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Systems Administrator at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5
A rock-solid, customizable, and free open-source firewall with useful intrusion detection, clustering, and HA features
Pros and Cons
  • "The intrusion detection feature is the most valuable. It is an open-source firewall, so there is a lot of material on it. I also find the open VPN capability very nice. It is pretty customizable. The clustering and the high availability are the two biggest things to be able to get out of a firewall."
  • "Their support could be better in terms of the response time."

What is our primary use case?

It is my main firewall into the data center and VPNs for clients. It sets up my DMZ and does a whole bunch of other stuff. I am using the latest version.

How has it helped my organization?

We wouldn't be able to function without it.

What is most valuable?

The intrusion detection feature is the most valuable. It is an open-source firewall, so there is a lot of material on it. I also find the open VPN capability very nice.

It is pretty customizable. The clustering and the high availability are the two biggest things to be able to get out of a firewall. 

What needs improvement?

Their support could be better in terms of the response time.

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What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been pretty rock solid.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is good. I have got web users and other kinds of users, so there can be five or thousands of users.

How are customer service and support?

I paid for some support with them, and it was pretty good. They just could be a little quicker in responding. They have custom level support, so if you got something complicated, they get you up to the upper tiers, but it takes a little bit longer to do that. Once you get there, the support is good. I would rate them an eight out of ten.

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

I used Fortinet previously, and I used Ubiquiti prior to that. We switched partly because of the cost. It also gave me the ability to do the clustering. I can still maintain my VPNs, connections, and other things. I can take down one of the firewalls for maintenance and bring up the other one and not take down my whole user base.

How was the initial setup?

It was not complex. I was able to do it myself, but we had some problems with some of the protocols, and we had to get one of their coders to get in and look at it. Because of that, it was a little complicated to do the high availability stuff.

What about the implementation team?

I did it myself.

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

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.

What other advice do I have?

I would advise others to go for it. I would recommend this solution. It is a good solution. No other solution can beat the price. 

There is so much stuff you can do with it. There are so many features, and I have not even scratched the surface on all of them. If it is something that someone doesn't feel like configuring, you can buy a prebuilt system from them and get support.

I would rate pfSense a nine out of ten because of the cost and flexibility. It has been pretty good.

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
CEO at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
A free firewall and router that is entirely managed via web interface
Pros and Cons
  • "The VPN is my favorite feature."
  • "The main problem with pfSense is that we have to use proxy solutions."

What is our primary use case?

We have solutions from 10 to 5,000 users. One person alone can manage the firewall.

What is most valuable?

The VPN is my favorite feature. pfSense is very easy to use. The interface and configuration capabilities are great.

What needs improvement?

The main problem with pfSense is that we have to use proxy solutions. They don't have features like Layer 7 filtration. We can't filter based on applications. For this reason, we need to work with solutions from Cisco like OpenAPPID that help pfSense understand similar applications. For example, if I have to block WhatsApp, I need to use a third-party solution like OpenAPPID to help it understand what WhatsApp is. This capability is not native to pfSense, so I have to use another solution, like an add-on. I think that the proxy is the main problem with pfSense.

pfSense doesn't implement SD-WAN solutions. Competitors have this feature. If pfSense began doing this, it would be a big improvement.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is great. That's a strong point.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability-wise, it's great. Often, we need to research and assess the size of an appliance in order to understand what kind of environment the firewall is going to protect. From here, we have the possibility to do an upgrade depending on the type of model.

There is the option to have a firewall that is entry-level or a firewall that supports a huge internet service provider. We have many solutions that we can apply to our customer's environments, but first, we need to do these assessments in order to help us choose the right appliance. One appliance simply can't be upgraded to cover this entire spectrum of needs or the size of demand. This is why we must perform these special assessments.

How was the initial setup?

Although it's not quite pre-configured, it is ready to use, straight away. It's so easy to put it to work. We had to do some configurations, mainly related to security issues. Configuring rules for monitoring had to be done, but otherwise, it's ready to go, out of the box.

Only one person is required to deploy this solution. 

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

pfSense is a free solution.

What other advice do I have?

Before deciding to go with this solution, make sure to evaluate the features to ensure that pfSense will cover your needs. pfSense is very strong in some areas, but it has some difficulty in others. It's a good solution, but it all depends on what you expect from the firewall. 

