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What is the difference between a VPN and a firewall?

Hackers are always at it with new attacks that target your data and devices. A VPN and a firewall are both powerful security tools to combat threats — with totally different approaches. Are you wondering what’s best for your network? Learn the difference between VPNs and firewalls and find out. Then download Clario’s dedicated VPN to instantly boost your network security.

Table of contents

What is a VPN?

Note

A virtual private network, or VPN, is a security tool that encrypts your data and hides your device’s true IP address.

A VPN helps you evade malicious threats, protects your privacy and gives you access to a less restricted internet.  

 

How does a VPN work? It functions like a tunnel between your device and a dedicated server, which secures any data you send to or receive from other websites. A VPN encrypts your data, making it unreadable to anyone trying to intercept it.  

 

By connecting to a VPN server, you hide your IP address — the label that identifies your device and location. This ensures anonymity from your internet service provider (ISP), governments, hackers, websites, and others.  

 

With a VPN, you can use different IP addresses by connecting to servers from all over the world. This enables you to evade content restrictions and geoblocking, which limits access to internet content based on your geographical location.  

 

Here are the benefits of a VPN:

  1. Prevent hacking and evade malicious threats  
  2. Protect private data while on public Wi-Fi  
  3. Bypass censorship
  4. Get access to better deals online
  5. Unlock content on streaming services
  6. Safely use torrents without your ISP’s knowledge  
  7. Prevent ISP bandwidth throttling  
  8. Protect your identity while gaming.

Yup, those are a lot of benefits. Interested in trying a VPN for yourself? Clario VPN is a breeze to set up.  

 

Here’s how to use Clario VPN:

  1. Download Clario and try our free trial to set up an account  
  2. On the home screen, toggle Browsing protection
  3. Tap or click Turn on to activate Clario VPN.

And you’re done. Start enjoying the many benefits of Clario VPN now. Use it to encrypt your data and stay safe online, anonymize your online activity, and access your favorite content from around the world.

What is a firewall?

Note

A firewall is a network security tool that detects and blocks malicious threats by analyzing all the data that your device receives.

It acts as a barrier between your device and your network. If a threat is detected, a firewall will block all malicious incoming traffic.  

 

Is a VPN a firewall? No. These are separate tools, each with unique advantages.  

 

With strong centralized management and reporting abilities, a firewall is best for blocking unauthorized access to private networks and devices. By blocking unwanted traffic and only allowing trusted sources and IP addresses, a firewall protects your device from hackers, malware, bad actors, and other potential threats.  

 

There are two types of firewalls:  

What are hardware or network firewalls?  

A hardware or network firewall is a physical device that’s configured to exclusively provide firewall services.  

 

Here are the benefits of a hardware firewall:  

  • Consistency and simplicity. Security settings on network devices can vary, which increases threat risks. A hardware firewall ensures that all network devices will have the same security settings.  
  • Standalone protection. A dedicated hardware firewall won’t take up resources from other network devices. Plus, it protects against attacks designed to exploit the operating systems (OS) and programs of network devices.  
  • Visibility. It’s difficult to monitor multiple devices running independent firewalls. Network devices protected under the same hardware firewall helps to centralize network monitoring.  

Though hardware firewalls are powerful security tools that provide centralized protection, they’re also expensive. They are best suited for large organizations rather than home networks.  

What are software firewalls?  

A software firewall is an application that runs on a device’s existing OS to bring firewall protection to the device and its programs.  

 

Here are the benefits of a software firewall:  

  • Cost-effective. Software firewalls don’t need dedicated hardware. Because they run off your device, they are simple to set up for a home user and more affordable than hardware firewalls.  
  • Standard on many OSs. Many OSs already have a software firewall pre-installed.  Some may require set-up, while others run automatically.  

Though they’re more affordable, software firewalls lack centralized protection. Although they might not be sufficient for a network with lots of devices to manage, software firewalls are good for a home network.  

Differences between a VPN and a firewall  

Both a VPN and a firewall are powerful network security tools that each take a different approach to protection. A VPN hides your outgoing data, effectively hiding your device from threats. A firewall functions like a protective barrier, blocking potential threats.

The main takeaway

VPN can’t stop malicious threats, but a firewall can. But, BOTH tools offer unique benefits.  

Here are some key differences between a firewall and VPN:  

  • A firewall uses customized security settings and restricted network access to stop threats. A VPN hides your location and personal information — like passwords — to evade threats.  
  • A firewall vets incoming traffic by regulating ports and blocking potential intruders. A VPN protects outgoing traffic by changing your public IP address.  
  • A firewall protects your device from unauthorized connections on public networks. A VPN safeguards your device from data theft on public Wi-Fi.  
  • Firewalls can be set up to deny access to certain websites and services, or make exceptions to allow access to restricted content. VPNs can’t enforce network restrictions.
  • A VPN can evade geo-blocking and content restrictions — a firewall can’t.  

VPN vs. firewall: which one should you use?

Use both a firewall with a VPN, for the most comprehensive network security protection. Separately, they are powerful tools, but together they synergize to boost your network security — protecting you from threats while keeping you anonymous.  

 

Unfortunately, there are no hybrid VPN firewalls or firewall VPNs. But there are plenty of great options for each tool.  

 

A comprehensive VPN, like Clario VPN, will encrypt your data and hide your IP address so you can evade threats, secure your data on public Wi-Fi, stay anonymous, and bypass content restrictions. And a quality firewall will detect and block all incoming threats from infecting your device.  

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