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Compare Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense

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Fortinet FortiGate Logo
162,191 views|121,861 comparisons
pfSense Logo
82,785 views|66,470 comparisons
Comparison Summary
Question: How do I choose between Fortinet FortiGate and pfSense? Answer: Fortinet’s Fortigate is a firewall solution we use and are very much satisfied with its performance. We find Fortigate both cost-effective and efficient. One of the features we like most is that Fortigate can secure our infrastructure against known and unknown attacks. Unlike other firewalls we tried, it has a user-friendly interface. It is easy to create policies, and we can define security profiles and rules. Other features include a remote VPN, advanced malware protection, comprehensive logging, and IPS. Fortigate also has some room for improvement. The command line is not easy, so it requires expertise with CLI commands. Additionally, it is not easy to configure. All told, though, it is a robust firewall and gives value for the price. Previously we tried pfSense, and although it is a strong solution, it doesn’t combine Fortigate’s advantages. Sure, pfSense is free and open-source. You cannot be more cost-effective than that. But sometimes you get what you pay for. PfSense’s main advantage is its flexibility as a firewall and routing platform. Another advantage you get with pfSense is that it is customizable. PfSense offers most features basic firewalls offer, like stateful packet inspection. I find it a bit stuck in time, though, with almost none of the features you find in next-generation firewalls. The interface is a bit clumsy, it has lots of bugs, and there seems to be no documentation available. Conclusions If you are looking for a basic firewall at a lower possible price, you may go with PfSense. It offers basic features and is easy to configure, and if you don’t mind the bugs, it is an excellent place to start. However, if you are looking for something more powerful with advanced features, I would suggest you consider Fortinet’s Fortigate. It offers advanced firewall functions and is still cost-effective for small businesses. Yes, it has a bit of a learning curve, but in my opinion, it is worth it.
Top Review
Find out what your peers are saying about Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: September 2021.
542,029 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members

We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use. Here are some excerpts of what they said:

Pros
"The IPS, as well as the malware features, are the two things that we use the most and they're very valuable.""The protection and security features, like URL filtering, the inspection, and the IPS feature, are also very valuable for us. We don't have IT staff at most of the sites so for us it's important to have a robust firewall at those sites""We can easily track unauthorized users and see where traffic is going.""With the FMC and the FirePOWERs, the ability to quickly replace a piece of hardware without having to have a network outage is useful. Also, the ability to replace a piece of equipment and deploy the config that the previous piece of equipment had is pretty useful.""They wanted to leverage something which is equivalent that can give them the next gen features like application awareness and intrusion protection. So that is a major reason they were looking forward to this. The original ASA firewall did not have these features. This was the major reason the customer moved on to Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD). Now they can go ahead and leverage those functionalities.""The Firepower+ISE+AMP for endpoint integration is something that really stands it out with other vendor solutions. They have something called pxGrid and i think it is already endorsed by IETF. This allows all devices on the network to communicate.""Being able to determine our active users vs inactive users has led us to increased productivity through visibility. Also, if an issue was happening with our throughput, then we wouldn't know without research. Now, notifications are more proactively happening.""One of the most valuable features is the AMP. It's very good and very reliable when it comes to malicious activities, websites, and viruses."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pros »

"SSL-VPN is very useful for us and has been very reliable.""Virtual Domains (VDOMs) are a feature that we found valuable.""We are a visual effects company, and there have been a number of high profile security issues in our industry. This has brought us to a higher standard of security, which our clients are very keen on these days.""We use the FortiGate Sandbox to detect zero-day vulnerabilities, such as anomalies or malware, that are unknown and have not yet been discovered.""The virtual firewall feature is the most valuable. We have around 1,500 firewalls. We did not buy individual hardware, and the virtual firewalls made sense because we don't have to keep on buying the hardware. FortiGate is easier to use as compared to Checkpoint devices. It is user friendly and has a good UI. You don't need much expertise to work on this firewall. You don't need to worry much about DCLA, commands, and things like that.""The most valuable features are that it is very simple to configure and to manage.""Advanced routing (RIP, OSPF, BGP, PBR). It gives you a seamless and simple integration into a large network.""The most valuable features are the possibility of having one fabric for switching on security."

