Will a Firewall Slow Internet Speed? What You Need to Know

6 min read by Bogdi

published 2 ani în urmă, updated un an în urmă

With all the threats online today, firewalls are an increasingly necessary layer of protection. But how does a firewall affect internet performance?

A firewall is one of many potential causes of slow internet. While firewalls provide security, they can reduce internet speed. There are easy ways to check for this. There are also a few easily solvable issues that may be the cause.

Learn how firewalls can impact internet speed and how to tell if that happens on your computer. We’ll then cover some options for how to resolve this issue.

How Firewalls Affect Internet Speed

Let’s start with the basics. There are two types of firewalls.

These two types of firewalls each have important roles. Though different, they both add to the overall security of your network or device.

Hardware Firewalls

A hardware firewall protects your entire network from external threats.

  • It accomplishes this task through the use of a single device. This device acts as a buffer between all of the devices on your network and the internet.
  • A hardware firewall adheres to a pre-set list of rules. As it evaluates data, it will either allow or prevent that data from entering the network.

Hardware firewalls are more common among small businesses. These businesses need protection for many different workstations within their offices. Individual computer users have different security needs. And so, they have different firewall needs.

Software Firewalls

Unlike hardware firewalls, software firewalls protect individual devices.

  • A software firewall is often included in modern operating systems. In fact, Mac OS X and all windows systems newer than Windows 7 come with software firewalls included.

The main benefit of software firewalls is that they can protect your computer from threats even if other devices on your networks have had their security compromised.

Reduced Internet Speed

Since firewalls need to evaluate data sent via the internet, they can cause internet speed to decrease. However, most of the time, this effect is minimal.

For example, if you are using the software firewall built into your operating system, you won’t likely notice the decrease in internet performance. However, there are a few scenarios in which your firewall can cause a more dramatic reduction in speed.

  • You are running both hardware and software firewalls
  • Your firewalls are set to a high level of security
  • You are running multiple software firewalls at once.

These are some of the most likely reasons your firewall is slowing down your internet. Fortunately, these issues are fairly simple to solve.

Fixing Firewall Internet Speed Problems

To save yourself some time, first, make sure that your firewall is the cause of your slow internet speed. As we mentioned before, slow internet can happen for many reasons. Make sure you know that a firewall is causing your slow internet before you attempt to alter your firewall.

Is Your Firewall Causing Reduced Internet Speed?

This is relatively easy to do. Just follow these steps:

  • Test your internet speed
  • Disable your software firewall
  • Test internet speed once again.

There are countless online resources that will test your internet speed for free. There are also many sites that will guide you through safely disabling your firewall based on your operating system.

Disabling your firewall does mean that your security will be reduced. Make sure to enable your firewall after performing this test. If you don’t, you may find out exactly why firewalls are so important to security.

If your second internet speed test shows an improved connection, your firewall is to blame for your slow internet. Now you can move on to reducing the effect your firewall has on your internet speed.

Do You Need Both Hardware and Software Firewalls?

If you aren’t running a business, you may wonder about the need for both hardware and software firewalls.

When hardware and software firewalls work together, they provide a high level of security. But that double layer of protection can reduce internet speed.

It is up to you as an individual to decide what level of protection you prefer. Weigh your need for security versus your need for high-performance internet.

Ideally, you should use at least one type of firewall for adequate safety. You should also know that your router essentially acts as a hardware firewall.

So, what does this mean?

As an individual, using a router and a software firewall will likely give enough protection without slowing speeds. If you have a hardware firewall, and you are not a business, you can afford to get rid of it to improve your internet speed.

Check the Level of Security of your Firewall

If you find that your firewall is the cause of your slow internet, check its settings. Typically, you have some control over your firewall security settings.

As mentioned earlier, firewalls operate on a set of pre-defined rules that dictate if information from the internet can enter your device. The more rules you firewall must follow, the longer it will take to process information.

If your firewall is set to a high-security setting, it may be slowing your internet speed.

The way you access and alter your firewall settings will vary between operating systems. But in general, if you have the option to reduce your firewall security settings if you feel they are slowing your internet speed.

Third-Party Firewalls

Your computer likely comes with a built-in firewall, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have other options. There are many third-party firewalls that you can purchase to add extra protection to your computer.

Some of the most popular third-party firewalls are offered by the companies below.

  • Norton Anti-Virus
  • Fortinet
  • Cisco
  • Checkpoint
  • Palo Alto Networks
  • SonicWall
  • Juniper Firewall

Many people are tempted to find a third party firewall to add security. But in many cases, these firewalls are unnecessary and only lead to poor internet performance.

Why Third Part Firewalls Usually Aren’t Necessary

While the companies above will try to sell you on increased security, their firewalls are not something you typically need.

The reason behind this is that your built-in firewall usually does just as good of a job as these third party offerings.

The built-in firewall also comes at no extra cost. This means that they are not only adequate as a security feature; they are also more cost-effective.

If you already have a third-party firewall, that is not a problem. You simply need to make sure you aren’t making one critical mistake that will slow your internet.

Running Multiple Firewalls at Once

If you have slow internet, your third-party firewall may be the cause. But this may not be because that firewall itself causes slow speed.

One potential problem is that you could be running two firewalls at once. While this seems like it would give you extra protection, running multiple firewalls is not a great idea. All that will happen is your internet performance will suffer while you receive little to no extra security.

If you choose to use a third-party firewall, make sure that your built-in firewall is disabled. If it is not disabled, you will probably have reduced internet speed.

Running multiple firewalls simultaneously will overcomplicate your security system without any added benefit. Avoid this by running only one firewall at a time. This will give enough security in an efficient manner.


To avoid online threats, you need a firewall. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with the frustration of slow internet speed. If you have that problem, disable your firewall to see if that is the cause. If it is, follow the simple tips in the article to restore your internet performance.

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