Firewalla Blue Plus Review by Ben Isai

I’d like to start off by thanking @hydn for the opportunity to enter and win this FWB+.

Background

I really enjoy homelabbing and playing with Linux (Servers/Networking devices). I have a few mini PCs, Raspberry Pis and other devices around the house that I thinker’ with.

In 2020, I discovered Firewalla, and this company had everything I wanted, a beautiful phone app and web interface.

I was hooked, I’ve always wanted a Firewalla device but I had a hard time justifying the price tag as I’ve been accustomed to open source firewalls such as Pfsense and Opnsense. While Pfsense is great to use, I found that trying to fine-tune the IDS/IPS was a PITA, thus my decision become clear, I needed a firewall that just worked!

Enter Firewalla

Ben-Homelab w/ Firewalla Blue Plus

I’m here to say that the price is worth it. The features built into the phone app are amazing and the control over traffic is great! The process was really simple, plug and play as described. No issues at all, and within minutes I had a better insight into my network and what device was calling what.

I set up the FWB+ on my IOT/DMZ network. The network consists of a GL.inet router, FWB+, Raspberry Pi and a mini PC. I use this network for the following devices: security cameras, Nest, Wifi outlets, and my Linux test servers.

Network Monitoring

My favorite feature about the device must be the network monitoring, activity upload alerts and quarantine feature.

Monitoring my network has been a breeze with Firewalla. I can monitor my ping, bandwidth and daily Speedtest. It helped me identify that my internet speed was really bad in the afternoon (3 pm). Also, it helped me figure out that my VPN provider was the reason for my high ping, thus crappy Zoom calls.

Activity Alerts

It really amazes me how much data these off-brand cameras upload to the cloud and ping back home. I was able to block some of these requests for fun, but no harmful requests ever appeared.

The upload alerts also helped me become more aware of when someone is watching the camera, it would show their mobile IP address, (which is pretty cool!)

Quarantine

The quarantine feature is great! I’ve always wanted to restrict access to my network via hardwire or wireless but never could with other firewalls. With Firewalla, it’s such a breeze as it’s done automatically.

The best part is, that I can unblock a device from my phone, without logging into a PC. With Wifi password sharing being so easy these days, I love the fact that I can control access to the network.

Small Issues (personal maybe)

I do have one small issue, at times, the notifications from Firewalla are delayed. If an upload alert occurs at 12 pm, I might only get a notification at 1:30 pm, which kind of sucks.

Also, I couldn’t get routes to work with my VPS Wireguard network. Trying to route my 10.10.10.x address out the WG client on Firewalla didn’t work. :frowning:

Conclusion

Overall, I really loved the device and it’s been a great addition to my home lab. I will post a pic of my home lab tomorrow, just need to clean it up, :wink:

 

About the author Ben Isai is a Senior Systems Analyst.

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Comments

  1. Great write-up. Will be helpful to many. How do you find the performance of the UI? How long does a reboot take (downtime)? Any noticeable drop in internet speed when enabled? I have bookmarked this thread. :slight_smile:

  2. I’ve used the UI a few times, but it works great. it does take a bit of time to load (maybe its cloud syncing) but it works well. I do find myself using the app more (never knew I needed an app so bad before this).
    The reboot is very quick, maybe 1-2 mins tops. I noticed no drops at all. I have a 200/10 line and I get all the speed with the FWB+ :slight_smile: . The only thing slowing me down is my VPN, but since this network is for IOT, I dont mind at all. I really like that I can monitor my devices via the app, its amazing.

  3. I want to know more about that product, Firewalla will have to wait until I get more money (as everything else I want :frowning: does ) but does sound like a great idea, maybe even a future Christmas gift for a couple of people I know.

  4. Great review, I really think about a firewalla box for quite some time now… What I want is great insights to my home network and a usable app for the mobile phone.
    Right now I use OPNsense and the Unifi Network App, but I want to be able to better monitor and filter what’s going on. Thank you, great writeup

  5. Welcome to the forum. Same here on my end. I want to be able to view more real-time and also usage trends daily, weekly etc. Also historical data by domains, security events, etc. Currently unifi does not provide that much unless maybe I used a USG but not convinced I want to go further down that Unifi path.

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