SSH vs. VPN: Which is Better for Privacy and Security?

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Secure Shells (SSH) are popular network technologies used to keep online users’ privacy and security. But while both share the same purpose, they have different functions. In this post, we’ll provide you with the pros and cons of each technology to help you select a more appropriate and cost-effective data security solution for your home or office network.

SSH vs. VPN: Which is Better for Privacy and Security?

What is SSH?

SSH or secure shell is used to secure communication of your device at work and at home by employing such cryptographic protocol to link an SSH-supporting app to an SSH server. It uses an encrypted tunnel through an SSH protocol so unencrypted traffic can be transferred and protect the data.

Three factors characterize SSH: encryption capabilities, password authentication, and public-key authentication. This makes an SSH client function as a SOCKS proxy so that data packets are routed from a server to a client. You’ll have a proxy IP address before your data reaches its recipient.

What is a VPN?

VPN or virtual private network is a form of technology that encrypts your data traffic and safely routes data packets through a remote server. In this way, your IP address is masked, thus ensuring your online anonymity, online privacy and security while keeping unauthorized parties from intercepting your traffic and using your personal information for malicious purposes.

What are the differences between SSH and VPN?

The main difference between SSH and VPN lies in what is encrypted. In a VPN, the data packets are encrypted and sent into a new network protocol so that they cannot be intercepted by malicious hackers and even by your ISP. In SSH, the data packets are also sent securely by going through an encrypted private tunnel but they are not encrypted because the network that they are passing already is.

In addition, setting up SSH can be complicated and is usually accomplished by those who are tech-savvy. With a VPN, an app is used so no complex setup processes have to be made. 

Finally, SSH works on a per-app basis because it functions as a separate network. A VPN, on the other hand, encrypts all information that passes through the tunnel. Take note that you can also leverage a VPN’s split tunneling feature to allocate only a portion of your bandwidth to specific apps. Doing so can help you pick websites that can run through the VPN tunnel while leaving the rest to your regular connection.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using SSH?


  • Encrypts data to protect you from malicious attacks
  • Uses a standardized protocol
  • Supports remote server control
  • Prevents IP address spoofing by hiding your IP address
  • Good for users that do not want to encrypt all traffic 
  • Cheaper than a VPN


  • Complex to set up for non-tech savvy users
  • Does not encrypt all data traffic so it takes takes time and effort to do so on each app
  • Cannot ensure DNS leak prevention

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a VPN?


  • Automatically encrypts all traffic (except when a user enables split tunneling)
  • Offers a huge selection of servers that you can connect to
  • Offers an app that’s easy to set up so even the non-tech savvy can use it


  • Free VPNs are highly risky to use and can jeopardize your personal information
  • Comes with a fee

Should I use SSH or VPN?

While both technologies provide a secure tunnel, a VPN uses strong encryption and hashing algorithms to better encrypt all of your internet traffic. Even better, a VPN offers a dedicated app so anyone can easily use it and get them connected right away.

Remember that you should not just trust any paid VPN service. It has to meet the following requirements:

  1. Uses AES-256 encryption can assure you that your security can withstand brute force attacks.
  2. No logs policy and will never risk their reputation by selling your information to other data companies.
  3. Fast and stable connections with very minimal drop in speed.
  4. Free from irritating ads and pop-up messages that are likely to redirect you to malicious sites.
  5. Secure end-to-end encryption guarantees that the data in transit is protected and not altered from one VPN gateway to another.
  6. Does not engage in data throttling. When your online activity takes a lot of bandwidth, your ISP can throttle it to deliberately reduce your speed. Your VPN should effectively mask your data through a tunneling method that sends information from your device to another (such as a server) so that your ISP can’t detect any of your online activity.
  7. Never divulges any information of its users—not even to the government.
  8. More servers are available to avoid crowded servers, especially when accessing geo-restricted services.

What’s the best VPN in terms of security and advanced features?

ExpressVPN is a consistent leader when it comes to security compared to other VPNs. It is based on the British Virgin Islands where it is against the law to conduct any form of data retention. Thus, ExpressVPN guarantees its clients that the company does not keep records of users’ activities or connection logs in any way. Many analysts and product reviewers also agree that ExpressVPN is unparalleled when it comes to its strong privacy and security measures, a global presence of servers, and excellent split tunneling capability. 

Ready to use a paid VPN? Try ExpressVPN!

If you want a VPN that offers robust security and geo-spoofing features that you can trust, start making each browsing experience safe and sound by choosing your ExpressVPN plan today. Enjoy the internet with privacy and security!

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

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