Difference between site to site VPN and remote access VPN

Both Site-to-Site VPN and Remote Access VPN are types of virtual private networks used primarily for transferring data and accessing a machine from a remote location under a secure network which acts as a private network across the machines.

In this article, we will differentiate Site-to-Site VPN and Remote Access VPN based on their features. Let's start with an overview of VPN and the role it plays.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) connects users' computers to a private network across a public network, enabling them to receive and send data as if they were physically attached to the private network.

  • Increased functionality, security, and control of the private network are all advantages of using a VPN.

  • Telecommuting workers frequently use it to gain access to resources that are not available on the public network.

  • Although encryption is widespread, it is not a requirement of a VPN connection.

  • A VPN creates a virtual point-to-point connection over existing networks utilizing dedicated circuits or tunnelling technology.

What is Site-to-Site VPN?

A VPN that connects two or more networks, such as a corporate network and a branch office network, is known as a site-to-site VPN.

  • As an alternative to deploying private MPLS circuits, several firms use site-to-site VPNs to use an Internet connection for private traffic.

  • A distinct intermediary network, such as two IPv6 networks connected across an IPv4 network, could be used for the interconnecting link.

  • Companies with multiple offices in different geographic locations that need to access and use the corporate network regularly use site-to-site VPNs. A site-to-site VPN allows a company's corporate network to securely connect with its remote offices, allowing them to interact and share resources as a single network.

In Site-to-Site VPN, the IPsec security mechanism is used to build an encrypted tunnel between a customer's network and a customer's remote site.

Performance wise, Site-to-Site VPN is better, as it allows multiple users/VLANs traffic to flow through each VPN tunnel.

What is Remote Access VPN?

A Remote Access VPN encrypts all traffic sent and received by users working remotely, allowing them to safely access and use programs and data stored in the company data center and headquarters.

  • The remote access VPN accomplishes this by constructing a "virtually private" tunnel between an organization's network and a distant user, even if the user is in a public area.

  • Any eavesdropper will be unable to understand the traffic because it is encrypted.

  • Remote users can safely connect to and utilize their company's network in the same manner as if they were in the office.

  • Data can be transmitted without fear of being intercepted or tampered with while using a Remote Access VPN.

Difference between Site-to-Site VPN and Remote Access VPN

The following table highlights the major differences between Site-to-Site VPN and Remote Access VPN −

Site-to-Site VPN
Remote Access VPN
Site-to-Site VPN is a type of VPN in which an entire network gets connected under a secure shared gateway so that the data can be sent and received with authentication.
Remote Access VPN is a type of VPN in which the multiple resources from different locations get connected with a single private network using various VPN client software and gateways.
Network Setup
In Site-to-Site VPN, only the network of locations gets connected via a secure tunnel and hence there is no need to set up a network for each client to access the target network.
The VPN tunnel setup does not have to be initiated by every user.
In case of Remote Access VPN, each client needs to set up the network which is required to get connected with the secure target network.
Each remote access user must initiate the VPN tunnel configuration.
Site-to-Site VPN is implemented using IPsec technology only.
Remote Access VPN supports both SSL and IPsec technology.
Target User
Site-to-Site VPN is widely used in Office LAN users of branch offices that need to connect to servers located at the headquarters.
Remote Access VPN is used for Roaming users who want to access resources/servers securely.


Remote Access VPNs and Site-to-Site VPNs may sound similar, yet they serve very different functions. The most important point that you should note here is that a Remote Access VPN connects remote users from any location to a corporate network, whereas a Site-to-Site VPN connects individual networks with each other to create a shared network.

Updated on: 28-Jul-2022

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