VPN vs VPS: What is the Difference?

Julia Smith
Julia Smith
Community manager @ SOAX24 June, 2022

VPN and VPS sound so similar, yet one letter makes a big difference. In this blog, we’ll explore what each of them is, how they work, what they are used for, what their benefits and drawbacks are, and what the difference between VPS and VPN are.

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What is a VPN?

This abbreviation stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a network of dedicated servers that create private tunnels connecting computers with external resources on the web. It disguises all the traffic coming from the user’s device. If a VPN is on, all requests and search history become unaccessible even for the Internet Service Providers (ISP).

How Does VPN Work and Why Do You Need It?

Various companies are providing VPN services for different types of devices and operation systems. Once the VPN software is switched on, it starts hiding all the outgoing data. Through the creation of the tunnel, VPN conceals the IP address and the location from other external actors, including cybercriminals. So, the user’s anonymity and security increase significantly. Furthermore, VPN services usually encrypt the data, making fraudsters’ lives harder, as it is extremely hard to decipher.
While using public wi-fi connections, like in the cafes and airports, VPN can be extremely handy as the safety of these channels might not be guaranteed. In addition to protection, it can help access servers that place specific restrictions on the incoming traffic, like corporate servers.
Users can usually choose from a variety of locations that VPNs offer. So, they can access particular websites as if they are doing it from another country, while actually not moving an inch from the comfort of their homes. This allows bypassing any geo-restrictions set by, for example, social media or streaming services. The same access principle applies to the newswires and other resources, thus providing an ability to avoid Internet censorship. Another common use of VPNs when it comes to avoiding geo-restrictions is to find region-specific deals of airlines, hotels, or car hire services, as the providers quite often have varying offers for customers from different countries. The more expensive prices can be also offered depending on the user’s search history. VPN services ensure there is nothing to show, so the customer is more likely to get better offers. In addition, some ISPs might limit the access speed following excessive use, e.g. for downloading big files. Yet again, VPN prevents this from happening.

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Pros and Cons of Using a VPN

From the above use cases, the apparent benefits of a VPN are:

  1. Privacy and anonymity.
  2. Security.
  3. Access to geo-restricted content.
  4. Access to protected remote resources, like the ones located on a corporate Intranet.

In addition to these, VPN services are usually quite affordable.

The drawbacks of VPN services are:

  1. The speed. The creation of a secure and encrypted connection does take time. It might not affect day-to-day tasks if overall there is a good internet speed, but this makes a VPN less suitable for tasks, like large-scale web scraping or sneaker botting.
  2. Nullification of privacy when employing personified services. This would be true for many services, but once users open the email, video streaming service, or social media account linked to them directly, such services start collecting information about the activities on their internet platforms. VPN can’t guarantee full anonymity and privacy in this case.
  3. Stability of connection. If the VPN connection drops, the user’s information becomes exposed. In order to avoid this from happening, some VPNs use a kill switch that automatically disconnects from the internet if the connection is lost.
  4. This is not an ultimate security tool. It is required to configure VPN properly in order to gain maximum benefits. DNS and IP leaks might still happen. It is worth remembering that using VPN does not guarantee protection from malware breaching the user’s security. Good online user practices, such as using trusted sources, should still be applied.

What is a VPS?

This stands for Virtual Private Server. It is a form of web hosting offered by specialized companies. It provides a separately dedicated part of a genuine hardware server to host data online. Each such virtual container runs independently. VPS is primarily used for hosting websites, apps, and other services.

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How Does VPS Work and Why Do You Need It?

VPS utilizes virtualization technology to separate a physical server into different independent sections called virtual servers or “nodes”. It enables autonomous functioning of all its bits while keeping little difference between the functionality of the actual piece of hardware and its virtual parts.
VPS provides better speed and more customization options than shared server hosting can offer its users. At the same time, VPS clients don’t have to invest as much money as they would for a dedicated server hosting. The maintenance of the server also won’t be their problem, cutting the costs even further. So if the server can be compared to a building containing all the data, then VPS would be a separate apartment with its own entrance and climate control.
Users of the different virtual parts of the same server don’t have any access to the data stored by their neighbors. VPS subscribers are also absolutely free to use different applications, software, and security preferences to suit their individual needs. Clients have access to the critical system logs and scripts, so it is easier to run diagnostics of any issues if they arise.
VPS hosting is scalable and clients can easily expand if this is required due to the growth of the website or the increase in traffic volume.

Pros and Cons of Using a VPS

Let’s recap the VPS’s advantages we’ve just covered:

  1. Good speed and performance.
  2. Flexibility in customization and control.
  3. Scalability.
  4. Cost efficiency.
  5. Privacy.
  6. No need to maintain a physical dedicated server.

However, as always, there are a few drawbacks users need to be aware of.

  1. Cost. Although the prices of VPS are considerably lower than those of dedicated servers, they are still more expensive than their shared counterparts.
  2. Potential issues with resource allocation. In rare cases when one of the clients of the physical server uses a big volume of its resources that can affect the performance of other clients’ websites. Usually, high-quality VPS hosts are capable of avoiding these problems.
  3. Need for some technical knowledge. To get the most from VPS it is advised to have at least above average IT skills. For example, terms like “Apache”, “MySQL”, and “Bash commands” should be familiar.

Difference Between VPN and VPS

By now it is quite clear that juxtaposing VPN and VPS is like comparing apples and oranges. The first is a tool facilitating safe and secure web browsing. The second is a machine made available for the clients as a service for hosting websites. Users can benefit from both of them, even simultaneously. For example, they can access the internet to manage their sites hosted on VPS using a VPN for additional security. While VPS can be of interest to those with a specific need for hosting online resources, VPN can be of use for a much larger group of customers who are concerned with their safety and security while browsing the internet.
Now that the VPS vs VPN question is out of the way, you can explore other ways to protect your identity, information, and location online. All of this and even more can be achieved by proxies. Read our blog on the benefits of using residential proxy to find out more about the practical use cases for businesses. Also, you might be interested in learning about transparent proxies, which are a go-to tool for enhancing security and productivity for both private users and organizations.