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).
653,522 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
"We find all of its features very useful. Its main features are policies and access lists. We use both of them, and we also use routing.""The features that are most valuable within the firewall are the IPS as well as the Unified Communications. We also really like the dynamic grouping.""Cybersecurity resilience has been paramount. Because there is a threat of losing everything if ransomware or another sort of attack were to happen, the cybersecurity resilience has been top-notch.""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.""Cisco ASA Firewall is a well known product. They're always updating it, and you know what they're doing and that it works.""Cisco tech is always good and helpful. I would rate them as 10 out of 10.""I like that Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is reliable. Support is also good.""The customer service/technical support is very good with this solution."

More Cisco Secure Firewall Pros →

"The classic features such as content inspection, content protection, and the application-level firewall, are the most important.""It is a better firewall than others and it has better features.""I have found pfSense to be stable.""It has a very nice web interface, and it is very simple to use. The way policies are working is also good.""Some of the terminologies were more familiar to me than it was when I first encountered Cisco.""pfSense helped us during COVID-19 because we used OpenVPN to connect from home.""The built-in open VPN and the VPN Client Export are the solution's most valuable aspects.""I am happy with the EPLS, the radius, and I am happy with the captive portal."

More pfSense Pros →

"The most valuable features are the VPN and web blocker security.""There are many fantastic features.""I like intrusion detection the most.""I have found the DNS Watch feature for intrusion and prevention response and APT Locker most valuable to me.""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.""All of the features have been valuable. There's nothing on my M270 that I'm not using. If you have remote access, you can see how many users are coming from the outside world to be connected to the systems, through the virus systems that we have behind the firewall, in order to gain access to their files and do their work. We can also see how long they stay online and whether these connections are closed forcefully or for any other reasons, such as a glitch or some kind of misbehavior, to see if internet traffic is optimized and if that particular traffic is under company policies, concerning which websites were visited.""The main features of the solution are the control of the site-to-site network access and the overall features.""I like that this product has very few issues."

More WatchGuard Firebox Pros →

Cons
"The solution is overcomplicated in some senses. Simplifying it would be an improvement.""The initial setup could be simplified, as it can be complex for new users.""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.""A feature that would allow me to load balance among multiple ISPs, especially since we have deployed it as a perimeter firewall, would be a great addition.""It lacks management. For me, it still doesn't have a proper management tool or GUI for configuration, logging, and visualization. Its management is not that easy. It is also not very flexible and easy to configure. They used to have a product called CSM, but it is no longer being developed. FortiGate is better than this solution in terms of GUI, flexibility, and user-friendliness.""The one thing that the ASAs don't have is a central management point. We have a lot of our environments on FTD right now. So, we are using a Firewall Management Center (FMC) to manage all those. The ASAs don't really have that, but they are easy to use if you physically go into them and manage them.""Cisco ASA Firewall could improve by adding more advanced features such as web filtering, which is available in the next-generation firewalls. However, the Cisco ASA Firewall I am using could be old and these features have been updated.""One of the few things that are brought up is that for the overall management, it would be great to have a cloud instance of that. And not only just a cloud instance, but one of the areas that we've looked at is using an HA type of cloud. To have the ability to have a device file within a cloud. If we had an issue with one, the other one would pick up automatically."

More Cisco Secure Firewall Cons →

"There could be a way to remote to it through a mobile app. You can always browse through your browser on your mobile phone or tablet, but it would be good to have a dedicated app. I understand that iOS and Android developers are expensive, but there should be a mobile app.""I tried pfSense, and it has a big issue with file system consistency, and this is what drove me to OPNsense. The file system stability is quite a big issue for us. We have a lot of outages related to power issues, and OPNsense is much more stable on this side.""User interface is a little clumsy.""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.""The main problem with pfSense is that we have to use proxy solutions.""The solution could always work at being more secure. It's a good idea to continue to work on security features and capabilities in order to ensure they can keep clients safe.""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 →

"In terms of what could be improved, I would say their web blocker feature. It is still quite a confusing setup, especially when you want to filter out a particular category for granularity. For example, you do not want to filter Facebook but you do want to filter Facebook games only. It can be done, but the process to do it is very confusing.""They are working on cloud-based options. However, they do not have the options fully functional in their solution at this time.""WatchGuard Firebox could improve the speed of updates, such as new features or improvements. However, they are frequently improving the solution in many areas, such as geo-locations, definitions, and web blocking.""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.""This is a great product and offers great protection but they don't hear the customers' needs. They don't make improvements as per the customers' requests.""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 training become available for us.""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."

More WatchGuard Firebox Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "This product is expensive."
  • "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."
  • 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
    Cisco
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    Overview

    Cisco Secure Firewall is a suite of Cisco ASA Firewall and Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall among other Cisco products. 

    Anticipate, act, and simplify with Secure Firewall

    With workers, data, and offices located all over, your firewall must be ready for anything. Secure Firewall helps you plan, prioritize, close gaps, and recover from disaster—stronger.

    Turn intent into action

    Unify policy across your environment and prioritize what’s important. Having security resilience is about shoring up your architecture against threats and using automation to save time.

    Achieve superior visibility

    Regain visibility and control of your encrypted traffic and application environments. See more and detect more with Cisco Talos, while leveraging billions of signals across your infrastructure with security resilience.

    Drive efficiency at scale

    Only Secure Firewall includes license entitlement for Cisco SecureX, our open orchestration and XDR platform. The combination increases productivity across your teams and hybrid environments, while reducing threat dwell times.

    Make zero trust practical

    Secure Firewall makes a zero-trust posture achievable and cost-effective with network, microsegmentation, and app security integrations. Automate access and anticipate what comes next.

    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 Provider21%
    Computer Software Company19%
    Government7%
    Educational Organization5%
    REVIEWERS
    University12%
    Marketing Services Firm10%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider27%
    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 Enterprise51%
    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.
    653,522 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 54 reviews while WatchGuard Firebox is ranked 3rd in Unified Threat Management (UTM) with 22 reviews. pfSense is rated 8.6, 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.