What is a VPN?
VPN stands for virtual private network. It’s a tool that creates a private digital tunnel, hides your IP address, and encrypts your online data. A VPN allows it to travel more safely through the internet.
If you surf online with a VPN, its server becomes your exit point. That means internet service providers (ISPs) and other third parties can’t view the data you send and receive online. To better understand what a VPN is, let’s thoroughly analyze its benefits.
Advantages of a VPN
Some pros of using a VPN are:
- Cost-effectiveness. A VPN adds a layer of encryption using existing internet connections. That makes it a relatively cheap online security tool for your internet connectivity.
- Flexibility. A VPN works with devices such as PCs, smartphones, routers, and smart TVs. VPNs are also compatible with various operating systems.
- Scalability. A VPN can support a large number of users. With some VPNs, one account lets a user connect multiple devices.
- Easy to set up. A VPN is easy to start and configure, making it accessible to anyone. In many cases, users just need to download an app, log in, and click a button to connect.
Disadvantages of a VPN
Despite many benefits, VPNs have some cons too:
- Slower internet connection. Using a virtual private network can slightly decrease internet speed and affect delay-sensitive traffic (such as video calls and online gaming). This speed drop usually happens when the VPN server is further from your location. However, you can use tips on how to increase your internet speed.
- Privacy issues. Some VPNs might collect and sell users’ data to third parties. This tendency is more familiar with free VPN services. Premium VPNs such as NordVPN offer users a no-log policy and better privacy.
What is MPLS?
MPLS, or multi-protocol label switching, is a data forwarding system companies use to connect their remote sites. MPLS assigns tags to data packets and controls the route each pack follows. Labels that MLPS appoints determine how that packet should travel. That allows companies to establish a secure communication network between their remote sites.
Multiprotocol label switching is considered to operate on the OSI layer 2.5 (open systems interconnection) model. OSI is a standardized framework that helps people understand and classify how networks work. MPLS falls between layer 2 (Data link) and layer 3 (Network). Layer 2 carries IP packets over simple LAN or point-to-point WAN. Layer 3 uses internet-wide addressing and routing with IP protocols.
Pros of MPLS
Multiprotocol label switching offers benefits such as:
- High reliability. Using dedicated connections instead of the public internet makes MPLS a trustworthy service. Since the bandwidth and infrastructure are reserved for a particular customer, the chance of jitter and throughput becomes smaller.
- Good performance. MPLS doesn’t require encryption and decryption of data, so it offers high performance and low latency.
- Security. It can run almost any encryption protocol, making it very secure.
- Scalability. Customers can scale MPLS to support an extensive number of users and traffic.
Cons of MPLS
Some of the drawbacks include:
- High cost. MPLS requires dedicated connections that are more expensive compared to shared connections. It’s because they reserve specific bandwidth amounts exclusively for your use.
- Flexibility limits. MPLS may require specific hardware or software to function properly.
- Longer implementation. Adding dedicated connections and specialized hardware or software requires effort. MPLS takes more time to implement than a VPN.
MPLS vs. a VPN – key differences
MPLS and VPNs can operate on a wide area network or WAN. Both tools give companies control over how to route their traffic and greater privacy than the public internet. Despite their similarities, these technologies have significant differences as well.
|Multiprotocol label switching primarily operates with either a point-to-point or a point-to-multipoint technique. MPLS is a common tool for point-to-point connections between different network locations.
|A VPN supports the multi-point technique as well as the point-to-point technique. Multi-point communication involves sending data from one source to a few different destinations. In point-to-point communication, data travels from one sender to one receiver.
|The cost of MPLS technology is higher.
|The cost of a VPN is comparatively lower.
|MPLS does not provide encryption by default.
|VPN servers are capable of encrypting data.
|MPLS works on OSI layer 2 and layer 3.
|All OSI layers are required to make a VPN functional. A VPN typically works on IPsec protocol that operates at OSI layer 3.
|An internet service provider controls routing divisions and traffic.
|Users handle the routing divisions and traffic themselves.
|MPLS is less suited for cloud-based services.
|With virtual private networks, cloud-based services are widely available.
|In an MPLS network, blocking or unblocking specific websites involves implementing additional security measures, such as firewalls or content filtering.
|With a VPN, blocking a website is sometimes hard to accomplish or irreversible.
MPLS vs. a VPN – which one should you choose?
VPNs and MPLS each have their advantages and disadvantages. Picking a VPN or MPLS depends on personal or business requirements, such as cost, security, availability, and speed. A VPN is a less expensive, more cybersafety-oriented option, while MLPS can offer more stable performance and better control over a network’s traffic.
Even though MPLS and VPNs are often rivals, combining them is also possible. You can integrate the cloud version of MPLS labeling with a VPN system to create an even stronger and safer approach. The MPLS-VPN hybrid may be best for big organizations or people who need to perform bandwidth-heavy procedures with minimal delays.