VPN vs. VLAN – what are the differences?

Many similarities and just as many differences. That’s how we can summarize VPN vs VLAN. But it’s way more than that.

These two terms have been popular from long time ago but the pandemic has made them prevalent.

Understanding the difference between a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and a VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) is essential for making sure that your online security is maintained. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between the two, discussing their pros and cons to help you decide which one is best suited to your needs.

Full nameVirtual Local Area NetworkVirtual Private Network
SecurityGood securityHigh security
Main goalConnect devices that are separateCreate remote access
Target audienceMainly companiesCompanies and individuals alike
PriceDepends on the networkTypically pricier than VLANs

What is a VPN? 

The term “virtual private network” (or “VPN”) describes the secure connection your computer makes to another network. Let’s say you’re at home and you want to use the computer you use at work, but it’s inaccessible because it’s located at the office.

With a virtual private network, or VPN, you can access your office’s files and programs from your own computer at home as if you were physically present.

We have to admit it hasn’t been praised enough before, but after the pandemic and remote work opportunities, more and more companies have turned to VPNs to protect their corporate resources, as well as their employees from 3rd party attacks.

What is VLAN? 

VLAN is the acronym of Virtual Local Area Network technology. It’s a technique for breaking up a larger physical network into more manageable virtual pieces.

Think of it like creating separate rooms within a big house – each room has its own set of devices and people, but they’re still all in the same house.

Virtual LANs (VLANs) allow many networks to share the same physical infrastructure while maintaining the appearance of being independent.

This can provide you more device placement options while simplifying network management and security.

What are the differences between VPN and VLAN?

VPN and VLAN are both technologies that help you manage your network, but they do it in different ways. Think of a VPN as a tunnel that connects two networks together, kind of like a secret underground passageway. This tunnel is protected by encryption, meaning anyone trying to snoop on the data passing through it would be locked out. This is really handy for people who work remotely, or for anyone who needs to access a company’s network from somewhere else.

On the other hand, VLANs are like a magic wand that you wave to create multiple networks within one physical network. Let’s say you have a big office building and want to set up a network for each floor. With a VLAN, you can do that without having to run a bunch of extra cables.

Or, let’s say you want to set up a separate network for guests and another one for employees, VLAN can help you with that too. The main goal is to make sure that the right people have access to the right resources and nothing else.

Advantages and disadvantages of VPNs 

Аs with any technology, VPNs have their pros and cons. Let’s see

VPN Pros

  • Security: VPNs encrypt your internet connection, making it much harder for hackers or other malicious actors to intercept your data. This can help protect your sensitive information, such as login credentials and financial data.
  • Anonymity: VPNs can make it difficult for websites and online services to track your browsing activity. This can be useful for protecting your privacy or accessing content that is blocked in your region.
  • Remote access: VPNs can allow you to securely access a network from a remote location. This can be useful for employees who need to access company resources from home or while traveling.
  • Cost savings: VPNs can be a cost-effective way to connect remote offices or employees to a central network, as they can eliminate the need for expensive leased lines.

VPN Cons 

  • Speed: Encrypting and decrypting data can slow down your internet connection, especially if the VPN server is located far away from you.
  • Reliability: VPNs rely on the security and stability of the internet connection, if the connection is unstable, the VPN connection will drop.
  • Limited compatibility: Some devices may not support VPNs, or the VPN software may not be compatible with your operating system.

Advantages and disadvantages of VLANs

  • Increased security: VLANs segment a network into smaller, more manageable segments, which makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access sensitive information.
  • Improved network performance: By separating traffic into different VLANs, network congestion can be reduced, leading to improved performance.
  • Increased flexibility: VLANs allow for the creation of logical networks, regardless of the physical layout of the network. This makes it easy to add, move, or change devices without affecting the entire network.
  • Cost savings: VLANs can help reduce the cost of network infrastructure by allowing for the reuse of existing network equipment.

Well, as with each technology, VLANs are ideal.

  • Complexity: VLANs add an additional layer of complexity to network design and management, which can make it more difficult to troubleshoot and maintain the network.
  • Increased hardware requirements: VLANs typically require specialized network hardware, such as routers and switches, which can be expensive.
  • Limited scalability: VLANs can be limited by the number of available VLAN IDs and the number of ports on a switch.

Which one should you choose – VPN or VLAN?

Both have their use cases, so you should consider them carefully. To help you make the best decision, we’ll help you by showing you the most common use cases for each.

VPN use cases 

  1. Remote Access: Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most common use cases for VPNs is to allow remote employees to access a company’s internal network and resources as if they were physically in the office. This can include access to email, file servers, and other internal systems.
  2. Secure Communications: VPNs are actively used to encrypt communications between remote employees and the company’s internal network, providing an extra layer of security for sensitive data.
  3. Site-to-Site Connectivity: Another use case of virtual private networks is to create a secure connection between two or more remote sites, allowing them to communicate as if they were on the same LAN.
  4. Mobile Security: VPN apps are capable of securing communications and protecting sensitive data when using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to access the internet or internal networks.
  5. Online Privacy: Individuals often utilize this technology, to encrypt their internet connection and protect their online privacy. This can include hiding their IP address, bypassing censorship, and accessing geo-restricted content.
  6. Dynamic Pricing: People in developed countries use VPNs to change their IP address and location to access different prices for products or services on e-commerce websites.
  7. Bypassing Censorship: With the help of VPNs, users can bypass censorship and access blocked websites or content in countries with strict internet regulations. This can include accessing social media websites, news sites, or other pieces of blocked content.