More Fortinet FortiGate Pros »

"The scalability is very good, where you can do an HA configuration and then bring in another box, if necessary.""The most valuable features are the VPN and the capture photo.""The solution is very robust.""Good basic firewall features.""The initial setup is easy.""The initial setup was simple and fast.""The documentation is very good.""At our peak time, we have reached more than 5,000 concurrent connections."

More pfSense Pros »

Cons
"For the new line of FTDs, the performance could be improved. We sometimes have issues with the 41 series, depending what we activate. If we activate too many intrusion policies, it affects the CPU.""The user interface for the Firepower management console is a little bit different from traditional Cisco management tools. If you look at products we already use, like Cisco Prime or other products that are cloud-based, they have a more modern user interface for managing the products. For Firepower, the user interface is not very user-friendly. It's a little bit confusing sometimes.""We would like to see improvement in recovery. If there is an issue that forces us to do recovery, we have to restart or reboot. In addition, sometimes we have downtime during the maintenance windows. If Cisco could enhance this, so that upgrades would not necessarily require downtime, that would be helpful.""We had an event recently where we had inbound traffic for SIP and we experienced an attack against our SIP endpoint, such that they were able to successfully make calls out... Both CTR, which is gathering data from multiple solutions that the vendor provides, as well as the FMC events connection, did not show any of those connections because there was not a NAT inbound which said either allow it or deny it.""I was just trying to learn how this product actually operates and one thing that I see from internal processing is it does fire-walling and then sends it to the IPS model and any other model that needs to be performed. For example, content checking or filtering will be done in a field processing manner. That is something that causes delays in the network, from a security perspective. That is something that can be improved upon. Palo Alto already has implemented this as a pilot passed processing. So they put the same stream of data across multiple modules at the same time and see if it is giving a positive result by using an XR function. So, something similar can be done in the Cisco Firepower. Instead of single processing or in a sequential manner, they can do something similar to pile processing. Internal function that is something that they can improve upon.""The product line does not address the SMB market as it is supposed to do. Cisco already has an on-premises sandbox solution.""The central management tool is not comfortable to use. You need to have a specific skill set. This is an important improvement for management because I would like to log into Firepower, see the dashboard, and generate a real-time report, then I question my team.""One feature I would like to see, that Firepower doesn't have, is email security. Perhaps in the future, Cisco will integrate Cisco Umbrella with Firepower. I don't see why we should have to pay for two separate products when both could be integrated in one box."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Cons »

"The user interface could be improved to make it less confusing and easier to set up.""To the best of my knowledge, Fortinet does not have a CASB solution and Fortinet does not have a Zero trust solution.""We had a minor problem where there was a major system upgrade on the hardware platfrom and the Mac client was not available as soon as it might have been. The PC client was available immediately, but we had to wait a month or so, before there was a mac client. I was slightly irritated that it was not ready on time, but it was eventually resolved.""We would like to see a better training platform implemented.""FortiGate is really good. We have been using it for quite some time. Initially, when we started off, we had around 70 plus devices of FortiGate, but then Check Point and Palo Alto took over the place. From the product perspective, there are no issues, but from the account perspective, we have had issues. Fortinet's presence in our company is very less. I don't see any Fortinet account managers talking to us, and that presence has diluted in the last two and a half or three years. We have close to 1,500 firewalls. Out of these, 60% of firewalls are from Palo Alto, and a few firewalls are from Check Point. FortiGate firewalls are very less now. It is not because of the product; it is because of the relationship. I don't think they had a good relationship with us, and there was some kind of disconnect for a very long time. The relationship between their accounts team and my leadership team seems to be the reason for phasing out FortiGate.""In the next release, maybe the documentation on how to use this solution could be improved.""I think there could be more QoS features""I would like to see a more intuitive dashboard."

More Fortinet FortiGate Cons »

"I would like to see different graphs available in the reporting.""If a user doesn't have a large amount of experience in Linux systems, they will have problems using this solution. Users need to be highly skilled in troubleshooting competency. Users who do not have such skills will find the product difficult to use.""The solution requires a lot of administration.""Layer 7 advanced firewall features are not included in the solution.""As an open-source solution, there are so many loopholes happening within the product. By design, no one is taking ownership of it, and that is worrisome to me.""ClamAV AntiVirus can cause some crashes. That service should be improved.""The technical support needs to be improved.""It needs to be more secure."

