This article dives into VPN protocols. If you are new to VPN you can check out our beginner’s guide about what a vpn is where we covered the topic of a VPN.
Think of it this way, whenever you use your PC to access a website, your information goes to the server of the website you are trying to access. Then the website sends back the requested data to your device. Along the way, this information isn’t really secure and many 3rd parties can snoop around in that data. Just as it sounds a VPN creates a virtual tunnel that makes your request more secure. Imagine a car carries data from your device, drives from through a tunnel where this data gets protection from outside forces to its destination, the website. More than that the information is encrypted becoming more secure.
What are VPN protocols?
VPN protocols are a set of rules that negotiate the data transmission and encryptions between the VPN provider’s server and the client (your device). Imagine the tunnels mentioned above are built by different manufacturers each coming with additional features, depending on the company that built it, these are VPN protocols.
There are quite a few protocols available today and their names sound confusing at first, but everything becomes pretty straightforward the moment you start using them. Just don’t try to create personal interpretations of the abbreviations.
Let’s dive right in.
Here are the most utilized protocols today. In order to reduce the complexity in decision making, we suggest you choose Open VPN – it is widely used by the majority of providers and research shows that while it can be a bit more complex to set up it offers the best security and speed that you won’t get from other protocols.
The standard and most recommended VPN protocol. You’ll just need to get a hang on how to set it up, but the majority of today’s VPN providers have it integrate in their client.
OpenVPN is open-source (accessible code that can be checked by anyone), highly secure (since it’s open-source anyone has the ability to test the security claim on their own), multi-platform and customizable supporting various ciphers and encryption algorithms. We suggest you always go with OpenVPN connection protocol.
2. PPTP (easy to set-up, not secure, avoid using in)
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest encryption protocols that date back to Windows 95. PPTP is simple to set up and is one of the fastest protocols. You should be aware that its major drawback is security and it is simply not reliable at all, so tread carefully.
3. L2TP/IPsec (better than PPTP, double the security options, slow)
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol combined with Internet Protocol Security creates a double encryption tunnel. Thus it is considered secure, but slower. It is iOS-friendly and should mostly be considered as a protocol only if you don’t have access to the OpenVPN protocol.
4. SSTP (highly secure, only available for Windows)
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is a Microsoft product, mostly used on devices with Windows installed. It has strong encryption making it one of the most secure VPN protocols available with a very specific target market.
5. IKEv2/IPsec (new entry, good for smartphones)
Internet key exchange version two and Internet protocol security suite form the latest of the VPN protocols. It’s still being tailored by VPN providers like NordVPN that utilize IKEv2/ IPsec for extra security. This protocol has a nice feature that automatically changes wireless networks without disconnecting the VPN connection, hence making it one of the most in-demand protocols for smartphones.
It is always good to check what prototocls your VPN provider ahs available or in case you plan on making a VPN on your own find the compatibility of your client with a potential protocol.