Firewalla Blue Review
Is the Firewalla worth your money? I’m not convinced that it is. Maybe if your router is older and doesn’t include a firewall. I went ahead a bought the Blue Plus to see what this thing can do and ran it for a few weeks. I am on the fence, but maybe this will help you decide.
Here’s a little background on my home network. I have an Asus RT-AC68U running the latest Asus firmware. I hardened it and placed the least safe devices on guest. My internet connection is from Spectrum and is running at 100Mbps.
Blue Plus Setup
The Firewalla is really easy to setup and once it’s connected to the router the application needs to capture the QR code to pair with the application, which links it to your phone. You can add to another if you need a backup.
Note: I do suggest using the included power cable and avoiding USB. It caused all kinds of hell until I plugged it into AC.
Firewalla configuration was also dirt simple. Once the app found and listed all my network devices, and I manually identified and verified the odd balls, setting the firewall rules took zero brain cells. You can block porn, gaming, ads, and even countries without knowing much. If you really want to control usage, people, or see what is going out or in, and where, you will have a nice tool set. I really like the app interface.
The first thing I found once I was up and running was that I pretty much solved the security problems at the router already. No open ports, no unsafe services, etc. Since I have no need to block, monitor, or protect my family members from themselves I found it rather useless for us. I continued to use it anyway.
The family’s iPhones and iPads started having issues with video, mainly YouTube, as soon as it was running, which was intermittent yet happening enough to annoy people. I left the default setting, the default bundle rule, along with blocking a few countries on my wife and son’s devices so in theory it wasn’t doing much. I did set the ad block rule for my devices just to see how well that worked. It worked well. I never had any issues with my laptops, iPhone, or Roku. That made me skeptical every time my wife and son complained.
After the complaints of slowness and problems with losing internet, and me witnessing YouTube just dying several times on both my wife’s iPhone and iPad, I stopped monitoring their devices and the complaining stopped. I left all my devices monitored and still didn’t have any issues. Hmm?
The next weirdness was with the alerting, which were occasionally wrong. Tonight I received a message that my Asus laptop was gaming on GOG.com. The problem was that I was actually buying something from GOG.com on my System 76 machine. I verified the IPs and Mac addresses and they were correct for both laptops and in the firewall. Needless to say, the alerting was a bit off, and it became annoying. I don’t get why it was mixing up devices, but it did. it was also not found of private address.
Besides the simple setup and configuration I really liked the new device quarantine! Firewalla moves unknown devices under a quarantine rule that blocks it from doing anything and alerts on the phone. Nice!
If you need to monitor bandwidth usage, have young children that you let freely surf the internet, or porn addicts living in the basement you’ll be good.
Some of those things might apply to employees too, if you’re getting this for a business. It does okay with those things, if you can live with the possibility of dropped or slow network connections. Considering most businesses aren’t watching YouTube all day it might work well in that environment. I had no issues with my devices, including my two Linux laptops, my work ‘Windows’ laptop running VPN and Teams, and iPhone. Maybe my family is just nuts. It’s possible.
I personally don’t think this is worth the money. I’d be more comfortable at $100 for the Blue Plus. My advice is to harden your router and turn its Firewall on. At this price point you could just buy a good router with a firewall if you don’t have that feature on your current model.
If I were buying this for a business setting I might consider something a bit more tried and true and wait on this one. It is cool and super easy after all. Anyway, I am going to put it in the drawer for a few months and see how it goes. It can only get better, right?