vpn types

The Different Types of VPNs and Protocols Explained

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A VPN is useful for increasing your privacy, security, and freedom on the internet, but have you ever wondered how many types of VPN there are? These tools come in various different shapes, which is why it can be overwhelming to decide which type best suits your needs.

Types of VPNs

In this guide, you’ll learn about the several types of VPNs as well as what security protocols they’re based on. We also give you an overview of the numerous VPN services available today to the average internet user.

Let’s dive in:

4 Main Types of VPN

A VPN builds a private tunnel between your device and the public internet. All your traffic is encrypted as it passes through this tunnel, keeping your personal data safe from ISPs, government surveillance, hackers, and other entities. These tools can be divided into four main types, namely:

1- Remote Access VPN

Remote Access VPN

Remote Access VPNs are the most popular type of VPN these days. Basically, these connect users to a remote server located in another country. Most commercial VPN services out there are built upon this foundation! They allow you to browse the internet using their own network, encrypting the data you send and receive in the process.

As a result, you can use the Internet with complete privacy, gain access to websites and content otherwise restricted in your region, and safeguard your data from prying eyes on public and private networks. This type of VPN is ideal when it comes to personal use, and might be unsuitable for corporate purposes.

2- Site-to-Site VPN

Site-to-site VPN

Site-to-site VPNs function differently; they allow companies with offices in multiple fixed locations to create secure connections between each other over the internet. Here’s an example for your better understanding: you’re working out of the San Francisco branch of a large corporation and want to collaborate with employees from the Toronto branch.

Using a site-to-site VPN, sharing information and resources with one another becomes possible. This type of VPN is suitable for large-scale business environments which require private communications between offices around the world. However, they’re impossible to implement without specialized equipment. Site-to-site VPNs can be further divided into two types:

Intranet VPN

A company that has multiple remote locations can quickly and securely communicate with each other by creating an intranet VPN. This connects each local area network (LAN) to a single wide area network (WAN).

Extranet VPN

A company that has business ties with other companies can create an extranet VPN to connect each other’s LANs. This enables all parties to work together in a shared network environment while restricting access to their respective intranets.

3- Client-Based VPN

Client-based VPN

Client-based VPNs connect users to a remote network via an application/client that handles the establishing and communication process of the VPN. To gain access to the safe connection, the software needs to be launched and authenticated with a VPN username and password. This is how the encrypted link is built between the device and the remote network for secure exchange of data.

As far as implementing a client-based VPN is concerned, operating systems like Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS also come with the option to manually configure the encrypted connection based on a variety of standards. You can choose between SSTP, PPTP, L2TP, and more.

4- Mobile VPN

Mobile VPN is a specialized type of VPN designed for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It creates a secure and encrypted connection between the user’s device and the VPN server, ensuring your data remains secure while using public Wi-Fi or cellular networks.

One of the unique features of mobile VPN is its ability to maintain a seamless and private connection even when the user switches between different networks, such as transitioning from Wi-Fi to cellular data or moving between different Wi-Fi hotspots.

VPN Types Comparison

Remote Access VPN

Site-to-Site VPN

Client-Based VPN

Mobile VPN


Connects individual users to the open internet through a private networkConnects entire networks consisting of multiple users to one anotherConnects users to a remote network via an app/clientConnects mobile devices to a VPN server for a secure and encrypted connection

User Requirement

Users are typically required to have a VPN client installed

Eliminates the need for each user to run VPN client software

Users need to launch and authenticate a VPN app/client

Users have to install and run a mobile VPN app to connect to a VPN server

Use Case 

Suitable for personal use

Suitable for corporate use

Suitable for individuals and small-scale usage

Suitable for mobile devices and users on the go

Cost ConsiderationVery cost-effectiveCostly to implement and maintainVaries based on VPN software or service used

Varies based on VPN app or service used

The Different Types of VPN Services Available

VPN providers might have different types of services on offer based on the customer base they’re targeting. We’ve divided these into a few categories according to the following criteria for your better understanding: scalability, protocol availability, level of privacy protection, and price range.

