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VPN vs Citrix (2021): Which Remote Access Should You Use?

As businesses continue to shift employees to remote working environments, protecting company data, apps and users requires better solutions. VPNs and VDIs such as Citrix are the top contenders for remote access options today, enabling workforces to complete their tasks and duties from anywhere in the world. Below we discuss the main differences between VPN and Citrix and provide recommendations depending on your requirements.

VPN vs Citrix Comparison Chart

NameVPNCitrix
PricingVariesCheck Pricing
ConnectionRemote connectionRemote access
SpeedSlowerFaster
Data TransmissionAll dataVirtual desktop
ApplicationsConnecting to apps2
SecurityVariesHigh

VPN and Citrix: How They Work

Here’s a visualization of Citrix Workspace.

First off, what exactly is a VPN and what is Citrix? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, a technology that lets users connect remotely and securely to private networks, such as a corporate network, using any device. Typically, employees can access office resources such as shared folders and even devices like printers through a secure connection on their PC or laptop.

On the other hand, Citrix is a VDI system, which stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Rather than just a remote connection, Citrix allows remote access to a virtual desktop that’s being hosted on a corporate server. This means the user will utilize the virtual machine’s dedicated resources, and they’ll simply be able to see this virtual desktop on their device.

Both VPNs and Citrix require an application to be installed on the user’s machine or device, though some VPNs might only require a specific connection setup and shortcut. However, once connected, users on a VPN will still open apps on their computer, use local resources while accessing remote data. On Citrix, users will get their own virtual workstation that has its own resources.

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Speed and Security

Citrix is faster and more secure than VPN.

Citrix provides different login options to its secure system.

Put simply, Citrix enables faster and smoother user experiences and data transmission since the connection only transmits screen changes. You’ll be connected to a virtual machine on the server, use its apps and resources, and only the communication between the server and client (your device) needs to travel between the connection. Any processing is done on the server, so users can effectively get more resources, like CPU and RAM, than their laptop has, for example.

Meanwhile, VPNs will still require data to be transmitted over the connection. VPNs will create a secure tunnel between your device and the office’s private network, with data traveling constantly over this encrypted tunnel. Processing is done on the user’s device and this client machine only behaves as if it’s in the office.

Citrix is inherently more secure than VPN as a result. The remote server is fully managed and is protected from threats that can compromise personal devices, such as keyloggers, malware, etc. Server administrators can further control which data can leave the corporate network. Meanwhile, while data is encrypted in transit over a VPN connection, users can still move downloaded data to any other device.

Ease of Use and Cost

VPN is easier to set up and is more affordable than Citrix.

A remote access VPN secures your connection to the office network.

As you can see, a VPN functions comparatively simpler than Citrix and other VDI systems. It creates an encryption tunnel that protects traffic between you and the corporate network. There’s minimal hardware cost involved since users simply install an app or set up the VPN connection. On the other hand, maintenance gets more difficult with more users, since each client machine needs to be updated.

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Citrix is an expensive solution in comparison, not only due to the monthly costs of a subscription, but also because an additional layer of software is required and the central server also needs to be configured. Also, virtual desktops need considerable resources to ensure smooth performance. Maintenance can be easier since only the corporate server needs to be patched and it’s in a central location.

In return, Citrix offers a wider range of applications, from desktop visualization, SaaS, and cloud computing to desktop visualization.

Verdict

To summarize, here are the most important points to remember when deciding between VPN and Citrix:

  1. A VPN is typically a lower cost solution and has less hardware and software requirements.
  2. Citrix is an all-in-one solution that provides numerous remote access uses.
  3. VPNs can be slower while Citrix is faster and more efficient at data transmission.
  4. Citrix costs much higher in general than VPNs due to subscription fees and hardware costs.
  5. Citrix provides better security features and can be scaled up for large enterprises.

It’s recommended for companies with smaller workforces to consider a VPN for remote access since it’s more cost-effective and easier to get running. However, enterprises with a large remote staff who need more powerful processing will benefit more from Citrix solutions.

FAQs

πŸ“Œ Is Citrix the same as VPN?

No, Citrix is a VDI system or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure that provides access to virtual machines set up in a corporate server or network. In contrast, a VPN only provides a secure connection between a client device and the corporate private network.

πŸ“Œ Which is better Citrix or VMware?

Currently, Citrix leads in app and desktop virtualization while VMware is ahead in server utilization as well as popularity.

πŸ“Œ Why use VPN or Citrix?

VPN and Citrix provide users different methods of remote access to their company’s network. They facilitate secure remote working, file sharing, app delivery and more.

Derick Bondoc