Pfsense and running in memory

  • Hello,

    I'm new to pfsense and apologize if this topic or question is inappropriate here.  If so, please redirect me.

    Q.  How much of its operation does pfsense run exclusively from memory?
    right after a clean new install?  after running a while with no changes other than standard configuration changes in pfsense?

    Q.  Is there a documentation link to what (tasks,processes, …) does run exclusively in memory versus what does not?

    I am generally looking to implement features that will allow for bandwidth monitoring by ip, and possibly downloading those statistics to a local machine.

    I understand pfsense is derived from m0n0wall.  And m0n0wall runs exclusively in memory.

    Packages are frowned upon in embedded versions of pfsense.
    I would like to add at least some packages to pfsense but prefer NOT to use a hard drive.  For example, the available 'rate' package.


  • Just like M0n0, you can run pfSense without a hard drive.  It will be, as you mentioned, 100% from memory.  For packages, you can use the embedded version as long as you are not running highly i/o intensive packages like a proxy (Squid).  This would exhaust the life of the memory card very quickly.  That said, new SLC cards are out, and would likely be able to run any package you throw at it.  You could also consider using an SSD in a standard PC installation, many people have done that without issue.

  • AFAIK, pfSense does not ever run 100% in memory. Running from the live CD may come the closest, but i think it still reads from the CD from time to time.
    Embedded generally has the CF card mounted RO, and only mounts it RW to save config changes, etc.
    Anyway, rate and darkstat are both supported on nano.

  • Thank you to mhab12 and dotdash for your answers.  Appreciated.

    I've been running with a hard drive to experiment with pfSense and tried 'rate' but the system didn't seem to stay functional for more than 30 minutes while 3 people were running torrents on the network.  There were timeouts on the LAN side resulting in zero traffic passing through.
       I rebooted 2 additional times with the same results.
       I removed 'rate' and installed both bandwidthd and darkstat.  The system is currently not as stressed but it is fully functional.  They both provide stats, but none as desirable (to me) as 'rate' – although I would prefer to be able to capture the 'rate' data because it flashes by rather quickly.

    Are there any other 'rate'-like packages that provide relatively real time information on LAN utilization but are more stable?

    Again, thanks to all for your information.


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