Nearly every Internet user has heard about VPNs. Virtual private networks keep growing in popularity and are used everywhere in the world. They can secure your connection so that you can keep your privacy intact every time you are online.
But the term VPN is quite complex and can be construed and referred to in different ways. There are several types of VPNs available out there and you might struggle in choosing the best one for your needs.
In order to get a better picture of the different types of VPNs available, it is important to first make a clear distinction between VPN networks and VPN services.
VPN networks refer to the technology itself, used to encrypt your Internet traffic and secure your data. A VPN per se is the private and secure connection, which uses a certain type of protocol in order to encrypt/secure your online data. You can read more about the most important types of VPN protocols here.
However, the abbreviation ‘VPN’ is also used to describe VPN services. A VPN service refers to the entire package of services included by a provider. The package can include more than one type of VPN protocols, additional features, customer support and more. So while you can only use one type of VPN technology at a time, you can switch between several of them when you opt for a VPN service.
Based on the type of connection, there are 2 main types of VPNs: remote-access VPNs and site to site VPNs.
They are mostly used for individual use or by corporations that have remote workers. As the name suggests it, remote-access VPNs allow users to connect to a remote server, using a secure, encrypted connection.
Remote-access VPNs are easy to set up and use and a great option for basic needs. For larger organizations however, site-to site VPNs are more suitable.
Site-to-site VPNs allows connection between several site locations, which are tied together to form one virtual network. That means multiple users from various locations can access all resources from all those locations. That is why site-to-site VPNs are valuable in businesses, because this way companies with offices in various locations on the Globe can connect and share each other’s data.
You can categorize VPNs based on several criteria. Another one is the number of protocols available. There are VPN services that offer multi-protocol support and services that offer single-protocol VPNs. It is obviously better to choose a provider that offers multi-protocols, because not all protocols focus on the same aspects. Some of them are better in terms of speed, others for unlocking geo-blocked content, others in terms of security, etc.
Another criterion based on which you can classify VPNs is the logging policy. There are VPN services that keep logs and services that have a zero-logging policy. The second category is better because it means the VPN provider respects your privacy and doesn’t collect and keep your data, such as personal info, browsing history, time of connection and so on.
Based on price, you can also classify VPNs into free VPNs, budget-friendly VPNs and premium packages/products.
The general rule of thumb is to choose a paid VPN service, because free VPNs usually come with some deal-breaking disadvantages. More on that subject, here.