If you have an always-on Internet connection like DSL and cable Internet, it is really a must to have a firewall. There are two types of firewalls for computers – the hardware firewall and the software, or personal, firewall.
These two types of firewalls function in the same way and basically differ only in their practicality. A hardware firewall is basically a separate device unlike a software firewall that is basically a computer program run on individual computers.
What is a Firewall?
Regardless of the type of firewall, its basic function is to act as an intermediary between your computer and the Internet. It is programmable to define certain rules. These rules determine which programs in your computer can access the Internet or which computers or web services can contact your computer.
In more technical terms, a firewall monitors and manages both inbound and outbound Internet traffic.
A firewall is considered to be the first line of defense when it comes to Internet security. First, it prevents hackers or other cyber-criminals from accessing your computer remotely through exploitation and malware.
In the event that a computer is already compromised, either by a virus, a worm, trojan, or other forms of malware, with a firewall in place, it will not be able to contact, send or receive information over the Internet.
Do you Need a Hardware Firewall?
As previously stated, the difference between the two types of firewalls is practicality. If you only have one or two computers in your home or office, you are better off with a software firewall. However, if you have, or will have more than that, the most cost-effective solution will be using a hardware firewall.
A hardware firewall does not need to be installed in every computer. It just needs to be connected to the network, properly configured by setting the rules and permissions, and it instantly protects every computer that is part of the network.
Software firewalls need to be installed separately on each computer that is part of the network. Configuration of the software is also done individually (Learn how to set up a firewall.). Not only is the process time consuming, but also costs a significant amount of money when commercial firewall software is used.
The advantages of a hardware firewall are:
- Cost-effective for a large computer network
- Only has to be installed and configured once
- Cheaper than installing multiple commercial software firewalls
However, hardware firewalls are not easy to set up, unlike personal or software firewalls. Though configuration of the firewall is not that difficult, its installation in the network can be quite challenging for an amateur and is definitely no task for a beginner. If improperly installed, a part or even the entire network may fail.
So if you have several computers in your home or office, it is more practical to have a hardware firewall than install and configure software firewall on every computer. With a hardware firewall, it only has to be installed and configured once, and you are done with it.
If you are already using a personal firewall in your computer and you are going to have a hardware firewall installed in the network, you really don’t have to uninstall the software unless it prevents access to the network and the Internet. In most cases, such conflicts can be solved by changing the settings of the software firewall.
You must know there are also different classes of hardware firewalls. Some may be as cheap as a few hundred dollars for home networks and up to thousands of dollars for corporate or enterprise computer networks. There are also several brands that sell this type of device. Popular names are LinkSys, D-Link, and NetGear.
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