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VPN vs. Firewall: What Are the Differences?

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VPNs and firewalls are security tools that each serve a purpose.

A firewall is a software installed on your computer to protect it from attacks, while a VPN connects you to the internet through an encrypted tunnel.

VPNs can be used for more than just protection.

They allow you to access content that might not be available in your region or surf the web anonymously.

Firewalls can only block viruses and malware from getting on your device. However, they serve the purpose of providing security when you need it.

In this article, we’ll cover how each works, the types that exist today, and how they compare with one another. So, if you’ve always been confused by the two terms, you’re in the right place.

What Is a VPN?

Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that creates a secure, encrypted connection over a public network, such as the internet.

Their purpose is to protect users’ privacy and security when accessing those public networks. However, they also allow users to bypass geographic restrictions and censorship.

Meanwhile, businesses use VPNs to protect their data and employees when working remotely or to connect to a corporate network while traveling or working from home. VPNs are also used by individuals who want to keep their internet browsing activities private.

How VPNs Work?

  1. You connect to a VPN and get assigned a new IP address.
  2. This IP address is unique to the VPN server and not your home or office network.
  3. Your traffic is routed through the VPN server, so your real IP address is never revealed.
  4. VPNs also encrypt all of the data that passes through them. This makes it difficult for anyone to track your online activity or identify who you are.

When choosing a reliable VPN service, it’s important to consider the following factors.

  • The number of servers the VPN provider has in different locations
  • The level of security the VPN provides, including encryption and authentication methods
  • The price of the service
  • The ease of use of the VPN software

Some popular VPN providers include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Private Internet Access. I’ll discuss why in a bit (so keep reading).

Benefits of a VPN

  1. Privacy and Security – VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server. This prevents anyone else from seeing your data or tracking your activities. This is especially important when using public Wi-Fi hotspots, as it helps protect your information from being stolen by hackers.
  2. Increased Flexibility – VPNs allow you to connect to servers in different countries. This can be helpful when streaming movies or TV shows are blocked in your region. They also allow you to bypass censorship and access websites blocked by your ISP.
  3. Cost Savings – VPNs can help reduce your data costs by allowing you to connect to networks that are closer to your location. They can also be used on multiple devices simultaneously, saving you money on data plans.
  4. Improved Performance – VPNs can enhance the performance of your online activities by routing traffic through their servers. This can be helpful when streaming high-definition content or playing online games.
  5. Increased Anonymity – VPNs mask your IP address and replace it with the IP address of the VPN server. This makes it impossible for others to track your online activities and can be especially useful when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network.
  6. Easier Access – VPNs are easy to set up and use, even if you don’t have a lot of technical knowledge. They’re available for various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Types of VPNs

There are four main types of VPNs: Remote Access VPNs, Site-To-Site VPNs, SSL/TLS VPNs, and IPsec VPNs. They’re discussed in detail below.

Remote Access VPNs

Remote Access VPNs

Remote-access VPNs are technology-based solutions employed to create a secure, encrypted connection between a remote user and an organization’s private network.

This tunnel is created by encrypting the data sent between the two devices using strong security protocols like SSL/TLS.

Remote-access VPNs are used in a variety of industries and applications, such as:

  • Governmental organizations – for secure communication between remote users and government networks
  • Education – for secure communication between remote users and school networks
  • Healthcare – for secure communication between remote users and healthcare organizations
  • Enterprise businesses – for secure communication between remote employees and company networks


  1. Secure: Remote access VPNs provide a secure, encrypted connection between the remote user and the organization’s private network. This protects the data passing between the two devices from being viewed or intercepted by unauthorized third parties.
  2. Convenient: Remote access VPNs allow users to securely connect to their organization’s private network from anywhere in the world. This allows them to work from home, on the road, or in any other location with an internet connection.
  3. Efficient: By using a remote access VPN, employees can connect to the company network quickly and easily. They don’t have to worry about configuring complex network settings.


