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With our increasing reliance on the internet to shop, bank and work, keeping your data from the prying eyes of internet hackers is vital. You can keep your Wi-Fi data secure by using a hardware firewall. This guide will show you why you need one, how they protect internet privacy and the best home firewall devices to buy.
What is a hardware firewall?
A hardware firewall is a device that is separate from your computer and router that monitors the internet traffic coming to your devices. Some internet service providers (ISPs) offer firewall protection in their routers. However, they do not have all the benefits of a separate hardware firewall device (think scalability, centralized command hub, etc.), so it might be wise to buy one.
Moreover, think of its function as a one-lane highway by which all internet traffic must pass through for inspection. Often, it involves measuring the data against a set of permissions to ensure it is safe for your device. If the firewall determines it contains malware or other harmful code, it drops it before it infects your computer.
What are the benefits of using a hardware firewall?
A hardware firewall is beneficial for homes and businesses as another layer of security to keep systems safe from hackers. Some of the best home hardware firewalls also offer the following benefits:
- Customization: You can customize the access ports to set and adjust permissions.
- Virtual private network (VPN) ability: Many hardware firewalls allow you to have a VPN. A VPN creates anonymity on your end by encrypting your data and connecting to a wide range of servers. Along with keeping your online habits more secure, you can also view content (think Netflix, news websites, etc.) you might not have access to in another country.
How we chose the best hardware firewall
When choosing the best home firewall devices, we analyzed products on factors like price, features, customer reviews, data filtering speeds and VPN capabilities. We also categorized them based on the best overall and the best for either home or business use. Moreover, we looked at the best customer experience since gaining consumer insight lends credibility to whether the firewall will work for you.
With these things in mind, here are the best hardware firewall devices:
- Fortinet FortiGate 30E
- Check Point NGFW 6000 Series
- Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
- pFSense SG-2100
Best hardware firewall for organizations:
- SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall
- Cisco Meraki MX Series
- Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls
- Fortinet Fortigate 6000F Series
Best hardware firewall for homes:
- Ubiquiti Unify Security Gateway
- CUJO AI Smart Internet Security Firewall
- Bitdefender BOX
- pFSense SG-2100
Best hardware firewall for customer satisfaction:
- SonicWall SOHO 250 Network Security Appliance 02-SSC-0938
- WatchGuard Firebox T15
- Fortinet FortiGate-60E/ FG-60E Next Generation (NGFW) Firewall Appliance
- Check Point NGFW 6000 Series
|Fortinet FortiGate 30E||$$$||Single band, 4 Ethernet ports||Overall|
|SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall||$$$$||Zero-Touch Deployment for easy configuration, with cloud accessibility||Businesses|
|Ubiquiti Unify Security Gateway||$$$||3 Gbps Ethernet ports support high-speed LAN backbone infrastructures & gigabit WAN connections||Homes|
|SonicWall SOHO 250 Network Security Appliance 02-SSC-0938||$$$$||Wireless connection, 5G/4G/LTE support, expandable storage||Customer satisfaction|
Best overall hardware firewall: Fortinet FortiGate 30E
The Fortinet FortiGate 30E offers exceptional capabilities. Use the web filtering feature to determine the permissible content allowed on your home devices. It even allows you to boot a specific device based on your schedule (think kids’ video game consoles at night.) And with one gigabit per second filtering speed, you will not experience any disruptions when streaming or gaming.
Furthermore, it is super easy to set up. One Amazon user notes the installation took only four steps. However, another Amazon user offered a warning: buy it directly from Fortinet, as Amazon is not an authorized reseller. It means you will not receive software updates or support. While the price of $197.99 is high, its versatility, filtering speeds and customization make it an enticing choice for households and enterprising businesses.
Best hardware firewall for businesses: SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall
The SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall delivers advanced threat detection through stream-based, single-pass inspection. It results in the device being able to inspect network streams from multiple devices with no latency issues. Moreover, it achieves enterprise-grade protection, and with VPN mobile connectivity, users can access the systems when in the office or working remotely.
Also, the setup is easy thanks to Zero-Touch Deployment, expediting installation at other locations through the program’s automation tools. The Network Security Manager gives you command of all your organization’s hardware firewalls through a centralized hub. Overall, the device offers easy installation, centralized tools and scalability, making it an intriguing choice for businesses.
Best hardware firewall for homes: Ubiquiti Unify Security Gateway
Surf the web with ease thanks to the Ubiquiti Unify Security Gateway, which can identify malware, viruses, bot-nets, drive-by downloads and other threats before they infect your device.
This device sits between the internet and the Wi-Fi router, sorting through all internet traffic before it reaches the router. All connected devices are monitored through the advanced features included with this device.
Best hardware firewall for customer satisfaction: SonicWall SOHO 250 Network Security Appliance 02-SSC-0938
With the cloud-based Advanced Threat Protection, the SonicWall SOHO 250 Network Security Appliance identifies malware and zero-day threats lighting fast. The Sonic operating system allows administrators to adjust permissions for data filtering as needed, while the built-in wireless controller allows for the easy installation of a wireless network.
Customers rave about the device, noting it is fast and offers the highest level of security. If you are new to using the operating system, there might be a bit of a learning curve as you become acclimated to the design. However, reviews note the helpfulness of SonicWall. Overall, the price point of $247.51 might be a sticking point for some. Yet, the advanced security tools, attentive support and customization options could make the investment well worth it.
Tips for buying your own hardware firewall
As you shop for the best home firewall device, here are some considerations:
- VPN availability: Do you want a VPN? Some manufacturers include it in their security suites, allowing you to surf the web with anonymity.
- Set up: Some devices (the Sonic brand comes to mind) have an operating system that takes some acclimation. So, if a quick setup is your goal, finding one that offers easy access to permissions is vital.
- Support: How effective is tech support? Read some customer reviews for the device you consider. Doing so gives you insight into whether the company does a satisfactory job of helping customers out.
Need a faster internet plan?
Along with protecting your data, now is an excellent time to see if there are better internet options that could accommodate your needs. Find all the internet providers and plans in your area here.
The bottom line
Hardware firewalls filter internet traffic through a single stream to stop viruses, malware and other harmful code. Keep in mind that your device’s capabilities will only be as good as your internet plan.
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Written by:Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson is a contributor to the Allconnect.com team, focusing on broadband topics. He’s also written broadband and entertainment articles for CNET, TV Guide and other news outlets. Sean enjoys improv, playi… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content