Is hardware VPN an option for you?

Anton P. | October 13, 2020

A hardware VPN is a physical device that protects internet traffic by encrypting it securely. 

More effort is necessary to set up VPN devices, and they could offer less flexibility. While VPN hardware encrypts traffic, hides IP addresses, and functions as a firewall, there are more seamless options. 

The cost for the device can also be higher, considering users need to maintain secure connections. Thus, let’s discuss Virtual Private Networks and why hardware options are more common for businesses.

What is a hardware VPN? 

A hardware VPN is a separate device for protecting internet connections and granting secure remote access. You can connect this VPN solution to one or multiple devices. 

  • One of the biggest advantages of a hardware VPN is that it does not burden the protected device. 
  • VPN hardware can refer to VPN routers that encrypt outbound packets and decrypt inbound packets. 
  • However, it can be a VPN appliance, referring to a standalone gadget.
  • Hardware can handle more network traffic than VPN software.
  • A VPN hardware device can be more secure as it gets exposed to fewer software flaws. For instance, it does not depend on the operating systems users typically install VPNs. 
  • Businesses opt for hardware VPNs as their setup for many users becomes cost-effective. It also helps employees to access work assets remotely. 

What about software VPNs?

A software VPN is an application you install on your computer, smartphone, or smart TV. Users do not need to purchase physical gadgets to protect their online activities. Instead, they can fully use VPN services after downloading and installing a VPN client. 

Many reasons explain why software-based VPN is a more consumer-oriented VPN solution: 

  • VPN software is much more flexible than VPN hardware devices. It offers multiple VPN server locations, several VPN protocols, and other security features.
  • With the software VPN, all processes happen internally on your device. Hence, there might be slight performance differences, but most are manageable.
  • You can try switching between different VPN servers, preferring ones closer to your location. 
  • The setup process takes merely several minutes. Hardware VPNs will require regular maintenance and extensive initial preparation. 

So, a software VPN is the number one solution for technical rookies ready to join anonymous and private browsing.

A different angle of software VPNs

It is also possible for users to try self-hosted VPN solutions. Such VPN software could mean you host a VPN server to protect your activities. Then, you get protection and do not have to worry about getting additional hardware. 

However, you need a Virtual Private Server (VPS) running your selected VPN protocol (like OpenVPN). Remember that you will also have to pay a monthly fee for these services. Yet, it can be more affordable than other software VPN services.

So, here is a quick breakdown of a self-hosted VPN and a software VPN provider:

CriteriaSelf-hosted VPN softwareVPN service provider
PriceSomewhat the sameSomewhat the same
No-logsUser in charge of dataNo-logs policy necessary
IP address maskingLimitedMany VPN servers
IP address blockingUnlikely to appear on IP block listsMore likely to appear on IP block lists

Hardware VPN vs. software VPN services

Consumers or business owners want to choose the quality option, friendly to their budget and effective in the long run. Look at the main differences between hardware VPN and software VPN.

CriteriaSoftware VPNHardware VPN
SetupEasyRequires technical how-to
PriceMore affordableCan be more costly
MaintenanceSeamlessRequires technical how-to
Remote accessNot always possiblePossible remote access
Security and privacyHigh levels of security and privacyHigh levels of security and privacy
IP address maskingBroad VPN server listsLimited
No-logsMost have no-logs policiesInternally managed
ScalabilityFast and easyRequires technical how-to

Price and effectiveness


  • A hardware VPN is an object you will need to place in your home or office space. 
  • For larger areas, you might need to invest in several gadgets to maintain stable VPN connections. 
  • According to the general price listings, you can buy a hardware VPN for as low as $22. However, some devices cost more than $500, with the highly-reviewed products reaching other price ranges.
  • Their setup usually requires users to be comfortable with technical configurations. 
  • On a long-term basis, consumers will need to implement regular maintenance. 
  • Companies might need to hire specialists to keep their devices running successfully.


  • Software VPN costs usually come with efficient technical support from the providers’ teams. 
  • At the moment, you can get an Atlas VPN subscription for several years for as low as $1.83 per month. 
  • Since the service provider takes care of development and maintenance issues, users can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.



  • Some hardware VPNs limit the number of simultaneous connections. 
  • Depending on your preferences, you can choose the one suitable for home or office networks. 
  • While the initial purchase will satisfy the current staff, more VPN connections will occur as your company grows. Then, you will need to repeat the process: buy another hardware VPN and configure it correctly. 


  • A software VPN is easily scalable. 
  • One subscription might give access to an unlimited number of devices. With a limited number of simultaneous connections, businesses can opt for more subscriptions. 
  • Unlike hardware VPNs, this approach makes the expansion of your business more manageable and fully digital.



  • As mentioned before, hardware VPNs require maintenance, initial configuration, and protection from any external incidents. 
  • With the hardware products, the responsibility of sustaining a secure environment lies on users’ shoulders.


  • Software VPNs offer updates and patches that users can even set to apply automatically. 
  • Hence, there is no need to participate in the maintenance process. 
  • Additionally, if you notice any issues, users can always contact service providers to get professional help.

Access control


  • Currently, traditional software VPN will not always include features for implementing remote access control. 
  • Without additional configuration, access control does not work since users can jump from one VPN server to another. 
  • So, if preventing unauthorized access is a priority, you might want to opt for a business VPN.


  • Hardware VPNs might be superior to their counterparts. 
  • The pre-configured connections will feature a unique IP address, granting access to various individual systems and resources. 
  • In other words, all devices united by the same intranet will have no issue validating their access.



  • In the past, consumers preferred hardware VPNs because of the performance benefits. Encryption and other protective functions do not burden the devices and can offer a better data transfer rate. 


  • Technological advancements have allowed software VPNs to become just as performance-friendly. The impact on speed is minimal, and with the optimized VPN tunnels and servers, users barely notice it.

Overall better services

VPN hardware and VPN software are both wise decisions for protecting online activities and data. 

However, individual users can face struggles in maintaining and setting up hardware devices. Furthermore, users can also explore self-hosted VPN opportunities: the key thing is choosing a reliable VPN protocol like OpenVPN.

Thus, hardware VPNs are much more suitable for enterprises, while software VPN services are convenient for almost anyone. Non-technical users can enjoy the same level of protection without constant maintenance.

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