  1. Cost: Some remote access VPN solutions require an annual subscription fee.
  2. Complexity: To use a remote access VPN, the user must have knowledge of networking concepts and be able to configure the VPN client software.
  3. Compatibility: Not all devices are compatible with remote access VPNs. The user’s device must support the required security protocols (like SSL/TLS) to establish a connection.
  4. Slow Connection: In some cases, the remote access VPN connection may be slower than a traditional network connection. This is because the data is encrypted and decrypted multiple times through the VPN tunnel.
  5. Limited bandwidth: The VPN connection may also be subject to bandwidth caps and throttling, which can reduce the connection’s speed.

Site-To-Site VPNs

Site to site VPNs

A Site-To-Site VPN is a virtual private network that connects two or more physically separate networks. Typically, these networks are owned and operated by different companies. However, they can also connect two parts of the same company’s network.

When you establish a Site-To-Site VPN connection, your computer becomes part of the other network. This means that you can access resources on that network as if you were physically connected to it.

All data passing between your computer and the other network is encrypted, so your privacy is protected.

Site-To-Site VPNs are most commonly used in business environments.

They can be used to connect two or more offices or a company’s office network to its suppliers or customers.


  1. Security – As mentioned earlier, all data passing between your computer and the other network is encrypted, so your privacy is protected.
  2. Cost savings – By connecting two or more networks, you can share resources, such as printers and file servers. This can lead to cost savings.
  3. Ease of use – Once you set up a Site-To-Site VPN connection, it’s easy to use. You can access the other network’s resources just as you would if you were physically connected to it.


  1. Limited bandwidth – The encrypted data passing between your computer and the other network takes up bandwidth. This can limit the amount of data that can be transferred, leading to slower speeds.
  2. Latency – As the data travels through the VPN tunnel, it goes through a number of different routers and remote servers. This can lead to increased latency or delay.
  3. Complex setup – Setting up a Site-To-Site VPN can be complex and time-consuming. You need to configure both your computer and the other network’s devices correctly to establish the connection.



SSL/TLS VPNs are virtual private networks that use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) to create a secure connection between the client and the server. This makes it difficult for someone to intercept the traffic and read the data. SSL/TLS VPNs can be used in a variety of situations.

  • Connecting to a remote office or coworker
  • Accessing resources that are only available internally
  • Protecting your traffic when using an unsecured public Wi-Fi network
  • Setting up packet or network restrictions to stop unauthorized access

Furthermore, there are a few types of SSL/TLS VPNs, and they all work similarly.

The client first connects to the VPN server, then connects to the destination server. This creates a secure connection that’s difficult to intercept.


  1. Great Security – It secures your traffic on public Wi-Fi networks or when connecting to remote offices.
  2. Easy to Use – They’re not sophisticated. This makes them a popular choice for personal and corporate clients.


  1. Costly – They’re more expensive than other types of VPNs.
  2. High Incompatibility – Not all devices support SSL/TLS VPNs.
  3. Slow – They can be slower than other types of VPNs.

IPsec VPNs

IPsec VPNs

IPsec VPNs use strong security protocols to create a secure tunnel between two or more devices. The tunnel is used to send and receive data securely and is especially useful for businesses that need to connect their remote offices or protect sensitive information. These VPNs are most commonly used in businesses but can also be used in homes and other settings.


  1. Reliable Security – They provide a high level of security, making them ideal for businesses that need to protect sensitive data.
  2. Ease of Use – They’re easy to use once configured to meet the needs of any business.
  3. Stable Connections – They’re reliable and stable and can be used to send and receive data securely over any type of network.


  1. Costly Maintenance – They can be expensive to set up and maintain.
  2. Sophisticated Configurations – They can be difficult to configure for not tech-savvy businesses.
  3. Slow at Times – They can be slow and unreliable, especially when used over a public network.

What Is a Firewall?

How Firewall works

A firewall is a system or group of systems designed to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems from unauthorized access and attacks. Firewalls can be software or hardware-based and can be used to protect one or more computers and entire networks.

