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Software Applications Manager at a engineering company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Free to use with great plugins and good stability
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution is very easy to use and has a very nice GUI."
  • "The product could offer more integrated plugins."

What is our primary use case?

I primarily use the solution for monitoring and learning about how to operate a firewall. I also use it for monitoring my home network as well as adblocking.

What is most valuable?

The solution is 100% free to use.

The product offers a lot of helpful plugins.

The solution is easy to use and has a elaborate GUI.

The initial setup is quite simple and straightforward.

What needs improvement?

The integration of the plugins into the GUI could be better. It's sometimes hard to find where a setting can be found or how it might interact with other settings. Some documentation is outdate and plugins sometime have no documentation. Information can always be found on the fora but for novice users this can be a challenge.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for five years or so. It's been a while.

Buyer's Guide
pfSense
September 2022
Learn what your peers think about pfSense. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: September 2022.
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What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable. Since last upgrade there hasn't been a crash, freeze or need for reboort. It's quite reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I've tried to scale the solution previously. I've got two hardware platforms running. I wasn't quite able to run everything I wanted on a small ARM based device. Therefore,  I build my own Super-micro platform based on Intel Denverton.

It's actually easy to scale. It's just moving over most of the configuration: exporting, importing, or even going right into the original XML export file.

There are six users, 3 dozen of devices and a homelab server with VM running behind the solution at this time.

How are customer service and support?

With what I am running now, I haven't had to reach out to technical support. However, an upgrade failed two years ago and I needed to contact technical support to get me the new image for the device. They were very efficient. I was satisfied with the level of support I received.

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

I've been switching back and forth between pfSense, OPNsense, and Untangle in the last five years or so.

OPNsense and Untangled are more integrated, however, more and more of the plugins are becoming paid offerings. OPNsense misses a plugin that pfSense has, Untangled it's adblocking is easy but not free.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not to complex.

It's good to have the basic information before attempting to set everything up. They've got a wiki with all basic information and there are the fora for questions.

I've got a CCNA certificate and that some comes in handy. For me, it works without any documentation, however, for a complete novice user you probably need some documentation to get you through the process.

Getting everything up and running only took about 30 minutes. You then have a complete firewall solution up-and-running.

There is some maintenance required. You do need to check for updates from time to time, for example. If you install more plugins more maintenance might be required to get everything tuned.

What about the implementation team?

I handled the implementation myself. I have some knowledge about IP routing.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution is free to use. There are (currently) no licensing costs.

What other advice do I have?

I'm just a home lab user.

I'd advise those considering the solution for your business to get a service contract.

It works great for someone with enough knowledge and time to get his head around everything. Otherwise, you need to look for a solution that offers support and can work with you on issues. It's nice to try to balance between open-source and support that costs money.

In general, I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Technical Presales Consultant/ Engineer at a wholesaler/distributor with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Provides good security as well as scanning and filtering traffic; web interface could be enhanced
Pros and Cons
  • "A free firewall that is a good network security appliance."
  • "Web interface could be enhanced and more user friendly."

What is our primary use case?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for five years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

I rate this solution a seven out of 10.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
pfSense
September 2022
Learn what your peers think about pfSense. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: September 2022.
635,987 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Buford Laruan - PeerSpot reviewer
Network Administrator at Benguet State University
Real User
Top 10
Good community support, easy to use, free, and can be reinstalled in minutes
Pros and Cons
  • "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"
  • "More documentation would be great, especially on new features because sometimes, when new features come out, you don't get to understand them right off the bat. You have to really spend a lot of time understanding them. So, more documentation would be awesome."

What is our primary use case?

I build my own firewalls, and I use pfSense.

What is most valuable?

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.

What needs improvement?

More documentation would be great, especially on new features because sometimes, when new features come out, you don't get to understand them right off the bat. You have to really spend a lot of time understanding them. So, more documentation would be awesome.

In terms of features, for my use, I don't see anything wrong with it. I basically get what I need from it by default. I build my firewall, so I only rely on the software. On the software side, there is not much to improve right now. So, at this point in time, I don't see anything, but I always welcome any kind of upgrades that they do. I always try them out and see if I can use them in the company or not, but so far, there are no complaints on my end.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for more than eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a very stable product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is quite scalable.

