Our Top Picks

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall Logo
Barracuda CloudGen Firewall
4.2
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Cybersecurity and threat detection
  • Receives regular updates
Best Customer Service
Visit Barracuda CloudGen Firewall
There’s nothing worse than having trouble with an application you paid for and not being able to get through to the developer. While most firewall providers offer reliable support, Barracuda stands out from the competition with respect to customer service. You can call its team at any time, any day of the week, and chat support is also available roughly during business hours for customers in both North America and Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Its service is also confirmed by exceptional user reviews, making Barracuda an easy choice as the firewall with the best support in 2021.

Barracuda also provides relatively advanced cybersecurity and threat detection compared to more basic firewalls. Users can deploy the firewall in multiple physical locations or Google Cloud, Azure, or Amazon Web Services (AWS). CloudGen 8.2 released in June 2021 and introduced a long list of new features including configuration templates, improved health monitoring, and single sign-on (SSO) for remote access users.

After a free demo, you can continue with Barracuda CloudGen through a custom pricing system that builds a quote based on your use case. The provider asks you basic questions about your configuration, scale, and needs and comes up with a solution that makes sense for you. Unlike some other providers, Barracuda gives you a near-instant quote after you complete the questionnaire.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Outstanding customer service
  • Cybersecurity and threat detection
  • Receives regular updates

Cons

  • No free option

What Customers Are Saying

We found that the vast majority of Barracuda CloudGen users are happy with its security and network monitoring features. Meanwhile, several customers reported experiencing a difficult learning curve while getting started with the platform.

Summary

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall Logo
Barracuda CloudGen Firewall
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free Trial
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
    Chat
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.2
Check Point Next Generation Firewalls Logo
Check Point Next Generation Firewalls
4.4
  • Library of 15 physical firewalls
  • Free year of SandBlast Zero Day Protection
  • Other enterprise tools available
Virtual firewalls are more efficient for some small-scale use cases but hardware-based firewalls can be incredibly powerful cybersecurity tools in the right situation. Check Point offers a deep collection of hardware firewalls covering everything from small businesses and branch offices to mid-sized and even large enterprises. This library makes Check Point an ideal choice for users who are interested in a physical firewall. It also makes Check Point highly scalable since users can add new hardware to match their growth.

Additionally, Check Point hardware purchases come with a free year of access to SandBlast Zero Day Protection, helping users avoid a variety of security threats. Enterprise users can use its firewalls, along with its remote access software, which comes with key security tools like multi-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and system compliance scanning.

Naturally, your pricing for physical Check Point firewalls depends on the specific needs of your organization. Its models currently go up to 1.5 Tbps of threat protection. Like other providers, Check Point offers new users personalized demos to give them a taste of the platform. Currently, it has offices in the United States Bay Area as well as in Tel Aviv.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Library of 15 physical firewalls
  • Free year of SandBlast Zero Day Protection
  • Other enterprise tools available

Cons

  • Pricier than most virtual firewalls

What Customers Are Saying

Check Point users like the platform’s dashboard and the reliability of the team’s engineers in resolving a variety of issues. However, some reviewers noted that they spent more on a Check Point firewall than they would have paid for a virtualized alternative.

Summary

Check Point Next Generation Firewalls Logo
Check Point Next Generation Firewalls
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Not provided
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4
Cisco Secure Firewall Logo
Cisco Secure Firewall
4.4
  • Trials and personalized demos
  • Excellent enterprise features
  • Market share leader
Best for Enterprises
Visit Cisco Secure Firewall
Providers like OpenDNS are ideal for home users and even small businesses, but you’ll need something more powerful if you’re looking for a firewall for a larger organization. While Cisco offers some tools for smaller companies, it’s a particularly good choice for enterprises due to its robust feature set and integrations with the rest of the Cisco platform. The Cisco Secure Firewall comes with threat protection, policy management, robust analytics, and a variety of hardware options. Cisco also offers many other enterprise-friendly applications including IoT and remote work solutions. It’s the best firewall software for enterprises and other large organizations in 2021.

