End The VPN Protocol Confusion

Face it, trying to understand VPN protocols, all the specialized terms and acronyms like OpenVPN and PPTP, is confusing. You can stop right here and just choose a provider using OpenVPN and you will be safe! If you want to learn more, then continue reading. In this post, we will help you comprehend the nuts and bolts of VPN protocols so you can proceed to securing your communications. This information is provided for your improved comprehension of each protocol without getting excessively technical.

Confused VPN User


The protocols to understand are:

  • PTPP – Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol
  • L2TP/IPsec – Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol or IPSEC: Internet Protocol Security (used interchangeably)
  • OpenVPN  – Open source, highest performance, secure and reliable.

OpenVPNOpenVPN Protocol

OpenVPN is an open-source software application that is now considered the standard, most secure and most used application to establish VPN connections. It utilizes an open-source software application that implements virtual private network (VPN) techniques for creating secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections in routed or bridged configurations. It uses a custom security protocol that utilizes SSL/TLS for key exchange. It is capable of traversing network address translators (NATs) and firewalls.

OpenVPN has become to be the most secure connection option at the moment without sacrificing performance and speed. The  open-source nature of the project has allowed OpenVPN to thrive with continuous community updates. Many VPN providers have developed their applications around OpenVPN technology.

OpenVPN is capable of up to 256-bit Encryption through OpenSSL library. Depending on the service provider, lower rates can be offered, effectively making the connection faster. 256-bit is recommend for sensitive data.

OpenVPN outperforms PPTP and L2TP/IPsec, even at higher encryption.


In computer networking, Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is a tunneling protocol used to support virtual private networks (VPNs) or as part of the delivery of services by ISPs. It does not provide any encryption or confidentiality by itself. Rather, it relies on an encryption protocol that it passes within the tunnel to provide privacy. It has lots of community support, is easy to use, and provide up to 256-bit encryption using IPSEC protocol. L2TP uses data certificates to verify and encapsulates the data making a strong and reliably secure option  It became the standard to replace PPTP, due to the PPTP security flaws.

The constraint with L2TP/IPsec is speed. Due to encapsulating the data twice, more CPU resources are used and some speed is lost. L2TP’s high security protocol process is effective but also makes it slower.


The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is was the first protocol supported by Microsoft and has been an option for a long time. Technology changes rapidly and the new protocols are now more secure than this dinosaur. PPTP has been deemed to be cryptographically broken and no longer recommended by Microsoft or security experts. PPTP uses a control channel over TCP and a GRE tunnel operating to encapsulate. The intended use of this protocol is to provide security levels and remote access levels comparable with typical VPN products available.

PPTP is a an option to consider only when OpenVPN and L2TP are not available. It is only suitable for general applications such as accessing geo-blocked websites and services.

PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol) technology has been around for a long time and was the first protocol supported by Microsoft. It has been deemed to be cryptographically broken and no longer recommended by Microsoft or security experts. Still, it is one of the most used methods of connecting to Virtual Private Networks.


OpenVPN is highly recommend it over all other protocols and should be your first pick. It is based on open source, secure, and fast. Its’ only downside is that it does require a third party application for each platform. However, since you are a consumer of this, you only need to confirm the provider you choose is using OpenVPN on the devices you connect to the internet.

L2TP is your second choice. It has great security but falls just second due the cpu requirements to encrypt traffic. Mobile devices on iOS and Android do have the advantage of being natively compatible and ready to setup connections, but installing OpenVPN on a mobile device is no harder than installing any other app.

PPTP has many major security vulnerabilities and should only be used when privacy is not a concern.