Hardware VPN Vs. Software VPN – What Is the Difference

Many businesses and individuals use virtual private network services for many reasons. They need to cover their IP address and encrypt the information they send and receive online. Most businesses are familiar with VPN software. Yet, many organizations use VPN hardware.

As interconnectivity increases and remote access becomes necessary, organizations find themselves in critical need of efficient security solutions. The selection between hardware VPN and software VPN will arise. In this blog, TechNinjaPro will discuss what is the difference between these two?

What is hardware VPN?

Hardware VPN is known for a virtual private network connection maintained by a standalone device at your office or home. These VPN products can have names like VPN router or VPN firewall. These products manage your connection and use their hardware resources to encrypt your internet traffic.

Hardware VPN is a dedicated tool that offers VPN functionalities to mobile devices and computers. Some routers have VPN features built-in, which basically makes them a hardware VPN. Hardware VPNs are built with a dedicated microprocessor to encrypt and decrypt the information or traffic passing through them. This removes the load of doing so from the systems that it protects. It is common for hardware virtual private networks to be equipped with a secure SSL connection and firewall.

Features of hardware VPN that attracts big businesses:

  • Dedicated IP addresses
  • Robust firewalls
  • Adding more virtual private network tunnels for more bandwidth
  • Allows for remote access to business’s intranet
  • Your information is not going through third-party virtual private network servers, ensuring an extra layer of security.

What is Software VPN


Software VPN is known for using a virtual private network client installed on your system, which allows it to establish a connection to a remote server. The encryption processes and such are handled on your system. It is a downloadable application that connects the device to a virtual private network hosted on-premise or a third-party facility.

Software VPN offers a visual interface to establish a safe and encrypted connection between the system and the server. Your system is secured by the software VPN’s protocol and encryption. When you are connected to a software VPN, your IP address is covered by the public. You are protected from trackers and spying attempts with the VPN connection. Surfshark is an example of a software VPN.

Features of Software VPN that offers incentives for small businesses are mentioned below:

  • An affordable intranet replacement for those who use online solutions for data sharing and storage.
  • Protecting internet connections when traveling.
  • Defeating geo-restrictions via access to multiple VPN servers.
  • Fast and simple deployment by untrained users.
  • Allows protection of office or home via installing virtual private network on an existing router.

Hardware VPN vs. Software VPN: a Comparison

Hardware VPN and software VPN are two different methods to solve the need for a virtual private network. Let’s compare hardware VPN and software VPN by looking at the major factors: price, speed, locations, setup, maintenance, updates, and more.

1. Price

Hardware VPN devices are a bit expensive option. Aside from the fact that the devices are pretty expensive, they also need people with technical knowledge to set up, configure and maintain. Buying hardware, VPN means buying a device. Depending on their features, the prices may range between $50 and $1000. in comparison, going for a software VPN means signing up for a service. The upfront cost is negligible. For example, a six-month subscription plan of Surfshark costs $6.49 per month, while the two-year plan goes down to $2.49 per month.

2. Scaling

Now, the problem of scaling does not matter much for home users. A hardware VPN device is not unlimited. However, if you are a business, more and more connections are added when a company grows, needing more hardware VPN resources. This means either updating your device to a more robust one or buying an extra one. With software VPN, scaling is straightforward. Every software VPN subscription comes with multiple devices supported. This means that a single virtual private network subscription is likely to cover the complete home. A company might need to buy several subscriptions, but it is cheaper than getting a new device. Note that Surfshark VPN comes with unlimited installs, which means that a single account can support many devices.

3. Setup

Hardware VPN relies on a physical device. However, setting and maintaining it up can be difficult. Not all of the devices come with simple interfaces or automatic updates. On the other hand, a software VPN is available immediately. Software VPN is not a large download, installation is easy, and the clients’ operations are also simple. Software VPN is as simple as clicking “Connect” for everyday home users once the application is installed. The updates of software VPN are also handled automatically.

4. Remote access

Remote access is a feature of hardware VPN. It permits businesses to set up encrypted connections to their intranet from remote locations. However, setting up the device itself, doing so is not straightforward. Therefore, it is more helpful for businesses with IT staff who can use screen sharing to set up remote access for the employees. Software VPNs do not always work well with remote access. One of the significant issues is with IP addresses. There are perfect chances that your IP address changes every time you connect to a virtual private network server, even if it is technically the same one.

5. Locations

One of the most significant advantages of software VPN is a large variety of virtual locations. Most third-party software VPNs provide servers in dozens of countries that your employees can connect to. With a hardware VPN, your employees will have fewer countries to select from since the devices have to be physically placed in any provided location to offer access to it.

6. Geo-restrictions

Geo-restrictions are a part where hardware VPN really fails. If you need to access apps, sites, and content unavailable in your country, a hardware VPN cannot help you. Sharing the geographical location with its setup stop, hardware VPN cannot access geo-restrict content than a  regular computer. On the other hand, Software VPN provides a variety of servers to connect to. For example, Surfshark has more than 3000 servers in around 62 countries. This means that checking how sites look in different locations, bypassing government blocks, and accessing geo-blocked content libraries is simple.

Who Is a Hardware Virtual Private Network Right for?

Given how hardware VPN services work and how costly they can be, they are suitable for big enterprises that need to provide a large number of employees access to virtual private network connections. Also, hardware VPN services are only a perfect choice if you have got a dedicated IT department and proper network security in place. 

Are Software VPN services Only for Individuals?

Well, if you are an online user looking to mask your IP and encrypt your internet traffic, you are much better off with a software virtual private network than a hardware one. Software VPNs are much more user-friendly, easy to set up, and cost-efficient.  But software VPN services work well for businesses, too, depending on the needs. Software VPNs are simple and allow users to:

  • Bypass geo-restrictions that prevent employees from doing their tasks.
  • Secure your VoIP calls with partners, clients, and remote employees. 
  • Provide remote employees with secure access to your work network.

Following are the top-rated VPN services you can use as software VPNs. 


A hardware virtual private network connection is an encrypted tunnel established over a dedicated piece of device built with virtual private network functionalities. 

No, you can download a software VPN, which is just as protected and efficient as a hardware VPN. Instead of buying a separate and dedicated hardware virtual private network, you will need a mobile device or PC. 

Yes, but only on selected routers that support virtual private network functionalities. However, you will need to subscribe to a VPN and configure the router to use the encryption from the virtual private network. 


Hardware VPN services need a much bigger monetary investment upfront. They may need trained personnel to install and maintain. Hardware VPN is not very easy to scale up. In exchange, Hardware VPN provides increased utility for remote connections and maybe some added security over the software approach.

Software VPN is a cheaper option on every level. You can install it quickly after downloading, and it does not need any specialized knowledge to use. Software VPN does not demand any investment in physical maintenance. It trades remote access for the ability to access a wider variety of content worldwide.

In the end, hardware VPN is suitable for big enterprises because they have the resources and the personnel to install, maintain and run the dedicated device. A software VPN is an excellent option for private users searching for privacy, security, and easy access to content. It is a perfect choice for small businesses that do not have the money, the human resources, or the requirements to run a dedicated hardware VPN.

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