Pfsense Vs ClearOS – Which is the better firewall solution

Pfsense Vs ClearOS

Pfsense and ClearOS are two of the best and highest ranked firewall systems in the market today, but which one is the best for your needs?

Both Pfsense and ClearOS were carefully and systematically developed to give the best firewall experience to their users. They have fairly similar features including management and creation of rule based policies for managers and users, depending on the preference of the network administrator, as well as the ability to allocate bandwidth in the most optimized ratio to the users and their applications. Neither of them has a customized signature feature, which would have been a huge plus to ensure maximum protection of the network. It would be safe to say that they are fairly similar, but they also have a few differences, the major one being that Pfsense is free and open source while ClearOS is a paid software. When it boils down to picking the best firewall for your customized needs, which one will it be?

What are the differences between Pfsense and ClearOS?

Operating system
Free BSD
Free and open source
Has free and paid packages
Feature blocking HTTPS and HTTP traffic with modifiable rules
Management policy based time-quota
A comprehensive IPS and full protection against known malwares
Support for site to site VPN client
Rule-based bandwidth allocation

Pfsense Vs ClearOS- How do they compare?

Additional Features

This is demonstrated as:

  • Content filteringBoth firewalls have rule based filtering for keywords, URLs, ports and browsers, which is essential for the key performance of a firewall. However, Pfsense goes above and beyond your average content filtering features to include a management policy for that filters both users and content. It also has a special feature that blocks both HTTP and HTTPS traffic, based on pre-set modifiable rules.
  • Security protection and intrusion-They have all the same features here which include a large gateway antivirus to protect the devices against known malware attacks and the ability to create and manage IP table rules. They are also lacking in the same capacity as neither has a customized signature feature.
  • Remote ConnectivityHere, once again they are fairly similar except for the fact that pfsense does not support site to site VPN clients.

Both firewalls have great additional features but those in Pfsense make it more flexible and efficient.

Cost and availability

Pfsense is completely free and open source, which makes it openly available on the internet. ClearOS on the other hand, has three packages, the free community package, the home package and the slightly more expensive business package. The packages are ranked according to the number and nature of firewall features from the most basic to the most advanced.

This makes them equally available for use. The pricing model for ClearOS is preferable because it offers the user the choice between three packages with specialized and advanced features, with customer care support for all, even the free community package

Ease of use and configuration

Both pfsense and ClearOS combine the use of a Command Line Interface with a Graphical User interface. However, for pfsense, this is only the case during the installation process, so we can say that Pfsense has a GUI, while ClearOS combines both. This implies that ClearOS is more effective. In addition to this, ClearOS is outlaid in a way that makes it one of the sleekest and easiest to use firewall software, as well as very visually appealing.

ClearOS is definitely the easier to use and more efficient software of the two.

Pfsense Vs ClearOS- A comparison review


Pfsense free software

Pfsense is a free BSD based software that is specifically designed to perform firewall tasks as well as routing. It has quite a number of built in features which include but are not limited to Dynamic DNS, multi-WAN support, different authentication methods and a hardware failover feature. One of its rather convenient features is the captive portal one which enables all DNS queries to be resolved to one IP address, which could be a landing page for a hotspot.

It typically runs on quite the range of hardware, but mainly supports devices with x86 architecture. However, their website has an elaborate firmware guide which aids the user in choosing a compatible device. The installation process is command line based, but fairly simple because of the help of the set-up assistant. The set-up assistant also allows you to assign interfaces to your preference during the installation, which is very handy, given that the main board may be a bit difficult to navigate for a new user.


  • Has a large number of additional features
  • It is free and open source
  • It has an additional use as a router


  • It may be fairly difficult to navigate for a new user


firewall software

ClearOS is a Linux based firewall software that is available in three different versions; the free community version, the paid home version and the paid business version. The developers pride themselves on the amount of care and time that has been taken to develop the user interface, making it one of the sleekest and easiest to use firewall software available. It combines both GUI and CLI in the user’s preference. This implies that it can run in GUI for a new or inexperienced user, and in CLI for a stereotypical geek or someone looking to learn or gain experience with a CLI, either way, it is good for both. It is offered on ClearBOX devices, which ensure high quality hardware.


  • It is extremely user friendly
  • The version purchased can be expanded to meet user needs


  • It is primarily a paid product


ClearOS and Pfsense are equally good software when it comes to firewall functionality. The major difference would be that Pfsense is very flexible in its uses and additional features and applications.

Verdict- So which is better, Pfsense or ClearOS?

Both firewall software, as described above are very efficient and well suited to their firewall tasks. When it comes to overall functionality and flexibility, Pfsense definitely comes out on top. However, purely based off on firewall use and capabilities, I would definitely vouch for ClearOS.


Is ClearOS free?

ClearOS can be downloaded in different editions. There is the free community version and the paid home version and business versions.

Is Pfsense a firewall or router?

Pfsense was actually developed to help users build their own routers from scratch while offering efficient firewall protection to the given network. However, with time it has become very popularly used primarily as a firewall, especially in the IT industry making it one of the highest ranked firewalls in the open source market.

What is the difference between free and paid versions of ClearOS?

There are three different editions of ClearOS as illustrated above, but they can be categorised into two, the free and the paid editions.

  • The free community 6 and 7 which is designed to give a great framework for open source web developers to install the software and test and build a new code on. However, it is not made for production use
  • The paid ClearOS home 7 and Business 7 editions are considered to be end-to-end production ready. They come with a fairly low pricing model, which is detailed on their website. They also come with value added services which are not available in the free edition, which include remote cloud services, updated pattern files and third party applications and integrations.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here