How are customer service and support?

I don't have any experience dealing with technical support directly from the makers of pfSense. I am using its Community Edition. That's why when it comes to technical support, I rely on myself, the community, and the information on the internet, especially from those who are more adept at it than me.

How was the initial setup?

It is quite easy. It is up in a few minutes even though I reinstalled the whole thing. For me, it is as straightforward as it can get. I'm a long-time user, and I don't see any problems with the configuration.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We are using its Community Edition, which is free. My company is a government school, and we don't have much budget.

What other advice do I have?

There is a steep learning curve and you have to spend a lot of time with it to understand how you're going to use it and how you're going to customize it yourself. That's where you're going to have to spend a lot of time, but by the time you're done with everything and you have played with all the features you want, you will understand everything you need. You will always be up in minutes, even if it gets "destroyed" during the night, you can come back to it and reinstall the whole thing, and everything will be good.

I would rate it a 9 out of 10. It cannot get a 10 right now because it changes every day. It might be 10 today, but in a few seconds, it won't be a 10 because the whole internet changes in a few seconds, and the whole way of serving your clients can change in a few seconds. So, it can't get that perfect 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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PeerSpot user
Principal at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 5
You plug it in, set it up, and it works
Pros and Cons
  • "What I like about pfSense is that it works well and runs on an inexpensive appliance."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

I use pfSense to provide firewall and VPN services for small businesses. I have a handful of clients using it now and a new one in the works. 

What is most valuable?

What I like about pfSense is that it works well and runs on an inexpensive appliance. It's a minimal Intel system that has no fan and is all solid-state. It doesn't have a fan because it doesn't do enough to get hot. It's a box about the size of a Discman. I can download the pfSense software at no cost then connect a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and USB flash drive to the appliance. It's built on top of BSD and managed with a web server. And it's effortless to manage.

What needs improvement?

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. Unfortunately, it's not ready for pfSense, which is built on BSD, and WireGuard is not yet integrated with BSD. The issue is that pfSense is waiting for BSD to add WireGuard support. Once WireGuard is supported on BSD, you can bet pfSense will adopt it. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've never had any problems with stability. You plug it in, set it up, and it works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I know a peer who set up pfSense in a Catholic parish school. It's not thousands of devices, but there are several devices in the parish office, the rectory, and throughout the school, as well as three different VPNs. There's a fourth VPN connection to the IT Director's house, where he manages most of it. So that's four locations with VPNs, and that's the biggest one I know. All you have to do is buy a big enough appliance. You can use the minimum appliance in the rectory, where there's a handful of computers, but you need a step up from that in the school, where there are a lot more computers to connect. And I think even the parish office, which is a handful of people, uses the minimum appliance.

How are customer service and support?

I've never needed support. You can find anything you need to know in the pfSense knowledge base online or in the documentation.

How was the initial setup?

You only need a couple of minutes to install pfSense, then it just sits and works. You boot the USB drive and install it. After that, there's no more management. Any IT professional can easily set it up. Business owners who don't know anything about technology might have a hard time, but the average IT person can do it with no problem. There's good documentation online.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pfSense software is open source, so you only have to pay $90 a year for support. Of course, I could be wrong on that. It was that much when I looked into it a year ago. It might've gone up or down since then. You can buy the minimum appliance for under $300. It has two ethernet ports, one for your WAN and one for your LAN. 

What other advice do I have?

I rate pfSense 10 out of 10. The appliance is inexpensive, and the software costs nothing. You plug it in and it works.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
CTO, Software Architect, founder at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
Flexible with a straightforward setup and great plugins
Pros and Cons
  • "The initial setup is straightforward."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for security. It's a firewall.

What is most valuable?

The solution is an excellent open-source product. It has a big community around it as well. Out of those few points, you'll come up to a situation whereby you can avoid the vendor lock-in. Since there is a big community, you can count on reliability. There are lots of installations and lots of people who understand how everything works. 

