What Is the Difference Between VNC & VPN?

By James Dalton

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The acronyms "VNC" and "VPN" both relate to computing and networking, but their purpose and functionality are entirely different. "VNC" is normally associated with desktop support and network administration, while "VPN" is a method of secure network transmission.


VNC, or Virtual Network Computing, is a widely used system for remotely viewing and controlling one computer from another. It was developed by AT&T Labs at Cambridge University.


VPN, or Virtual Private Network, describes a system where a network connection is made from one location to another "on top of" or "inside of" a different network. It is often referred to as a "VPN Tunnel" because the result is a tunnel-like network within another network, where the devices inside and outside of the tunnel are unaware of each other. It is a commonly used as a secure method of transmitting data over the Internet.

VNC Flavors

There are many different releases, or "flavors," of the VNC protocol. Some of the more common ones include "RealVNC," "UltravNC" and "TigthVNC." (See Resources)