understand and can require specialist assistance.""Some of the configuration options are somewhat confusing.""The way Secure Sign-On authentication is happening needs to be improved. When the Secure Sign-On portal is turned on, anybody who comes into the campus, whether he or she is a staff member or a guest, has to go past the initial portal. One of the shortcomings is the username. It shouldn't allow permutations or combinations with upper or lower cases. For example, when there is a username abc, it shouldn't allow ABC or Abc. It should not allow the same username, but currently, two separate people can go in. Therefore, its authentication or validation should be improved, and the case sensitiveness should be picked up. If I have restricted someone to two devices, they shouldn't be able to use different combinations of the same username and get into the third or fourth device. It shouldn't allow different combinations of alphabets to be used to log in.""What could use some significant improvement in WatchGuard Firebox would be its interface and policy management. An additional feature I'd like to see in the next release of WatchGuard Firebox is the ability to modify an existing policy instead of having to recreate a policy when changes are necessary. At the moment, there's no possibility to modify the policy. You have to delete the policy and recreate it.""Its documentation could be improved. Sometimes, you need to search a bit longer to find what you are looking for.""I would like to see more training become available for us."

More WatchGuard Firebox Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "If we compare it with FortiGate and the co-existing ASA, FortiGate is better in price."
  • "They seem to be at the top end in terms of pricing, but they are worth the price. They are probably a little bit lower than Palo Alto. If the customers are relying on Cisco products and they are thinking more in terms of scaling to another layer in a year, it is pretty much in a good price range."
  • "We're using the smart license for this firewall. The models that we have require licensing for remote access."
  • "There are licensing costs."
  • "I just bought it off the shelf, and I'm using it with my previous one, so I have not spent that much."
  • "The price is fair. It's not the cheapest, but it's not bad."
  • "For me, personally, as an individual, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is expensive."
  • "The product is very expensive."
  • More Cisco Secure Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "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."
  • "The pricing is lower than some of its competitors."
  • "pfSense is open-source."
  • "We are using the open-source version which is free. We are testing the solution to see if we are going to go to the enterprise version which requires a license and is not free."
  • "There is no license. You don't have to pay anything. It's completely free."
  • "It's open-source and it's free. Anything for free is good."
  • "pfSense is a free solution."
  • More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "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."
  • "The primary reason that we went with Firebox was its cost. It is very economical and it provided us with all the security functions that we were looking for at the time. And the throughput was more than what we required, so it was a very cost-effective device to deploy on our network."
  • "I find the solution to be very affordable."
  • "It's fair pricing, but it could always be reduced."
  • "It has a very good price. It is not the most expensive one, and it is also not the cheapest one. It is just spot-on in terms of price."
  • "They have an annual subscription license. Initially, we had opted for three years. After that, we went for another three years, and after that, we have been doing it yearly. They also have a license for five years."
  • "The licensing contract we have is on a three-year basis. There aren't any costs in addition to the standard licensing fees—usually, every three years, we just purchase or renew the same license and we are okay. Every six years, we completely change the firewall, but that's the usual schema. So after three years, we just renew the licenses for another three years, and then after that particular period of time, we just purchase another firewall equivalent to the ones that we currently use."
  • "The licensing costs are comparatively lower than other providers, and I would rate the pricing as five out of five."
  • More WatchGuard Firebox Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    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 ASA Firewall, Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Firewall, Cisco ASA NGFW, Cisco ASA, Adaptive Security Appliance, ASA, Cisco Sourcefire Firewalls, Cisco ASAv, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
    Learn More
    Netgate
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    Overview

    The Cisco Secure Firewall portfolio delivers greater protections for your network against an increasingly evolving and complex set of threats. With Cisco, you’re investing in a foundation for security that is both agile and integrated- leading to the strongest security posture available today and tomorrow.

      From your data center, branch offices, cloud environments, and everywhere in between, you can leverage the power of Cisco to turn your existing network infrastructure into an extension of your firewall solution, resulting in world class security controls everywhere you need them.

      Investing in a Secure Firewall appliance today gives you robust protections against even the most sophisticated threats without compromising performance when inspecting encrypted traffic. Further, integrations with other Cisco and 3rd party solutions provides you with a broad and deep portfolio of security products, all working together to correlate previously disconnected events, eliminate noise, and stop threats faster.

      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."



      WatchGuard Firebox is a unified security platform that offers organizations protection from cyber threats through a powerful network security device that controls all traffic between an external network and a trusted network. The solution is ideal for small and midsize businesses as well as for distributed enterprises. WatchGuard Firebox protects the entire network from intrusions, phishing attempts, malware, and ransomware by using cloud and virtual firewalls, AI-powered malware protection, and enhanced network visibility.

