PfSense is crashing every night!

  • In our office, I installed a PfSense firewall on an old Dell Pentium 3 with 256 megs of RAM last Wednesday. This same hardware has been sitting in storage since the last time I installed a firewall on it (monowall, I think) some two or three years ago, but the hardware was fine then, and it only got removed from service because of some issues with the floppy drive (which killed the firewall's configuration).

    Now, with PfSense, it's crashing nearly every night - this morning at 6:30 and the morning before at 3:36, and four nights ago at 3:36 again. Both internal and external network interfaces go down (both are 3com network cards - one is a 3c905C-TX and the other is a 3c905B-TX on the motherboard.), so I suspect the machine just locks up, although I'm not the first one into the office in the morning to log into the router to find out exactly.

    The packages I have installed are ntop, nmap, and denyhosts.

    I can't think of any more detail to add, but any troubleshooting help would be appreciated.

  • It sounds like a hardware fault - just because it was good a few years ago doesn't mean it's still good.

  • Okay, so why is it only crashing when the load is lowest, not during the day when it's highest (not that there's ever a lot of load on it)? In fact, during the day this router has otherwise been working better than our old Linksys router, which would drop several of our VoIP calls every day.

  • The firewall could be performing a job during those times that accesses a bad block in the memory. Have you performed a memory test on it?  Have you run a hard-drive test utility?

    Truthfully- if you are running a production box for a business, you need a backup, and a test machine to pretest any firmware updates you intend to run…  Go to a thrift store and see whats been turned in there. Used computers are a dime a dozen. Or what Id really suggest is to use a new computer since its a business and outages can hurt you. But I know how budgets dictate...

    You could try to re-load the machine and see if you get the same result...  Re-load the packages one at a time...

  • Alright, I'll replace the memory the first chance I get - that wasn't part of the original machine that was in use before.

  • System Rescue CD has a collection of a number of bits and pieces of diagnostic software (and more) including memory diagnostics and disk drive diagnostics. See

  • Yes, it's definitely hardware. I replaced it with another computer (after doing a thorough RAM test on the new box), and now the first one won't even boot anymore. It looks like I got it just in time.

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