Understanding the differences between an Internet Gateway and a NAT Gateway is crucial in the realm of cloud computing and network architecture. This guide aims to demystify these concepts, providing a clear comparison to help you make informed decisions for your network setup.

What is an Internet Gateway?

An Internet Gateway serves as a bridge between your network and the Internet. It allows instances in your Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to communicate with external networks.

Internet Gateway vs. NAT Gateway - Internet Gateway

Key characteristics include:

  • Bi-directional Communication: Enables instances to send and receive traffic from the internet.
  • Public Accessibility: Instances with public IP addresses can be accessed via the internet gateway.

What is a NAT Gateway?

A NAT (Network Address Translation) Gateway allows instances in a private subnet to initiate outbound internet traffic without being directly accessible from the internet.

Internet Gateway vs. NAT Gateway - Nat Gateway

Key features are:

  • Outbound Traffic Only: Instances can access the internet but prevent direct inbound traffic.
  • IP Address Masking: NAT Gateway masks the private IP addresses of instances with a single public IP.

Comparison Table

FeatureInternet GatewayNAT Gateway
Traffic DirectionBi-directionalOutbound only
Public AccessibilityYesNo (outbound only)
IP Address ExposureExposes public IPMasks with a single IP
Use CasePublic-facing servicesSecure, private access

Use Cases

  • Internet Gateway: Ideal for public-facing web servers or applications that require direct internet access.
  • NAT Gateway: Best suited for private instances that require internet access for updates or data fetching without exposing them to external networks.


Choosing between an Internet Gateway and a NAT Gateway depends on your network requirements. For direct internet access and public-facing services, an Internet Gateway is suitable. However, for secure, private instances requiring outbound internet access without exposure, a NAT Gateway is the optimal choice.

Remember, understanding your network’s needs is key to selecting the right gateway for your architecture.