The solution offers excellent flexibility. You can either install pfSense just on a machine, on your local PC, or you can buy an appliance. You can even buy your own hardware and install it on your own. Of course, if you choose that route, you need to have a technical expert on your team. For us, as a software company, that's not a problem.

There are plugins you can add to the product if you want even more useability. You can even add more security functionality.

The initial setup is straightforward.

What needs improvement?

We did have a strange issue with an update at one point, however, that was resolved quickly.

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.

You do get a good solution for free. However, the trade-off is you need to be technical to really take advantage of it.

The installation could potentially be faster.

For how long have I used the solution?

I haven't been using the solution for very long at this point. It may be somewhere around three to five months. It hasn't been long.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's excellent.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is excellent. We don't have any issues as far as that is concerned.

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

Prior to pfSense, we used Cisco.

How was the initial setup?

The implementation is not complex. It's very straightforward to initiate. A company should have no problems with the process.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

As an open-source solution, it is free to use as you see fit.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I didn't evaluate the solution against other more expensive commercial tools.

What other advice do I have?

We are just customers and end-users.

The solution is an open-source platform. We are a software company and we like open-source. Lots of people say open-source means that you need to install it on your own. They will see that as a limitation, however, we see that as the other way around. 

I'd recommend the solution to other organizations and users. It's open-source, it's flexible, and has a strong community. You can use it in many different ways, either in a small installation, laptop, PC, or on a machine, or you can buy an appliance or you can even buy your own hardware and configure it in a different way. The software as such is free and you have a lot of options as to how you want to use it.

I'd rate the solution at a ten out of ten. It's been very good for us

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
IT analyst with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Free to use with an easy initial setup and good scalability potential
Pros and Cons
  • "We've found the stability to be very good overall."
  • "The access control aspect of the product could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use pfSense as a firewall. It's a DHCP server.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspect of the solution is the way it can browse packages on the internet.

The initial setup is very easy.

We've found the stability to be very good overall.

The product can scale if you need it to.

What needs improvement?

The access control aspect of the product could be improved. There should be more control over everything that the user is doing. It should be able to log and report on everything users are doing. 

The product no longer complies with new rules in Brazil. Therefore, we need to move off the solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have about five years of experience with the solution. It's been a while since we started using it at our organization.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the product is very good. We haven't had any issues. There aren't bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've found the solution to have good scalability. If a company needs to expand, it can do so. That shouldn't be a problem.

We have about 10,000 people using the solution. There is a network manager and about ten people that work directly with the solution.

We won't be increasing usage, however. The Brazilian government recently changed some laws and this product is no longer in compliance. That is one of the reasons we are looking at Palo Alto. We are likely moving away from this solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

While the websites and forums are excellent, we don't have any dealings directly with technical support. Therefore, we can't speak to how they are in terms of their responsiveness or knowledgability. 

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

A long time ago, the company did use a different solution. They switched to pfSense. However, now they are moving away from it as well. 

We're also using Palo Alto, however, right now, it's just in the demo phase. The solution seems to be better at centralization, which is a big selling point. We have three school campuses and we'd like to configure a solution from one central location that would work for all three campuses. With Palo Alto, it looks like we can achieve this.

On top of that, with Palo Alto, there are more user control products. You can log everything that you are doing on the internet with it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the solution is very easy. It's straightforward. There isn't any complexity. A company shouldn't have any troubles with the setup.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We are using a free version of the solution. We don't need to pay any licensing fees.

What other advice do I have?

We are just customers. We don't have a business relationship with the company.

I would recommend the solution to small companies. If you are a small company, you can use pfSense without any issues due to the fact that it's a free solution.

I would rate the solution seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Amandio Zumba - PeerSpot reviewer
Director De Tecnologias da Information at EPAL-EP
Real User
Free to use, flexible, and user-friendly
Pros and Cons
  • "The initial setup is not complex."
  • "Ultimately, we'd like something stronger, and something that can handle threats better in real-time."

How has it helped my organization?

The product makes our business more secure. It has increased the security of our business. We are using the two solutions. The first one is from Cisco, and the second is from pfSense.