Firewalls work by inspecting all traffic passing through them and denying access to anything that doesn’t meet certain security criteria.

They can be used to block traffic based on the source IP address, the destination IP address, the port number, the protocol being used, or the application being used.

Firewalls are an important part of any organization’s security infrastructure.

They should be used with other security measures, including a VPN.

Types of Firewalls

Firewalls have been around for a long time and come in many different shapes and sizes. There are five basic types of firewalls, discussed in detail below.

Packet Filtering Firewall

Packet Filtering Firewall

A packet filtering firewall is a software or hardware-based firewall that inspects each packet of data passing through the network.

The packets are examined against a set of rules that determine whether the packet is allowed to pass. If the packet does not meet the requirements of any of the rules, it’s discarded and won’t reach its destination.

Packet filtering firewalls are commonly used in small businesses and home networks because they’re relatively simple to configure and manage.


  1. Simple to configure and manage.
  2. Inexpensive compared to other types of firewalls.
  3. It can be implemented on a variety of devices.


  1. It may not provide enough security for larger networks.
  2. Not as effective in protecting against sophisticated attacks.
  3. It can be challenging to keep up with changes in the network environment.

Stateful Inspection Firewalls

Stateful Inspection Firewalls

Stateful Inspection Firewalls are a type of firewall that uses the state of network connections to filter traffic. They’re used to protect networks from unauthorized access and can be used in private and public networks.

Stateful inspection firewalls work by analyzing the state of a connection.

This is determined by the destination IP address, source IP address, source port number, and destination port number.

This information is used to create a table of active connections, which is then used to filter traffic.


  1. Stateful inspection firewalls are very efficient at filtering traffic. They can filter traffic based on the state of a connection, which allows them to only allow authorized traffic through.
  2. Stateful inspection firewalls effectively prevent Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. They do this by blocking traffic from unauthorized sources, which helps prevent DoS attacks.
  3. Stateful inspection firewalls can stop Network Address Translation (NAT) attacks by limiting paths for any kind of suspicious traffic.
  4. Stateful inspection firewalls are easy to use and configure. They’re also very reliable, meaning they rarely crash or go down.


  1. Stateful inspection firewalls can be CPU intensive, which can cause them to slow down the network.
  2. Stateful inspection firewalls can be vulnerable to attack. A good hacker can exploit vulnerabilities in the firewall or router to access the network.
  3. These firewalls can be expensive to purchase and maintain.

Application Layer Firewalls

Application Layer Firewalls

Application layer firewalls are software programs that run on a computer and act as a security barrier between the computer and the internet.

They work by inspecting the data packets that pass through them and can block or allow traffic based on set criteria.

Application layer firewalls are used in businesses and organizations where there’s a need to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access.

They can be used in both wired and wireless networks.

They can also be installed on Windows, MacOS, or Linux operating systems.


  1. They protect your computer from malicious software, such as viruses and spyware.
  2. They can help protect your privacy by blocking unauthorized access to your personal information.
  3. They can be customized to meet your specific needs and requirements.
  4. They’re easy to use and set up
  5. They run on the most popular operating systems.
  6. They’re updated regularly with the latest security patches and updates.


  1. They can be CPU intensive and may slow down your computer.
  2. They can be difficult to configure and set up.
  3. They can occasionally block legitimate traffic.
  4. They’re ineffective against attacks that use malicious code or exploits that target the operating system or application software.
  5. They’re not effective against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.
  6. They can be expensive to deploy in large organizations.
  7. They can be complicated for non-technical users to understand and use.

Next-Generation Firewalls

Next-Generation Firewalls

Next-generation firewalls, also known as Unified Threat Management (UTM) firewalls, are security devices that combine multiple security features into one device.

These features can include a firewall, intrusion detection/prevention system (IDS/IPS), content filtering, anti-virus and anti-malware protection, and URL filtering.

