pfSense vs Sonicwall – Which Is Better?

With so many options out there, choosing the right firewall can be difficult. If you are not well-versed in all the terminology and features, that only makes finding the best firewall even harder. 

Both Sonicwall and pfSense are both very popular firewalls. In fact, these two are the leaders in the firewall software market. When it comes to pfSense vs Sonicwall, both of them are widely used across almost all industries and even in the consumer space. 

It’s always important to get the best quality security software and hardware that you can, but finding one that will comfortably suit all of your needs is just as important.  In this article, we will compare and contrast pfSense vs Sonicwall. We will go over both firewall’s strong points and weaknesses.

Pfsense vs Sonicwall – Scalability

Scalability is important for a firewall or other system that may serve a small number of initial users, but needs to grow after. If a firewall is not very scalable, it might work great for small networks, but the same software applied to a large infrastructure by bog down or even completely break under the pressure.

Sonicwall is more-so used by small to medium sized businesses. pfSense, on the other hand, can fin appeal from a much larger range of users. So, for this reason, pfSense firewalls are often used by very large businesses as much as it is used by users at home. 

Sonicwall can be scaled rather efficiently to meet the needs of larger businesses. It does, however, require advanced technological skills to be able to set it up. If you can’t do that yourself, then that means shelling out big bucks to pay some IT wizard to figure out.

What are the differences between pfSense and Sonicwall?


pfSense (Winner)


Operating System Free BSD Sonic Operating System
Cost Free Both free and paid option
Support site to site VPN client No No
‘Block-all’ and ‘allow-all’ web traffic override policy mode Yes Yes
Content filtering that is rule based for URLs, browsers and keywords Yes Yes
Customized configuration facilitated by a set-up wizard Yes Yes

pfSense Vs Sonicwall – The Breakdown


When it comes to pricing, both pfSense and Sonicwall are free to download. Unlike pfSense, though, Sonicwall has a paid version that comes with high quality firmware and beta releases. At first, it might seem like the one that is completely free is the best choice, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. 

Because there is a pay tier, Sonicwall is the preferable option because there is already a user support community and there is the option to pay for additional features and support.


Both pfSense and Sonicwall have a practically identical feature-set. Both of them have many of the same features such as the blocking of HTTP and HTTPS web traffic along with the ability to generate graphs and usage reports.

Interestingly, these two popular firewalls also lack the same features such as customizable signatures and site to site VPN client support.

However, Pfsense comes out on top.  It has an array of additional features and capabilities that aren’t exactly firewall related, but they are still really useful. Things like usage statistics and using it as a WI-FI hotspot or even a DNS server.


Unfortunately, Pfsense is somewhat difficult to use. However, when you compare that to the convoluted mess that Sonicwall can sometimes be, Pfsense appears to be intuitive. 

Sonicwall’s difficulty in use is minimized by the availability of tons of documentation along with the optional 24 hour customer care for paid customers.

pfSense Vs Sonicwall


Pfsense is a totally free and open source firewall and router solution. This makes the software great for use with an organization or company of just about any size. Also, Pfsense has a wide array of documentation that is freely available online. This is vital when it comes to dealing with any open source software.

Also, it can make the installation and navigating the software rather simple, so long as you can follow instructions and know how to Google things.

Pfsense has a wide range of extra features that apply to firewall and non-firewall related tasks and services. You can create rules for administrators, normal users and even guests. You can fully control the DHCP server and you can even allocate (limit) bandwidth to specific devices or groups.


  • Free and Open Source
  • GUI (Graphic User Interface) which is helpful for beginners
  • Many additional features


  • Incompatible with certain Wi-Fi adapters


Sonicwall is a well-rounded firewall solution for small to medium-sized businesses. Sonicwall is very easy to deploy at remote sites, retail spaces, and small offices alike.

There is a ton of documentation for Sonicwall, and it is all freely available. It’s a great solution for a DIY VPN tunnel and it has great VPN configurations options that provide different levels of network clearance.

Also, Sonicwall combines efficient application control with malware blocking, along with high performance intrusion protection. So, it’s a very effective piece of security software. It also provides content filtering options.

It can be very difficult to wire and configure for someone who isn’t extremely tech-savvy, to say the least. But, once Sonicwall is set up, it’s extremely stable nearly indestructible. 

Sonicwall has excellent monitoring features that let admins monitor not web traffic and bandwidth allocation and usage easily. It presents it’s logged information in real-time in very easy-to-understand charts and graphs. Sonicwall is an extremely secure solution.


  • Free version available
  • The paid version includes excellent quality firmware packages and is considered to be rather affordable considered all you get with it.
  • Great NAT customization policies and rules
  • 24/7 product support


  • Very difficult to navigate for someone who isn’t a techno-wizard.

pfSense vs Sonicwall = Which is Better?

Both pfSense and Sonicwall are great software firewall solutions Overall, however, we are going to have to give it to pfSense .

Is Sonicwall free?

Yes. Sonicwall has a free and a paid version. Sonicwall is completely free to download. The paid version includes beta releases and support along with much better system firmware.

Can Sonicwall Email security Block Spam?

Yes. Sonicwall’s Email Security Solution uses a hosted Email Security Service that can block virus attacks, spam, phishing, and more with 96% accuracy. 

Sonicwall is able to achieve this by using several tried-and-true and patented techniques that perform web reputation checks for the sender’s IP and the reputation of its images, links, attachments, and other content in a given email.


These are not the only two software firewalls you can get, but they are the most popular out of all of them. There are a lot of options, so if you aren’t familiar with all of the ins and outs of network security software, choosing the right firewall can be hard to do. 

Both Sonicwall and pfSense are similar when it comes to the overall functions and features of the two pieces of software. The biggest difference is that Sonicwall is more geared towards small to medium-sized organizations, where pfSense is more flexible and can be used for just about any size project.

It’s always important to make the most informed choices when it comes to network security. We hope this article helped you make up your mind in regards to pfSense vs Sonicwall. 

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