A few months back, we were attacked, however, the attackers used the wrong software. We decided then it was important to start prioritizing our security, which is why we brought on this product. 

What is most valuable?

The solution is very flexible.

I find the product very easy to use. 

The initial setup is not complex. 

The solution has been very stable so far.

We can scale the solution if we need to.

What needs improvement?

The process can be challenging. We do not have one security team. We need a team that can guarantee the security of our company and we're not there yet. We only have the client's equipment, and one guy managing this equipment. This isn't necessarily a problem with the product, it's more about our own internal structure. 

Ultimately, we'd like something stronger, and something that can handle threats better in real-time. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for about five years now. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been great so far. there are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. Its performance has been great.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the product is very good. If we want to expand, we can do so. 

We have 3,000 people on the solution right now. There are people from various teams that utilize it. It's not just IT. 

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

We previously used OpenBSD, a Linux solution. 

We switched to this product as it is free and open-source. It also increased the level of security we had on hand, even though OpenBSD was more user-friendly. 

How was the initial setup?

When it comes to setting up the solution, it's not a complex process. It's pretty straightforward in general. 

The deployment took maybe a month and a half. 

We have two teams that handle deployment and maintenance tasks. One team is internal and the other is external. They're mostly engineers and they work together. 

What about the implementation team?

We used an outside integrator to help us and we were pretty happy with the results. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We are using the free version of the solution. We are not paying anything for it at this time. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We're reading up on other solutions every day. We likely won't stay with this solution. It's good for now, however, we'd like something more robust further down the line. 

What other advice do I have?

We are a customer and an end-user. 

We're using either version 5.3 or 5.4 at this time. 

While this is a good solution, we're looking for something stronger in the future. I'd recommend others also look for something strong, that fits their security needs. 

I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Vice President - Engineering & Delivery at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Useful customization, highly scalable, and plenty of features
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution has good customization abilities and plenty of features."
  • "In an upcoming release, the reporting could be more user-friendly. For example, the reporting in graphs and charts for the host can be cumbersome."

What is our primary use case?

We are a small business and we use pfSense as our interface for the WAN. We use it for a Firewall and to ensure that all devices are operating. It provides our basic network routing needs, reporting on usage, such as IDS, and for managing individuals on network devices for controlling bandwidth and destinations.

How has it helped my organization?

Our security in our organization was previously provided by our ISP and since we have been using pfSense it has provided me more abilities to manage my network in a secure way. We have much better controls and security.

What is most valuable?

The solution has good customization abilities and plenty of features.

What needs improvement?

As an IT leader, it would be a benefit to have a mobile application to have certain features, such as mobile application notifications when a new device is added, or the ability to turn off or on firewall policies. Having these simple features would be very convenient and reduce the need to have to log into the console. I can use a web browser on my phone to access the pfSense site but I would prefer to have an application where I can toggle things, such as the policies. Some simple features within a mobile application would be valuable to me. I have evaluated other solutions and have determined this feature does not currently exist. However, Untangle has an application but it was not enough to compel me to change at this point.

In an upcoming release, the reporting could be more user-friendly. For example, the reporting in graphs and charts for the host can be cumbersome.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using pfSense for approximately five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is very good. My only complaint is when there is a power outage pfSense requires a manual reset.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of this solution is perfect.

I am the administrator of the solution and the rest of my organization are end-users.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not needed to contact technical support. I have not had any problems with pfSense.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. The whole process took approximately eight hours and one hour of that was in front of the computer using the keyboard.

What about the implementation team?

We did the implementation of the solution ourselves.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated Untangle.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to the IT manager is to do your research, and make sure that pfSense meets your needs. If you are not technical enough, then looking at other solutions. pfSenseis needs a bit more tech-savvy IT manager to manage it. It is a very important business tool for me.

I rate pfSense an eight out of ten.

I rated pfSense an eight because it did everything I wanted it to do which makes it an awesome solution but not a ten because of a few minor shortcomings. However, I recognize it is open-source and it is not going to have everything.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
Download our free pfSense Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
Updated: September 2022
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Buyer's Guide
Download our free pfSense Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.