Secure Firewall recently won the Frost and Sullivan Market Leadership Award for 2021, recognizing them as a global leader in the firewall industry. Cisco was also named a leader by Forrester Wave for enterprise firewalls in Q3 2020 along with other top firewalls like Barracuda CloudGen. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find any details about recent updates on the Cisco website.

Cisco offers personalized demos as well as trials by appointment — fill out a quick form or sign in with your LinkedIn account on the Cisco website. Its team can help you find the virtual or hardware firewall that’s right for your use case. Cisco works with organizations of all sizes, so pricing is highly dependent on what you’re seeking.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Trials and personalized demos
  • Excellent enterprise features
  • Market share leader

Cons

  • Limited information about recent releases

What Customers Are Saying

We found generally positive reviews for Cisco’s virtual firewall in terms of performance and overall value. Several users mentioned that the customer support team helped them get up and running and address any unexpected issues.

Summary

Cisco Secure Firewall Logo
Cisco Secure Firewall
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Not provided
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4
ESET Endpoint Security Logo
ESET Endpoint Security
4.4
  • 30-day free trial
  • Personal and business solutions
  • Available email security
While free and open-source software offers enough firewall and security features for some basic use cases, you may be interested in paying for access to a more robust platform. ESET provides premium cybersecurity applications for both personal and business users. Even though its software is paid, it offers a generous 30-day free trial of most personal and business applications. With most providers giving users a shorter trial or even just a free demo, ESET has the best free trial of any firewall software we’ve seen in 2021.

ESET Endpoint Security is available on Windows — more specifically, Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 — along with Linux devices and macOS releases dating back to 10.12 (Sierra). The release of ESET Endpoint Security 8.1.x in June 2021 introduced migrations from ESET consumer programs to the business Endpoint Security platform, making it easy for smaller users to scale their firewalls as they grow.

New users can start with an interactive demo without installing any software. ESET Internet Security, primarily intended for home consumers, currently costs $49.99 for a single year. PROTECT Advanced, the counterpart for business users, starts at $248.20 for one year for a total of five devices. That puts ESET roughly in line with other personal solutions — for example, GlassWire plans run from $29 to $75 per year depending on the tier.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 30-day free trial
  • Personal and business solutions
  • Available email security

Cons

  • No free option

What Customers Are Saying

Customers are happy with how well the ESET platform works and how little ongoing work it takes to keep the application running. Users also note that the client has very little impact on performance, leaving resources free to prioritize other applications.

Summary

ESET Endpoint Security Logo
ESET Endpoint Security
  • Starting Price
    • $339.60/year
  • Free Trial/Demo
    30-day free trial
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Phone Support
    Chat
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4
GlassWire Logo
GlassWire
4.3
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Intuitive network visualization features
  • Receives regular updates
Best Network Visualization
Visit GlassWire
Overseeing your network activity can be extraordinarily complicated. GlassWire makes it easy to secure your network while keeping tabs on traffic. In a few clicks, you can view a list of the devices currently on your network along with a thorough activity history. GlassWire also comes with a deep set of firewall features, including lockdown mode, multiple remote server monitoring, and approval for new connections. It’s easily the best firewall software in 2021 when it comes to managing and visualizing your network activity.

GlassWire 2.3 was released on May 19, 2021, and introduced new tools for Internet of Things (IoT) device detection and management. This update also ensures that all connected devices are saved in the GlassWire client unless you delete them — even devices that connected and disconnected while the application was closed. Users can fully customize notifications to stay on top of any changes.