VPNs for Personal or Business Use

Business VPNs are tailored to meet the requirements of large companies and facilitate the setup, deployment, and management of VPN connections. On the other hand, personal VPNs are geared towards fulfilling the needs of individual users, though they can sometimes cater to the needs of small businesses as well.

Single and Multi-Protocol VPNs

Most VPN services out there provide support for multiple protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard, giving you plenty of options to establish a VPN connection. Others prefer to offer support for a single protocol, particularly OpenVPN, because it’s open-source and considered the most secure option currently available.

Logless VPNs and Others

When it comes to privacy protection, users have two types of VPN services to choose from: those that don’t store any logs and those that do. Logless or no-log VPNs don’t collect, store, or share sensitive data regarding your bandwidth or connection, and their privacy policies are certified by independent third-party auditors.

Other VPN providers keep minimal logs and openly highlight this in their privacy policies. That doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be relied on, but these VPN services aren’t ideal if complete privacy is important to you.  As a general rule of thumb, avoid those providers that make big promises despite having a poorly written and vague privacy policy.

Free, Budget, and Premium VPNs

As far as price range goes, VPNs are typically divided into the following categories: free, budget, and premium services.

Premium VPNs have all the bases covered and provide a good combination of performance, security, and privacy along with must-have features like a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling. They also have user-friendly apps for all platforms and helpful customer support via live chat. All this makes the prices of these VPNs on the expensive side.

On the other hand, an affordable price is often the biggest strength of budget VPNs. Some do offer services good enough to be considered premium in a handful of aspects, usually the essentials. When it comes to free VPNs, they’re alright for casual use but aren’t reliable from a security and privacy standpoint. Plus, most of them have restrictions like limited servers and bandwidth.

7 Common Types of VPN Protocols

The four VPNs described above are based on an array of security protocols, each of which bring their own advantages and disadvantages. These include:

  1. PPTP: Widely compatible and easy to set up, but considered less secure due to weak encryption.
  2. L2TP: Combines features of L2T and IPsec and is supported across multiple platforms.
  3. SSTP: Developed by Microsoft, uses SSL/TLS encryption and bypasses most firewalls.
  4. OpenVPN: Open-source, highly secure, and customizable for various operating systems.
  5. IKEv2: Offers stability, super-fast reconnections, and is commonly used on mobile devices.
  6. IPSec: Provides encryption and authentication for secure communication. Typically used in conjunction with other protocols.
  7. WireGuard: Modern, very lightweight, and high-performance protocol with strong security.

Learn more about these in our VPN protocols comparison.

VPN Types – Frequently Asked Questions

Which type of VPN is the best?

Now that you understand the different types of VPN connections available, you might be wondering which one is the best. It all comes down to what your needs are, really. If you’re an individual looking to make use of a VPN for whatever reason, getting your hands on a remote access VPN is a good bet. However, if you own a business and want to ensure secure communications between offices in multiple locations, then a site-to-site VPN is your friend.

Which type of VPN is fastest?

It is not just the features of a VPN that make it fast, but also its servers. If you try to access content from a country where your VPN has placed its servers, you will experience much faster and safer connectivity. However, if your VPN provider does not have an existing server in the country which hosts your desired content, the VPN provider will have to rely on third-party networks and servers for access. This will increase page load time and make your connection slow.
When choosing a VPN service, go for one with the most physical servers worldwide.

How does a virtual private network (VPN) provide additional security over other types of networks?

A VPN provides you with an additional layer of security on any network, but how you ask? It uses multiple protocols like PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol), SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol), IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2), and OpenVPN (Open-Source Virtual Private Network) to create an encrypted connection between your device and the VPN server.

Wrapping Things Up

There are several types of VPNs, and picking the right one comes down to your expectations and needs. Even if you’re certain about your requirements, it’s challenging to find a service that works as well as it’s advertised. That’s why you should do your research before signing up for any VPN service and you can even take advantage of their trials or money-back guarantees to get an idea of how they perform.




January 1, 2024


4 months ago

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