Article published by : CWarner on Monday, March 11, 2013 - Viewed 984 times


Category : Networks

Understanding the Differences Between Various VPN Protocols

Many Internet users enjoy the benefits that VPN services offer. VPNs allow users to restore their privacy, security and freedom while accessing the Internet. There are several factors to consider when selecting a VPN provider. One of the most important factors is the VPN protocols offered. The three most popular VPN protocols are:

1. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
2. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with IP Security (L2TP/IPsec)
3. OpenVPN

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

PPTP is a popular VPN protocol in part because it is built-in to many operating systems including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iOS, Android and DD-WRT. Being built-in to many operating systems also makes PPTP easy to configure. It provides basic 128-bit encryption. Because of its relatively low encryption level, PPTP delivers fast and reliable connection speeds with low CPU overhead.

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with IP Security (L2TP/IPsec)

Like PPTP, L2TP/IPsec is supported on most desktop, mobile device and tablet operating systems. It uses robust 256-bit encryption, the same level used by financial institutions. It encapsulates the data twice to ensure that it is not intercepted or altered while in transit. Due to the high encryption level and double encapsulation, L2TP/IPsec requires more CPU power and may deliver slower speeds than PPTP. L2TP/IPsec is stable on NAT-supported devices. Some custom configuration is required.


OpenVPN is supported by most desktop computer operating systems but is not typically supported on mobile devices. Users can choose from either 160-bit encryption or 256-bit encryption based on their needs. 160-bit encryption is faster but is slightly less secure. 256-bit encryption is slightly slower but provides the maximum security. OpenVPN uses digital certificates to provide data integrity. Like L2TP/IPsec, this technology ensures the data arrives intact and unaltered.

OpenVPN provides the best performance. It delivers the fastest VPN speeds and the best reliability, even on networks with high latency and across great distances. OpenVPN is highly stable using wireless routers, non-reliable networks and Wi-Fi hotspots.

OpenVPN typically requires software in order to configure it. There are a variety of free and simple applications so this isn’t usually a problem. OpenVPN is the most recommended VPN protocol on devices where it is support. It delivers the best security and speed.


Each of these protocols offers unique benefits. Mobile device or tablet users who value speedy connections should choose the PPTP. Mobile device or tablet users who value maximum online security should choose the L2TP/IPsec. Desktop and laptop computer users can be assured of the fastest connection speeds and robust security with OpenVPN. Many users switch between these protocols based on their changing needs. For this reason, it’s good to look for a VPN provider offering all three.


Keywords: VPN

By: CWarner

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