More pfSense Cons »

Pricing and Cost Advice
"Cisco's pricing is high, at times, for what they provide.""The one-time cost is affordable, but the maintenance cost and the Smart Net costs need to be reduced. They're too high.""We normally license on a yearly basis. The hardware procurement cost should be considered. If you're virtual maybe that cost is eradicated and just the licensing cost is applied. If you have hardware the cost must be covered by you. All the shipping charges will be paid by you also. I don't thing there are any other hidden charges though.""Cisco pricing is premium. However, they gave us a 50 to 60 percent discount.""There are additional implementation and validation costs.""Cisco, as we all know, is expensive, but for the money you are paying, you know that you are also getting top-notch documentation as well as support if needed.""This product requires licenses for advanced features including Snort, IPS, and malware detection.""This product is expensive."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice »

"Fortinet is the least expensive solution.""It's very affordable.""Setup cost may be not so low, as you expect, because it depends on different factors, but TCO for 5 years may pleasantly surprise you.""The Indian market is different than the European and American markets. When you compare they need to be a bit more aggressive on pricing.""I think that the pricing is fair.""For our organization, the licensing costs are approximately $7,000 per year.""It's an expensive solution.""The price is okay."

More Fortinet FortiGate Pricing and Cost Advice »

"This solution provides enterprise-level features at a fraction of the cost of an enterprise firewall.""It is an open source firewall.""We are using the open-source version, not the commercial one.""It has almost zero cost, and it is open to us. It runs on a small appliance just for a couple of 100 bucks, and I've never had an appliance burn out on me yet.""It is open source.""I spent a couple of $1,000 on hardware, and the OS was free. A comparable firewall would cost me probably 20 grand. It saved a lot of money.""I like the fact that it is open-source.""pfSense is open-source, but the support is something that the customer pays for."

More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice »

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Answers from the Community
Netanya Carmi
author avatarLeon Pinto
Consultant

PFSense or Fortinet... That would depend on your used case....


We are using pfSense for the past two years and it does mostly what you would expect of a firewall... Captive portal, site-to-site VPN, TLS based VPN, IPsec VPN, SNORT, Suricata, ACME, port forwarding, NAT, CA, DHCP, DHCP relay, VLANS, Bridges, LAGG, LACP, etc... etc... 


Most of all, no paid licenses anywhere as it is open source and free... Support can be purchased but I personally never needed it so far...


The only downside is that you need to be highly technical to get it working as per your needs...  Also, a lot of docs in Google/YouTube (though a bit of scouting and navigating through bugs is required) to get things moving assuming you already know firewalls as a concept...  


With a Fortinet, in case you have the money to pay and justify the need for it, then it's worth going for because they will support you as long as they keep getting paid... In our case (in our small SMB), I have not yet come across a need to move away from pfSense because it basically does what it is supposed to do... 


It has been running with us for almost two years with no reasons for complaints... Again, it's my own personal opinion...

author avatarRichard Benfatto
User

PfSense is the only product that would perform in a Symmetric NAT. Painful but OS-fingerprinting and impossible to do UDP NAT hole punching. Skype, Zoom uses that and even Kerio Operator, but that is all.


It is a very broken product and when you need IPS (the " free one" is 30 days old database) you need to pay Cisco for Snort... I would not use pfSense on its own. Period.


Fortinet is one of the best products. Lots of other things rely on one CPU to do the job. Sophos & pfSense (just to name a few) when you start adding inspection modes it is like having a 3 tonnes car with a 2 cylinder engine. The CPU goes to 90%.


Fortinet has been ultra clever from day number one to have custom chips to do the work in hardware, so throughput with all protection features can happen without suffering speed of service to users, compare to others.


The new OS7 is very good.


So, I would not touch pfSense. It Is like comparing a Toyota Yaris to a Kia K 900 car. Sort to speak.

author avatarreviewer1116360 (Project Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees)
Real User

I will choose FortIGate. It is a complete hardware and software and integrated solution for IT security and threat management

author avatarJoão Garcia
Real User

Many people said that depends on your needs, and I agree.


Fortinet and many other vendors are more than a set of level 2 or level 3 rules. They also have IPS, Antivirus, SSL Inspection, stateful inspection.


