When signing up for a VPN service you can often hear about their support, or their lack of support, for certain VPN protocols. So, what is the difference between the different protocols, and which one should you use?
There are different reasons why you might read this article. If you sign up for VyprVPN you might notice that the cheapest package only support the PPTP protocol, while the more expensive packages include support for L2TP and OpenVPN as well. Is it worth spending more money in this example to get hold of the two protocols, or is the PPTP protocol enough for you and your need? In this article I will try to describe the differences, and I believe that after reading you will have a clear picture of the differences and know whether a PPTP is a good enough protocol for you, and what VPN protocol you will want to use in the future in case you can pick freely between the three protocols mentioned.
OpenVPN is by many considered the best VPN protocol. It is supported by Windows, Mac OS X, Linux (like Ubuntu) and Android devices. It has a very high level of encryption (256 bit). It can be hard to setup on your own, but most VPN services provide a client and as you install the client you will easily be able to use the OpenVPN protocol afterward. An advantage with OpenVPN is that it does not use as much CPU as for example L2TP (which has the same encryption level), so if speed is of the essence, then OpenVPN should be preferred to L2TP.
L2TP/IPSec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol)
L2TP is another very secure VPN protocol which is ideal for those in need of maximal privacy and encryption. As the data are sent from your computer towards the server through the VPN tunnel your data will be encrypted with this very secure protocol (128/256 bit). This requires more CPU power and normally this protocol will slow down your connection more than an OpenVPN protocol will. However, while OpenVPN cannot be used with VoIP, L2TP can be used for VoIP. Only use this if OpenVPN is not available and you are in need of very high security/encryption.
The SSTP protocol is by many known as a Windows protocol. It is very secure and is totally integrated with newer versions of Windows. Due to the limited support in other operating systems this protocol is not so widely spread, but if you run a Windows computer and the SSTP protocol is available in your VPN client, or you decide to set up the VPN connection manually in Windows (and the protocol is supported by your provider), then this is a very secure and good option.
PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol)
This is the most common protocol, often known to be the fastest of all options. This is due to the fact that it only encrypts at 128-bit, making it the least safe of the options, but for most people only using a VPN to watch TV from abroad or just bring some basic security to your Internet connection as you use an open WiFI or similar, the PPTP is more than enough.
While some VPN providers only give you access to PPTP protocol in their basic package, providers such as HideMyAss and PureVPN include access to all available protocols in their basic packages. It is worth knowing that not all their servers in all nations include support for all protocol types.
Short VPN protocol wrap-up
This was just some basic information about the different VPN protocols available. The conclusion must be that if speed is the most important, then in most cases PPTP will be the best for you. If security and encryption are the most important, then you should use the OpenVPN protocol instead. If all you want to is to watch TV online, then the PPTP protocol is more than enough for you.
For more information about what protocol is best for TV watching online, read this article.