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Differences between software and hardware firewalls

Hello! Having your computers protected is a must for them to work well and avoid problems. It is also a way to keep our personal data safe and avoid intruders affecting performance. On the other hand, to protect ourselves, we can make use of different methods and tools. Undoubtedly, a great option is to have a firewall. There are hardware and software firewalls. What are their differences? Which one is better to use? Let’s try to clear up these doubts. Stay with us to find out what the differences between software and hardware firewalls.

Differences between software firewalls and hardware firewalls.

A firewall is one more option that allows us to protect our systems. In fact, it is a barrier between our device and the network. It allows you to analyze connections and determine when there may be an unsafe connection that could put a computer, cell phone or any other device at risk. If there is any risk, it blocks it.

It is possible to configure different aspects. For example, create a whitelist and allow certain connections, block programs from accessing the Internet, ports, etc. We normally use a software firewall, which is basically a computer program that we install. There are free ones, such as the Windows firewall itself, but we have a wide range of options.

But we can also have a hardware firewall, which is another option we can consider protecting our systems and avoid network problems. Nevertheless, what are their differences?

Structure

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The first clear difference is that a software firewall is a program, something intangible. On the other hand, a hardware firewall is a physical device. Although they have the same objective of controlling connections, there is a point of difference in their structure. An application is not the same as a computer.

Something similar occurs when using a physical VPN and another at the application level. Concerning software, we will be able to install it on the system, while a hardware firewall will be an independent device on our computer.

Ease of use

This is a significant aspect to highlight. Is it easier to use a hardware or software firewall? This is undoubtedly a key factor in choosing one or the other option in most cases. Here the difference is clear, and it will be much easier to use a software firewall.

Concerning software, we will only have to install it on the system. Some even require little or no configuration. In fact, they usually come preconfigured with the basics to protect connections. On the other hand, if you use a hardware firewall, it will require physical installation and further configuration. It is more oriented to more experienced users.

Security

Clearly, security is one of the reasons why we use a firewall. We want to maintain maximum protection and not have problems with malware or attacks that can compromise our systems. But which of the two options is more secure for our systems?

Let’s start from the fact that both are going to protect us. Of course, as long as we use the correct option. That is to say, not all firewalls will protect us equally, in the same way that not all antivirus programs protect us well, etc. However, a software firewall will receive updates more frequently and that gives it a plus. On the other hand, a hardware firewall will protect the connection that enters a computer, regardless of what operating system we are using at the time.

Usability

There are also differences in usability. A software firewall can be installed on your computer or cell phone. As a result, it is a program that will remain there. If we take that computer and move to another location and connect to another network, it will still continue to protect us.

On the other hand, a physical firewall is usually connected to the router. It will be less flexible to move it from one place to another. Therefore, at the home user level, the most useful thing is software and not a physical device.

Price

There are marked differences in this regard. A software firewall can be free, such as Microsoft’s own firewall or many other options found on the Internet. There are also very low-cost ones.

On the other hand, a hardware firewalls will be more expensive and is an investment that we will have to make. Therefore, if you are looking to protect your computer and do not want to make a financial outlay, the best option is undoubtedly a software firewall. You will avoid having to purchase a device, with what that may mean as for price.

Which one to choose

After having explained the main differences between a software firewall and a hardware firewall, let’s talk about when to use one or the other option. This way you will be able to choose which one suits you best according to the use you are going to make of it. In addition, you can determine how you want to protect your device.

Protect one or many devices

The first thing to think about is what you are going to protect. A single device, such as a computer or cell phone, is not the same as an entire network. Logically, the latter requires more attention, since you will be able to connect many devices of all types. This will be key to choose what suits you better and purchase a physical device or a program.

If you are only going to protect one computer, such as a computer, it is better to use a software firewall. On the other hand, if you want to protect an entire network, you should ideally use a hardware firewall. This way, you will protect everything you connect to your network.

Home or business user

But if there is a clear reason to choose one option or another is to see if you are going to use it at home or for a company. The normal thing is that for personal use, to protect a computer or cell phone, it is best to use a program firewall. You will not require more than that, and so you do not have to spend anything or very little.

If you want to protect a company, where there will be many devices of all types connected, in this case it can be interesting to use a physical firewall. This allows malicious connections to be blocked for the entire network, and thus prevent problems from affecting essential components of an organization.

Where you will use it

The place where you are going to need it will also be a key factor in choosing one option or another. If you use a computer in different networks, such as at home, at work, in a library, on a trip… Undoubtedly, the ideal thing is to have a software firewall, since you will be able to take it anywhere.

On the other hand, if you are going to use it only in your home, work or any fixed location, then you might be interested in a hardware firewall. In that case you will not be able to move it, but you would not need it either.

Thus, we have seen the main differences between a software and a hardware firewalls. As you can see, they are two different options but with the same objective. They aim to protect your connections and prevent threats from entering your network and devices. See you later.

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