VPNs and VPSs, networks and servers, it’s all that same internet stuff, especially when they’re both virtual and private, right? Well, no.
At first glance, you might think that a virtual private network (VPN) and virtual private server (VPS) are similar. Truth is, they have nothing to do with one another.
VPS vs. VPN: A side-by-side comparison
The main difference between a VPN vs. a VPS is that a VPN is a privacy technology, and a VPS is a server you can rent for hosting. Here’s a quick rundown of their differences:
What is it?
A server for rent
A cybersecurity technology
What is it used for?
For hosting applications and websites
As a service for online privacy and security
What are its benefits?
What is a VPS?
A VPS, or virtual private server, is a server that has been divided into smaller virtual servers for people to use. Think of a VPS like a shared house with several rooms where each room is occupied by a different tenant. In this analogy, the house would be the physical server, and each room would be a virtual server.
These virtual servers are for rent if you want to host blogs, apps, or other services. However, a virtual private server is “private” to you, meaning that you don’t have to share server resources like bandwidth and RAM with other users. In our house analogy, it would be like having a separate room in a house with your own bathroom and a kitchen. Pretty neat, huh?
So, why exactly would you rent a private virtual server?
If you only need to host one website or a few business applications, then it’s far cheaper to rent a web hosting service than to get a server that you will need to manage yourself. Such services are called web hosting and they can be done on shared, VPS, or dedicated servers.
The good thing about a VPS is that:
- You get a personal virtual server and don’t have to share resources with other website owners as you would with a shared server.
- It makes your hosting easier to scale and more customizable.
- It’s not as complicated as managing a dedicated server.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a broad term for a technology that’s often used in cybersecurity.
A VPN usually comes in the form of an app or software. When you connect to it, it creates an encrypted (secured) tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This server acts as a security layer between you and the web. You could say that you’re browsing the internet through a VPN server.
VPNs have several benefits. Simply put, a VPN protects your online privacy, freedom, and security by:
- Keeping you safe while connected to public Wi-Fi.
- Hiding your IP address.
- Allowing you to avoid government censorship and access restricted web content.
- Hiding your browsing activity by encrypting your internet traffic.
- Preventing your Internet Service Provider, ad brokers, or other malicious entities from tracking, recording, and selling your internet traffic and private information.
- Generally allowing you to browse with peace of mind.
What is VPS used for?
VPSs are most commonly used for hosting. Usually, you’d want one when you need anything hosted on a server.
Here are a few scenarios where you might benefit from a virtual private server:
- You are running a powerful application that requires a lot of CPU.
- You host a website with high traffic and need more resources for better performance.
- You are hosting a website with an eCommerce platform and need it to run smoothly.
- You need to run applications or software remotely.
- You need scalability as your business grows.
Pro tip: You can install VPN technology, like OpenVPN, on a virtual private server and use it as a VPN server. It would ensure an extra secure connection on your virtual server.
When should I use a VPN?
VPNs are generally more for private use to help people enhance their online privacy.
Here are some examples of when you should consider using a virtual private network:
- You’re on public Wi-Fi.
Just being connected to public Wi-Fi without any security measure could give hackers access to your personal data. By encrypting your internet traffic, a VPN hides your data from anyone trying to snoop on your connection.
- You want to browse privately.
A VPN makes you nearly impossible to detect online. This way, your ISP, the government, and other prying eyes can’t spy on what you’re doing.
- You want access to geo-blocked web content.
News sites, social, or other types of media can be blocked based on your location due to a variety of reasons. However, you can access restricted web content by virtually moving to another country with a VPN.
- You want to avoid price discrimination.
Prices for airline tickets, rentals, and hotel rooms vary based on your location. With VPN software, you can change your virtual location by connecting to a different server. Then you can compare prices and find the best deal.
- You want to avoid targeted ads.
Targeted ads are annoying. You are targeted based on the data websites collect about you while you browse. A VPN server changes your IP address every time you connect, making tracking your data much more difficult.
Is a VPN better than VPS?
Let’s compare apples to oranges for a bit: one’s orange, the other one’s red; one segments easily, the other doesn’t. How are they similar? They’re both round and edible.
The same idea applies to VPNs and VPSs. They’re two completely different things but they’re both technologies. One is for hosting (VPS), the other one is for privacy (VPN).
However, there is one case where a VPN and VPS overlap. That is, if you’re looking to access websites only available in a specific country, both can help you. You can rent a VPS in that country and use it to bypass the restriction that way. Or, you can get a VPN and connect to your desired location with a simple click of a button to get the same result.
Which one’s better? We’ll leave that for you to decide!
So, VPS vs. VPN – Are they different? Yes, very.
While both are helpful in the online world, they are vastly different.
To sum up, a virtual private server allows you to rent out a virtual space for hosting websites and applications with more control than a typical shared server.
A virtual private network encrypts your online activity, allowing you to browse privately and secure your personal data.
Interested in learning more about VPNs? Yay! They’re kind of our thing.