Comparison of VPN Protocols - PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN and SSTP

Comparison of VPN Protocols

Considering the numerous benefits of Virtual Private Network (VPN) protocols, it can be a daunting task to choose the right protocol for a personal/commercial use. Before you aim at any specific protocol, it is important to know how much encryption you want and what all a protocol has to offer you. The main protocols used in the industry are PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN and SSTP.

To help you in making efficient decisions, let us understand the main differences between these encryption protocols.

PPTP: Point to Point Tunneling Protocol

It uses a control channel over TCP and a GRE tunnel operating for encapsulation of PPP packets. Its intended use is to provide security levels and remote access levels that can be compared with other VPN protocols.


  • Easy installation and set-up process
  • Low overhead
  • High speed
  • Virtually supported on any device


  • Offers low encryption at 128 bit
  • Can be easily blocked by ISPs
  • Can be unstable at times
  • Connectivity problems
  • PPTP encrypted traffic can be easily decrypted by NSA

L2TP: Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol

L2TP is a tunneling protocol that supports VPNs or is used as part of the delivery of services by ISPs. It doesn’t provide any encryption on its own. Instead it uses IPsec for encryption and itself provides the routing tunnel.


  • Offers high encryption at 256 bit
  • Compatible with most of the modern devices
  • Can be easily set up on MAC and Windows
  • No major known vulnerabilities


  • Difficult to configure on Linux
  • Higher encryption provided by L2TP/ IPSec may result in B/W hit
  • Relatively easy to block by ISP


OpenVPN is an open source software application that is capable of creating safe and secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections. It uses a custom security protocol with SSL/ TLS key exchanges.


  • Offers stability and reliability
  • Difficult to detect
  • Easy traversal through firewalls and network address translators (NATs)
  • Helps in hardware acceleration with improved speed
  • Uses OpenSSL libraries for encryption
  • Allows peers authentication through a pre-shared secret key, certificates, or username/password


  • May not support all the devices
  • Using the default 128-bit blowfish gives a false sense of security

SSTP: Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol

It is a form of VPN tunnel that is a medium to transport PPP or L2TP traffic via SSL 3.0 channel. Its use of SSL over TCP port 443 allows virtual passing of SSTP through firewalls and NATs. It provides transport-level security with key-negotiation, encryption and traffic integrity checking.


  • Secure and difficult to block
  • Offers high encryption
  • Difficult to detect
  • Easy traversal through firewalls and proxy servers
  • Compatible on all latest versions of Windows


  • Not supported by all VPN Providers
  • Not available for public inspection
  • Limited support for Non-MS Devices

Last Word: Thus, based on your needs your solution and call for the VPN protocol may vary widely.

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