The free GlassWire tier is extremely limited in terms of both features and connections, with just one PC, one month of history, and one remote connection. Subscriptions to GlassWire start at $39 per year for the Basic tier, which is limited to one PC, six months of activity history, and up to three remote connections. At $69 per year, Pro adds support for three PCs, a full year of history, and 10 remote connections. Finally, Elite comes with 10 PCs, unlimited history, and unlimited remote connections for $99 per year. All plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Intuitive network visualization features
  • Receives regular updates

Cons

  • Annual subscription, no lifetime licenses

What Customers Are Saying

GlassWire users appreciate the platform’s clear display of network activity along with the relatively robust free plan, which offers enough features for basic network monitoring. However, some reviews note that GlassWire no longer provides lifetime licenses, instead requiring all premium users to pay an annual fee.

Summary

GlassWire Logo
GlassWire
  • Starting Price
    • Basic: $29/year
    • Pro: $50/year
    • Elite: $75/year
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial and Free version available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    Chat
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.3
ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer Logo
ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer
4.2
  • Compatible with most major firewalls
  • Deep analytic features
  • Both annual subscriptions and lifetime licenses available
While ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer isn’t a firewall on its own, it’s an incredibly powerful analytic tool for users that already have a separate firewall. ManageEngine’s platform supplements your existing firewall and generate a wide range of reports based on the latest activity. It supports some of the most popular firewalls including Cisco and CheckPoint as well as most open-source software. Users can leverage ManageEngine to analyze their firewall rules and find blind spots in their current approach. Adding a firewall analyzer may not be worth the cost for some smaller organizations, but ManageEngine stands apart from the alternatives due to its powerful analytics, reporting, and auditing features.

The ManageEngine website doesn’t provide dates for Firewall Analyzer updates, but the client has received more than 100 total builds, indicating that it provides at least relatively active support. Along with firewalls, the Firewall Analyzer is also compatible with other systems including virtual private networks (VPNs), intrusion detection systems/intrusion prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and proxy servers. Users can quickly export reports to either PDFs or comma-separated values (CSV) files for convenient viewing and sharing.

ManageEngine offers both subscriptions and perpetual licenses. Lifetime access costs about as much as subscribing for two and a half years, but even lifetime users have to pay around half of the usual annual fee, further complicating the pricing structure. For example, a Standard subscription costs $395 per year for one device and two users while the perpetual option costs $988 plus an annual maintenance fee of $198. Prices go up for clients with more devices, and more authorized users can be added for an extra fee as well. New users can also start with a personalized demo.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Compatible with most major firewalls
  • Deep analytic features
  • Both annual subscriptions and lifetime licenses available

Cons

  • No free option

What Customers Are Saying

Firewall users who added ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer to their existing configurations like the platform’s extra reporting features that add to what their firewall offered on its own. Reviews particularly focused on ManageEngine’s ability to help them optimize unnecessary or inaccurate policies to avoid any false positives or security lapses.

Summary

ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer Logo
ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free Trial
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Phone Support
    Chat
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.2
OpenDNS Logo
OpenDNS
4.5
  • Free to use
  • Preconfigured Family Shield is ideal for parental controls
  • Activity reports
Best for Parental Controls
Visit OpenDNS
Like GlassWire, OpenDNS is primarily designed for individuals and smaller organizations. With the free OpenDNS Home application, you can set up filtering rules and manage network traffic at no charge. OpenDNS applies your rules to every device on the network and lets you know when blocked sites are visited. You can also set up a whitelist and blacklist quickly to create exceptions to your existing security rules. Best of all, OpenDNS offers a unique Family Shield application that’s preconfigured for adult content blocking. It’s the best firewall software available in 2021 when it comes to parental controls.

However, OpenDNS may not be as good of an option for enterprise users compared to more robust providers like Cisco, which now owns OpenDNS, that cater to the needs of larger clients. Unfortunately, OpenDNS doesn’t appear to receive many updates, so the platform seems to be in roughly the same condition it was in a few years ago or longer.

