In spite of having similar names, Virtual Private Servers (VPS) and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are two different services. Both make use of virtualization and offer additional security to your website but perform distinct functions.
Understanding the difference between the two will help you decide when and why you should choose one over the other. And that’s what this post is about.
So, let’s dive in and discuss both VPS vs VPN in detail.
What is a VPN?
A VPN or virtual private network is a secure, encrypted network between two end-points.
A VPN is designed to increase the privacy and security of a user while he is connected to the internet. The technology creates a secured network tunnel that can be used to transmit sensitive data without risk.
If you are a VPN in the right way, no one can tell who you are and where you are connecting from.
VPNs are commonly used by employees working from home for creating a secure connection between their PC and their office’s computer network. Employees make use of their home internet connection in order to access their workplace’s resources securely.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN can be accessed by means of a VPN service provider. When you choose a service provider, you subscribe to their service and download and install their VPN software. Then you select a server you want to establish a connection with.
Once this is done, the following happens:
- The VPN software on your device (desktop, mobile) encrypts your data and sends it to the VPN server using a secure connection. It’s important to remember that this data also passes through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) though in an encrypted form.
- The VPN server decrypts your data and sends it to the internet and receives a reply meant for the user.
- The reply is encrypted again and transmitted back to your device.
- The VPN software installed on your device decrypts the data, so you can understand the data and use it.
In a VPN network, your data gets routed through VPN servers, so your real IP address gets masked. This means the websites you visit will not have information related to your IP address, location, etc.
Most of the VPN service providers have their own servers; some of these have RAM-only servers where the data gets erased after every reboot.
Why should you use a VPN?
You can use a VPN for many different reasons-maintaining anonymity, accessing restricted or censored material, protection against hackers, and so on.
Let us have a look at the various scenarios where a VPN can be helpful:
Anonymous Browsing: In normal browsing, websites collect a lot of data about their visitors. In order to prevent this from happening, a VPN can be used. As VPNs hide your IP address and location, websites cannot identify your real IP address, they can only view the IP address of the VPN server your device is connected to. This enables you to browse the web with anonymity.
Bypass Censorship: In countries with authoritarian governments, the internet is heavily censored and access to many social networks and news websites is blocked as they are perceived as a threat to the government. This throttles the freedom of expression of people and prevents them from accessing valuable information.
VPNs allow you to connect with servers located in other countries, letting you bypass such censorship and access websites not available in your country.
Protection against Hackers: As discussed above, VPNs apply strong encryption protocols to your data, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, to be intercepted and read. These days, many malicious entities are interested in what you are doing online. VPN shields your data from such cybercriminals.
Stop Price Discrimination: Many websites track your browsing location and offer different prices depending on your profile. By using a VPN, you can avoid such discrimination and avail of unbiased offers on airline tickets or hotel rooms.
Use Public Wi-Fi Safely: We are aware of the dangers posed by free Wi-Fi networks such as those available at airports, railway stations, or restaurants. Using a VPN for accessing these hacker-prone networks helps you secure your data to a significant extent.
What is a VPS?
Now that we have grasped the concept of virtual private networks, let’s try to understand what a virtual private server is.
VPS is a virtual machine with finite resources created through virtualization. In order to create a VPS, a physical server is partitioned into several smaller servers by means of a visualization software, hypervisor. A VPS operates in an isolated environment that mimics a dedicated server in many respects.
In order to use a VPS, you need to buy a VPS hosting plan in India.
How does a VPS work?
As discussed above, a virtualization software is used to split up a physical server into several virtual machines (VPS). Each of these machines is allocated a specific amount of resources-CPU, storage, bandwidth, and memory-and hosts a separate user account. Users can tailor their VPS environment in accordance with the needs and preferences of their business.
So, all in all, while many virtual private servers reside on the same hardware, they function like independent machines and can host separate websites/applications.
Why should you use a VPS?
Website owners that have outgrown their existing shared hosting solution typically opt for VPS hosting in India. Virtual server come with a range of benefits including enhanced speed and security that aid in the smooth running of your website.
Here are some scenarios where a VPS can be a great fit for your business:
- Medium-to-high traffic website: If your website is experiencing a rise in the number of visitors and consistently getting medium-to-high traffic, upgrading to VPS hosting in India is recommended.
- Website handling personal data: If your website stores confidential user information such as their card details, address, or social security number, a VPS is what you should go for. Because virtual servers run in a sandboxed environment, the websites hosted on them remain unaffected by what happens on the neighboring sites.
- E-commerce Stores: VPS hosting in India grants exclusive access to the resources on the virtual server. As a result, you enjoy uninterrupted speed and performance required to run your online store smoothly.
- Custom applications: A VPS comes with root access which means you can tune its environment to your liking and configure the OS, software according to the requirements of your business. So, if your application requires a highly customized environment, a VPS would be appropriate.
VPN vs VPS: The Final Verdict
By now, you must have understood that VPN and VPS are two different services. Having said that, you don’t need to choose one over the other and the two technologies can be used in conjunction. So, you can use a VPN while you are hosting your website on a VPS. You can transfer important databases and files of your website (hosted on a VPS) using a VPN and get the most out of the two technologies.
Interestingly, a VPS is so customizable that you can create your own VPN using it. Needless to say, such a VPN will be limited in use when compared to that from a commercial VPN service provider.