types of vpns

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become increasingly popular as internet users seek ways to secure their online activities and maintain privacy. VPNs offer a shield by establishing encrypted connections to ensure data protection and anonymity. They come in different types, each designed to cater to various requirements ranging from personal use to large-scale business settings.

A VPN creates a private tunnel within a public connection, such as the internet, enabling users to access blocked content, secure their data from hackers, and maintain their privacy even on public Wi-Fi networks. Knowing the types of VPNs available, their protocols, and their practical applications will assist users in selecting the appropriate VPN service for their needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Different VPN types are designed for personal use and large-scale business settings, offering varying levels of security and functionality
  • Understanding VPN types and protocols helps users choose the right service to secure their online activities
  • The future of VPNs might include cloud-based solutions and advanced security features to meet the increasing demand for online privacy and data protection

Types of VPNs

There are several different types of VPNs available, each with specific purposes and benefits. In general, VPN (Virtual Private Network) services can be grouped into four main categories: personal VPNs, remote access VPNs, mobile VPNs, and site-to-site VPNs.

Personal VPNs are designed for individual users who want to secure their connections on public Wi-Fi networks, hide their IP addresses, and access geo-restricted content. These VPNs are often provided through a subscription service with an easy-to-use interface, making them popular among non-technical users.

Remote access VPNs are mainly utilized by employees who need to access their company’s private network from a remote location. By connecting to a secure remote server, users can access company resources and services as if they were on-site. This type of VPN is common among businesses with employees working remotely or companies with multiple office locations.

Mobile VPNs are specifically designed for smartphones and tablets. They provide a secure connection for mobile devices, ensuring that data is encrypted, even when using unsecured connections on public Wi-Fi networks. Mobile VPNs can also help users bypass geographic restrictions when using the internet on their mobile devices.

Site-to-site VPNs are designed for connecting entire networks or locations to each other. These connections are often used by businesses to securely link different office locations, allowing employees at each site to access resources on the other sites’ networks. Site-to-site VPNs can be intranet-based or extranet-based, depending on the need to connect internal networks or include external partners and suppliers.

Site-to-Site VPNs

Site-to-site VPNs are a type of virtual private network (VPN) that enable secure communication between two or more networks, such as a corporate network and a branch office network. They create an encrypted connection or a “tunnel” over the internet or other wide area network (WAN) to securely transmit data between these networks.

Intranet-Based Site-to-Site VPN

Intranet-based site-to-site VPNs are used within an organization to interconnect its various branch offices securely. They leverage the internet to create a private network by establishing a secure, encrypted connection between each office location. The main advantage of an intranet-based site-to-site VPN is that it enables distributed offices or remote locations to securely access the organization’s internal network resources, such as applications, file sharing, and communication tools.

Some features of intranet-based site-to-site VPNs include:

  • Encrypted connections between different office locations
  • Access to internal resources, such as applications and file servers
  • Improved security for data transmission across the WAN

Extranet-Based Site-to-Site VPN

Extranet-based site-to-site VPNs are used to securely connect an organization’s network with external networks, such as those of partner companies or vendors. By establishing an encrypted connection between the organization’s intranet and the external network, extranet-based VPNs allow for safe and secure collaboration and communication between the two entities.A computer screen showing a diagram of the different types of VPNs

Some benefits of extranet-based site-to-site VPNs include:

  • Secure communication with external partners or vendors
  • Facilitating collaboration and data sharing with partner networks
  • Granting controlled access to specific resources without compromising internal security

Using site-to-site VPNs, such as intranet and extranet-based, offers a secure way for organizations to connect their networks, ensure data privacy, and facilitate seamless communication between various locations and external partners.

Remote Access VPNs

Remote Access VPNs enable users to connect securely to a private network remotely from their devices such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets. These VPNs provide an encrypted tunnel through which data can securely travel between a user’s device and the remote network, usually a corporate or organizational network.

Mobile VPNs

Mobile VPNs are specialized VPN services designed for users who need a stable and secure internet connection on their smartphones and tablets. The main benefit of mobile VPNs is that they offer seamless connectivity and maintain the VPN connection even when a user moves between different Wi-Fi networks or switches to mobile data. Mobile VPNs are essential for maintaining privacy and secure data transmission while using public Wi-Fi hotspots or in locations where network security may be compromised.

Personal VPNs

Personal VPNs are designed for individual users who want to protect their privacy and secure their internet connections on various devices. These VPN services provide a range of features, including data encryption, IP address masking, and access to geo-restricted content. Personal VPNs usually connect a user’s device to a remote VPN server, ensuring that their internet traffic passes through an encrypted tunnel. This helps to keep their data secure from hackers and surveillance, while also ensuring that their online activities remain private and anonymous.

