Monday, February 17, 2014

pfSense - Network Performance

I am lucky enough to live in an area where I can get a fiber connection to my home.
I pay for 100 GB and 100 GB down.   However, I was never able to achieve this performance levels.   About a year ago I took a bandwidth speed test.    This is what I was able to get get.   My wife was on the phone (VOIP) at the time and my kids were watching Netflix.    So I had competing traffic.

At home I have been using a Dlink 665 Router for a long time, and it worked for my needs.

But then I wanted to do the following
  •  Block all DNS Query traffic that is not going to "Approved" DNS Servers.
  •  VPN into my home network.
  •  Monitor bandwidth by device on my network.
I have been researching options on what could provide provide these, including:
  • Devices
  • Aftermarket firmware for existing devices.
  • Using Linux or FreeBSD and spending hours configuring it.
After not having much luck finding something that would meet my needs, in my price range.
asked a co-worker what he used.     He pointed me to pfSense.    

pfSense is a Open Source Firewall based on FreeBSD.

I add a second NIC to an older spare machine I had.   Then I installed pfSense, it was a very easy to install.   I had it running with the base configuration, a few minutes after inserting the CD and starting the install.   

I then spent a few hours to get it configured as desired, but it was really easy.    Most of the time was spend readdressing my home network, as I desired a more structured ip address layout compared to random undocumented method that I had before.

I expected to get the features I was after, but one took me by surprise.
I noticed our connection seemed much faster than before.

So I took another speed test,  I had my son watch Netflix like he was before.


Granted lots of things could have changed in a years time.    So some of the differences may not be attributable to pfSense.     However, I am not about to install the Dlink 665 again to find out out the true differences.

But since I noticed the improvement, without the speed test, I thought I should post a glowing review of pfSense.     All of the features I wanted have been working really well, and it has more feature than I will ever need, allowing me to expand to meet my needs.

If you need need a better firewall at the your home or office.   It's worth looking into pfSense.