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VPN vs RDP – What’s the Difference


Every business that has gone remote requires some kind of remote access solution to use their corporate apps. Most are naturally inclined to choose a VPN forgetting that they have another option. It’s called an RDP.

This guide serves as an introduction to a VPN and an RDP and their comparison to help you choose the right solution for your business. Let’s look into these tools together.

What is RDP?

RDP refers to a remote desktop. It’s a software that lets you connect with another PC wirelessly. The connection establishes through the Internet. This PC could be located in the same room, city, or another country. If after hearing what RDP is, TeamViewer, Any Connect, or Citrix have come to your mind, that’s exactly what it is.

This software gives one PC complete control of another PC. The one in the control of your PC makes keystrokes and movements from his PC and they are sent remotely through the Internet. The user on the controlling end is able to see the other PC’s screen to see what’s happening.

What is a VPN?

A VPN doesn’t provide remote access to a PC, rather it connects a device to the VPN service. It plays the role of a tunnel by changing your IP address making your online browsing activities stay anonymous. In other words, this software masks your identity on the World Wide Web. No one will know what anything about your online activities.

A VPN program protects the user’s device from a range of online threats by simply changing their virtual location. Some VPNs offer up to 256-bit encryption which isn’t provided by an RDP. Security is one of the main reasons why businesses are using VPNs.

The Comparison

Although VPN and a Remote Desktop app are not directly related, to help you decide which one’s best for your business, here’s a comparison based on features of common ground.


RDPs are normally fast. However, when you are connecting to a device over a long distance (probably in another country), the connection can be slow. The connection is fast when it’s within the same building or local area. Speed also depends on the RDP chosen. For instance, if you are using TeamViewer, it uses screen imaging. So, speed will not be an issue.

VPNs, on the other hand, tend to get slow when they have to transmit a huge amount of data. Again, the speed depends on how reliable the VPN you have chosen is.

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Both RDPs and VPNs have some level of encryption. However, RDPs are less secure. The host machine is left vulnerable when it’s connected to the software.

A VPN is created to add another layer of security and mask the IP of the user in the first place. Hence, that makes it more secure and reliable. Since you can change the location of your IP, this software can also unblock the geo-locked content.


Both software is flexible in their own functions. A VPN lets you browse the Internet by changing your IP address and location. RDP offers complete control of a PC from a remote location.

The function which is supported by the VPN is not supported by the RDP. In the end, the decision about which software to use, all comes down to your needs.


RDPs only work on desktops. Plus, you will need high-speed Internet to use them smoothly. Otherwise, the connection will break and the task at hand will remain incomplete.

VPNs are more functional. Mobile and desktop versions are available. They also support a range of platforms. You can also add a VPN into your browser’s extension as an add-on.


You will find free and premium versions of VPNs and RDPs readily. However, companies often have to use the premium versions of RDPs since they need a functional remote access software. Hence, RDPs are costly. Their price is determined on a per device basis.

VPNs, on the other hand, are affordable. Just a few dollars a month will provide your team with a secure connection online.

Does Your Business Need a VPN or RDP?

In organizations, IT technicians majorly use RDPs to provide support to the employees working from home. They remotely access their PCs for maintenance and troubleshooting. This makes RDPs mandatory for all businesses.

A VPN is best for personal and business use. Even if you are not working, you could use a VPN to protect yourself from online threats or unblock location-based content. The business benefits of a VPN are hard to ignore. Why? Because it encrypts your online activities. Companies recommend their employees to use VPNs not only when they are working from home but also when they are traveling.

Therefore, depending on your needs, your employees could use both services and make their WFH experience convenient.

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