VPN vs. Antivirus vs. Firewall – Which is the Best in 2023?

Samuel Walker Last updated: May 16, 2023 Read time: 25 minutes Disclosure

Comparing VPN vs firewall vs antivirus won't suit your privacy since all three are equally essential. Learn more about these tools here.

VPN, firewall, and antivirus solutions comprise the core cybersecurity tools of today. But, none of them is a replacement for the other. Instead, each tool serves a different purpose. For example, while a VPN ensures digital privacy by hiding a user’s IP address and encrypting traffic, firewalls act as a barrier between the user’s device and the online cyber threats. Whereas antivirus tools work as device and network defenders, repelling and removing malware threats. Using all three of them with a complete understanding of their functioning is the key to remaining safe online. This guide explains it with a thorough comparison of VPN vs. antivirus vs. firewall.

People comparing the use of security tools like VPN, firewalls, and antivirus is quickly becoming an ever-growing trend online. Why? The virtual realm is stranger than fiction today, and every internet user like you needs to protect themselves.

Have you ever wondered how a single search on a particular item, say sneakers, floods your online activity with countless advertisements featuring sneakers?

There is a lot more than what meets the eye with the internet. The device you are on is connected to the world wide web, encrypting and decrypting data relevant to your likes, from algorithms to saved cookies. In short, whatever you do on the internet gets tracked and saved.

You are a commodity in the virtual domain, and the significant entities reigning the internet thrive on your personal data. The ads you click are their income, and your preferences get compiled and collected to be sold to prominent names.

While it makes total sense to use tools like VPNs, antivirus software, and firewalls to have a safer internet experience, many people are unaware of exactly what each of these tools does.

That is precisely what this guide is going to clear your mind. But first, let’s cover some fundamental security stuff that you need to be aware of, no matter what tool three you use to protect your security.

The most-ignored online threat

For most of us, we would instead find it helpful for the web to serve us with just what we were looking for, but does it all end up there? Let us take it from the top; when you log onto a site and search for your desired product or service, the site saves your search activity in the form of encrypted data called “cookies.”

Some websites will ask for your permission to save your online activity, and some won’t. In either case, a site does that through cookies tracking. The question is, is it safe for you to have them accessing your searches?

cookies Work

Most E-commerce stores will manipulate you into buying something you never needed. What if you need insurance coverage, and the site you logged onto now has access to your previous searches? Based on that info, the insurance firm may now deny you insurance because of your search history.

If none of that is your concern, you still have the ‘invasion of privacy” factor to worry about. Much like how you like your door shut in the night, you don’t always need ads to intrude on you in your virtual space.

That brings us to the innovation of VPN software packages and firewalls. It turns out that the need for a VPN becomes crucial as we speak.

Users have had their own take on VPN software providers, highlighting the pros and cons. Why, may you ask? Well, read on for more.

What is the difference between a VPN, a firewall, and anti-virus software?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is much what it says in the name. It creates a private network for you from a regular internet connection. The advantage is it conceals your Internet Protocol (IP) address, which cuts you off from your search history.


On the other hand, a firewall is a software that operates as a virtual wall denying access to sites, attack vectors, or even malware from accessing your data.

Any entity that has been identified already as a threat will get blocked automatically. Lastly, antivirus software is designed to detect malicious codes and computer viruses, simultaneously destroying the lot.  

Now that all that is out of the way, it begs the question: Do I need a VPN when I have a firewall? The relationship between the two is complicated. Let’s explore the clauses.