As you can see, VPNs find use in many cases. They’re good for both companies and customers.

VLAN use cases

  1. Breaking down large networks: One common use case is dividing a large network into smaller, more manageable chunks. For example, you can create a VLAN for the accounting department, another for the marketing department, and another for the IT department. This way, each department has its own network and can work independently without interfering with the others.
  2. Security and compliance: Another use case is for security and compliance. By isolating certain types of traffic or certain users onto their own VLAN, you can better protect sensitive information and ensure compliance with regulations.
  3. Network flexibility: VLANs can also improve network performance by reducing broadcast traffic and making it easier to troubleshoot issues. They also allow for more flexible and scalable network infrastructure, and can even allow multiple networks to share the same physical infrastructure.

Best VPNs on the market 

VPNs, as we’ve already learnt, can be both customer-oriented or made for corporate needs. That’s why, we’ll have to separate both into two categories.

Best B2C VPN apps

Starting with PrivateVPN, this app is often considered to be one of the top options for individuals looking for a reliable and secure VPN service. One of the things that sets PrivateVPN apart from its competitors is its focus on streaming multiple content platforms (such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, etc.). The company has strict no-logging policies and uses advanced encryption to protect your online activities from prying eyes.

Additionally, PrivateVPN offers a wide range of server locations, allowing you to access content from all over the world. The app is also user-friendly, making it easy for even the most tech-phobic individuals to use.

Another highly-rated B2C VPN app is NordVPN. This app is known for its strong security features, including double VPN encryption and a strict no-logs policy. NordVPN also offers a large network of servers, with over 5,400 servers in 60 countries.

NordVPN allows users to access a wide range of content and also minimizes connection speed losses, thanks to the NordLynx protocol. The app is also easy to use, with a user-friendly interface and a variety of helpful features, such as automatic kill switch and a built-in ad-blocker.

Best B2B VPNs

B2B VPN solutions are a totally different “breed” than customer-oriented ones. When we talk about corporate solutions, two names come to our minds – Perimeter 81 and Twingate.

Perimeter 81 is a SaaS-based VPN platform that offers a mixture of features to help businesses secure their networks and protect their data. It allows secure access to business-critical applications such as cloud-based software and internal web portals. It also enables seamless integration with existing network infrastructure, including firewalls, VPNs, and identity management systems.

This corporate-oriented software also offers advanced security features, such as multi-factor authentication and encryption, to protect against cyber threats. Additionally, it has user-friendly interface that makes it easy for IT teams to manage and monitor network access.

Twingate is another popular B2B VPN solution. Twingate is a cloud-based VPN that is designed to help businesses securely connect remote employees, contractors, and partners to internal resources. It enables secure access to internal resources such as servers, databases, and web applications.

The setup and management are easy with a web-based control panel that allows IT teams to quickly create and manage VPN connections. It also delivers advanced security features such as encryption and authentication, to protect against cyber threats. Last on our list, Twingate also supports multiple protocols, including OpenVPN and IKEv2, to ensure compatibility with a wide range of devices and operating systems.

VLAN solutions by Hostek 

If you need a professional VLAN solution, Hostek can help. VLANs are very considerably fewer than VPNs, but if you need a professional service, Hostek is the answer. We have the experience and knowledge to provide you with the best possible service. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take advantage of the benefits of a VLAN.


To conclude our article, VPNs and VLANs are both important networking tools for businesses. Each provides unique advantages depending on the needs of the organization. A VPN is an ideal choice when a business needs to securely connect remote workers or branch offices with their main office network. However, it can serve the needs for individual customers, too.

Meanwhile, a VLAN is more suitable for segmenting traffic into different broadcast domains within one large physical network. In either case, it’s important for organizations to evaluate their particular requirements before deciding which type of solution best meets their needs.


What is the main difference between VPN and VLAN? 

The main difference between a VPN and a VLAN is the method they use to create a secure, private network. A VPN uses encryption and tunneling protocols to create a secure connection over a public network (such as the internet), while a VLAN uses network segmentation to create a separate, isolated network within a larger network.

Can you use a VPN with a VLAN? 

Combining a VPN with a VLAN can give you the best of both worlds. By routing your traffic through a VPN server and then segmenting it with a VLAN, you can make sure that your data is safe from snooping and prying eyes. Plus, using a VPN with a VLAN can help improve your speeds by keeping local traffic off of the VPN connection.

Can a VLAN have an IP address? 

Yes, a VLAN can have an IP address. In fact, having an IP address is one of the defining characteristics of a VLAN. Putting an IP address on a VLAN allows it to act just like any other network device, such as a computer or router. This means you can assign it an IP address and subnet mask, and it can communicate with other devices on the network. You can even give it a default gateway so it can reach devices outside of the local network.


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