VPN Types: Which One Is the Best for You?

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People are not left wanting for choice as VPN services become more popular. There are so many different VPN types, with more in the works, that choosing the best one can be confusing. This article will go through all of the different VPN types so everyone can pick the one that’s best for them.

Before getting into all of that, however, let’s first discuss what exactly a VPN does, just so that everyone’s on the same page.

A virtual private network is a secure connection that keeps a user’s online activities private and safe from invasion. This technology has become increasingly important in the recent years as cyber attacks, phishing, and malware have become more prevalent. Unfortunately, the internet itself isn’t as secure as one would hope. So it’s up to everyone to educate themselves on the potential dangers and make sure they’re protected. A VPN is one of the best ways to do that.

Not every VPN is the same, however, and can be made up of different protocols and features. The type of VPN and its features are determined by the VPN service that runs it.

Explained in detail below are the types of VPN technologies and an overview of how they work.

How does a VPN service work?

To be able to use a VPN, one first has to sign up with a VPN service provider. These companies host the servers and run the networks that a VPN user will connect to.

There are so many VPN service providers out there that it would be hard to list them all here. But not all of them are great, or even good. That’s why it’s important to look at the features a VPN service has to offer.

One VPN service will usually host hundreds or even thousands of servers to connect to and also offer a couple of VPN protocol types to choose from. The different types of protocols provide various levels of encryption. This means that some protocols have stronger encryption methods and are thus more secure than others.

VPN protocols are another type of VPN choice that a person will need to make when they choose a VPN. Luckily, VPN services usually offer more than one protocol option. So this isn’t always a major deciding factor when it comes to choosing a service.

But before getting into protocols, let’s first look at the two main types of VPN. These are remote access VPNs and site-to-site VPNs. The VPN types determine how the connection will work.

The two main VPN types

When it comes to choosing a VPN type, it all trickles down to how the network will be used and what it will be used for. The two main VPN types cater to the needs of individuals and companies or groups of people respectively.

Let’s have a look at what they do.

Remote access VPN

Anyone who has ever needed to securely connect to the internet from home or a public place will most likely have used this. Also called client-based VPNs, remote access VPNs secure a user’s network while connecting to an external source via the internet. So this is the best option for personal use and for remote workers who want to connect to their company intranet securely.

Most commercial VPN services use this type of VPN to run their service. They let people connect to external servers via their network through a client and encrypt the data with a protocol. The server then decrypts the data before connecting it to the endpoint (final destination).

This allows anyone to browse the internet anonymously without the fear of being hacked. Remote Access VPNs also have the added bonus of being easy to set up. Mostly because the service usually does the brunt of the work.

It’s a great choice for anyone who wants to keep their network secure, whether they’re new to cybersecurity or not.

Site-to-site VPN

While the remote access VPN type is more geared toward the use by individuals, site-to-site VPNs are great for corporates or groups. This type of VPN is also known as a network-based VPN because it connects two networks together across an untrusted network. That means the two networks communicate exclusively with each other and no outside party can gain entry without permission.

There are different types of site-to-site VPNs, including IPsec tunnels, MPLS-based L3 VPNs, and Dynamic multipoint VPNs. IPsec is the most commonly used between the three.

Usually, this type of VPN will be set up and run by a network administrator. This person will determine which fixed IP addresses can be connected and how the system will verify anyone who wants to connect.

Site-to-site VPNs are geared toward companies that have multiple branches in various locations. These branches can connect to each other through the network and securely share data and information.

Now let’s explore how these connections are encrypted and how the different types of protocols work.

The different types of VPN protocol

Each of the VPN protocol types below is currently being used by VPN networks.

PPTP

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest protocols still available today. It creates a tunnel that encapsulates the data then encrypts the data in the tunnel. PPTP offers a fast connection at the expense of security as it’s no longer as effective as it once was.

IPSec

Internet Protocol Security secures communication by encrypting every data packet that’s traveling over a connection. It operates in transport mode and tunneling mode which encapsulates the data and keeps it safe.

L2TP

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol creates a tunnel that connects two points, so it’s known as a tunneling protocol. It’s generally used with an encryption protocol like IPsec as it doesn’t encrypt data on its own.

IKEv2

nternet Key Exchange also uses IPSec for increased security and builds upon the Oakley protocol. It was created by Microsoft and is considered one of the most secure protocol options.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is one of the newest protocol types and is open-source, so it’s community-supported. This is widely considered the most secure option currently available and is offered by most VPN services.

Picking a VPN can be tricky, especially when one isn’t familiar with the VPN types and what they do. However, anyone armed with the information above should be able to choose the optimal VPN for their needs.