VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a critical tool for small businesses looking to protect their data and secure their communications. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to know which VPN solution is the best fit for your business.
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In this article, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when choosing a VPN for your small business, and provide an overview of some of the most popular VPN options available today.
A Brief 101: What is a VPN, Anyway?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that allows users to securely connect to the internet and access the internet or company’s network remotely. One example of a solid VPN service is Surfshark.
When a user’s device connects to a VPN server, a secure, encrypted connection is established using a variety of technologies, including encryption and tunneling. This connection, also known as a “VPN tunnel,” aids in preventing unauthorized parties from intercepting or accessing the user’s data and internet traffic.
When using public Wi-Fi networks, VPNs are frequently used to secure private or sensitive information, such as online banking or credit card information. They can also enable distant network access for employees and assist users in getting over geo- and internet blocking.
Things to Consider when Choosing a VPN
1. The Type of VPN
When choosing a VPN for your small business, the first thing to consider is the type of VPN. There are two main types of VPNs: remote access VPNs and site-to-site VPNs.
Remote access VPNs allow employees to connect to the company’s network from remote locations, while site-to-site VPNs connect multiple locations together, allowing employees to work together seamlessly.
Remote access VPNs are the more popular choice for small businesses, as they are typically easier to set up and manage. They are also ideal for businesses with employees who need to work from home or travel frequently. Some popular remote access VPN options include:
- Cisco AnyConnect
- Pulse Secure
Site-to-site VPNs are more complex, and are typically used by larger businesses with multiple locations. They are also ideal for businesses that need to securely connect their data centers together. Some popular site-to-site VPN options include:
- Cisco Meraki
- Juniper SRX
2. The Level of Encryption
Encryption is a critical component of any VPN service, as it protects the data that is transmitted over the VPN connection. The level of encryption offered by a VPN service refers to the strength and complexity of the encryption algorithm used.
One of the most commonly used encryption algorithms is AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm, which means that the same key is used for both encryption and decryption. AES is considered to be one of the strongest encryption algorithms available, and it is used by many VPN providers.
AES encryption comes in different key sizes, with the most common being 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit. The higher the number, the stronger the encryption and the more secure the connection. For example, AES-256 provides stronger encryption than AES-128.
Another encryption algorithm used by VPN services is RSA, which is an asymmetric encryption algorithm. This means that a different key is used for encryption and decryption. RSA is typically used for establishing secure connections, such as for authentication and key exchange.
3. The Number of Simultaneous Connections Allowed
Another important factor to consider is the number of simultaneous connections allowed. This will depend on the size of your business and the number of employees that need to connect to the VPN. Some VPNs offer unlimited connections, while others have a limit.
The number of simultaneous connections allowed by a VPN service refers to the number of devices or users that can be connected to the VPN service at the same time using a single account. This is also sometimes referred to as the number of “concurrent connections” or “simultaneous logins.”
Different VPN services may have different limits on the number of simultaneous connections allowed, and some may offer unlimited connections. It is important to check this information when choosing a VPN service, particularly if you plan to share the VPN with multiple people or devices.
4. The Level of Support
Depending on the provider, you can anticipate a wide range of support from a VPN service. While some service providers might provide live chat, phone, and email customer care around-the-clock, others might only give restricted support during specific hours or via a ticketing system.
In general, you should expect a VPN service provider to offer at least the following types of support:
- Installation and setup assistance: This can include step-by-step instructions for installing the VPN software on different devices, as well as troubleshooting assistance if you run into any issues during setup.
- Technical support: This can include help with any technical issues you encounter while using the VPN, such as connection problems, slow speeds, or errors with the software.
- Billing and account support: This can include assistance with setting up and managing your account, as well as help with billing questions or issues.
- Knowledge base or FAQs: Many VPN service providers also offer a knowledge base or FAQs section on their website, which can provide answers to common questions and help you troubleshoot issues on your own.
It’s important to check the level of support offered by a VPN service provider before subscribing, and also check customer reviews to get a sense of the quality of support provided.
5. The Cost
When considering the cost of a VPN service, there are several factors to look upon:
- Monthly or annual subscription: Some VPN services offer a monthly subscription, while others require an annual commitment. Monthly subscriptions can be more flexible, but annual subscriptions can be more cost-effective in the long run.
- Number of devices: Some VPN services allow you to connect multiple devices to the VPN using a single account, while others may charge extra for additional devices. Consider how many devices you will need to connect to the VPN and whether the service allows for enough simultaneous connections.
- Free trial or money-back guarantee: Many VPN services offer a free trial or money-back guarantee, which can be a good way to test the service before committing to a subscription.
- Additional features: Some VPN services offer additional features such as ad-blocking, malware protection, or dedicated IP addresses at an extra cost. Consider whether these features are important to you and whether they are included in the cost of the service.
- Discounts or promotions: Some VPN services may offer discounts or promotions, such as a discount for paying for a year upfront, or a deal for new customers.
- Compare the prices of different VPNs providers, and also check customer reviews to get a sense of the quality of service provided by the different providers before you decide.
It’s critical to pick a VPN that matches your budget while offering the functionality and support your company need. Check to see whether you are getting the greatest deal possible.
In conclusion, selecting a VPN for your small business is a crucial choice. When making your selection, it’s necessary to take into account the type of VPN, encryption, simultaneous connections, support, and cost.
As always, it is important to do your research and choose a VPN that best fits your business needs and budget.