Which VPN Protocol? A Comparison

There are several different protocols offered by Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and it’s important to choose the right one for personal or business use.  Here’s a comparison to help you make the right decision for your needs and circumstances.

PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol)

PPTP uses a control channel over TCP with a GRE tunnel for the encapsulation of PPP packets.  The idea is to offer the user remote access and security levels that can be compared to other protocols. 

PPTP is easy to install and set-up, it’s cheap, quick and can be supported virtually on any device.  However, it provides low encryption (128 bit).  It’s also easily blocked by ISPs, tends to be unstable and difficult to connect.  PPTP encrypted traffic is liable to disruption by NSA.

L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol)

L2TP supports VPNs or can be utilised as part of the delivery process by ISPs.  It uses IPsec for encryption, and provides the routing tunnel itself.

The encryption offered is very high at 256 bit and L2TP is compatible with most modern devices, although it can be easily blocked by ISPs.  It can be set up easily on both Windows and MAC although it can be difficult to configure to Linux, and the higher encryption provided may result in a B/W hit. 


OpenVPN as its name suggests is an open source software app that can create secure site-to-site or point-to-point connections using custom security protocols with TLS/SSS key exchanges.

OpenVPN is difficult to detect and offers reliability and stability.  It can easily traverse firewalls and NATs, and its speed enables hardware acceleration.  Open VPN protocols use OpenSSL libraries for encryption, and allow peer authentication through shared certificates, usernames/passwords or keys.  Unfortunately, not all devices may be supported and the 128-bit blowfish might offer a false sense of security. 

SSTP (Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol)

SSTP is secure and is very difficult to block thus offering a high level of encryption.  It’s also difficult to detect and moves easily through firewalls and proxy servers.  It’s also compatible with all the latest versions of Windows.  However, SSTP is not supported by all the VPN providers and isn’t available for public inspection.  It also provides very limited support for non-MS devices.

In conclusion

Your choice of VPN protocol will depend upon your individual needs and which option provides the most suitable solution for your circumstances.   With so many options available, the simple comparison above should enable you to make an informed choice.

Image source:  bestvpnservice.com


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