If you need the firewall to implement security in your network, then pfSense is better than the competition in terms of price. It will cover all of your basic needs for far less money than similar products that cost five to ten times more money.

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give pfSense a rating of nine.

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
pfSense
July 2022
Learn what your peers think about pfSense. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
620,319 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Omer Mohammed - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior System Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Open-source, stable, and supports at least 5,000 concurrent connections
Pros and Cons
  • "At our peak time, we have reached more than 5,000 concurrent connections."
  • "It needs to be more secure."

What is our primary use case?

We have internet limitations here in Sudan. The financial institutions that I am working with do not have a lot of services on the internet.

It is difficult but at the same time, we are safer and are not faced with any kind of compromised data.

This solution is suitable for small businesses and charity organizations. Security is not just about the firewall, you need policies and procedures in place.

What is most valuable?

The developers of pfSense follow the principles of open-source.

They keep it simple. It's simple and good.

What needs improvement?

The problem with open-source is that no one can take responsibility.

It needs to be more secure. Security needs improvement.

It's always better to have an agreement, an SLA regarding security. You should outsource your security to another company.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using pfSense in my home environment since 2010. I have a small lab, a small environment.

We have also deployed it in my workplace.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

pfSense is scalable.

At our peak time, we have reached more than 5,000 concurrent connections.

How are customer service and technical support?

I do not have experience with technical support.

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

I am also using IPFire. It's also open-source.

It's very stable, and it meets my business needs.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward.

If you have solid knowledge and experience in IP tables, then it will be easy for you to deal with this product or any firewall. For example, Palo Alto or Fortinet. It's the same concept.

Depending on your activities, it can take a long time to deploy if you are new to this solution. For me, it takes less than one hour.

You have to understand the network technology and you have to understand what you are going to protect, and what service are you looking to protect. If you address these questions correctly, the installation is just a matter of a couple of clicks.

What about the implementation team?

I completed the implementation myself.

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

We are using the open-source version, not the commercial one. 

It's very affordable.

What other advice do I have?

I would continue to use pfSense if the decision was mine, but it is out of my area. It depends on the CIO.

I would recommend this solution to others who are interested in using it.

pfSense will not cost you any money.

It depends on your business needs. You have to address your business needs correctly.

I would say to go with pfSense. If you feel that it is not compatible, you have other purchase options such as Palo Alto.

I would rate this solution a ten 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
NOC Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5
Robust, secure, and fairly priced but the monitoring needs improvement
Pros and Cons
  • "The concurrent users are perfect for us."
  • "The router monitoring needs improvement when compared with Sonicwall."

What is our primary use case?

We use pfSense to protect our customers using IPS and IDS.

We are a government agency and we manage the government network. 

We complete the setup and we are protecting our customers.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that it's robust.

In terms of resources, utilization assets, CPU utilization, and a lot of memory, it's very good. 

The concurrent users are perfect for us.

What needs improvement?

The router monitoring needs improvement when compared with Sonicwall.

I would like an API that can sync to SolarWinds because we use SolarWinds for our monitoring platform. It would be great to be able to do all of the monitoring from SolarWinds instead of logging into the application to monitor it. It would be a nice feature to have.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using pfSense for less than two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In the last two weeks, we moved a few resources to the pfSense and it's been stable. 

When compared to SonicWall there were some issues but it could be that SonicWall was doing too much. It was doing almost everything. It was doing IDS, IPS, and contextual training. It may be that it was overwhelmed.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We were using the software base, and then we bought the hardware device. We moved 12 users onto it and we are monitoring it.

Based on the documentation it would not require much to scale up or upgrade. There is no doubt that it is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Most of the support is online.

We do a lot of reading, and if there is any support or suggestions we quickly do it. 

We have not contacted them directly.  

They have a lot of resources available on the internet that will guide you in finding your way around.

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

We use a few different firewalls. We use SonicWall and Huawei firewall along with pfSense.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. It was easy.

What about the implementation team?

We did not use an integrator. I completed it with one of my colleagues.

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

Looking at what it does, I think that it is fairly priced.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When we compare to SonicWall, we feel that we are getting the best with pfSense.

What other advice do I have?