Both Home and Family Shield are totally free to use. The main difference between them is simply that Home is intended to be customized while Family Shield comes with preset filtering rules. You can upgrade to Home VIP for $19.95 per year, but VIP only adds a few niche features like access to a full year of activity history and the option to restrict all traffic to whitelisted sites.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free to use
  • Preconfigured Family Shield is ideal for parental controls
  • Activity reports

Cons

  • No recent updates

What Customers Are Saying

Feedback for OpenDNS is largely positive, with most reviews coming from personal and small business users. One reviewer noted that the client appeared to be using a lot of RAM, so keep an eye out for any changes in performance after installing OpenDNS.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • OpenDNS Home VIP: $19.95/year
    • OpenDNS Umbrella Prosumer: $20/user
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free version available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Phone Support
    Chat
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.5
PfSense Logo
pfSense
4.4
  • Robust open-source software
  • Paid Plus client available for additional features
  • Receives regular updates
Best Open-Source Software
Visit pfSense
Most of the software we’ve covered is sold commercially, but pfSense offers surprisingly robust features for a free and open-source application. It’s available for both hardware and cloud deployments, and the pfSense website provides detailed install guides and other resources to help users get started. While there is a separate paid service called pfSense Plus, you don’t need Plus to access any of the platform’s basic firewall features. pfSense is a great way to secure your network while supporting open-source software.

The pfSense developers also put out new updates relatively frequently, with several new releases of both the free and Plus clients coming out in 2021. There were major releases of both clients early in February 2021, with pfSense Community Edition 2.5.0 and pfSense Plus 21.02 introducing several features including support for Intel QuickAssist Technology, updated IPsec profile export, and upgrades to the base operating system (OS) as well as OpenSSL, PHP, and Python architecture.

These updates were part of a transition to pfSense Plus from the older pfSense Factory Edition, which was more similar to the Community Edition. The developers expect the Plus version to continue diverging from the Community Edition over the next few years with features like business-level reporting, 802.11ac/ax support, and zero-touch provisioning. pfSense is currently available from one to 40 cents per hour for cloud deployments, and it also comes included with Netgate appliances. The team has announced a Plus client for virtual machines, but it hasn’t revealed the pricing or release date.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Robust open-source software
  • Paid Plus client available for additional features
  • Receives regular updates

Cons

  • More complicated to use

What Customers Are Saying

While customers are generally happy with the pfSense client, some reviewers noted that they found it more difficult to use than premium solutions with more user-friendly interfaces.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free Trial
  • Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4
Sophos Firewall Logo
Sophos Firewall
4.5
  • Appliance, cloud, and virtual deployments
  • Receives consistent updates
  • Dedicated educational solutions
Best for Educational Institutions
Visit Sophos Firewall
Most paid firewalls target either companies or individual companies, but Sophos offers purpose-built firewall solutions for educational institutions including higher education as well as K-12. Its educational services include built-in web filtering policies, activity monitoring and analysis, keyword filtering, and support for Chromebooks. Its Synchronized Security Endpoint integration tool can even recognize unknown or custom applications that could pose a threat to your network or data. It’s the best choice in 2021 for educational institutions who want a firewall they can trust.

Along with educational firewalls, Sophos offers custom solutions for enterprises and organizations with cloud infrastructure. The firewall also integrates with the rest of its applications as well as third-party platforms like Azure and AWS. Sophos Firewall OS v18 was released in March 2021 and introduced several features including Xstream architecture and new threat analysis capabilities. The developers have continued releasing regular updates since then to improve performance, add functions, and address bugs.

Sophos is currently available through appliance, cloud, and virtual deployments depending on your needs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any information about firewall pricing on its website, so you’ll need to contact the provider to request a demo and a quote for your use case.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Appliance, cloud, and virtual deployments
  • Receives consistent updates
  • Dedicated educational solutions

Cons

  • No pricing information on website

What Customers Are Saying

Sophos has outstanding user feedback in terms of both volume and average score, with an extremely small number of negative reviews. Most customers were particularly satisfied with the ease of the deployment, which can be tricky for educational institutions and other large organizations.

