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What Is a Hardware VPN?
Hardware VPNs are devices that provide VPN features (like encryption/decryption and authentication), and have a dedicated processor. Besides that, they also tend to offer hardware firewall functionalities too.
Hardware VPNs are stand-alone, which means they handle all VPN functions on their own.
An example of a hardware VPN would be Zyxel’s Firewall Hardware VPN.
What Is a Software VPN?
Software VPNs are applications you install and run on your own devices. On your end, they can either be native clients that come pre-installed on your device, or third-party VPN clients you get from your VPN provider.
On the provider’s end, software VPN is both the client they develop and what they set up on the VPN servers they use. The software is responsible for handling connections between the VPN client and the server.
Who Is a Hardware VPN Right for?
Given how hardware VPNs work and how costly they can be, they’re mostly suitable for large businesses who need to give a large number of employees (100+) access to VPN connections.
Also, hardware VPNs are only a good choice if you’ve got a skilled and reliable IT department, and proper network security in place.
Are Software VPNs Only for Individuals Then?
Well, if you’re just an online user looking to hide your IP address and encrypt your online traffic, you’re much better off with a software VPN than a hardware one. It’s much more user-friendly, easy to set up, and cost-efficient.
But software VPNs work well for business too – particularly small businesses, sometimes even large businesses depending on the costs and your needs.
After all, they’re a simple and intuitive way to:
Bypass geo-blocks that prevent employees from doing their job.
Secure your VoIP calls with remote employees, partners, and clients.
Give remote employees quick and secure access to your work network.
Do tons of SEO research.
Hardware VPN vs. Software VPN – Which Is Better?
The differences between hardware and software VPNs can get a bit too technical and complex, so we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.
Keep in mind this section will mostly be relevant for businesses, though you might find good info if you were considering to get a hardware VPN for personal use.
So, here’s what each type of VPN does better than the other:
1. Software VPNs Have Way Better Pricing
If you were hoping to hear that hardware VPNs are very affordable and cheap, we’ve got bad news for you.
A hardware VPN will normally cost you anywhere between $100 to $500 – sometimes even $1,000 or more.
And if your business expands, and you start hiring more and more people, you’ll obviously need to get extra hardware VPNs, potentially doubling or tripling the initial cost.
There are some hardware VPNs that you can get for under $100, but they are obviously not as powerful as the more expensive ones. They can be a good choice for a home network, however it’d be much more convenient and simple to get a software VPN, and set it up on your home router instead.