      WatchGuard Firebox Features

      WatchGuard Firebox has many valuable key features, including:

      • Policy management
      • Strong security
      • High performance
      • Network configuration for multiple clients
      • Built-in SD-WAN
      • Application control
      • Threat detection and response
      • Network discovery
      • Intuitive interface

      WatchGuard Firebox Benefits

      Some of the benefits of using WatchGuard Firebox include:

      • IT administrators can create and implement policies for content filtering, VPNs, and network inspections.
      • The solution is easy to set up, manage, and maintain.

      Reviews from Real Users

      Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by WatchGuard Firebox users.

      PeerSpot user Kelly C., IT Manager at a hospitality company, mentions, “One of the most valuable features is the Gateway AntiVirus. We scan all traffic as it's coming through. We also use spamBlocker to scrub spam. We use content filtering, which is critical in any corporate environment to make sure that people don't surf things they're not supposed to. WatchGuard has a very easy VPN and branch office VPN setup, so we use those pretty extensively too.It's very easy to use. In terms of performance, WatchGuard has always worked well for us. Regarding the reporting, I was in the Dimension server earlier today. It's very powerful. I like it. And the management features are easy to use. I like the fact that I can open up the System Manager client or I can just do it through the web if I'm making a quick change.”

      A Director of Information Technology at a retailer says, “Among the most valuable features is the ease of use — love the interface — of both the web interface and of the WatchGuard System Manager. It's a stable platform. The devices are pretty rock-solid.”

      Jason M., IT Director at a healthcare company, explains, “The policy monitoring and allowing different traffic flows are the most useful features for us; regulating which traffic comes in and out. In terms of the throughput and performance, we don't have a problem or any bottleneck there. We downgraded the size of our appliance because we're a small facility, and what we had before was actually too big. The one we are now going with seems to be doing a great job.” He also adds, “The management feature is pretty nice.”

      Steve R., President and Owner at Peak Communication Systems, Inc., comments, "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 problems 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."

      Offer
      Learn more about Cisco Secure Firewall
      Learn more about pfSense
      Learn more about WatchGuard Firebox
      Sample Customers
      There are more than one million Adaptive Security Appliances deployed globally. Top customers include First American Financial Corp., Genzyme, Frankfurt Airport, Hansgrohe SE, Rio Olympics, The French Laundry, Rackspace, and City of Tomorrow.
      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
      Financial Services Firm16%
      Comms Service Provider13%
      Computer Software Company9%
      Government8%
      VISITORS READING REVIEWS
      Comms Service Provider20%
      Computer Software Company19%
      Government7%
      Educational Organization5%
      REVIEWERS
      University12%
      Marketing Services Firm10%
      Comms Service Provider10%
      Computer Software Company6%
      VISITORS READING REVIEWS
      Comms Service Provider26%
      Computer Software Company15%
      Government8%
      Educational Organization5%
      REVIEWERS
      Manufacturing Company21%
      Construction Company12%
      Computer Software Company9%
      Healthcare Company7%
      VISITORS READING REVIEWS
      Comms Service Provider21%
      Computer Software Company18%
      Government6%
      Retailer5%
      Company Size
      REVIEWERS
      Small Business36%
      Midsize Enterprise24%
      Large Enterprise40%
      VISITORS READING REVIEWS
      Small Business28%
      Midsize Enterprise19%
      Large Enterprise53%
      REVIEWERS
      Small Business70%
      Midsize Enterprise17%
      Large Enterprise13%
      VISITORS READING REVIEWS
      Small Business29%
      Midsize Enterprise21%
      Large Enterprise50%
      REVIEWERS
      Small Business68%
      Midsize Enterprise23%
      Large Enterprise10%
      VISITORS READING REVIEWS
      Small Business38%
      Midsize Enterprise20%
      Large Enterprise42%
      Buyer's Guide
      WatchGuard Firebox vs. pfSense
      November 2022
      Find out what your peers are saying about WatchGuard Firebox vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: November 2022.
      655,465 professionals have used our research since 2012.

      pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 52 reviews while WatchGuard Firebox is ranked 3rd in Unified Threat Management (UTM) with 22 reviews. pfSense is rated 8.4, while WatchGuard Firebox is rated 8.2. 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 XG, Untangle NG Firewall and KerioControl, whereas WatchGuard Firebox is most compared with Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Meraki MX, Sophos UTM and OPNsense. 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.