Virtualizing pfSense with Hyper-V

This article is about building and running a pfSense® virtual machine under Microsoft Hyper-V. The guide applies to any Hyper-V version, desktop or server (this includes the standalone Hyper-V Server). The guide explains how to install any major pfSense software version under Hyper-V. Article covers the Hyper-V networking setup and pfSense software virtual machine setup process. The guide does not cover how to install Hyper-V or Windows Server. A basic, working, pfSense virtual machine will exist by the end of this article.


If pfSense software will be used as a perimeter firewall for an organization and the “attack surface” should be minimized, many will say it is preferable to run it non-virtualized on stand-alone hardware. That is a decision for the user and/or organization to make, however. Now back to the topic.

We’re going to start at the point where we have a Windows Server 2016 with the Hyper-V role installed. If other VMs are already running on Hyper-V, then it is not likely necessary to follow the networking steps too closely. However, we recommend skimming through it to see what is suggested before building the pfSense virtual machine part.


  • Hyper-V host is up and Hyper-V role has been installed.

  • The reader has an basic understanding of networking and Hyper-V virtualization

Basic Hyper-V Networking

To virtualize pfSense software, first create two Virtual Switches via Hyper-V Manager. In the Hyper-V Manager open Virtual Switch Manager from the Actions menu. Select Internal type of virtual switch and click Create Virtual Switch

Virtual switch config

Name the newly added switch LAN and select private network. Click apply.

Virtual switch config 2

Now create WAN switch the same way as LAN. Make sure Allow management operating system to share this network adapter is not selected if the host has a dedicated NIC for WAN. For the purpose of this guide the management was allowed, however production use requires a separate NIC for WAN. Click OK.

Virtual switch config 3

Creating the virtual machine

After creating WAN and LAN switches, we move to virtual machine creation. Start the new virtual machine wizard add a name.

Virtual machine config 1

After clicking next select the appropriate virtual machine Generation: Generation 2.

Virtual machine config 2

On the Assign Memory step add enough of RAM this deployment. This guide uses 1GB. 2GB is better if this VM will run multiple packages.

Virtual machine config 3

Next step is to Configure Networking, select WAN from Connection drop-down menu. We will add LAN later.

Virtual machine config 4

On the next step select Create a virtual hard disk and assign 10-20GB to the firewall. Larger disk size is required when running Squid caching.

Virtual machine config 5

Select Install an operating system from a bootable CD/DVD-ROM and browse to the pfSense installer ISO.

Virtual machine config 6

Review the virtual machine information and finish the wizard!

Virtual machine config 7

Open Settings of the newly created pfSense virtual machine and add another network adapter. Select LAN virtual switch for the adapter.

Virtual machine config 8

Review the VM settings and make sure to have WAN and LAN switches selected under network adapters

Virtual machine config 9

Installing pfSense Software

After successfully creating and configuring the pfSense virtual machine, it’s time to start it.

Installing pfSense 1

Wait for the virtual machine to boot up and press I to invoke installer.

Installing pfSense 2

Once installer boots up select the Quick/Easy Install and follow the installer steps.

Installing pfSense 3

When prompted, select the standard kernel and continue the installation.

Installing pfSense 4

After installation is complete, select reboot and eject the ISO.

Installing pfSense 5

First boot and interfaces assignment

The pfSense virtual machine should boot up quickly and prompt for interface assignments. Select N to not set up VLAN’s now.

Interfaces 1

In the following steps assign WAN and LAN interfaces to the appropriate network adapters. The MAC address can be verified against the virtual machine settings.

Interfaces 2

After assigning interfaces, pfSense software will finish the boot-up. Verify both interfaces have the correct IP addresses.

Interfaces 3

Congratulations! The virtual machine is now running pfSense software on Microsoft Hyper-V.

Guide under construction, may have minor errors