The Encyclopedia
of Differences

Firewall Vs VPN: What's the Difference?

Table of Contents

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to access the internet from a public Wi-Fi network and felt uneasy about your online privacy and security? If so, you may have heard of firewalls and VPNs.

Both firewalls and VPNs offer protection for your online activities, but they serve different purposes. The main difference between a firewall and a VPN is that a firewall protects your network from external threats, while a VPN encrypts your internet connection and protects your privacy.

In this article, we'll dive deeper into the differences and similarities between firewalls and VPNs to help you better understand how they can protect you online.

What is a Firewall?


A firewall is like a bouncer for your network, checking who is allowed in and who is not. It acts as a barrier between your private internal network and the outside world, protecting you from unauthorized access and cyber threats like hacking and malware.

Firewalls use a set of rules to determine which incoming and outgoing traffic is allowed, helping to keep your network safe and secure. Think of it as a shield protecting your sensitive information and keeping you safe online.

What is a VPN?


Imagine having a private and secure tunnel for your internet connection—that's what a VPN does. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts all your internet traffic, protecting your online activities from prying eyes even on public Wi-Fi networks. With a VPN, you can also change your virtual location, making it easier to access content restricted in your area.

In short, a VPN provides online privacy and security, hiding your internet activities and location from snoopers. Whether you're working remotely, streaming content, or simply browsing the web, a VPN is your best bet for a secure and private internet connection.

Differences between a Firewall and a VPN

A firewall and a VPN are two important security measures used to protect networks and devices from external threats. Although they share some similarities, there are several key differences between a firewall and a VPN.


The main purpose of a firewall is to block unauthorized access to a network. It is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.

On the other hand, the purpose of a VPN is to create a secure and encrypted connection between a device and a network. It allows users to access a remote network as if they were physically connected.

Protection Level

Firewalls protect a network by analyzing incoming traffic and blocking any that does not meet the security rules. However, a firewall does not protect data as it travels from one device to another.

Contrary to this, VPNs provide a higher level of protection by encrypting all data transmitted over the network. It makes it difficult for hackers to intercept or steal sensitive information.


Firewalls and VPNs are deployed at different points in a network for optimal security. Firewalls are typically placed at the network perimeter to control and monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. VPNs, on the other hand, can be deployed at the network perimeter or on individual devices such as laptops and smartphones.

At the network perimeter, a VPN gateway secures all traffic between the internal network and remote users or devices. On individual devices, a VPN client connects to a remote network for secure access to internal resources. The specific deployment strategy depends on an individual’s security needs and network architecture.


VPNs use encryption algorithms to secure all data transmitted over the network, ensuring that sensitive information remains protected from unauthorized access. Firewalls, on the other hand, do not provide encryption capabilities.

It means that any data transmitted over the network is vulnerable to interception and theft by hackers. By encrypting all data, VPNs provide a higher security level than firewalls.


The use of encryption algorithms by VPNs can result in decreased network performance. The encryption process requires additional processing power, which can slow down network speeds. Firewalls, on the other hand, have a lower impact on network performance as they do not need to encrypt data.

However, this does not mean that firewalls have no impact on performance. If a firewall is configured to block too much traffic, it can cause delays in network performance.

Comparison Chart: Firewall Vs VPN

Here's a more detailed comparison chart between Firewalls and VPNs, highlighting the main differences:

PurposeProtects the network from unauthorized access, cyber threats, and malwareEncrypts internet connection, protects online privacy and security, and allows access to restricted websites
Protection LevelNetwork protectionIndividual device protection
DeploymentInstalled on networkUsed on individual devices like laptops or smartphones
PerformanceCan slow down network performanceMay slightly reduce internet speed due to encryption
CostMay require additional hardware and ongoing maintenance costsUsually requires a monthly or yearly subscription fee
FlexibilityUsually applies to all devices connected to the networkCan be configured and used on a per-device basis
LoggingCan log network activity and trafficTypically does not log user activity

As you can see, firewalls and VPNs have their unique features and benefits, and both are important for online protection. While firewalls focus on protecting your network, VPNs focus on encrypting your internet connection and protecting your online privacy.

Ultimately, the choice between a firewall and a VPN (or both) depends on your specific needs and the level of protection you require.


Firewalls and VPNs may seem like different beasts, but they share many similarities! Both provide security for your online activities and information so you can surf the web without worry.

Whether you're just browsing or running a business, having a firewall or a VPN (or both) is becoming increasingly important in our digital age where cyber threats are a real danger. And despite their differences, they both serve the same goal of keeping your online presence safe and secure.


Do I need a Firewall if I use a VPN?

Yes, it is recommended to use both a VPN and a firewall for added security. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address, while a firewall protects your device from unauthorized access and malicious attacks.

You can safeguard your online privacy and security even better by using both a VPN and a firewall. However, some VPN services also offer built-in firewalls, so it's important to check if your VPN provider already provides this feature.

Is a VPN considered a Firewall?

No, a VPN and a firewall are two distinct security solutions with different functions. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts and secures internet traffic, allowing you to access the internet securely and anonymously. A firewall, on the other hand, acts as a barrier between your device and the internet, blocking unauthorized access and malicious traffic.

While a VPN may provide some level of security, it is not a substitute for a firewall, which is specifically designed to protect your device from network-based threats.

Can a Firewall block a VPN?

Yes, a firewall can block VPN traffic. Designed to restrict certain types of internet traffic, including VPN traffic, firewalls are to protect the network. It is often done in corporate or government networks where VPN services are restricted.
In some cases, firewalls may block VPN traffic due to security concerns or compliance requirements. To ensure that VPN traffic is not blocked, you may need to adjust your firewall settings or work with your network administrator to allow VPN traffic.

What do VPNs do that Firewalls cannot do?

VPNs offer encrypted internet traffic, hiding the user's IP address for privacy and anonymity. They allow users to bypass censorship, access restricted content, and securely connect to remote networks.

Firewalls protect the network by blocking unauthorized access and malicious traffic, but they cannot match the privacy and security benefits of a VPN. For added security, it's recommended to use both a VPN and a firewall.


To wrap up, firewalls and VPNs are essential for securing your online presence. They offer protection against cyber threats and unauthorized access, giving you the confidence to navigate the internet. Despite their differences, firewalls and VPNs serve the same goal of keeping your online activities and information secure.

Whether for personal or business use, it's important to understand the similarities and differences between these two security solutions to make an informed decision on which one best fits your needs.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
Share our Article on:

Table of Contents

About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
All Posts Written By Tom Vincent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrosschevron-downarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram