Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

Virtual Private Networks: What They Are and What They Can Accomplish

VPN

The Benefits of a Virtual Private Network

Otherwise as VPNs, these private networks allow a user to access to the internet by utilizing an existing network connection, but with anonymity. Thus, this type of communication is highly prized for those who wish to transmit and receive data over a secure and encrypted connection. Privacy is what draws many to become interested in this service, but there are also other notable advantages.

Another key factor is that VPNs are much more cost-effective than traditional long distance communications. Organizations were forced to lease dedicated lines in the past to provide such capabilities. A virtual server makes use of existing infrastructure that will help to drastically reduce telephone bills while limiting support costs that may be involved.

Virtual private networks are just that; virtual. The key factor here is that there is little to no hardware that needs to be serviced on-site. Instead, these systems are in the virtual world. This will help to further limit maintenance costs should a problem occur.

One of the main advantages is the fact that these systems are scalable. A dedicated private network will need to be manually increased as a business grows. VPNs can simply tap into infrastructure in the virtual world that already exists. This is especially relevant for individuals or companies that perform a great deal of international business and may require additional telephone or internet lines in the future.

Some of the main advantages of VPNs include:
  • These systems offer a private and secure means of communication.
  • VPNs are cost-effective compared to dedicated lines.
  • Little to no on-site maintenance or installation is needed.
  • VPNs are scalable and flexible.

Although these magical programs may at first appear to be the answer to nearly every business and perosnal need, there are a few disadvantages that should be considered before deciding to download or purchase such packages.

Disadvantages

One of the main purposes of VPNs is to guarantee privacy between two or more parties. Although these programs are becoming more user-friendly, the client will nonetheless need to have a moderate to in-depth understanding of security issues, programming codes such as SSL encryption and be cognizant of the intricacies involved with the setup process. Simply put, these systems are not always designed for the internet novice.

Businesses should be aware that a VPN's reliability is no longer in their control (as opposed to a leased line). Instead, the efficacy of communications will depend on which providers are being used, which IP address the communications may be routed through and the quality of an ISP provider. Also, an internet hotspot may not be able to provide superior quality. The program itself may lag due to the proxy servers it will be routed through. This can greatly slow down communications and web browsing capabilities.

Finally, not all providers are of equal quality. Well known companies such as Cisco have a strong reputation as offering trusted hardware and software, but other organizations may not be as trustworthy. Compatibility is another issue with lower quality manufacturers when attempting to "mix and match" software. Some providers are also not as cost-effective as others.

Considerable pitfalls can include:
  • VPNs will require a moderate technical and network-oriented background.
  • Reliability is an issue.
  • Mobile devices may not experience a strong bitrate and a WiFi hotspot may not offer the bandwidth required.
  • The quality of vendors and programs can differ immensely.