Differences Between a Hardware and Software Firewall

By Potu Snehith

February 27, 2019

Firewalls are used to protect servers and devices from hackers and other online threats by blocking dangerous pieces of data from reaching the system. Before discussing the differences between hardware and software firewall let us first know what is a firewall.

What is a Firewall?

Firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security rules that are established in advance. A firewall characteristically establishes a protective barrier between your computer network and the internet. A firewall prevents unauthorized access to your network. If your network has the access to the outside world via internet then you need a firewall to protect your network, computer and all the data therein.

Firewall can be either Hardware or Software.

Ideally a firewall configuration consists of both hardware and software firewall. In addition to limiting access to your network firewall is also used for allowing remote access to a private network, through secure authentication certificates and logins. Combining both the kind of firewalls makes your network much safer.

Differences Between Hardware & Software Firewall

Hardware Firewall

Hardware firewalls are typically found in broadband routers. But can also be bought as a stand-alone product. It is considered an important part of our system and network predominantly if you are using a broadband connection. Most hardware firewalls have a minimum of 4 network ports to connect. Business networking firewall solutions are available for large networks.

A hardware firewall uses packet-filtering to examine the header of a packet to determine its source and destination. This information is compared to a set of predefined or user-created rules that determine whether the packet is to be forwarded or dropped. 

To ensure that the firewall is configured and protective, the user just have to plugin the firewall and know a few specific features of your hardware firewall. Firewall testing is also an important part of the maintenance. You can buy a third-party testing software or look online for free testing softwares to test your hardware firewall security. The major drawback of hardware firewall is maintenance it is tough to update and configure it correctly.

Software Firewall

The most popular firewall among the individual home users is the Software Firewall. Just like any other software, a software firewall is installed in your computer and you can customize it.

Unlike a hardware firewall you have more control on the functioning and the protective features of the software firewall. A software firewall can also protect your computer from the most common Trojan programs and e-mail worms. Additionally a software firewall may also assimilate privacy controls, web filtering and more. The downside of a software firewall is that it only protects the computer it is installed in and not the network. 

There is a vast number of software firewalls to choose from. Make a note of the system resources required and any incompatibilities with your operating system. Then buy a good software firewall that runs in the background your system and doesn't use much of the system resources.

FastWebHost India uses both Hardware as well as Software firewalls to secure it's servers and hosting infrastructure. 


The differences between a hardware and software firewall are many. The best way to protect your computer and network is to use both. Each of them offer different but much needed security and benefits. Make sure you update your firewall and operating system for maintaining optimal security also test your firewall to ensure it is connected and working properly.

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