Summary

Sophos Firewall Logo
Sophos Firewall
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial and Free version available
  • Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
    Chat
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.5
ZoneAlarm Logo
ZoneAlarm
4.1
  • Clear pricing with bulk discounts
  • 30-day free trial
  • Receives regular updates
Best Pricing
Visit ZoneAlarm
It’s impossible to identify a single best value in the firewall industry, but ZoneAlarm’s pricing makes it a good option for users on a limited budget. ZoneAlarm offers a free firewall, and the Pro option has a clear pricing scheme with tiers based on the number of PC licenses you need: one, three, five, 10, or 50. The standard rate for one PC is significantly discounted for high-volume users, and you can get even more savings by committing to two years instead of one. New users can also try the platform for a full 30 days before paying for a subscription.

ZoneAlarm typically receives a few updates per year, with most releases focusing on bug fixes and stability optimizations. The last major feature release was the introduction of Web Secure in June 2019, which protects users from malware and phishing attempts in the Chrome browser.

The free ZoneAlarm firewall comes with most basic tools, but it contains ads and it’s missing helpful features like advanced configuration options and 24/7 support. A ZoneAlarm Pro license costs $22.95 per year for one PC, while the same license is just $29.95 for three PCs, which works out to $9.98 each. The price goes up to $32.95 for five ($6.49 each), $59.95 for 10 ($6.00 each), and $227.95 for 50 ($4.56 each). While ZoneAlarm doesn’t offer any details about arrangements for organizations that need support for more than 50 devices, you can always contact the provider directly for more information.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Clear pricing with bulk discounts
  • 30-day free trial
  • Receives regular updates

Cons

  • No information about plans for businesses with over 50 devices

What Customers Are Saying

While we couldn’t find many reviews for the Pro firewall, ZoneAlarm’s free application has received positive feedback from both experts and consumers. However, some users mentioned that they wished they could use the platform on their Mac computers since it’s currently limited to Windows PCs.

Summary

ZoneAlarm Logo
ZoneAlarm
  • Starting Price
    • 1 Pcs: $22.95/year
    • 3 Pcs: $29.95/year
    • 5 Pcs: $32.95/year
    • 10 Pcs: $59.95/year
    • 50 Pcs: $227.95/year
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free Trial
  • Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
  • Data Usage Monitoring
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.1

How We Chose the Best Firewall Software

While both Windows and Mac offer some limited firewall capabilities, third-party firewall applications some with a variety of additional features. They can help you keep an eye on traffic and control all network activity with automated security rules.

With firewall platforms available for individuals, enterprises, and everyone in between, the right application for you depends on your specific use case. These are just a few of the key factors we considered when looking for the best firewall software in 2021.

Network Monitoring

At the most basic level, firewall software is all about protecting and monitoring the traffic on your network. With that in mind, you should try to find a platform that offers sufficient preferences and analytic features to fully control your network usage.

Things like activity filtering, traffic logging, and notifications for suspicious or unusual activity should be available with any reputable VPN. Enterprise solutions and other advanced tools might come with more sophisticated features such as threat detection, policy management, and compliance audits.

Ease of Use

Keeping track of your network activity can be complicated, especially for businesses and other organizations with numerous devices. Some firewall applications are much better than others when it comes to the quality of their interface and the overall user experience.

While design is ultimately subjective, we evaluated each provider’s client and compared user reviews to get an idea of how customers feel about the interface. Your firewall should make it easy to find what you’re looking for and understand exactly what’s happening on your network.

Pricing

Firewalls are more accessible and affordable than ever, so you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a reliable and flexible platform. Most personal firewalls only cost a few dollars per month, with prices going up for larger organizations.

We’ve highlighted firewalls at multiple price points to help you find the right solution. Providers generally offer limited free trials or at least a money-back guarantee, giving you some time to test out their services without making a commitment.