Home Lab - Laptop Partime Secondary Device

  • Hello all,

    I currently have an AES ready box already up running a fairly simple Lan and Wan with pfblocker and DNS server and as I have this old HP Elitebook 2560p knocking about I was thinking to utilize this as a part time secondary/backup pfsense device in case the primary fails. The Intel i5 CPU is AES ready and the single built in Intel nic is compatible.

    I am aware that you can setup pfsense with a single nic - not fully read up on it yet but are their any caveats with this I should be aware about?

    I'd also link to link the 2 devices together to share the config settings. Will this work with devices with a different number of nics?

    Am not 100% also on how I would setup the wan/gateway IP on my switch for auto failover. so eg: pfsense 1 -, pfsense 2 - = published wan/gateway -

    Lastly and this could be the deal breaker. The backup pfsense I'd like not to be powered up 100% of the time. If I schedule a bootup say every day or other day, will the primary pfsense box store up any changes that need to be applied to the backup box?

    I'll be fine with a drop of network throughput as this would only be a temp solution until I get the primary back up. Which also makes me think. If both pfsenses are powered up can I specify that traffic should pass through the primary box by default?

    Thank you in advance and cheers for reading this and any help/advice is most welcome.

  • If your laptop has an express card port, you could use an express card Ethernet adapter for another Ethernet port. Not sure of your backup plans as you should need to and backing up I believe is for your configuration should you need to reinstall pfSense. Hopefully, someone with more info will chime in.

  • Thanks for that. I think from reading a long time ago that support for pcmcia/express cards is a little sketchy. Plus these items seem a little hard to get hold of now and new ones are a bit pricey.

    I have gotten into the good habbit of backing up the config before I make any changes.

    My theory for this temp device is to cover my more in a hardware failure as that could take longer to resolve than reinstalling pfsense.


  • You can positively get an express card cheaply...I recently bought one (three weeks ago) on eBay for MacBook pro for $10 free shipping. It seems that you're giving yourself more work than needed...a backup of your configuration should be sufficient. Usually, when there is a hardware failure, it the spinning hard drive and that can be resolved with an SSD that can and do fail...rear though.

  • Thanks for the advice. I'm in the UK and ebay here is not throwing up much for me. The laptop in question uses the express card not a full size pcmcia. Am not worried about drives (am already using ssd and have spares of those) but the actual unit itself. It's a passively cooled mini pc with an external power supply. Getting replacement parts would not be easy or timely. Hence why I'm thinking of a 2nd device that can take over temporarily.

  • it can be don with a single nic and a vilan cabable switch. It's more to leran but its än alternative if you cant get a card

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