They work by inspecting all traffic that passes through them for malicious or unauthorized activity. They can then block or allow that traffic depending on the rules that have been set up.

Next-generation firewalls are most commonly used in large organizations where there’s a need for multiple layers of security.

They can also be used in small businesses that deal with sensitive information. Government organizations have been known to also make use of these firewalls.


  1. They provide comprehensive security coverage for all types of traffic, including web traffic, email traffic, and file transfers.
  2. They’re easy to use and manage, requiring few or no changes to the existing network infrastructure.
  3. They can be deployed quickly and easily, often in just a few hours.
  4. They offer a high level of protection against malware and other threats.
  5. They can be used to protect both internal and external networks.


  1. They can be expensive to purchase and maintain.
  2. The level of protection they offer may not be suitable for all businesses or organizations.
  3. They require regular updates and maintenance to stay effective.
  4. They can be complex and difficult to configure and manage without an expert.

Circuit-Level Gateway Firewalls

Circuit-Level Gateway Firewalls

Gateway firewalls are a specific type of firewall that sits at the edge of a network, between the internal and external internet. They’re also known as perimeter firewalls.

Gateway firewalls provide the first line of defense against attack, and they’re particularly important in organizations with public-facing web servers.

There are two main types of gateway firewalls: Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewalls and Application-Level Gateways (ALGs).

SPI firewalls inspect all packets passing through the firewall to ensure they conform to the organization’s security policies.

ALGs allow specific applications, such as email or web browsing, to pass through the firewall without being inspected. This is necessary because many applications use multiple ports and would be blocked by an SPI firewall.

Gateway firewalls are also often used with Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPSs). IDSs are used to detect attacks that have already occurred, while IPSs are used to prevent attacks from happening in the first place.

Gateway firewalls can be deployed in two ways: in front of a web server or an entire network. In front of a web server, the gateway firewall is responsible for protecting the remote server from attack.

In front of an entire network, the gateway firewall is responsible for protecting all devices on the network from attack.

Gateway firewalls are often used with other security devices, such as routers and switches. Routers direct traffic between networks, while switches connect devices within a network.

By combining these devices, organizations can create a secure environment that’s difficult for attackers to penetrate.


  1. They’re very easy to use. They require little or no configuration, making them ideal for small organizations that do not have a lot of technical expertise.
  2. They’re very reliable, immune to most attack types, and rarely fail.
  3. They’re affordable. Gateway firewalls are much less expensive than application-level gateways or stateful packet inspection firewalls.


  1. They’re not as effective as other types of firewalls in protecting against sophisticated attacks or some malicious files.
  2. They can be bypassed by attackers who know how to exploit the vulnerabilities of the firewall.
  3. They can slow down network traffic.
  4. They’re not always compatible with certain applications, such as peer-to-peer file-sharing programs.

Benefits of Using Firewalls

Just like VPNs, Firewalls bring an important security framework necessary to ensure everything runs smoothly without any threat undermining operations. The following are some benefits of using Firewalls.

  1. Firewalls help protect your computer network from unauthorized access, malicious attacks, and viruses.
  2. Firewalls help protect your confidential information and privacy.
  3. Firewalls help ensure compliance with government regulations and industry standards for online services.
  4. Firewalls can improve network performance and reliability.
  5. Firewalls can help reduce the cost of network security.

A point to note, firewalls are an important part of a comprehensive security strategy. They should be used with other security measures, such as anti-virus software, intrusion detection systems, and access control lists.

Similarities Between VPNs and Firewalls

VPNs and firewalls are essential security tools, but they serve different purposes. VPNs provide a secure connection to remote networks, while firewalls protect your computer or network from unauthorized access.

Despite their differences, VPNs and firewalls share some similarities.

  1. VPNs and firewalls encrypt traffic between your computer and the remote network. This protects your data from being intercepted by hackers or other malicious actors.
  2. VPNs and firewalls use authentication methods to verify that the user is who they say they’re. This prevents unauthorized users from accessing your computer or network.
  3. VPNs and firewalls have similar installation processes. In most cases, you simply download and install the software and then configure it to work with your computer or network. This makes them both easy to use.