Depending on what they want their firewall to do for them. If it is for intrusion detection, and intrusion prevention I would recommend this solution. 

In summary, this product is good but I would like to see resources utilization (cpu, hard disk) directly on SolarWinds. A one stop shop for monitoring on SolarWinds. It would be great!

I would rate pfSense a six 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
CandidoViandro - PeerSpot reviewer
National IT Coordenator at a government with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Stable open-source solution for a small company or a startup with a tight budget
Pros and Cons
  • "I like pfSense's reports and how I can control access to the policies on the firewall."
  • "The user interface can be improved to make it easier to add more features. And pfSense could be better integrated with other solutions, like antivirus."

What is our primary use case?

I use pfSense as a proxy and a firewall to monitor all the traffic to my network. It allows me to shape the traffic and eliminate bottlenecks that cause the network to slow down. You can use pfSense to catch some websites or make the network faster because we have applications connected remotely all over the country. We need to have a network with a reliable speed and no hiccups on the way because all our applications are on-premise, and the entire country goes to the same data center to get information.

What is most valuable?

I like pfSense's reports and how I can control access to the policies on the firewall.

What needs improvement?

The user interface can be improved to make it easier to add more features. And pfSense could be better integrated with other solutions, like antivirus. For example, pfSense could add templates with firewall policies that a user can customize. I haven't tried to integrate pfSense with Microsoft Active Directory, but in Mozambique, we use many Kaspersky antivirus solutions. If pfSense integrated with these antivirus solutions, everything would be much more stable because most of the companies here have a different kind of security solution. Within a single company, you might find two or three different antivirus suites. So, for example, there could be an open-source solution that you get for free, but you can pay for the support if you want it. So for solutions like that, it would be great.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Companies in Africa have issues with budgeting for IT. An open-source solution like pfSense gives us stability and provides us with good reports. It's amazing. It makes the solution reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't tried yet scaling up pfSense. But my setup is Windows based, and I have some Windows-based applications, so I want it to integrate with the Microsoft Active Directory. I haven't done it yet, but I think it would be good to have that integration.

How are customer service and support?

I contacted pfSense support only once when I was installing it and had only configured one network tab. I had to get in touch with them, and the support was terrific. I was impressed. I can't complain about their support.

How was the initial setup?

I have some experience with Linux distributions, so setting up pfSense was a bit easier for me, and I have been working with security for quite some time. It was fast for me, but part of my team is not used to a Linux environment, so it was tricky for them to implement add-ons to the appliance.

What other advice do I have?

I rate pfSense eight out of 10. I would recommend it for a small business or a startup as a starting point. It's also good for companies that are on a tight budget.

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
Principal at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 5
A great solution that just works and is fast and affordable
Pros and Cons
  • "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."
  • "I've never tried it in large environments. All my clients are small businesses with a handful of employees, so I am not sure how it works in large environments. I keep up with recent versions, and there's nothing I'm waiting for, and nothing breaks when I get a new version."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for small businesses, and most of my clients are using pfSense.

What is most valuable?

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. 

What needs improvement?

I've never tried it in large environments. All my clients are small businesses with a handful of employees, so I am not sure how it works in large environments. I keep up with recent versions, and there's nothing I'm waiting for, and nothing breaks when I get a new version.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for maybe five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It just works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I've never challenged it. All of my clients are small businesses. It is open-source software, and it runs on whatever appliance you run it on, so whatever computer you run it on, it'll scale up pretty high.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is excellent. They do have good support service. I don't use it because I've never had any problems with it, but the people I know who use it in bigger environments love it. You can even search their knowledge base and learn anything you want to know pretty quickly. 

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

Some of my businesses just use the built-in firewall in the ISP modem. I replaced an old SonicWall that couldn't keep up with a faster internet service. I've replaced a couple of Cisco solutions that were just getting old to run modern software, but the hardware was working. They just died of old age, and I replaced them with pfSense. It has been great. I'm sure a lot of people know how to configure Cisco solutions, but I don't. pfSense is very easy to configure.

How was the initial setup?

It was very simple. You download and boot a USB stick or a CD to install it. From then on, it is managed by its own webpage. The deployment takes a few minutes.

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

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. 

What other advice do I have?

