VDI vs VPN

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Updated August 30, 2022

If you’re looking for a top-tier VPN, you may wonder what the difference is between VDI vs VPN and which you should choose. Remote users need a secure connection while communicating with their corporate network, and VPNs and VDIs offer multiple security benefits. These network security measures protect end-user hardware and client operating systems. So, stick around if you need to know whether a VDI vs a VPN is a better pick for a remote access solution.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • VDIs provide a virtualized desktop environment so remote workers can access company data without pulling it from the central server.
  • VPNs offer an encrypted data tunnel between a computer and workplace servers, keeping it hidden from ISPs, trackers, and hackers.
  • VDIs are more secure and faster than VPNs but are more restrictive for remote employees.

If you’re curious about system security, read our PPTP vs L2TP systems guide. Additionally, business networks concerned with employee permission levels should compare SDPs vs VPNs. Look into the best VPNs for gaming if you need un-compromised internet speed for a high-performance desktop. If you have security concerns about public networks, consider comparing VPNs vs WiFi.

Insider Tip

You can use a VPN on an office network to protect your personal device and data.

VPN vs Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

A VPN, also called a Virtual Private Network, encrypts your personal data and network activity, preventing it from falling into the wrong hands. So, data thieves cannot steal information from your office network when connected to your company’s central server on a private or public network.

VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is a remote access technology that emulates a desktop experience for office workers over a network. The virtualized desktop is a secure environment since data doesn’t need to leave the central network. Additionally, VDIs can offer powerful computing to remote employees over computers, tablets, or smartphones.

Security

Both solutions offer a layer of software security, but remote desktop services are more secure than a VPN. A virtual desktop environment ensures that all sensitive data stays on a company’s server hardware. While VPNs provide secure access, company data can still leak onto user devices. With a virtual desktop, corporate resources aren’t usually saved onto the remote machine.

Warning

Without multi-factor authentication, your email accounts and digital workspaces are open to hackers.

Connection Speed

In general, VDIs offer faster remote desktop services than VPNs. Remote workers need decent processing power and a good network environment for a VPN, but virtual desktop solutions provide computing power from the central server.

Best User Experience

Since VDIs store everything on the primary server, many users find it difficult to transfer data onto their actual desktops. The secure desktop often relies on user authentication rather than software on an endpoint device. That said, VDIs often come with pre-loaded software that remote workers need for their job.

STAT: A 2021 Pew Research poll showed that 84% of Americans making $30,000 to $99,999 per year own a laptop or desktop computer. (source)

Cost of Ownership

VPNs, even on a mass scale, are much more cost-effective than VDIs. Since VDIs require advanced client software and hardware, they are more expensive than VPN software.

VDI vs. VPN FAQs

Do VPNs slow down your internet connection?

Since your traffic has to route through the VPN's company servers before browsing the internet, your bandwidth will take a hit. That said, you should have a consistent user experience whether you're connected to a VPN or directly connected to your internet service provider.

How many VPN connections should I have?

Experts recommend enough VPN connections to protect your computers and mobile devices. If you need to cover a fleet of company-owned devices, you should seek a cloud computing service with dedicated resources for business applications.

What are virtual machines?

A virtual machine emulates a computer system or desktop environment and provides additional security for client hardware. Additionally, less powerful client devices can offload some hardware requirements to remote, high-performance desktops.
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