For the user, there is little difference between a software VPN, or virtual private network, and a hardware VPN. Still some situations work better for one system or the other.
A hardware VPN is used most often with remote office situations. The technical support staff will set up an internet router, and the router settings essentially capture all traffic and route it to the internal network for the main office.
The user simply turns on the computer. He or she never knows that any re-routing of traffic is happening. Everything that is done on computers with hardware VPNs is done on the network. This type of system works best when a computer will be used for no other purpose because it doesn’t require anything of the user. There are no passwords to remember, and only the technical support staff needs to make any updates.
Another option is to use software VPN. This system is a bit more cumbersome but works for client-based businesses. The person in charge of computer software will download a program to the desired computers. When the user opens the software, he or she will need to enter a username and password and then will be patched into the private network.
If this software program is not running, the computer will operate on its own LAN, or local area network. For places where clients need to interact with multiple businesses, a software-based system is best. Most personal VPNs also are software based because they make more sense for personal use and are easier to understand and maintain.
The VPN industry is changing rapidly as technology changes. Mobile browsers and data-enabled phones are creating new challenges. Software like File Zilla and openoffice is becoming more readily available and with greater features. Using a VPN now is easier than ever, regardless of which system you choose.