The most important thing to know about the difference between VPN vs remote desktop solutions is that they are functionally different things. There are other differences, like security vulnerabilities and levels of flexibility and control, but understanding what each one does will help you decide which solution will be best for you.
What is a VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Essentially, a VPN creates a smaller, private network on top of a larger public network – most commonly the internet. The VPN can have specific settings and allow for more shared access among the devices connected to it.
A VPN also allows applications that only work on local networks to be accessed through the internet once you’re logged into the VPN. So let’s say you have a special printer in your office that’s connected to your office’s local network. If you’re out in the field and need to print something, typically you’d have to wait until you’re back and can connect to the network directly.
With a VPN, you’d be able to virtually login to your office’s local network and print as if you were there. One thing to keep in mind as you consider VPN vs remote desktop solutions is that VPNs only offer access to resources that are already shared on the network. There isn’t much flexibility.
Once you set up shared resources on the VPN – like printers, servers, or shared folders – you would have remote access to them. But if you forget to share a folder you need remote access to before you leave the office, you won’t be able to retroactively share the folder remotely with your VPN. Once it’s set up, that’s the way it stays.
What is RDP or Remote Desktop?
RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol and is sometimes just referred to as Remote Desktop. It’s the commonly used name for a group of applications that allow you to access computers or devices from a remote location.
Remote desktop solutions are becoming more and more common with the increased prevalence of distributed workforces and more employees regularly working from home. It’s perfect for people who are frequently on the go, work out of a home office, or are often out in the field and need access to their local desktop computer.
Sometimes referred to as “screen sharing,” remote desktop can give you full access to your desktop computer from anywhere with an internet connection. When thinking about VPN vs remote desktop, this can come in handy if you don’t foresee needing access to certain files stored locally.
RDP or remote desktop even allows you to launch applications, change administrator settings, and perform other tasks as if you were using your computer from your desk. Remote desktop gives you access to shared network resources in addition to the resources on the computer or device that is being controlled.
VPN vs Remote Desktop
When comparing VPN vs remote desktop there are two main concerns: flexibility and security.
Flexibility. While having some similarities, VPN and remote desktop are functionally different things. A VPN will give you access to a network while remote desktop (or RDP) will give you control of an entire computer.
When you think about VPN vs RDP and what will be the right solution for your company or personal setup, you have to consider what you ultimately need. If you want to have full control over a local computer from a remote location, VPN won’t let you achieve that. If you don’t want to have to pre-plan and pre-emptively share all the folders and files you might need access to in the field, then a remote desktop is the way to go.
Since remote desktop gives you full access to your device from wherever you are, it’s better than a VPN when it comes to flexibility.
Security. As you consider the best way to provide remote access to a network or device, security needs to be a top priority. Any time you open up personal or sensitive data to an outside resource, you have to take into account the security vulnerabilities of your options.
When it comes to VPN vs remote desktop, some security experts recommend using a VPN over a remote desktop connection because of the level of access that remote access connections provide. But Netop’s remote desktop security is highly documented.
With Netop you get secure remote control without the vulnerabilities of a typical RDP solution. Our security and encryption protocols exceed industry standards across the board. Netop gives you the power, control and fast connections that come with RDP without common remote desktop security vulnerabilities.
Ultimately, VPNs offer less control than remote desktop solutions and limit the actions and flexibility that are necessary to successfully work remotely with access to important files, data, servers, and systems. And while some RDPs aren’t as secure as certain VPNs, Netop offers the best of both worlds. The flexibility and control of a remote desktop with security that exceeds a VPN.
Remote Desktop over VPN
In the end, if you’re looking for control, options, flexibility and functionality with your remote access solution, it’s best to choose Netop’s remote desktop over VPN. We know that you never want to sacrifice security when dealing with sensitive data – that’s why it’s vital to ensure that the remote desktop solution you choose comes with the highest level of security and encryption available.
Looking at VPN vs remote desktop options, Netop offers industry-leading security. Plus, Netop clearly becomes the superior solution thanks to the fact that you get all of the benefits of RDP without the hassle of setting up an additional virtual network.
One more advantage of choosing Netop’s RDP vs VPN is the precision and level of control available with every implementation. Netop gives you full control. You have complete and total access over exactly what is accessible on a granular level. VPNs only offer broad network and device control, without the precision that Netop’s remote desktop provides.
Which is Best for You?
Obviously, everyone’s specific technical and productivity needs are different. As you consider VPN vs remote desktop, you have to take into account what you’re specifically trying to accomplish with your remote access solution.
Are you looking for simple, secure, broad remote access to network devices like printers? Then a VPN solution for remote access might be the way to go.
However, if you’re looking for total control, more flexibility and unhindered access – all with industry-leading security and encryption – then Netop’s remote access solution is your best choice for secure remote control.
Sam Heiney is the Product Manager for Netop Remote Control.