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VLAN vs VPN: Main Differences Revealed


Today, technologies are developing at a fast pace. And, both general users and businesses adopt them to accommodate their needs. The Internet has already become a part of our lives, and we seek to make it a safe and comfortable place. Therefore, we’ve developed different types of networks that allow us to do so. In this article, we want to focus on two of them, particularly VLAN and VPN. So, what are they? Let’s compare VLAN vs VPN.


What is a VLAN

A virtual LAN (VLAN) is a collection of devices on one or more local area networks (LANs) configured to interact with each other at the data link layer as though they share the same physical location. However, VLANs do not necessarily have to be tied to one spot. Often, they are located on separate LAN segments placed on different floors of one building, in different buildings, etc. Communication within a group of such devices is rather based on logical connections as opposed to physical ones. This allows webmasters to easily cluster individual devices regardless of their locations in a manner as if they were interconnected by one cable.

Advantages of a VLAN

  • Enables logical grouping of devices scattered across multiple physical locations
  • Minimizes the need for router deployment and reduces deployment costs
  • Reduces administration
  • Allows easy broadcast control and segmentation

Definition of a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that allows for secure extending of a private network over a public network (the Internet). Given that public networks do not ensure privacy and protection to personal data, both corporate and private users recognize the need for a VPN as a sound security mechanism.

By connecting to a virtual private network, you can create a safe tunnel between your device and the website you’re visiting. The tunnel encrypts all traffic that passes through it, hides your identity, and makes it possible for you to access the web from different virtual locations remotely.

VPN Types

Basically, there are two types of VPN. These are remote-access and site-to-site VPNs. While private individuals normally use the first type of VPN, organizations are more likely to deal with the second. That’s because organizations prefer to implement and manage VPNs on a corporate level for security purposes.

Remote Access VPN

Generally speaking, a remote-access VPN is rather a solution for your personal use. It’s affordable, secure, and robust when it comes to various useful features. Also, it’s ultimately easy-to-use. It takes just a few clicks for you to connect to one of the remote VPN servers and bypass regional restrictions, filtering, or simply stay on the safe side: such a VPN will protect you from all kinds of hackers and snoopers.

Site-to-Site VPN

A Site-to-Site VPN is also known as a Router-to-Router VPN and is generally utilized by companies. It’s used to connect two networks of the same company in different physical locations. For example, company A has two branches: one office in Toronto and the other in Tokio. To ensure secure internal communication and data transmission between offices, the company integrated a Site-to-Site VPN or Intranet. Company A also communicates with company B that handles all the marketing tasks. To establish a safe external connection between offices both companies use a Site-to-Site VPN or Extranet. Depending on the type of connection and its configuration, a Site-to-Site VPN can be defined either as Intranet or Extranet.

Advantages of a VPN

  • Provides high levels of security through encryption
  • Ensures privacy and confidentiality
  • Eliminates censorship restrictions
  • Allows to share files anonymously through networks (works with P2P nets as well)
  • Allows to increase the overall efficiency of a network

Comparing VLAN vs VPN

  • VLANs are used by companies to group devices that are scattered across multiple physical locations into one broadcasting domain. VPNs are used for secure data transmission between two offices of one company or between offices of separate companies. It’s also used by individuals for their private needs.
  • A VLAN is a subcategory of VPN. VPN is a technology offering a secure connection for data transmission over the Internet.
  • A VPN is a more advanced but more costly option since it provides encryption and anonymization. A VLAN is great for splitting a network into logical parts for better management, but it doesn’t provide any of those security features a VPN does.
  • A VLAN reduces the need for routers and expenses on their deployment. A VPN increases the overall efficiency of a network.
  • A VPN operates in insecure virtual environments. A VLAN is usually used to connect two devices when one of them can’t establish an external connection (outside of the VLAN). It requires special permission prior to granting access.


Both VLAN and VPN and can be a great solution to meet your demands. It all rather depends on the functionality and the level of security you want to have. If you are managing an organization and want to divide your existing LAN into smaller chunks for better control, a VLAN will do the thing. However, if you’re looking for some privacy and encryption, it’s better to use a VPN. If you’re a private individual, you’ll probably never deal with a VLAN, and you don’t need to. Just pick a VPN provider you’re comfortable with, and enjoy all those advantages a VPN service has to offer.

Photo Credit : Linksys

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