Updated · Jan 29, 2023
While personal and business VPNs work on the same principle, they are used for entirely different purposes. Check out our business vs. personal VPN comparison below to learn the key differences between these two VPN solutions and determine which one is more suitable for you.
Personal vs. Business VPN — Differences
To understand the difference between personal and business VPNs, it is first important to learn what both of these terms mean.
First off, what is a personal VPN?
A personal or consumer VPN is a VPN that caters to the needs of individual users. Personal VPNs are used by individuals who want to encrypt their internet traffic and hide their IP addresses mostly for leisure activities, such as accessing geo-blocked content, torrenting, and web browsing.
On the other hand, a business VPN service is used by businesses and professional organizations to give their remote workforce secure access to company resources and applications. A business VPN provides safe access to resources stored in the cloud, making it an important security tool for businesses.
Personal and business VPNs work pretty much in the same way — they hide users’ online activity by routing the web traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel and disguising their IP address.
However, despite their similarities, they are used differently.
Below are the key differences between personal and business VPNs.
Number of Users
The most obvious difference between a personal and a business VPN is the number of users that can use the VPN at a time.
Personal VPNs are meant for only one user, and there is typically a set number of devices that the user can secure under a single subscription. That number can vary depending on the VPN provider, but most VPNs allow anywhere from five to ten simultaneous connections.
Business VPNs work differently. They have one global account that can be used by hundreds and even thousands of users at a time. Employees must gain access to connect to the corporate network to use the VPN.
Regular Servers vs. Business Servers
Private VPNs have a set number of servers that are available to all users who have subscribed to the service. Many of the top-tier personal VPN services offer thousands of servers spread across multiple countries worldwide, allowing users to access content from anywhere in the world.
The downside is that servers can sometimes get overcrowded, which often leads to lagging and other performance issues. That happens when there are too many users connected to a particular server at the same time.
Meanwhile, business VPNs give users access to private servers designed specifically for business clients. As a result, they provide a more reliable connection and much better performance than regular servers used by personal VPNs.
Shared vs. Dedicated IP Addresses
When you connect to a VPN server, you are assigned a new IP address, typically shared by many users. That poses no problem for everyday browsing and can even be beneficial if you want to increase your anonymity.
The problem arises when streaming services or other websites get suspicious that there are too many users with the same IP address and block that IP address from accessing their platform.
Dedicated or static IP addresses have no such risk, as they are only assigned to one user. As a result, they are much better than shared IP addresses in terms of security and performance. Business VPNs offer dedicated IP addresses that can only be used by company employees.
It is worth mentioning that many personal VPNs also offer dedicated IP addresses as part of their feature set, but they are usually sold as additional services that users have to pay extra for.
Account Management Function
Dedicated account management is a feature exclusive to business VPNs.
Account managers are the only ones with full access to the business account and can add or remove users as they see fit. In addition, they can configure the VPN’s global settings and apply changes company-wide. Account managers also often dictate which web applications and servers users can access.
In personal VPNs, users have full control of their accounts and can freely choose which VPN servers to connect to.
Personal vs. Business Privacy
Personal VPNs are designed to protect the privacy of the individual user. When you connect to a personal VPN, all your web traffic gets encrypted and routed through a private VPN server, preventing anyone from monitoring your online activity.
Business VPNs use that same approach but put the emphasis on the needs of the company rather than on the individual. A business VPN will still encrypt your traffic and route it through a secure server, but with the goal of keeping business data private.
Monitoring employees’ internet activity is typical of business VPNs, but this is considered a necessary practice to prevent fraud and protect business assets.
Some VPN providers offer both a personal and business version of their VPN suite, but they are sold as two different products. For instance, NordLayer is the business counterpart of one of the most popular VPNs in the world, NordVPN.
For personal VPNs, the software installation process is the same for all users. Installing the VPN client on a desktop or mobile device is usually very simple and can be done in a few clicks.
In addition, most personal VPNs offer different software versions for different platforms, whether it is Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS.
In contrast, business VPNs usually have software customized to the business’s unique needs, and the installation is typically much more complicated. As a result, it is usually the task of the company’s IT department to install the VPN software and configure its settings for all employees.
Personal VPNs are low-maintenance solutions that only require occasional software updates to run smoothly. And in most cases, the VPN provider will notify you about the latest security patches available.
A business VPN has more complex maintenance needs and usually needs a custom solution for everything to run properly. It also typically requires more advanced cybersecurity knowledge to manage and maintain the business network.
Prices and Subscription
Personal VPNs offer fewer features and functions than business VPNs, so they are the more affordable option of the two. In personal VPNs, users pay for their own license on a monthly or yearly basis, depending on their subscription.
Business VPNs are more expensive than personal VPNs, but their prices usually vary depending on the company size. So, if you have a smaller business, you can still find a solution that fits your budget without having to pay for any features you don’t need.
For large enterprises with special requirements, most business VPNs offer custom solutions that can be tailored to their specific business needs.
Some of the best business VPN services also offer centralized billing, with which the business owner receives one invoice for all employees instead of having to sort out payments any time a new user is added to the VPN.
Although personal and business VPNs function similarly, they are used for entirely different purposes. While individuals use a personal VPN for regular activities like streaming Netflix, a business VPN provides employees with secure access to company resources.
Ultimately, whether you want to use it for leisure or work-related purposes, investing in a VPN is well worth it, especially if you value your online privacy and security.
Do I need a business VPN?
If you want to protect your business data and give your remote employees secure access to company resources, a business VPN is an excellent solution. Applying a VPN to your business network will make it much more robust and secure.
Is a personal VPN a good idea?
A personal VPN is a good idea if you want to protect your privacy and online activity from your ISP or other third parties. A VPN encrypts your web traffic by routing it through a private VPN tunnel and disguises your real IP address and location.
When would you use a personal VPN?
This business vs. personal VPN comparison shows that personal VPNs are used for protecting the user’s online activities, such as web browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming. Moreover, unlike business VPNs, personal VPNs cannot be used to protect business data and assets.
Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.
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