watchdog timeouts

  • I woke up this morning and saw I had no internet access. I checked the Pfsense console and the message watchdog timeout was filled on my screen. I have a dual gigabit port PCI express network card and this is the one that pfsense is showing as watchdog timeout.
    Now I had my torrents downloading over night on a scheduler. So I rebooted pfsense and internet was restored. I started a few torrents which generated over 200Mbps of traffic and sure enough after less than a minute the watchdog timeouts were back.

    I did some searching and it appears the heavy traffic and poor hardware network card is the culprit. Is this correct? If so i'll return my network card and order a replacement

  • I'm willing to bet the network card you have has a Realtek chipset. If so, this driver will likely fix the issue:

    But if you have the option and money, buying an Intel card is an easier and better way to go.

  • @thenarc i'll try that, stupid question: how do I update a NIC card driver with pfsense?

  • @thenarc said in watchdog timeouts:

    I'm willing to bet the network card you have has a Realtek chipset. If so, this driver will likely fix the issue:

    But if you have the option and money, buying an Intel card is an easier and better way to go.

    I still would like to understand how to update drivers and copy files to pfsense and move from folders to root etc (i'm very new to this)

    regarding this NIC, i'm returning it and purchasing the Intel one

    10Gtek Intel 82576 Chip Gigabit Ethernet Converged Network Adapter(NIC), Dual RJ45 Copper Ports, PCI Express 2.0 X1, Same as E1G42ET

  • So the Intel NIC will almost definitely fix your problem. But if you're still interested in the driver, see this post within the thread I linked earlier:

    Note the correction posted by user Derelict too. The file you want to edit is /boot/loader.conf.local, not /boot/loader.conf. Also, it can be non-obvious how to transfer the file to pfSense if you haven't done it before. The easiest way, in my opinion, is via SCP. If you're not familiar with this, let me know and I can provide further information.

  • @thenarc thanks and yes if you could help me I would appreciate that. I have no idea how to copy a file . Basically I installed pfsense last week and that’s the end of my knowledge

  • First, you'll need to enable the SSH server (System > Advanced > Admin Access > Secure Shell). Check the "Enable Secure Shell" box and the "Password or Public Key" login option. By default, the server will only listen for connections on the LAN interface, so you won't need to worry about connection attempts coming in from the Internet. Next, if you're on Windows, I'd probably just grab WinSCP to transfer the file ( and putty to SSH in ( WinSCP provides some good guides ( The protocol will be SCP, the host will be the LAN IP of your psSense machine (e.g., and the username/password will be the admin username and password that you use to log in to the pfSense web GUI. Similarly, here is a guide on putty: The credentials will be the same. WinSCP will copy the file over, and putty will get you a shell (command prompt) on the pfSense machine, from which you can move the driver file to /boot/kernel/ and change its permissions per the instructions from the earlier link.

  • Netgate Administrator

    You should never have to do this really. It's useful for experimenting with patched drivers or in the case of the Realtek driver where the manufacturers seems to perform better than what's in FreeBSD. Or to support something obscure that is not included by default.

    The basic procedure is copy the kernel module, xxx.ko, to /boot/modules in the pfSense box.

    Then add a line to /boot/loader.conf.local to load the new module at boot, it will generally replace the in kernel driver.
    That line is likely to be xxx_load="yes".

    The kernel module must be compiled against the same kernel version pfSense uses so that generally means compiling it in FreeBSD of the correct version and copying from there.

    But just to reiterate you do not need to do any of that for an Intel NIC.


  • Thanks for the info much appreciated , this whole forum has been very helpful and informative.

    I ended up returning the Realtek NIC and purchased an Intel “knock on wood” no timeouts yet

  • Netgate Administrator

    Good decision! 😀


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