Overall, VPNs and firewalls are important security tools with many similarities. While they serve different purposes, they both provide essential security features that help protect your computer or network from unauthorized access.

Differences Between VPNs and Firewalls

Here are some of the key differences between VPNs and firewalls:

  1. A VPN encrypts all data traffic between your device and the internet, while a firewall doesn’t.
  2. A VPN can be used to access blocked websites and content, while a firewall can’t.
  3. A VPN can be used to protect your privacy online, while a firewall can’t.
  4. A firewall is essential for protecting your network from malicious traffic, whereas a VPN isn’t always necessary.

If you’re looking for a way to secure your online traffic and protect your privacy, a VPN is the better option. A firewall is essential if you’re looking to protect your network from malicious traffic.

VPNs vs. Firewalls: Head to Head Comparison

  Encrypts Traffic? Verifies User Access? Easy Installation? Unblocks Restricted Sites? Protects Online Privacy? Blocks Malicious Traffic?

What Are the Best VPNs and Firewalls?

We covered the types of VPNs and Firewalls, saw how they work, their strengths, and their drawbacks. Both are very good at providing users with the protection they need against online threats.

But how do you narrow down your choice to the ones that fit your needs? The following is a breakdown of the top VPNs and Firewalls for your consideration.

Top 5 VPNs

There are many VPNs available. Each has its own set of features and benefits. Here is a list of the five best VPNs, according to our experts.

1. Surfshark

Surfshark is a top-rated VPN service that provides maximum online privacy and security. It has many features that make it ideal for anyone looking for online protectionSurfshark is one of the cheapest VPNs around, with amazing security features. You can use it to secure an unlimited number of devices at once.



2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers in the world.

It’s known for its high-quality security and privacy features, making it ideal for online privacy and security.



3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is another top-rated VPN service that can encrypt your online traffic, ensuring that your privacy and security are protected.

It has a number of features that make it an ideal choice.



4. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is a VPN service that operates on Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. With its easy-to-use software client, it’s possible to connect from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

The client also gives users access to unlimited bandwidth.

You can download torrents or stream video content without running into any data caps.



5. NordVPN

When it comes to online privacy and security, NordVPN is an ideal choice

It has all the main features you need to keep your data safe, including military-grade encryption and a strict no-logs policy.

Plus, its strong performance makes it a great option for streaming and downloading content.



Top 5 Software and Hardware Firewalls

Firewall software is an important tool for protecting your computer from unauthorized access. This article will discuss the best firewall software and hardware and how they work. We will also list the advantages and disadvantages of each program.



This is a software program that sits between your computer’s operating system and the internet. It monitors all traffic going in and out of your computer and blocks any unauthorized activity. It also alerts you when programs try to connect to the internet without your permission.

ZoneAlarm is most commonly used in businesses and homes, where it can help protect against hackers, malware, and other online threats.

It’s also a popular choice for schools and other organizations to protect sensitive data.





PeerBlock blocks connections to IP addresses associated with malware, spyware, and other online threats. When you install PeerBlock, you can choose which IP addresses you want to block. This helps protect your computer from malicious websites and servers.





Netdefender is a software firewall that helps protect your computer from internet threats by monitoring all network traffic. It also works by allowing specific connections based on your settings.

Netdefender is available as a standalone program. It can also be integrated into your existing anti-virus software. It has a free and paid version, but the paid version offers more features.

Netdefender is used by businesses and consumers all over the world.

It’s a popular choice for small businesses because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require special hardware or software. Netdefender can be installed on Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.



Ubiquiti UniFi Security Gateway

Ubiquiti UniFi Security Gateway

Unlike the other software firewalls options discussed, Ubiquiti UniFi Security Gateway is a firewall hardware used to protect a network from external security threats. It does this by inspecting and filtering incoming traffic and then blocking or allowing it based on a set of security rules.

