2023, July 07
·
Security
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8 min read
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Matt S.

VPS vs. VPN: What Are the Differences?

Both VPS and VPN sound related. However, VPN serves as a shield for your online browsing activities, while VPS provides a space for your file hosting needs.

The terms VPN and VPS do sound alike. Even after deciphering the acronyms, you can find two exact words Virtual Private. Only where a VPN is a virtual private network the VPS is a virtual private server. In truth, they are actually absolutely different services and tools. They do other things and don't compete against one another. That said, we understand why there may be some confusion.
So, in this blog, we'll explain what a VPN is and how it works, and we will do the same for VPS. This blog will help you better understand whether you need one of these services and how to improve your security online.

VPN – a 101 overview

VPNs have been increasing in popularity for a while. According to Dataprot, there are around 1.5 billion VPN users globally. Approximately 40% of them are between 16 and 24 years old. It's advertised as a more secure way to browse online. The chart below from Surfshark illustrates how a VPN works, but we'll get into the more technical side.

How a VPN works

In the simplest way to answer, VPN acts like an internet traffic rerouting system. Instead of the website/platform, the VPN service knows your IP address and other relevant info. However, the website or service you're accessing will only see the internet information of the VPN, not your personal one. In a more technical sense, it creates a secure and encrypted connection barrier between you and the internet. A VPN reroutes your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, making it seem like you are browsing from a different location.
This adds an additional layer of privacy by protecting your data from unwanted censorship, restrictions, etc.

VPN only offers limited added security

It is essential to understand that a VPN is not a bulletproof tool. While it enhances your online security, it does not guarantee complete invincibility. VPN is a standalone app or tool, so they can have technical vulnerabilities. Also, their effectiveness depends on various factors, such as the encryption protocols used and the VPN provider's policies and practices.
Additionally, a VPN cannot protect you from other security risks, such as malware or phishing attacks, or safeguard your data if your device is compromised. To better understand, the VPN receives it instead of your ISP and the website getting your data. That may be better in some cases, but more often than not, benefits are limited.

Why use a VPN?

A common question is, "Do I need a VPN?". For countries with high censorship, like the Great Firewall of China (Read about it here) or Russia's ban on foreign news outlets and the departure of some platforms/tools, having a VPN may be necessary. Whereas in the Western parts of the developed world, VPNs are mainly used to disguise identities and/or bypass regional content locking. Here is a chart illustrating the primary benefits of VPN use.
However, at the same time, service providers may restrict you from using a VPN, and you may lose the ability to ask for a refund or be eligible for prizes if you use one.

VPS – a 101 overview

VPS is a virtual private server. This service is entirely different, aimed at business users more than private users, like VPN. To best understand what a VPS is, we should focus on the general need for hosting and servers. Knowing about it may be beneficial since, according to Alliedmarketresearch.com, the market for VPS around the globe is projected to reach over 8 billion USD.

What is a VPS, and how it works?

A virtual private Server is a virtualized server environment that mimics a dedicated server within a shared hosting infrastructure. In simpler terms, a virtual private server is a piece of a physical server rented or sold for hosting, storing data, etc.
It operates on the principle of virtualization, where a physical server is divided into multiple virtual compartments, each acting as an independent server with its own resources and operating system. You need server capabilities to successfully implement, launch and support online solutions. RAM, CPU power, and storage are all necessary, but they're complex and expensive to maintain on a small scale, in-house. This is why independent VPS services are in high demand.
You can imagine it as a big apartment building. This is a physical server. Each apartment has its own accommodations, amenities & space. These apartments would represent what a VPS is. While they share the building's infrastructure, their activities, and usage do not interfere with one another.

Why should you choose a VPS?

When you need remote processing power, you have a few options. People often mull the choices between shared, VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting.
In comparison to all other options, VPS hosting stands out as:
  • Very, very flexible for scaling
  • Having high-security and decent configuration options
  • Offering amazing price to value
  • Providing above-average performance
However, this isn't the best choice at all times. There are situations where other solutions might be better.
Shared hosting – this is usually the cheapest option. You should note that the capacity of this option is limited since you have multiple services sharing the same resource. There are limitations on traffic and capabilities. It's the cheapest option, though (usually).
VPS hosting – as mentioned, it's probably the most versatile and flexible option. This may be the way to go if you're looking for the best value for money with average or slightly above-average performance.
Dedicated hosting – even though dedicated hosting is usually the costliest option, it provides exclusive access to the whole resources of the server. If your service, website, or platform demands high capacity or you have strict compliance to meet, choose dedicated hosting.
Cloud hosting – with the emergence of cloud-based services, cloud hosting has been on the rise. It provides almost limitless scalability, decent pricing and can meet the needs of services with traffic spikes and high differences between peak and regular traffic.

FAQ on VPN & VPS

Now that we have established why and how a VPN and VPS differ, it's time to look at specific frequently asked questions.

Will VPN make my browsing experience safer?

For some parts of the world, having a VPN provider see what you do is better than having the government spy on you. At the same time, you should understand that VPNs could better protect your content/identity. Forbes states that around 57% of people that use VPNs experience a cyberattack.
If you want to share information in complete confidence, privacy, and even anonymity, use E2E encrypted communication apps like Skyda (Learn more). Your messages on it are end-to-end encrypted, meaning no one else can intercept them. Not even your VPN provider can know what you share. They only see fully encrypted info.

What types of VPNS are there?

There are paid and free VPNs. Free VPNs are very easy to download and start using, but 99% of the time, their server data is known online, so you can't expect to bypass regional locks. A free VPN may hide your location, but the service provider will recognize that and restrict you from using it (check out the image below for how Amazon Prime deals with it).
Paid VPNs also should offer better speed and more flexibility. For example, you can choose which location you wish to connect to. It also would have decent rates that match your average bandwidth. Free VPNs usually offer 30-40 kb/s download speeds and no support. It's up to you to choose, but a paid VPN has much more functionality.

How to use a VPN?

  • Sign up for a platform or service.
  • Download the app to your PC, Mac, Linux, Android, or iOS device (there may also be plug-ins for browsers).
  • Launch the app and log in with your credentials.
  • Select the location you wish to connect to.
  • Connect.
  • Launch or re-launch the website to access it via a different location.

Can a VPS service be hacked?

In the simplest terms, almost anything can be hacked. A hosting environment isn't unbeatable for hackers, yet it would require many resources and time to hack into. Besides, your files are kept separately from other relevant items of the VPS, so it's much safer.
The most common way to hack is to seek vulnerabilities. However, VPS service providers usually have high-level cybersecurity.

Summary

We have established that VPN and VPS are entirely different concepts and technology. Even though they are both virtual and private, a VPN is usually meant for personal use, and a VPS is for business use. They do not compete and have pros and cons that you should know before starting to use them. Hopefully, this was useful, and until next time!
Sources:
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