A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool for connecting to a network securely over the Internet. It establishes a private connection, also known as a VPN tunnel, and routes all traffic and traffic through that tunnel.
VPNs can be divided into different types, based on their features, protocols, setup, and environment. It can be overwhelming to distinguish between the different types of VPNs and understand the optimal choice for your needs. So what types of VPNs are there? What do you need them for?
What are the different types of VPNs?
To better understand, we’ve divided VPNs into five categories.
1. Remote Access VPN
Remote access VPN is the most common type of VPN currently in use. It connects users to a private network through a secure remote server. A remote-access VPN works by routing a user’s data through a virtual tunnel between the user’s device and the private network.
Encryption protocols ensure that your data is not corrupted as it moves around the network. The user must install the client VPN software to establish a connection to the VPN.
Remote access VPN is simple to use and easy to set up. They can easily bypass geo-blocks and access otherwise restricted content. Remote-access VPNs are ideal for personal use.
2. Site-to-Site VPN
A Site-to-Site VPN is commonly used in large companies where multiple users in various locations need to access shared resources. Organizations with branches in numerous locations rely on site-to-site VPNs to connect the network of one branch to the network at another branch.
These connections can take one of the two forms.
Intranet based VPN: An Intranet based VPN links two offices of the same company. It connects two separate LANs to a single WAN.
Extranet based VPN: Some organizations need to connect to a network of another organization using an extranet-based VPN. A possible example of such a connection would be a company that connects to its supplier’s network for efficient trade.
A site-to-site VPN connects geographically distant offices via the Internet and ensures secure communication. Since the VPN connection is established through communication between routers, one router acts as the client, and the other acts as the VPN server. Communication between routers begins only after the two endpoints have been verified.
3. Client to Server VPN
A client to server VPN establishes a secure connection between clients and a corporate network, while still maintaining the security and resources of the network. It provides a new VPN tunnel that allows users to access a network without compromising security and privacy.
A client to server VPN is particularly useful when accessing insecure public WLANs. It prevents ISPs and third parties from compromising data since the connection is encrypted all the way to the provider.
A major advantage of the client-to-server VPN is universal access of employees to company resources. Clients, for instance, can connect to the corporate network from a home office and work as if they were present at the company workplace.
4. P2P VPN
A point-to-point (P2P) VPN is a service that is compatible with point-to-point networks. When searching for a file on a P2P network, the service finds a copy of the file and establishes a connection with the source that contains part or the entire requested file.
P2P speeds up the file-sharing process because instead of downloading from a single location, you download from multiple nodes that contain the same small piece of data. When you download a file, it is uploaded to more users who request the same file.
Despite the advantages, P2P networks also have a negative reputation. A P2P VPN can protect your data, but it doesn’t guarantee you from malicious files. Because peer-to-peer networks rely on data being hosted by different nodes, there is always a risk of malicious actors in the network. If you download malware that masquerades as a normal legitimate file, P2P VPN won’t protect your device.
Some users also use P2P VPPPPP to access illegal content, such as copyrighted software, movies, and music. That’s why many countries have strict laws to prevent P2P file sharing.
5. Single-Protocol Vs. Multi-Protocol VPNs
The VPN protocol determines how data is routed over the network. VPN services provide users with a diversity of protocols; each offers different benefits and features. Some prioritize data encryption for security and privacy, while others prioritize connection speed.
Some VPN services focus on a single protocol, while others give users the freedom to choose a protocol based on their needs. Popular VPN protocols include PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKev2, and OpenVPN.
AirVPN is an example of a single protocol VPN. It uses OpenVPN, which is open source and is considered the safest choice in VPN protocols. While single-protocol VPNs don’t offer any additional advantages, they can be just as reliable as VPNs that use multiple protocols.
If you’re wondering which VPN to choose, multi-protocol services are the answer in most cases. They give you the freedom to choose VPN features that are important to you at any particular moment or task.
Services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost support all major VPN protocols. They also offer strong encryption and even proprietary protocols like HotSpot Shield’s Catapult Hydra. Having versatility in protocols allows you to securely bypass VPN blocks, stream geo-restricted videos, and access censored content.
Which VPN should you use?
Choosing the right VPN service involves several variables, including speed, security, cost, bandwidth, and VPN protocol. Even if you have a clear understanding of VPN features and your requirements, choosing the best service among countless VPNs can be a challenge.
For individual users who want to browse the web anonymously or access restricted content, a remote access VPN is the best option. For users who specialize in file sharing and torrenting large files, P2P VPN is ideal without worrying about limitations. However, for businesses looking to ensure secure communication between offices in different geographic locations, a site-to-site VPN makes the most sense.