It is just great. Give it a try. It just works.

I would rate pfSense a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
JoaoBrito - PeerSpot reviewer
Owner at artesistemas.net
Real User
Top 10
An affordable and recommendable solution for stopping attacks and providing VPN facility
Pros and Cons
  • "It is a very good solution for enterprises that need a VPN for their employees. It is the best way to provide a remote work facility to employees at a very low cost. Other solutions that I have had in the past were very expensive. Enterprises don't always have that kind of money to invest."
  • "Other solutions provide more scope for growth. For instance, we can have only 10 to 20 employees on VPN, but other solutions can support more users. We also have more capabilities to increase the performance of the solution."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for its firewall features and VPN.

How has it helped my organization?

I provide it to my customers, and I also use it in my office. It is a very good solution for enterprises that need a VPN for their employees. It is the best way to provide a remote work facility to employees at a very low cost. Other solutions that I have had in the past were very expensive. Enterprises don't always have that kind of money to invest.

What is most valuable?

Its firewall ability is very good. It is very good and smooth at stopping attacks. It is better than others because we have to perform quite a bit of programming.

It is a very good and affordable solution for enterprises.

What needs improvement?

Other solutions provide more scope for growth. For instance, we can have only 10 to 20 employees on VPN, but other solutions can support more users. We also have more capabilities to increase the performance of the solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for four years. I am using it now, and I have also used it in the past.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. Both pfSense and Netgate appliances are very stable. I have had some of these solutions working non-stop for about a year and a half.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. It is being used in an enterprise with 70 employees and about 30 terabytes of communication per month. I also have other small enterprises with 10 to 20 employees. In my office, I have four users. 

How are customer service and support?

I usually use community forums for any tech support. I get very good information there.

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

I have also worked with Netgate appliances in the past. Both Netgate and pfSense are very stable.

How was the initial setup?

It is not very easy, but it is straightforward. We have an agreement with the clients to have the equipment and install the appliance in three or four days.

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

It is very suitable in terms of the price. If a client cannot acquire a Netgate appliance, I provide a custom-made appliance, and I install the Community edition of pfSense. It is a very good and affordable solution for enterprises. Some of the clients pay monthly but usually, it is annually.

The maintenance cost varies depending on the kind of solution we have implemented. It could be €100 per month or around €800 per year.

What other advice do I have?

I would absolutely recommend this solution. I would rate it a nine out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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PeerSpot user
IT Support Specialist with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Very stable, relatively easy to set up, and offers good technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "The built-in open VPN and the VPN Client Export are the solution's most valuable aspects."
  • "There's a bit of a learning curve during the initial implementation."

What is our primary use case?

We just use the solution as a straight-up firewall. There is no VPN access or anything like that. We just use it as a straight-up firewall and we run Suricata on it as a defense.

What is most valuable?

The built-in open VPN and the VPN Client Export are the solution's most valuable aspects.

What needs improvement?

I cannot recall any features that are lacking.

There's a bit of a learning curve during the initial implementation.

You do have to pay extra for better customer service.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution for about six months. It hasn't been too long.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. We've had zero issues. There aren't bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's been reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not tried scaling, therefore, I can't really comment on how easy or hard it would be to expand the service.

There's only one person in the organization using the solution, and that's me.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support is excellent if you have a support subscription. If you didn't have that, you could be lining up for a while. It could be a hit or miss, whether you get someone that's actually going to help you. 

However, we have a subscription and therefore our support is always excellent. We're quite satisfied with the level of service we're getting.

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

Previously, we used Dell SonicWall. There was just a high cost of licensing all the time, and, with having someone go in and troubleshoot for issues as well, it just wasn't cost-effective anymore. pfSense is simply a better solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup has a bit of a learning curve. It's not complex per se. It just takes some getting used to. After the initial deployment, the other six or seven were easy. I could just copy the configuration of the other ones, change some IP addresses, and I was basically done.

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

There aren't monthly or yearly licensing costs.

What other advice do I have?

We're just cusomers. We don't have a business relationship with pfSense.

We're using the latest stable version of the solution.

I would 100% recommend the solution to others. On a scale from one to ten, I'd give it a 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
Buyer's Guide
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Updated: July 2022
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Buyer's Guide
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