The Difference between Remote-Access and Site-to-Site VPN



Among the numerous benefits that a Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers, the best and most widely performed use of VPNs is that it allows you to connect to a private network wherever you are. This means that with an internet access, you can access files from a network even when you’re away in a remote area. Companies with a lot of employees and even ordinary internet users are setting up VPNs because of the advantages of using it.

However, despite its advantages, many users are still reluctant especially when it comes to their personal data. The good news is that a VPN encrypts all the data that are shared between computers – all the information that you transfer is protected from hackers and identity thieves.

Remote-Access VPN

A remote-access VPN, also called virtual private dial-up network, connects individual users to a secure and private remote network. The users can access files and other resources from that network as if it is physically connected to the network servers. An example of this one is an employee who is away on a business trip and needs to access the company’s files in order to work even at a distant location.

A VPN client software is needed by the user to perform this – the traffic sent by the user is encapsulated and encrypted then sent via the VPN gateway to the private network. Then the content is encrypted and relayed to the private network’s host. A network access server (NAS) or media gateway is where the user connects from the internet in order to use the VPN, and authenticates the information provided by the user in order to sign in.

Site-to-Site VPN

In a site-to-site VPN, multiple users in different fixed locations can securely connect with each other. For example, each individual networks named Branch A, Branch B, and Branch C are all connected to each other, which means that they can share files and other resources with each branch connected. They are all connected to the main office and can also share resources with that network. An example of this would be a big company headquarters with numerous office branches in different remote locations.

Site-to-site VPNs do not need a VPN client software – the data in TCP/IP is sent and received normally via the VPN gateway, which encapsulates and encrypts the traffic and sends it through a VPN tunnel via the internet to another peer VPN gateway. Then the VPN gateway decrypts and relays the content to the private network’s host.

How to Configure A VPN

Whether you want to connect to an existing VPN in your home, set up a new VPN server, or connect your mobile devices such as Android and iOS, this guide will help you configure a virtual private network now.

Set Up A New VPN (Windows):

  1. Open a port in your router that points to the VPN host’s IP address by entering your router’s IP address in the browser bar.
  • Go to the Port Forwarding section (may be named as Virtual Server).
  • Create a new Port Forwarding entry by setting a random external and internal port.
  • Forward the port to the VPN host’s IP address.
  1. Search for ‘ncpa.cpl’ in the Windows search bar to go to the Network Connections panel.
  2. Press Alt to show the menu bar, click the File option, then select New Incoming Connection. You can then choose which users can connect to the VPN.
  3. In the ‘How will people connect?’ prompt, check the ‘Through the internet’ option. You can then choose whether to share your files or not by checking the ‘’File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks’ option.
  4. Take note of the computer name, since other users will need this to connect to the VPN.

Connect To An Existing VPN (Windows):

  1. Go to the Network and Sharing Center by searching for it in the Windows search bar.
  2. Click the ‘Set up a new connection or network’ link, then select ‘Use my Internet connection (VPN).
  3. Enter the domain name or the IP address of the server in the ‘Internet address’ field. Enter any name that you prefer in the ‘Destination name’ field.

Connect To An Existing VPN (Mac OS X):

  1. Go to System Preferences by clicking on the Apple menu, then open Networks.
  2. Click the plus button (+) at the bottom, then click the Interface menu and select ‘VPN.
  3. Select the VPN type that you are connecting to then create a name that you prefer.
  4. Enter the domain name or IP address of the server in the ‘Server Address’ field. You can ask your VPN operator regarding some fields that are not clear to you.

Connect Using a Mobile Device (Android):

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Wireless & Networks, then select VPN. Click ‘Add VPN Network’.
  3. Select PPTP VPN then enter your account information.

Connect Using a Mobile Device (iOS):

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to General, then select VPN. Click ‘Add VPN configuration’.
  3. Select PPTP VPN then enter your account information.
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