The UniFi Security Gateway is typically used in enterprise networks as it offers a high level of protection. However, it also has some disadvantages that should be considered before using it. These include a high cost of maintenance and initial setup as well as limited features compared to other alternatives.



SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall

SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall

The TZ400 is another enterprise-class hardware firewall designed with security in mind. As a properly configured firewall, it offers high performance and reliability, combined with advanced features such as intrusion prevention and application intelligence. All these can keep your business safe from hackers who want to steal information or damage your network.

You don’t have to worry about someone hijacking one of your servers with this device. It includes a secure remote management console that allows you to remotely monitor all network devices. It also comes with antivirus software scans, so if any malware gets through defenses, it can be eliminated before it causes any damage.



How to Bypass a Firewall Using a VPN?

If you need to bypass a firewall to access a specific website or service on your personal computer, you can use a VPN.

You will need

  • A VPN account (preferably a premium one).
  • The IP address of the VPN server you want to connect to.
  • The port number of the VPN server you want to connect to.
  • The protocol you want to use (TCP or UDP).

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Connect to the VPN proxy server using your VPN provider’s IP address and port number.
Connect to the VPN proxy server using your VPN provider's IP address and port number
  1. Select the protocol you want to use and click Connect.
Use Recommended Protocol
  1. Once connected, open the website or service you want to access. You’re now on the other side of the firewall.

VPN Concentrator vs. Firewall

Both VPN concentrators and firewalls act as a barrier between your computer’s internal network and the internet. They protect your data by blocking unauthorized access and preventing malicious file or software from entering your network link. However, there are some critical differences between these two security tools.

Firewalls are primarily used to protect against external threats, while VPN concentrators protect against external and internal threats.

Firewalls work by analyzing incoming and outgoing network traffic.

If the traffic doesn’t meet the firewall’s security rules, it gets blocked.

VPN concentrators work by creating a secure tunnel between your network and the internet. This tunnel encrypts all data passing through it, making it difficult for anyone to hack into your network.

Another key difference between a firewall and a VPN concentrator is that firewalls are typically deployed at the edge of your network.

In contrast, VPN concentrators can be deployed anywhere in your network.

This gives you more flexibility in how you want to protect your data.

So which is better – a firewall or a VPN concentrator?

The answer depends on your specific needs and security requirements.

If you’re looking for protection against external threats or to remove malicious software from your system, then a firewall is the best option.

If you want to encrypt internet traffic on your devices, then VPN concentrators will suit you best.

Overall, both VPN Concentrators and Firewalls do a stellar job of protecting your network from attacks. The choice comes down to your preferences.

Protects against external and internal threats Only deals with external threats
Are deployed anywhere in the network Are deployed at the edge of networks

Do I Need a Firewall With a VPN?

You don’t need to use both a firewall and a VPN. They may serve similar functions of providing you with the security you need for your networks, but they function differently.

One main reason against using both of them simultaneously is the cost of running them, especially firewalls. You’ll end up spending a lot on security tools that either serve the same function or end up canceling each other out.

Therefore, depending on your needs, go with an option that best addresses that need. The bottom line is, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to securing your networks and devices. If you can use both, then good for you, but that will come at a cost.

Is a VPN Also a Firewall?

A VPN is not a firewall. On the surface, it’s easy to conflate their functions, but they have distinct ways of operations that set them apart.

For starters, a VPN is a software tool, while a firewall can also be hardware.

A VPN goes a step beyond encrypting your traffic; it also gives you access to restricted content, something that a firewall cannot do.

At the same time, a VPN can have a firewall installed at its server end to regulate the passage of VPN-specific packets.

Interesting Reads:


There’s a lot that can go wrong when you use the internet without proper protection. At any given point, someone is trying to get the better of you.

For this reason, you need to take appropriate precautions, and VPNs and Firewalls are two of the most reliable tools.

For more information on VPNs, how they work, and where to get them on the cheap, check out our website at any time.

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