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Interface Types and Configuration

pfSense® software supports numerous types of network interfaces, either using physical interfaces directly or by employing other protocols such as PPP or VLANs.

Interface assignments and the creation of new virtual interfaces are all handled under Interfaces > Assignments.

Physical and Virtual Interfaces

Most interfaces discussed in this chapter can be assigned as WAN, LAN, or an OPT interface under Interfaces > Assignments. All currently-defined and detected interfaces are listed directly on Interfaces > Assignments or in the list of interfaces available for assignment. By default, this list includes only the physical interfaces, but the other tabs under Interfaces > Assignments can create virtual interfaces which can then be assigned.

Interfaces on pfSense support various combinations of options on the interfaces themselves. They can also support multiple networks and protocols on a single interface, or multiple interfaces can be bound together into a larger capacity or redundant virtual interface.

All interfaces are treated equally; Every interface can be configured for any type of connectivity or role. The default WAN and LAN interfaces can be renamed and used in other ways.

Physical interfaces and virtual interfaces are treated the same once assigned, and have the same capabilities. For example, a VLAN interface can have the same type of configuration that a physical interface can have. Some interface types receive special handling once assigned, which are covered in their respective sections of this chapter.

This section covers the various types of interfaces that can be created, assigned, and managed.

Limitations

While pfSense software does not impose any limits on the number of interfaces, large numbers of interfaces may function in suboptimal ways. For example, the firewall may take much longer configure the interfaces, and the GUI may have rendering issues with large numbers of tabs or menu entries.

Most hardware will accommodate as many physical interfaces as can fit into the case. Issues may vary from driver to driver but generally are hardware-related and not the result of the operating system or pfSense software.

Note

With a large number of physical interfaces, the number of mbufs will likely need to be increased. See Tuning and Troubleshooting Network Cards.

Physical limitations aside, pfSense software can also handle significant numbers of virtual interfaces such as VLANs, LAGGs, VPNs, and more. These types interfaces tend to outnumber physical interfaces, especially VLANs.

Issues reported by users with large numbers of interfaces (physical and virtual) vary by hardware, configuration, and browser. These issues tend to increase as the number of interfaces approaches 200. Should a particular environment require more than 128 interfaces, consider alternate designs that do not involve using all of the interfaces on the firewall directly. If the firewall must handle large numbers of interfaces, be wary of potential performance and GUI concerns.