Differences Between Hardware and Software Firewalls

This article provides information regarding the differences between hardware and software firewalls.

Both software and hardware firewalls are capable of providing network wide protection from external threats. Software firewalls however, are able to inspect data at a deeper level and can block specific programs. Using both provides the optimal protection on networks with high security concerns.

Software Firewalls

This type of firewall is able to discern between programs, allowing it to transfer data to a specific program while blocking it from another. It can also filter outgoing data. This type of firewall takes more resources to manage, requiring installation, updates and administration on each device it's installed. On high traffic servers the firewall might be unable to handle incoming traffic because the firewall has to spend time processing all traffic before allowing the connection.

Hardware Firewalls

Hardware firewalls are capable of processing firewall rules, blocking and permitting traffic in addition to logging functionality. This type of firewalls allows single authority to filter network traffic. They can be used to manage multiple servers and can discern the traffic allowed to each. They're more easy to manage compared to a software firewall because they don't require scripting or a centralized domain controller.


The optimal choice will depend on the clients needs. A software firewall might be enough for a low traffic website. For larger networks it would work best with a hardware firewall. For those seeking the best security both solutions can be implemented.