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What Are VPN Protocols

Data server and network concept.

Have you ever wondered how VPNs protect your online data? Are you curious about the different protocols used by VPNs to keep your information secure?

If so, this blog post is for you! Here, we’ll explain VPN protocols and how they help keep your online activity safe.

What is a VPN Protocol?

A VPN protocol is a set of instructions that control how data is routed between a device and the VPN server. It establishes a secure tunnel that keeps the data encrypted and private from outside interference.

Popular protocols include PPTP, IPSec, L2TP, OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP, SSL, WireGuard, and SoftEther.

Each protocol offers different levels of security and speed, so it’s important to understand the properties of each one before you decide which is best for your needs.

The Benefits of Using a VPN Protocol

A VPN protocol can provide users with a more secure connection and greater privacy and anonymity when browsing the web. By encrypting data and hiding your IP address, you can prevent your data from being intercepted by malicious actors.

Additionally, VPN protocols can bypass geographical restrictions and censorship imposed by governments or ISPs. VPN protocols also allow access to geo-restricted content, such as streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, gaming servers, and websites blocked in certain countries.

With the right VPN protocol, you can enjoy a faster, more secure connection and unrestricted access to content worldwide.

The Most Popular VPN Protocols

The most popular VPN protocols include:

  1. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP): PPTP is one of the most widely used VPN protocols offering fast connections with basic security features.
  2. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with Internet Protocol Security (L2TP/IPSec): L2TP/IPSec combines two protocols, offering good performance and enhanced security.
  3. Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP): SSTP is a Microsoft-based protocol that provides robust encryption and strong authentication to secure data transmissions.
  4. OpenVPN: OpenVPN is an open-source protocol that can run on any port and offers high levels of security and performance.
  5. IKEv2/IPsec: IKEv2/IPsec is used for mobile devices, providing strong encryption and authentication.
  6. WireGuard: WireGuard is the newest and most secure protocol, offering fast speeds and improved security compared to traditional protocols.
  7. SoftEther: SoftEther is a multi-protocol VPN software that provides high levels of security and privacy through SSL technology.

Understanding the Properties of Each Protocol

Understanding the properties of each protocol is key to choosing the best VPN for your needs. Each protocol has its advantages and drawbacks, from speed and security to stability, so it is important to understand what each protocol offers.

For example, PPTP offers fast speeds but weaker encryption, while OpenVPN provides stronger encryption but slower speeds. L2TP/IPSec offers a balance between the two, with good speed and strong encryption.

SSTP and IKEv2/IPsec offers enhanced security but require more processing power. Knowing the different properties of each protocol can help you choose the best option for your needs.

PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest VPN protocols still in use, making it a reliable choice for those who need secure connections. Microsoft originally designed this protocol and used a TCP control channel and Generic Routing Encapsulation tunnel to encapsulate PPP packets.

It is a fast and simple method for setting up a VPN connection, making it useful for those who don’t have much technical knowledge. It is also compatible with most operating systems and devices, making it easy to set up and use.

PPTP Pros and Cons

PPTP is one of the oldest VPN protocols and is easily configured. It is also one of the least secure protocols and is easily blocked by firewalls. PPTP does not support Perfect Forward Secrecy and has poorer security than other protocols, without data integrity or data origin verification.

On the other hand, PPTP is a great choice for users who require low overhead costs and an easy setup. It is also suitable for users with unstable connections since it doesn’t face any performance issues.

L2TP/IPSec: Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with Internet Protocol Security

The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is an extension to the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and combines the best features of both protocols.

When combined with Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), L2TP allows for an end-to-end secure connection that authenticates and encrypts each IP packet in a communication.

This protocol is often used in site-to-site VPN connections, as it is highly secure and offers a stable connection, even when network changes occur.

L2TP/IPSec Pros and Cons

The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is a kind of tunneling protocol that creates a VPN tunnel that allows data to be securely transferred over the internet. It is often encapsulated in IPSec for added security, as L2TP does not inherently provide encryption. This combination of protocols offers strong encryption up to military standards, making it a great option for those who need high levels of security.

However, the encryption can take up a lot of processing power, making it slower than other protocols like PPTP and WireGuard. Additionally, L2TP runs on mobile operating systems, making it useful for those who need to access their networks remotely.

SSTP: Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol

Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is a fairly secure and capable VPN protocol created by Microsoft. It has its upsides and downsides, but it is one of the more popular protocols used in site-to-site VPNs due to its ability to traverse firewalls and proxy servers.

With SSTP, data is sent over an SSL/TLS connection, providing better security than PPTP and L2TP/IPSec protocols. It also uses certificate-based authentication for increased security. Setting up an SSTP connection is relatively easy, though it does require a Windows Server to act as the VPN server.

If you’re looking for a more secure connection with better performance, SSTP may be worth considering.

SSTP Pros and Cons

It has several advantages, such as low overhead costs and easy setup. SSTP uses SSL v3 encryption, which is highly secure and provides military-grade data protection. Plus, it is compatible with most mobile operating systems, making it a great choice for mobile users.

However, the encryption can take up a lot of bandwidth, slowing your connection. Additionally, the protocol isn’t supported by all VPN services, so it may not be available everywhere you go. SSTP is a great option if you need secure and reliable data protection.

OpenVPN: Open Source VPN protocol

OpenVPN is an open-source connection protocol to facilitate a secure tunnel between two points in a network. The security community holds it in high regard, and it is considered one of the best protocols for setting up a secure and private connection.

OpenSSL provides all the encryption and authentication, making it highly secure. It also has the advantage of bypassing most firewalls, although it can be difficult to set up OpenVPN due to its complexity manually.

