ZeroTier vs. Tailscale: Which VPN is Better?

Discover the ideal secure networking solution for your device!

While both ZeroTier and Tailscale are contemporary VPN options, combining them might not be the most optimal choice for your networking needs. Each VPN tackles problems uniquely, tailored to diverse individual needs. Therefore, understanding the features of both becomes crucial to make an informed decision. In this article, we will delve into a comparison of ZeroTier vs. Tailscale.

ZeroTier vs Tailscale

What are ZeroTier and Tailscale?

Tailscale is a user-friendly VPN service that utilizes the WireGuard protocol, enabling teams and individuals to establish secure networks among their devices on different platforms. Its simplicity means a single user can start using it within minutes.

ZeroTier is a VPN platform employing a proprietary protocol to securely connect devices over the internet. It offers advanced network virtualization, allowing you to treat the entire planet like a single data center.

ZeroTier vs. Tailscale: Comparison

Tailscale and ZeroTier are two widely-used tools that let you connect your devices safely over the internet, like creating a secret tunnel. While they share some features, they each have unique strengths for different situations. Let’s explore this with a handy table:

Aspect ZeroTier Tailscale
Endpoint Management Private IPv4 addresses, easy network management Private IPv4 addresses, device editing
Protocol Uses in-house protocol Uses WireGuard protocol for security
Self-Hosting Some self-hosting options Pure SaaS, no self-hosting of control
Configurability Manages networks, IPs, self-hosting options Simpler setup, fewer options for ease
Security End-to-end encrypted, unique 40-bit ZeroTier address, 256-bit ECC End-to-end encryption, private keys, SSO, MFA, RBAC, key rotation
Performance Slightly slower due to IPsec protocol Faster due to WireGuard protocol
Ease of Use Straightforward setup with some language differences Slightly easier due to streamlined console
Architecture Decentralized network virtualization with VL1 and VL2 layers SaaS central coordination with WireGuard protocol
Initial Setup Zero-configuration setup, share secret code Install and log in with SSO identity provider
Connectivity Reliable peer-to-peer connections, NAT traversal, root servers Peer-to-peer, NAT traversal, on-demand NAT and TCP relay

Also Read: How to Install ZeroTier on Windows

ZeroTier vs. Tailscale: Security


Both ZeroTier and Tailscale focus on keeping your information safe. They use special locks called encryption to protect your data.

  • ZeroTier’s Lock: ZeroTier uses a zero-trust method. It hides your data with strong locks that only the right devices can open. It’s like having a secret code that’s hard to crack. This method is very secure.
  • Tailscale’s Lock: Tailscale makes sure your data stays safe by never letting your device’s special key out. It’s like keeping your house key in your pocket all the time. This way, nobody else can open your data.
  • Getting In: With ZeroTier, you use a special key to get in. It’s like having a key that only fits your door. But, ZeroTier doesn’t have an extra lock called MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), which some people like for added security. Tailscale does have this extra lock. It uses your company’s special key and another code from your phone. It’s like needing both your house key and a secret word to open the door.
  • Controlling Access: Tailscale helps control who can come in. It’s like having a guard who checks everyone before they enter. This is good for keeping things organized and safe.

In the end, picking between ZeroTier and Tailscale is about choosing the type of lock you prefer. ZeroTier’s zero trust approach is very secure, while Tailscale offers extra locks like MFA and better control over who can join your network.

ZeroTier vs. Tailscale: Performance and Speed

When it comes to how fast they work, some people notice that Tailscale tends to be faster than ZeroTier. This might be because of a few reasons explained below for ZeroTier vs. Tailscale performance:

  • Protocol: Tailscale uses a speedy protocol called WireGuard, while ZeroTier relies on one called IPsec, which is a bit slower.
  • Network Architecture: Tailscale is designed with a streamlined approach, possibly enhancing its speed. In contrast, ZeroTier’s more complex network architecture might influence its performance.
  • Server Locations: Where the servers are located can affect speed. We used nearby servers in our tests, but if you connect to servers farther away, you might see different speeds.

Remember, everyone’s experience might be different based on things like how good their internet is, where they connect to the servers from, and how big their network is. Especially for smaller networks, you might not notice a big difference in speed between the two.

ZeroTier vs. Tailscale: Configurability and Ease of Use


Both ZeroTier and Tailscale are designed to be easy, especially if you’re new to networking. Tailscale is even simpler and great for beginners.

  • Tailscale’s Simplicity: Tailscale makes things super easy. It uses a central server to handle keys and settings, making it simple for everyone.
  • ZeroTier’s Extras: ZeroTier has more advanced stuff like managing networks and IPs. It’s good if you want more control over things.
  • Finding the Right Fit: Tailscale is like a beginner’s best friend, while ZeroTier is for people who want to tinker a bit more.

In short, Tailscale is super easy, perfect for starters. ZeroTier offers more for those who want to dive deeper.

Also Read: Top 10 VPNs for Gaming

ZeroTier Vs Tailscale: Pricing

Both ZeroTier and Tailscale offer free options, but their pricing models differ.

  • ZeroTier’s Approach: ZeroTier’s pricing is based on node packs. The free Basic tier allows one administrator and up to 25 nodes (devices). If you need more nodes or advanced features, you’ll need to choose from their higher-tier plans.
  • Tailscale’s Structure: Tailscale provides free plans for personal use, but for more users and devices, they offer paid plans. Their pricing is per user and includes 10 or 20 devices per user. The complexity arises from different tiers with various features.
  • Comparison: Tailscale’s pricing is tiered, based on users and devices. The free plan covers three users and 100 devices. To extend these limits, you’ll need to upgrade. ZeroTier’s free plan includes 25 nodes and can be extended with node packs for more devices.

Tailscale’s pricing is user-centric with tiers and device limits, while ZeroTier uses node packs for scalability. Your choice should depend on your specific needs and how each pricing model aligns with them

How are ZeroTier and Tailscale Similar?

ZeroTier and Tailscale have a lot in common:

  • Platform Core: Both create secure networks and manage devices within a peer-to-peer VPN setup.
  • Endpoint Management: They give devices private IPv4 addresses, which simplifies remote access and network control.
  • Peer-to-Peer Networks: Both set up direct connections between devices for faster speed.
  • Access Controls: Both allow you to set rules that manage which devices can communicate and control traffic flow.

They also offer key features such as end-to-end encryption, IP management, and easy-to-use interfaces. These similarities make ZeroTier and Tailscale great choices for setting up and managing VPN networks.

Also Read: How to Set Up VPN and Proxy in Windows 11

How are ZeroTier and Tailscale Different?

Both the VPNs are alike, some key points that lead to ZeroTier vs. Tailscale differences are:

1. Protocol:

  • Tailscale uses WireGuard for its clients, which is a standard way to keep things secure.
  • ZeroTier has its special way of doing things.

2. Self-Hosting:

  • Tailscale is like an online service you can’t host yourself. Data goes through their servers.
  • ZeroTier offers a bit of self-hosting, but it’s not as easy.

3. Pricing:

  • ZeroTier’s pricing is like buying packs of 25 nodes at once.
  • Tailscale’s pricing has different levels and counts users and devices.

4. Setup and Use:

  • ZeroTier gives more control to experts.
  • Tailscale is super simple, especially if you’re new to this.

5. Managing Users and Devices:

  • Tailscale has clear rules for users.
  • ZeroTier is better for fitting in things like servers and VMs.

These differences help you decide which one is better for what you need.

We hope that this ZeroTier vs. Tailscale comparison article has assisted you in making an informed decision. Do share any additional questions or queries by leaving them in the comments section.

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