LAN vs VPN

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Updated August 30, 2022

The dawning of the age of remote labor has introduced a fresh batch of new acronyms, many of which may sound similar but, in reality, are very different. For example, if you’re a remote worker, chances are you’ve investigated the best VPNs to help guard your sensitive information. And in the process, you might have come across articles explaining LANs and VLANs. To help sort out this jungle of acronyms, we’ll compare LAN vs VPN technology below. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • VPNs and LANs are two separate internet technologies with little in common.
  • VPNs provide heightened levels of security by encrypting a user’s internet data and IP addresses and are often used when accessing a public network.
  • LANs segment internet connections, providing lower internet traffic and the ability to share files and printer locations.

For more great info on remote work technologies, you can take a peek at our article covering remote desktops vs VPNs

Insider Tip

If you want to increase connection speeds, install a physical ethernet LAN rather than one connected over Wi-Fi.

VPN vs LAN

The difference between VPNs and LANs is significant. Unlike our guide comparing incognito mode vs VPNs, these two terms imply widely different things for your remote device and shouldn’t be considered similar entities.

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” VPNs provide a layer of security by encrypting a user’s data and IP address, rendering data unusable and untraceable. On the other hand, LAN stands for “Local Area Network.” LANs are a network infrastructure that connects various devices within one locality. While LANs provide a connection via an ethernet network, VLANs do this virtually through Wi-Fi. However, in this article, the term LAN encompasses both wireless and physical connections.

LANs are typically set up in office locations because they provide a shared network connection, allowing organizations to use shared folders and printing networks. In addition, LANs create separate networks for internet access, typically by department or building floor. This segmentation improves the ability to manage and monitor internet traffic by grouping individual devices. 

While VPNs are commonly used to access public networks, many local private networks choose to install them to eliminate the risk of being targeted for hacking. 

Warning

LANs connected via Wi-Fi put organizations at much higher risk of being hacked than LANs set up via ethernet cables.

If you want to learn more about the various methods used for VPNs, we have many great articles. For example, we have an article comparing IKEV2 vs IKEV1 and another one comparing PPTP vs L2TP

Data Security

Unlike a VPN, LANs don’t add a level of security to your internal network; they group devices together to increase connection speed. While LANs and VLANs provide certain security benefits by siloing complex business networks, they don’t actively boost digital security like VPNs. VPNs reroute data to a separate server where it’s encrypted before entering cyberspace.

STAT: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of VPNs has surged by 124%. (source)

For more info on alternative data security methods, you can read our piece that outlines the differences between Proxy vs VPN

Connection Speed

Incorporating a LAN can be a great option to boost connection speed. Segmenting broadcast domains by locality increases connection speed because it creates separate operating network facilities. On the other hand, VPNs often slow down internet connection speed because it adds another step to the data transfer process. 
For those looking to install a VPN for mobile devices, be sure to read our article that answers the question, “What is a VPN for an Android”?

LAN vs VPN FAQs

Are LANs relevant to remote work?

Physical location LANs are useless when it comes to remote work. However, VLANs connect workers remotely to access and work within shared files, regardless of distance.

What is a WAN?

WAN stands for "wide area network." They can connect multiple LANs and MANs (Metropolitan Area Networks) and have no limitations regarding scalability.

What is the point of a remote-access VPN?

Remote access VPNs are set up by corporations and given to employees so they can have secure access to the company's private network and servers from afar.
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