Site-to-Site VPN vs Remote Access VPN vs  Personal VPN: What Are the Differences?

A VPN is a service that creates a private tunnel within a public connection (e.g. the internet). VPN software allows its users to send and receive data transfers securely.

Virtual Private Networks fall into several categories. We take a look at three most common VPN types (site-to-site vpn, remote access vpn and personal vpn), how they work, and when to use them.

What is VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool used to securely connect to a network over the internet. It establishes a private connection, also called a VPN tunnel, and routes all traffic and communication through that tunnel.

VPNs can be overwhelming to distinguish between the different types of VPNs and understand the optimal choice for your needs. So what types of VPN are there? What do you need them for?

For better understanding, we have divided VPNs into three categories.

What is Site-to-Site VPN?

Site-to-Site VPN is commonly used in large companies where multiple users in various locations need to access shared resources. Organizations with branches in numerous locations rely on site-to-site VPNs to connect the network of one branch to the network at another branch.


These connections can take one of the two forms.

  • Intranet based VPN: An Intranet based VPN links two offices of the same company. It connects two separate LANs to a single WAN.
  • Extranet based VPN: Some organizations need to connect to a network of another organization using an extranet-based VPN. A possible example of such a connection would be a company that connects to its supplier’s network for efficient trade.

A Site-to-Site VPN connects geographically distant offices through the internet and ensures secure communication. As the VPN connection is established on router-to-router communication, one router acts as a client while the other as a VPN server. Communication between the routers only starts after authenticating both the end points.

What is Remote access VPN

Remote access VPN establishes a secure connection between clients and a corporate network, while still maintaining the security and resources of the network. It provides a new VPN tunnel that allows users to access a network without compromising security and privacy.


Remote access VPN is particularly useful when accessing insecure public WLANs. It prevents ISPs and third parties from compromising data since the connection is encrypted all the way to the provider.

The major advantage of remote access VPN is universal access of employees to company resources. Clients, for instance, can connect to corporate network from a home office and work as if they were present at the company workplace.

What is Personal VPN?

Personal VPN is the most common type of VPN in use today. It connects users to a private network via a secure remote server. A personal VPN works by routing user’s data through a virtual tunnel between the user’s device and the private network.


The encryption protocols ensure that your data isn’t compromised as it moves through networks. Users must install the client VPN software to establish a connection to the VPN.

Personal VPNs are simple to use and easy to set up. They can easily bypass geo-blocks and access content that is otherwise restricted. Personal VPNs are ideal for personal use.

Site-to-Site VPN vs Remote Access VPN vs Personal VPN


Site-to-Site VPN

Remote Access VPN

Personal VPN

Who Connects Where?

Network connects to another network.

Employee connects to a office network remotely.

Individual user connects to the internet via a third-party server.

Software Required?

Users do not need to run additional software.

Employee usually need to install software on their device, or configure their operating system.

Users install a VPN service’s software onto their device.

Best Used For

Joining up two or more networks, to create a combined single network.

Connecting to your company’s network – or any other private network – from home or another remote location.

Protecting your privacy and bypassing geographic restrictions online.


Site-to-site VPN routing explained in detail

Cisco’s Dynamic Multi Point VPN (DMVPN)

Access Server by OpenVPN

Cisco AnyConnect



Which VPN Should You Use?

For individual users looking to browse the web anonymously or access restricted content, a Personal VPN is the best bet. It’s used to create secure and private connections to the open internet, as well as for bypassing firewalls and geographic internet restrictions.

By comparison, businesses use a remote access VPN, which enables employees to access the company’s private network when traveling or working from home.

Finally, when there are multiple sites or multiple companies trying to connect to a single private network (not just a single employee), then businesses will need to use a site-to-site VPN.

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