VPN Protocols


OpenVPN is one of the most popular VPN protocols due to its strong security, reliable performance, and open-source nature. It operates on the OpenSSL library and can accommodate both UDP and TCP connection types. OpenVPN supports a variety of encryption methods, such as AES, which makes it highly adaptable for different security requirements.


IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) is another widely used VPN protocol that secures data transmissions over IP networks. IPSec operates in two different modes: transport mode and tunnel mode. This protocol offers strong security, particularly when paired with other protocols like L2TP or IKEv2.


Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is one of the oldest VPN protocols and has lower security levels compared to modern alternatives. Although it’s fast and supported by most devices, PPTP is vulnerable to certain attacks and is therefore not recommended for sensitive data transmission.


SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are cryptographic protocols commonly used for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. While SSL/TLS is not actually a VPN protocol, they are used for creating VPNs in conjunction with other protocols like OpenVPN or in the form of SSL-VPNs, which are browser-based VPNs.


Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is a protocol that does not provide encryption on its own. However, when combined with IPSec, L2TP becomes a powerful and widely used VPN protocol. L2TP/IPSec provides strong security and is compatible with most devices, but it may have slower performance compared to other alternatives.


Internet Key Exchange v2 (IKEv2) is a VPN protocol developed by Microsoft and Cisco. It provides a secure and stable connection by performing mutual authentication between two parties. IKEv2 is known for its ability to reconnect quickly after a network disruption. It is often used alongside IPSec for enhanced security.


WireGuard is a newer VPN protocol known for its minimalistic design and high performance. It operates on a smaller codebase than other options and uses modern cryptographic tools, resulting in faster and more secure connections. However, as a relatively new protocol, it may still experience growing pains and is not as widely supported as older protocols.


Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is a proprietary VPN protocol created by Microsoft. It uses SSL/TLS encryption and operates over a single TCP port, which makes it difficult to detect and block. Although it is primarily designed for Windows devices, some other platforms and VPN services also support SSTP.

Choosing the Right VPN Service

When you’re choosing a VPN service, there are several factors to consider, such as cost, features, and your needs. There are different types of VPNs available, from premium services to budget options, and even free VPNs. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each type and decide which one suits you the best.

A computer showing an illustration of the different types of VPNsPremium VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN are known for their high-quality service, excellent performance, and robust data encryption. They usually offer a wide variety of server locations, consistent speeds, and the ability to unblock streaming platforms. However, premium services come at a higher cost compared to budget VPNs or free options.

Budget VPNs such as Surfshark and CyberGhost provide a more affordable alternative to premium VPNs. They may offer fewer features and lower performance than premium services, but they still provide reliable data encryption and access to various streaming platforms for a lower price.

Free VPNs like Hotspot Shield can be an option for those who don’t want to spend any money on a VPN service. However, it’s essential to understand that free VPNs often have limitations in terms of server locations, speed, and features. Some free VPNs may also include ads or sell user data to generate revenue.

When considering a VPN service, think about your specific needs and how you’ll be using the service. If you need a VPN primarily for streaming, look for a service with the ability to bypass geo-restrictions on popular platforms. If privacy and security are your top concerns, focus on services that offer advanced features such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a strict no-logs policy. Additionally, ensure that the VPN service supports the devices and operating systems you intend to use.

Understanding the different options and weighing their pros and cons will help you choose the right VPN service to meet your needs. Take your time, research various providers, and make an informed decision that aligns with your requirements and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different VPN protocols?

VPN protocols are the methods used to create a secure connection between your device and the VPN server. The most popular protocols include:

  • OpenVPN: An open-source protocol that is highly configurable and widely considered the industry standard.
  • L2TP/IPSec: Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol combined with Internet Protocol Security, providing a good balance of security and performance.
  • IKEv2: A newer protocol offering speed and reliability, especially on mobile devices that switch between networks.
  • SSTP: Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, primarily used on Windows devices and known for its strong encryption features.
  • PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, often considered outdated and less secure but remains easy to set up.

Which VPN types are best for privacy?

Personal VPN services, such as PureVPN, are ideal for individual users who prioritize privacy. Remote access VPNs and mobile VPNs also emphasize privacy by securing your connection and masking your IP address.

What’s the difference between site-to-site and remote access VPNs?

Site-to-site VPNs are designed to connect networks in different locations, such as two offices. They act as a single, unified network for organizations. Remote access VPNs, on the other hand, connect individuals to a private network via a secure server, allowing remote users to access network resources as if they were physically on-site. Top10VPN provides further details about their differences.

What are some examples of popular VPN apps?

Popular VPN apps include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost, and Hotspot Shield. These apps offer a range of features, including privacy protection, ease of use, and a large network of servers.

How do I choose the right type of VPN for my needs?

Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a VPN. Think about the level of privacy and security you require, your budget, the devices you use, and the customer support you’d like. Research and compare different VPN providers, check reviews, and test them through free trials before committing to a subscription. Keep in mind that the best VPN for you may differ from someone else’s choice based on their specific needs.

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