If I have to choose between Fortinet and pfSense for my company, I would think twice. Fortinet.

Questions from the Community
Top Answer:  When you compare these firewalls you can identify them with different features, advantages, practices and… more »
Top Answer: Pick a product model for both vendors: Cisco & Palo Alto (refer to technical data sheets and whitepapers --)  See the… more »
Top Answer: Cisco Firepower is NGFW, and ASA is the older Cisco firewall.
Top Answer: In my opinion and as a result of years of experience: - Both are great firewalls with excellent performance and a… more »
Top Answer: We have Meraki Mx devices now, we are looking to replace them. But that is because the Meraki MX platform lacks SSL… more »
Top Answer: In the best tradition of these questions, Feature-wise both are quite similar, but each has things it's better at, it… more »
Top Answer: You don't really specify what type of router you are looking for but if you are talking about a gateway router I… more »
Top Answer: Fortinet’s Fortigate is a firewall solution we use and are very much satisfied with its performance. We find Fortigate… more »
Top Answer: The most valuable features of pfSense are the reports, monitoring, filtration, and blocking incoming and outgoing… more »
Comparisons
Also Known As
Cisco Firepower NGFW, Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, FirePOWER, Cisco NGFWv
FortiGate 60b, FortiGate 60c, FortiGate 80c, FortiGate 50b, FortiGate 200b, FortiGate 110c, FortiGate
Learn More
Netgate
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Overview

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

The FortiGate family of NG firewalls provides proven protection with unmatched performance across the network, from internal segments, to data centers, to cloud environments. FortiGates are available in a large range of sizes and form factors and are key components of the Fortinet Security Fabric, which enables immediate, intelligent defense against known and new threats throughout the entire network.

Providing comprehensive network security solutions for the enterprise, large business and SOHO, pfSense solutions bring together the most advanced technology available to make protecting your network easier than ever before. Our products are built on the most reliable platforms and are engineered to provide the highest levels of performance, stability and confidence.
Offer
Learn more about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
Learn more about Fortinet FortiGate
Learn more about pfSense
Sample Customers
Rackspace, The French Laundry, Downer Group, Lewisville School District, Shawnee Mission School District, Lower Austria Firefighters Administration, Oxford Hospital, SugarCreek, Westfield
Pittsburgh Steelers, LUSH Cosmetics, NASDAQ, Verizon, Arizona State University, Levi Strauss & Co. Whitepaper and case studies here
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
Top Industries
REVIEWERS
Comms Service Provider22%
Financial Services Firm16%
Manufacturing Company8%
Non Profit8%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider32%
Computer Software Company21%
Government7%
Manufacturing Company4%
REVIEWERS
Comms Service Provider14%
Computer Software Company9%
Financial Services Firm8%
Energy/Utilities Company6%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider36%
Computer Software Company20%
Government5%
Educational Organization4%
REVIEWERS
Marketing Services Firm9%
University9%
Comms Service Provider9%
Computer Software Company7%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider43%
Computer Software Company15%
Government6%
Media Company4%
Company Size
REVIEWERS
Small Business43%
Midsize Enterprise28%
Large Enterprise29%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business20%
Midsize Enterprise12%
Large Enterprise68%
REVIEWERS
Small Business48%
Midsize Enterprise24%
Large Enterprise28%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business34%
Midsize Enterprise25%
Large Enterprise40%
REVIEWERS
Small Business69%
Midsize Enterprise18%
Large Enterprise13%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business61%
Midsize Enterprise11%
Large Enterprise28%
Find out what your peers are saying about Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: September 2021.
542,029 professionals have used our research since 2012.

Fortinet FortiGate is ranked 1st in Firewalls with 95 reviews while pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 48 reviews. Fortinet FortiGate is rated 8.4, while pfSense is rated 8.6. The top reviewer of Fortinet FortiGate writes "Stable, easy to set up, and offers good ROI". On the other hand, the top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". Fortinet FortiGate is most compared with Cisco ASA Firewall, Meraki MX, Check Point NGFW, Sophos XG and SonicWall TZ, whereas pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Sophos UTM, Untangle NG Firewall, Sophos XG and Juniper SRX. See our Fortinet FortiGate vs. pfSense report.

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