What Are the Advantages and Benefits of a VPN?

Here's why you should be using a VPN

Kevard VPN, an example of many VPN providers.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one solution to establishing long-distance and secured network connections. VPNs are normally implemented by businesses or organizations rather than by individuals, but virtual networks can be reached from inside a home network. Compared to other technologies, VPNs offers several advantages, particularly benefits for wireless local area networking.

For an organization that is looking to provide a secure network infrastructure for its client base, a VPN offers two main advantages over alternative technologies: cost savings and network scalability. To the clients accessing these networks, VPNs also bring the benefit of ease of use.

Cost Savings With a VPN

A VPN can save an organization money in several situations:

  • Eliminating the need for expensive long-distance leased lines
  • Reducing long-distance telephone charges
  • Offloading support costs

VPNs vs. Leased Lines

Organizations historically needed to rent network capacity such as T1 lines to achieve full, secure connectivity between their office locations. With a VPN, you use ​public network infrastructure including the Internet to make these connections and tap into that virtual network through much cheaper local leased lines or broadband connections to a nearby Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Long Distance Phone Charges

A VPN also can replace remote access servers and long-distance dial-up network connections commonly used in the past by business travelers needing to access to their company intranet. For example, with an internet VPN, clients need only connect to the nearest service provider's access point, which is usually local.

Support Costs

With VPNs, the cost of maintaining servers tends to be less than other approaches because organizations can outsource the needed support from professional third-party service providers. These providers enjoy a much lower cost structure through economy of scale by servicing many business clients.

VPN Network Scalability

The cost to an organization of building a dedicated private network may be reasonable at first, but it increases exponentially as the organization grows. A company with two branch offices, for example, can deploy just one dedicated line to connect the two locations, but four branch offices requires six lines to directly connect them to one another, six branch offices need 15 lines, and so on.

Internet-based VPNs avoid this scalability problem by tapping into public lines and network capability that is readily available. Particularly for remote and international locations, an internet VPN offers superior reach and quality of service.

Using a VPN

To use a VPN, each client must possess the appropriate networking software or hardware support on their local network and computers. When set up properly, VPN solutions are easy to use and often can be made to work automatically as part of network sign on.

VPN technology works well with Wi-Fi local area networking. Some organizations use VPNs to secure wireless connections to their local access points when working inside the office. These solutions provide strong protection without affecting performance excessively.

Limitations of a VPN

Despite their popularity, VPNs are not perfect and limitations exist as is true for any technology. Organizations should consider possible issues when deploying and using virtual private networks in their operations:

  • VPNs require ​a detailed understanding of network security issues and careful installation and configuration to ensure sufficient protection on the public internet.
  • The reliability and performance of an internet-based VPN is not under an organization's direct control. Instead, performance relies on an ISP and its quality of service.
  • Historically, VPN products and solutions from different vendors have not always been compatible due to issues with VPN technology standards. Attempting to mix and match equipment may cause technical problems, but using equipment from one provider may cost more.