Hardware VPN vs software VPN

For companies, the question of hardware VPN vs software VPN is a legit one. There are no arguments that using a VPN is pivotal to security. But, the question of whether one is better than the other often fuels heated discussions.

Should you use hardware VPN for its alleged superior speed? Or go for a cheaper software VPN? Read on and find out how both types of VPNs stand up to each other.

What is Software VPN?

A software VPN is an application downloadable to devices like a PC or mobile phone. It connects the device to a VPN server hosted on-premise or on a third-party facility.

The software VPN provides a visual interface to establish a secure, encrypted connection between the device and the server. Your device is secured by the software VPN’s encryption and protocol.

When connected to a software VPN, your IP address is also hidden from the public. You’re protected from hackers and spying attempts with the VPN connection. ClearVPN is an example of a software VPN.

What is Hardware VPN?

The term “hardware VPN” is literally a giveaway to what it is. Hardware VPN is a dedicated piece of equipment that provides VPN functionalities to computers and mobile devices. Some routers have VPN functionalities built-in, which essentially makes them a hardware VPN.

Hardware VPNs are built with a dedicated CPU to encrypt and decrypt the data passing through them. This removes the burden of doing so from the devices that it protects. It’s also common for hardware VPN to be equipped with a firewall and secure SSL connection.

What are the Pros and Cons of Using Hardware VPN vs Software VPN?

Software VPN vs. hardware VPN. Which is the deserving winner? Well, it isn’t as simple as that, which is why it’s important to run through the pros and cons of each technology.


As far as encryption is concerned, both hardware and software VPN are pretty much neck-to-neck. Both types of VPN use highly secure encryption, such as the AES-256, alongside industrial-standard protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2. MacPaw's ClearVPN uses the aforementioned security protocols to ensure that user's data and online activities are private and protected.

However, security on a software VPN can be compromised by user behaviors. If you have a bad habit of clicking into untrusted links or do not believe in the virtue of anti-virus programs, you’re susceptible to online threats despite using a software VPN.

Meanwhile, the hardware VPN operates in a strictly controlled environment. You’re in complete control of data security, and there is a lesser risk of security breaches stemming from user actions.


Generally, hardware VPN offers better connection speed as it operates with a dedicated CPU. Software VPN relies on the client app for encrypting the user-side transmission. If your device lacks a powerful processor and runs multiple CPU-intensive apps, you’ll get a less-than-ideal speed with a software VPN.

Still, it isn’t impossible to enjoy fast connections with a software VPN. Today, premium VPN providers have optimized their client apps for speed. Moreover, most computers and smartphones are more than capable of running a VPN app and other software simultaneously.

There isn’t a clear winner in the battle of hardware vs software VPN as far as speed is concerned.


Setting up a software VPN is easy. Go to the provider’s page, subscribe, and download the app to your device. Install and launch the app. You’re then likely to be greeted with an intuitive interface that allows you to connect to a VPN server with a couple of clicks.

It takes less than 5 minutes to set up a software VPN. And most users wouldn’t have issues navigating the app, especially if it’s a user-friendly intuitive VPN like ClearVPN.

It’s a different story with a hardware VPN. You don’t have the privilege of an app where you could instantly create a secure connection. Instead, you’ll need to configure the parameters for the hardware VPN manually.

Chances are, you’ll need to hire IT specialists for the job because misconfiguration can compromise the VPN’s security.


A piece of hardware VPN costs between hundreds to thousands of dollars. Not exactly economical, particularly if you’re trying to keep costs down in business.

Meanwhile, subscribing to software VPN only costs a fraction of what you would have paid for its hardware counterpart. Most VPNs offer significant savings for long-term subscriptions.


You should be aware that there’s a limit to how many connections you can set up with a single hardware VPN. As your business grows, you will hire more employees, which means investing in more hardware VPNs.

If you’re using a software VPN, you can subscribe for additional users when required. It is cheaper to do so, and you don’t have to deal with the complexity of linking the various hardware VPN together. Plus, with remote work becoming more popular, you can be sure that your employees are using a VPN even if they’re working from home.

Top 3 FAQ about Hardware VPN vs Software VPN

1.What is a hardware VPN connection?

A Hardware VPN connection is a secure, encrypted tunnel established over a dedicated piece of device built with VPN functionalities.

2. Does a VPN require hardware?

Not necessarily. You can download a software VPN, which is just as secure and efficient as a hardware VPN. You’ll only need a PC or mobile device instead of buying a separate, dedicated hardware VPN.

3. Can you use a VPN on a router?

Yes, but only on selected routers that support VPN functionalities. You will, however, need to subscribe to a VPN and configure the router to use the encryption from the VPN.

Let’s Wrap it Up

The battle of hardware VPN vs software VPN concludes with a clear winner. Software VPN emerges triumphant in the end. It equals hardware VPN in security and speed but is more superior in terms of user-friendliness, cost, and scalability.

ClearVPN 2
Make your digital life safe, private, and comfortable with ClearVPN 2