Hardware vs Software Firewall: Differences and When to Use Them

Having the computers protected is essential for them to work well and avoid problems. It is a way to keep our personal data safe and prevent intruders from affecting performance. Now, to protect ourselves we can make use of different methods and tools. One option is to have a firewall. There may be hardware and software firewalls . What are their differences? Which is better to use? We are going to talk about it in this article.

Hardware vs Software Firewall

Differences between a hardware and software firewall

A firewall is one more option that allows us to protect our systems . We can say that it is a barrier between our device and the network. It allows you to analyze the connections and determine when there may be an insecure connection that puts a computer, mobile or any device at risk. In case there is any risk, it blocks it.

We can configure different aspects, such as creating a white list and allowing certain connections, blocking programs so that they cannot access the Internet, ports, etc. We typically 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 in addition, we can also have a hardware firewall is one more option that we can take into account to protect systems and avoid network problems. But what are their differences?


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

It is similar to when we see a physical VPN and another at the application level. In the case of software, we will be able to install it on the system, while a hardware firewall will be an independent device from our computer.

Easy to use

This issue is important for the home user . Is it easier to use a hardware or software firewall? It 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 program firewall.

In the case of software, we will only have to install it on the system. Some even do not require configuration or this is minimal, since it comes preconfigured with the most basic to be able to protect the connections. On the other hand, if you use a hardware firewall, it will require physical installation and more configuration. It is more geared towards more experienced users.


Clearly security is one of the reasons 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 safer for our systems?

It should be noted that both will protect us, as long as we use a correct option. In other words, not all firewalls are going to protect the same, in the same way that not all antiviruses protect us well, etc. However, a software firewall will receive updates more frequently and that is a plus. Instead, a hardware firewall will protect the connection going into a computer no matter what operating system we’re using at the time.


There are also differences in usability. We can install a software firewall on our computer or mobile, so it is a program that will remain there. If we take that equipment and move to another place and connect to another network, it will still protect us.

Instead, a physical firewall is normally connected to the router . It will be less flexible to be able to move it from one place to another. For this reason, at the home user level, what is really most useful is software and not a physical device.

Firewall de software


In terms of prices we will find clear differences . A software firewall can be free, such as Microsoft‘s own or many other options found on the Internet, or for a low cost. On the other hand, a hardware firewall is going to be more expensive and it is an investment that we will have to make.

Therefore, if you want to protect your computer and you don’t want to make a financial outlay, without a doubt the best option is a software firewall. You will avoid having to buy a device, with what that can mean in terms of price.

Which to choose

After having explained the main differences between a software and a hardware firewall, we are going to talk about when to use one or the other option. In this way you can choose which one suits you best according to the use you are going to give it and how you want to protect your devices.

Protect one device or many

The first thing you should think about is what you are going to protect . A single device, such as a computer or mobile, is not the same as an entire network, to which you will be able to connect many devices of all kinds. This will be key to choosing what suits you best and purchasing a physical device or a program

If you are only going to protect one piece of equipment, such as a computer, it is better to use a software firewall. On the other hand, if you want to protect an entire network, the ideal is that you use a hardware firewall. In this way you will protect everything you connect to your network.

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Home user or business

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

If you want to protect a company , where there are going to be many devices of all kinds connected, in that case it can be interesting to use a physical firewall. It is what will allow to block malicious connections for the entire network and thus avoid problems that affect essential components of an organization.

where are you going to 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 are going to use a computer on different networks, such as at home, at work, in a library, on a trip… Without a doubt, the ideal is to have a firewall at the software level, since you will be able to take it to any side.

On the other hand, if you are going to use it only in your home, work or any fixed place, 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 to do so either.

In short, as you have seen, you have the option of using a software or hardware firewall. They are two different options, but they have the same objective: to protect your connections and prevent threats from entering your network and your devices. Depending on the case, it may be better for you to use one or the other option.