Hardware versus software VPNs

I’ve configured my Windows 2003 server as a VPN server. How does this compare to using hardware VPNs? Do you have recommendations for brands of hardware VPNs to use. I notice that most consumer vendors have these devices for under $200.

Windows Server software VPNs have the obvious advantage of Microsoft’s built in VPN connection in Windows 2000/XP. They are pretty easy to configure. Typically, you’ll want an ethernet adapter on that server to be dedicated to incoming VPN connections. That way it will only listen/respond to the ports it needs for VPNs.

  1. Cheap
  2. Easy to configure clients
  3. Natively uses Windows Active Directory users
  4. Dependent on a computer being up for connectivity.
  5. Only works as a client computer to network connection
  6. Higher likelyhood of being a security liability

I’ve dealt with Cisco VPN client software running on Windows. It’s pretty easy to use, but not included with Windows. Seemed to have more configuration options than Microsofts built in VPN client.

Haven’t dealt too much with IPSec VPN clients. Have yet to find a free one for Windows. This is true of many VPN compatable routers including: Monowall Linux Router, Linksys routers, Netgear routers, etc.