When setting up a VPN service for the first time, many users are unsure what protocol they should use. Some may value security over speed, while others want speed to be the most important factor.
VPN technology relies on protocols to create the private tunnels through which your information will be transmitted, but what exactly is a VPN protocol, what are their different types, and what does each offer?
Understanding this can prove confusing, especially if you’re not much of a techie. Fret not, though! In this post, we’ve explained all you need to know about VPN protocols in an easy-to-consume way:
What’s a VPN protocol? What does it do?
VPN protocols, or VPN tunneling protocols, to be more exact, are the methods through which a secure and fast connection is established between your device and the VPN server. Each of these protocols comes with various features: some focus on security, some focus on speed, and a few give you the best.
Although the vast majority of VPN providers will automatically choose the best VPN protocol for your network, they also allow you to use a different choice protocol. For this reason, it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each VPN protocol and how they compare against one another.
PureVPN supports all major VPN protocols (OpenVPN, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, and PPTP) on all their 2,000 servers and 300,000 IPs, giving you the freedom to pick the best one for you. Moreover, the service is backed by an industry-first 31-day money-back guarantee, so you get plenty of time to test it out.
More about the different kinds of VPN protocols are below…
Common types of VPN protocols
There are many types of VPN protocols currently in use, and each one brings its own set of strengths and weaknesses to the table. We’ve discussed the most common ones for your convenience:
OpenVPN, or Open-Source Virtual Private Network, is a relatively new protocol that utilizes TLS and OpenSSL technologies to deliver a full-featured VPN solution. The protocol can be configured to run on UDP and TCP ports and offers up to AES 256-bit encryption for top-notch security. Since it’s so hard to detect, OpenVPN can easily traverse through firewalls.
OpenVPN is open-source, inspected, maintained, and updated by a community of expert developers. When it comes to speed, you should get good performance as long as you’re using UDP, which is faster. However, the biggest drawback is that it requires third-party software to run on any OS and be configured directly.
IKEv2, or Internet Key Exchange version 2, is a popular IPSec-based VPN protocol jointly developed by Cisco and Microsoft. Regarding security, IKEv2 is number two and just a little behind the best: OpenVPN. However, its effective message exchange system and newer architecture allow for good speed and performance.
The biggest advantage of using IKEv2 is its MOBIKE support, making it a great and reliable choice for switching between networks, such as from your home Wi-Fi to mobile data and vice versa, without losing your VPN connection. Furthermore, IKEv2 is the only protocol available to privacy-conscious Blackberry users.
SSTP, or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, is one of the most secure VPN protocols that utilize TLS, just like OpenVPN. Developed by Microsoft, the protocol can only be run on all Windows versions, meaning no one can audit it for vulnerabilities. Moreover, there’s nearly no chance that SSTP will ever support iOS devices.
SSTP is a good choice for Windows users as it comes with built-in support for the world’s most used desktop OS. It offers high level encryption and uses TCP port 443 to disguise your Internet traffic so that you can easily get around firewalls. However, a major downside is Microsoft’s cooperation with government agencies in the past.
L2TP, or Layer-2 Tunneling Protocol, essentially replaces the outdated PPTP with better security and high performance. Since it doesn’t offer encryption, L2TP is used with IPSec for this very purpose. The protocol is built-in to most modern operating systems, so setting it up is as easy as PPTP.
The best part of all, LT2P is free from any security vulnerabilities that have given PPTP a bad reputation. It provides users with up to AES 256-bit encryption but can struggle with powerful firewalls. Additionally, SSTP can be slower than other protocols as it takes a greater toll on your speed and bandwidth.
PPTP, or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, is an obsolete VPN protocol built-into almost all platforms, making it extremely easy to set up. The best thing about using PPTP is that it offers faster speeds than all other protocols. So, if you’re actively engaged in gaming, streaming, and torrenting, PPTP is the best possible option.
Regarding security, PPTP is the least secure because it has many known security issues. More importantly, it only offers basic protection with its 126-bit encryption, which is why you should opt for another protocol, such as OpenVPN or SSTP if security is your topmost priority.
Final Word – Which VPN Protocol to Use?
As you can see, these VPN protocol has different attributes to offer. Each protocol has pros and cons, and you should pick the one that best suits your needs – whether it’s security or performance or a combination of the two you’re interested in. It all comes down to your requirements at the end of the day.
If you have questions or anything to add, feel free to voice your thoughts in the comments section below!