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VDI VS VPN: Performance, Security, and Other Differences

One of the notable aspects of the New Norm that we are getting accustomed to is working from home. And with it comes new vocabulary such as VDI vs VPN. Business owners, administrators, and employees alike are trying to figure out the differences between VDI and VPN, whether they should use VDI or a VPN client, can they use VDI over VPN, etc. In this piece, we’ll explore these new terms and answer all the questions.

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What is VPN?

VPN (Virtual Private Network) serves to create a protected tunnel between a device and another network. VPNs are often used to allow remote access for employees while securing their connection and assigning them a particular IP address. This way teleworkers can access their organizations’ corporate networks from any device, be it a PC, laptop, or mobile.

Considering that VPNs deal with confidential data, it is crucial to ensure the safety of the information and its transmission between networks. That’s why VPNs employ special technologies to protect users from the many potential internet threats. One such technology is traffic encryption. Creating a VPN tunnel with it ensures that neither personal user data nor corporate resources fall into the hands of criminals.

What is VDI?

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is a system that visualizes and transmits hosted desktop environments to users over a network. In a VDI, a data center or office hosts a single dedicated server that runs several virtual machines. Each virtual machine runs a separate desktop environment, providing users with remotely accessible workstations.

This form of a virtual network has certain distinct pros and cons. The biggest advantages for businesses are, of course, the total control over all the desktop environments and a centralized management system. However, the drawbacks of VDI are notable too:

  • Building and engineering a VDI environment is much more complex than employing a VPN - both for individual users and for companies
  • Each remote user will require a fast and stable internet connection
  • The larger the organization, the more server capacity and bandwidth VDI requires (and the more expensive the whole system becomes)
  • Certain apps don’t work well via VDI, such as tools for video conferencing

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In terms of performance and other differences, VDI vs VPN comparison has a clear winner

VDI vs VPN Differences

VPN VDI
Dependent on the VPN provider’s resources Highly dependent on the organization’s resources
Data is protected with encryption No inherent data protection
Data isn’t logged or stored outside the user’s device Data is stored on the company’s servers, possible to block users from moving data to local devices
Limited by the VPN provider’s resources Limited by the end-user internet connection and the organization’s server capabilities
All maintenance is done by the VPN provider All maintenance has to be done on-site by the company
Easy-to-manage VPN app Centralized management system
Cost-effective, requires minimal resource More expensive, requires additional hardware and software

VDI, VPN Client, or VDI over VPN - What’s Better for Remote Work

Nowadays, remote workers use either Windows- or iOS-based computers or mobile devices. Laptops are especially popular in this regard, as they can be used at home or on the road just as easily as in the office. And so VDI desktops are accessed from a variety of devices. Naturally, the question “VDI, VPN, or VDI over VPN?” arises. Let’s figure out the differences and see when to use VDI, when to use VPN, and should you use VDI over VPN. 

When to use VDI over VPN

First, let’s tackle the VDI over VPN part. While it may be beneficial in that you will get some of the combined benefits of VDI and VPN, the drawbacks are likely to discourage you from this. First, using VDI over VPN will greatly reduce the user’s connection speed to the point where it’s impossible to work. Second, using VDI or VPN makes sense in different scenarios, so combining them is unlikely to be necessary.

When to use VDI

As a business, you may want to use VDI if you want complete control over your employees’ work resources. For instance, if you need to prevent users from downloading or copying your corporate data to their local devices.

When to use VPN

As mentioned above, when comparing the differences of VDI vs VPN, the performance, security, and speed are better with dedicated VPNs, such as VPN Unlimited. Not only that, but it’s also a more affordable solution in terms of financial and human resources. So, you should use a VPN whenever any of these criteria are important to you.

VDI vs VPN - FAQ

Is VDI the same as Remote Desktop?

What is VDI good for?

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Comparing VDI vs VPN differences, the latter clearly is a winner in terms of performance, security, and speed