OpenVPN can be set up with either the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), with UDP being faster but providing fewer data verification, while TCP provides more reliable connections but is slower.

OpenVPN Pros and Cons

OpenVPN is one of the most widely used VPN protocols and is integrated into several operating systems. It offers secure encryption and is compatible with many cipher suites, including AES-256, Blowfish, and ChaCha20. OpenVPN is known for its robust security, as it has many encryption ciphers and authentication methods. Additionally, OpenVPN is fast, making it an ideal choice for streaming services.

However, OpenVPN can be more difficult to set up than other protocols such as IPSec or SSTP. Additionally, OpenVPN can be slightly more expensive than other protocols due to its high-level encryption. Overall, OpenVPN is a great choice for those who want a secure and reliable VPN service that can provide fast speeds for streaming services.

IKEv2/IPsec: Internet Key Exchange Version 2 with IPsec

IKEv2/IPsec combines two protocols: Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) and IPsec. IKEv2 is a tunneling protocol that establishes a secure connection between two endpoints. IPsec provides encryption and authentication for the data transmitted over the connection.

Together, these protocols create a secure, encrypted tunnel for data to travel through, ensuring that all traffic is safe from prying eyes. With IKEv2/IPsec, users can enjoy reliable, secure access to their networks from anywhere in the world.

IKEv2 Pros and Cons

IKEv2 is a strong, fast, and reliable VPN protocol. It is known for providing a balance between speed and security and is considered one of the best protocols available. It supports high-grade encryption methods and can remain stable even when changing networks. IKEv2 also offers perfect forward secrecy, meaning that your data will remain secure even if your encryption key is compromised.

However, it is only available on certain operating systems, so users might have to look for alternative options if their devices do not support IKEv2.


WireGuard is a new, open-source VPN protocol that aims to outperform the existing protocols, like IPsec and OpenVPN, using state-of-the-art cryptography. It’s a fast and modern protocol designed to be simpler, leaner, and more secure than other VPN protocols.

It uses proven cryptographic protocols and algorithms to provide users with a secure network tunnel. WireGuard can be used as a standalone protocol or implemented as a VPN protocol by a VPN provider.

WireGuard offers users enhanced privacy, security, and performance compared to other protocols, making it an ideal choice for reliable connections.

WireGuard Pros and Cons

With only 5,000 lines of code, it offers a great security advantage due to fewer bugs and vulnerabilities. Its agility is also noteworthy; it can quickly connect and reconnect even when roaming across networks.

However, WireGuard is not ideal for privacy, as many VPN providers have expressed concerns that its shorter key-exchange process may not provide enough protection for their users. As such, users should consider the pros and cons of WireGuard before choosing it for their online activities.

SoftEther VPN

SoftEther VPN is a powerful and easy-to-use multi-protocol Virtual Private Network (VPN) software developed as part of Daiyuu Nobori’s master’s thesis. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac users, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable and secure VPN solution.

With SoftEther VPN, users benefit from its high-performance capabilities, ultimate compatibility with multiple devices, and compatibility with other VPN protocols. The SoftEther VPN Client is a powerful and easy-to-use tool that makes connecting to the SoftEther VPN Server simple.

It also implements other protocols for enhanced security and privacy. With SoftEther VPN, users can enjoy fast and secure connections without worrying about data leakage or privacy issues.

SoftEther VPN Pros and Cons

SoftEther is a highly reliable VPN protocol that offers a variety of features and benefits. The protocol is designed to provide superior speed without sacrificing robust security options. It offers reliable encryption and security and is an excellent choice for securing online data.

SoftEther comes with a firewall, custom connection protocols, and distributed servers that help to protect data further. One of the most beneficial aspects of SoftEther is its adaptability and ease of use, allowing users to get up and running with the protocol quickly.

However, SoftEther does have some drawbacks as well. For example, setting up SoftEther VPN connections can be time-consuming and may require professional help if the user is not technically inclined.

Additionally, while SoftEther provides superior speed to other protocols, such as L2TP/IPSec, it may not be enough for certain applications or websites requiring faster speeds. Finally, SoftEther does not offer additional features or services that may be available with other VPN protocols, such as L2TP/IPSec.

Understanding Site-to-Site VPN

Understanding Site-to-Site VPN is essential to setting up a secure and private connection. It is based on Router-to-Router communication, where one router acts as a VPN Client and another router as a VPN Server.

This setup enables two or more sites to connect securely over an encrypted tunnel, just like the Channel Tunnel. This method allows data to be transferred privately and securely between sites without leaving the network open to potential threats.

Site-to-site VPN (a virtual private network) is a type of VPN that keeps data encrypted between two networks without needing credentials or client apps on devices. It is used when multiple locations need to communicate with each other securely.

With Site-to-Site VPN, data is sent through a secure tunnel over the internet, providing secure access to shared resources such as files and applications. Several types of VPN protocols can be used for Site-to-Site VPN, such as IPSec, PPTP, L2TP, and MPLS.

Each protocol has its pros and cons; however, the best choice depends on the purpose and size of the network. When choosing a protocol for your Site-to-Site VPN, it is important to consider the security measures you need in place and the scalability requirements for your network.

Which VPN Protocol Should You Choose?

Choosing the right VPN protocol for your needs can be a tricky decision. It’s important to consider your use case, the security features of each protocol, and the compatibility with different encryption ciphers.

OpenVPN is widely regarded as the most secure protocol, offering AES-256 encryption and a range of other ciphers. PPTP is best for fast access to geo-blocked content. Lightway, IKEv2, L2TP, and OpenVPN are good options if you need something more secure than PPTP.

Each of these protocols has pros and cons that you should consider before making a decision. Choosing a VPN protocol that best meets your needs while providing adequate security and privacy protection is important.