It’s easy to use a VPN. Just launch the app, click Connect, and all your internet traffic is encrypted within seconds, so snoopers can’t pry into your business.
As you browse the menus or website of your VPN, you’ll find more technical details. For instance, you’ll read about VPN protocols, which are crucial to maintaining your security.
There is a tendency for many providers to make this topic very technical and daunting. Then, it’s easy to close the browser window and move on. However, this does not have to be the case. It’s not mandatory to be an expert to understand the protocol basics, and a few key details can significantly improve your VPN experience. So, before going through the 6 most popular VPN protocols, let’s first understand what a VPN protocol is?
An introduction to VPN protocols:
A VPN protocol consists of a set of instructions that a VPN app and server use to establish a connection and securely communicate.
The protocol outlines how the app logs on to the server, how the server authenticates itself to the app, the methods used to transfer data in each direction, encryption methods, and every other aspect of your VPN connection.
The protocol you choose has a significant impact on your VPN. For example, connection times can be reduced from 20 seconds to less than one by switching protocols, and overall speeds can be increased by two to three times with one protocol over another.
The new protocols typically provide industrial-strength security, but there are a few older options that you should not use at all costs since they are so outdated. Knowing which protocols to use and which to ignore can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Here is a quick comparison of 6 common VPN protocols:
The six most common VPN protocols are IPSec/IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, Wireguard, SSTP, and PPTP.
As one of the first VPN protocols, PPTP has been in use since the early days of Windows. It is easy to set up on virtually any major operating system.
PPTP protects data between connections by creating a tunnel and confining data packets. Because of its low encryption standards, VPNs with PPTP have high speeds but low security. With advances in technology, PPTP’s encryption method has become increasingly vulnerable to foreign attacks, decreasing its security. As a result, most VPN providers have moved to protocols with higher levels of security.
Summary: Fast speed, compatibility with all operating systems, but low security.
As an alternative to PPTP, L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) offers higher security and more functionality. However, L2TP cannot provide encryption without a security protocol, IPSec (Internet Protocol Security).
L2TP establishes a secure connection, and data is encrypted using IPSec. With L2TP, you create a tunnel between two points, and IPSec ensures security. Even though L2TP/IPsec is more secure once implemented (it converts internet traffic into L2TP form and then adds an encryption layer), it offers a slower connectivity speed than PPTP.
Summary: Moderate connectivity speed, moderate security, and encryption, stable.
Among the most popular and secure VPN protocols on the market, OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol that gives users access to its underlying code. It is commonly used to establish point-to-point and site-to-site connections.
Since OpenVPN isn’t built into computers or mobile devices, most people use it as a third-party VPN client, particularly for users who want to bypass online firewalls.
Summary: open-source, slower in speed, and the gold standard for encryption and reliability.
Microsoft’s Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is a secure and capable VPN protocol. However, it has its upsides and downsides, so each user must decide if this protocol is worth using. Although SSTP is primarily a Microsoft product, it is also available for other operating systems.
Summary: Secure and reliable, primarily for Windows.
The Internet Key Exchange Volume 2 (IKEv2) establishes a secure VPN connection by authenticating and encrypting it through a secure key exchange session. Like L2TP, IKEv2 usually uses IPsec to encrypt and authenticate data. IKEv2 is typically used on mobile devices and excels at reestablishing connections after loss of connection and switching between different types of networks (from Hotspots to WiFi to cellular)
Summary: secure, fast, and stable.
Wireguard is an open-source VPN protocol using state-of-the-art cryptography better than OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2. Even though it’s still being worked on, it has already been deployed on several platforms.
The best feature of Wireguard is that it’s extremely fast. In addition, it has fewer lines of code than other VPN protocols, which means it is less prone to errors.
Summary: new, fast, In progress.
There is no ideal VPN protocol that is suitable for everyone. Instead, finding the most appropriate protocol depends on your needs and what you do online. To determine the right VPN protocol, carefully consider what you need most from your VPN connection.
For example, if you’re an avid gamer, you probably use a VPN for different reasons than someone who watches a lot of TV or works from cafes. We recommend you to use OysterVPN. It’s the best VPN service available with an affordable subscription fee. In addition, it’s an easy-to-use app that allows you to switch between different protocols in seconds.