Which is the best VPN Protocol? PPTP vs L2TP/IPSec vs OpenVPN vs SSTP vs IKEv2


In today’s world of information technology, where technology has progressed remarkably, and the use of the internet has become very familiar across the globe. This all comes with a threat to privacy. Yes, online privacy has become a serious issue. Hacking and scamming has also become common with the increase in internet usage (learn 7 ways to avoid being hacked). The netizens around the globe are concerned about their online security. This calls for the innovation of a VPN. It is a tool that provides an extra layer of security to its users. VPN or Virtual Private Network works on the method of end-to-end encryption.

How a VPN with Secure VPN Protocol Works?

If you use a VPN provided internet connection. Then your data packets will pass through a tunnel that will be nearly impossible for any hacker to intercept. Not only this, it will allow you to be anonymous over the internet, and you can also unblock any website anytime anywhere(know how to unblock geo-restricted sites). Does it sound like magic? Well, this is what a VPN does! A VPN is a big-time relief for the people who you used to suffer from the geo-restriction imposed by their government unfairly. But, when it comes to choosing a VPN, you need to be very careful about the protocols your VPN provider offers you (know in detail about a VPN in our VPN guide). So, here we are to guide you all about the VPN protocols and how you can select the best VPN protocol that will fulfill all your requirements.

What is VPN Protocol?

Before we talk about the best VPN protocol, first I want to elaborate on the term Protocol. The protocol is a set of rules which is used to define a method of exchanging messages to the other point over the internet. As far as VPN protocol is concerned, so there are different protocols that a VPN uses to add an extra layer of security. These protocols tell us about the performance of a VPN. There are five most common VPN protocols that we will discuss in this article. These protocols are;

  1. PPTP
  2. L2TP
  3. OpenVPN
  4. SSTP
  5. IKEv2

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is well known among VPN providers for almost every VPN providers to use this protocol. The reason behind this is PPTP is easy to set up and compatible with all the devices. But this can not justify the security loophole in PPTP. This protocol can be easily broken through by the government agencies and NSA. What makes it more vulnerable is MS-CHAPv2 authentication.

Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP and L2TP/IPsec)

L2TP or Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol is also one of the popular protocols used by some good VPN providers. In comparison to PPTP, L2TP is way better when it comes to security. It provides better security than PPTP, but it is not as easy to set up as PPTP is. But it can not encrypt the data all by itself, so it is necessary to use IPsec with layer two tunnel protocol (L2TP). L2TP comes built-in in many operating systems and mobile devices. But to set up manually, you need port forwarding as it is blocked by your firewall. This protocol needs to be applied in two steps. First, the data traffic should be converted into L2TP then the encryption by IPsec should be added to provide the user with a secure internet connection that is less likely to be intercepted by the government officials (learn more about the most secure VPN services).


OpenVPN works on the idea of open source technology like OpenSSL library. All the major cryptographic algorithm (e.g. AES, Blowfish, 3DES,  CAST-128, Camellia, and more) are supported by the OpenSSL library (learn in detail about all the VPN encryption terms). This protocol is the strongest protocol that is used by the best VPN providers. It is less likely to be compromised by the NSA. But it can be difficult to set up because it requires third-party software to set up an OpenVPN client. It works as a shield against any tampering and is proven to provide the most secure connection. OpenVPN is faster as compared to L2TP/IPsec. The prominent characteristic of OpenVPN is it is best for UDP ports and can even set up on other ports like TCP port 443. Thus, the data traffic on it becomes impossible to breakthrough, and it uses the standards of HTTPS which is the reason why it can not be blocked (read more about the best OpenVPN services).  

Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)

SSTP or Socket Tunneling Protocol is powered by Microsoft. SSTP was first introduced in Windows Vista SP1. Secure socket tunneling protocol is equally good as OpenVPN and provides a very secure internet connection with encryption and confidentiality. But the drawback of a secure socket tunneling protocol is it is limited to only Windows backed devices and not compatible with a great lot of VPN providers in the market. Unlike L2TP, SSTP can bypass firewalls.  Moreover, the relationship between Microsoft and NSA makes the reliability of SSTP questionable for it may be prone to NSA secretly (read more about internet privacy and how to enhance it in our ultimate privacy guide).

Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2)

IKEv2 or Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a joint venture of Microsoft and Cisco. It is based on the same tunneling protocol techniques as IPsec. IKEv2 standard is compatible with Blackberry devices, and some independently developed versions of IKE are compatible with Linux and other operating systems with the help of so many open-source implementations. The concern that we have with Microsoft supported protocols is it can be prone to NSA, but if the open-source implementation is there, then it does not matter to be worried.

IKEv2 is especially famous for automatically reconnecting the VPN connection which is temporarily lost by the users and provides them quick internet connection with less time. This protocol is mostly used for the mobile operating system because of its Mobility and Multihoming protocols that support mobile devices (get the best VPN for Android). For Blackberry devices Internet Key Exchange Version 2 is probably the only option available.

Which is the Most Secure VPN Protocol? – Our Recommendation

Well, what you can conclude from this article is OpenVPN is the most suitable and the best VPN protocol that you should seek when looking for the best VPN service. You should ask your VPN service provider for an OpenVPN protocol. The reason behind this is OpenVPN has a high configuration rate. Also, it can be used on any port. It is highly secured and can stand against the NSA. The use of Https standards makes it impossible to block. Being an open source implementation adds more stars to it. As it makes it more reliable and there are no chances of it being prone to NSA.

Disadvantages of Using Protocols other Than OpenVPN

Furthermore, the following are the disadvantages of the other protocols that you can compare with OpenVPN and decide it yourself.

  • PPTP is no more secure. As NSA has compromised it already. So, it is very clear that PPTP should not be your choice. The only attraction it has is it is easy to configure.
  • L2TP/IPsec is not a bad option, but it is only good for non-critical use. As NSA has also broken it. However, it is more secure than PPTP.
  • Although OpenVPN needs a third party software for configuration. It is undoubtedly the best VPN protocol so far. And all the premium VPN service providers offer OpenVPN protocol. Its best features are its reliability, security even against NSA. And fast speed connection (learn more about the fastest VPN services).
  • IKEv2 can also be a good choice if you use it with open-source implementation. Its ability to reconnect after internet connection hiccups makes it unique from others. The mobile users can even prefer it to OpenVPN due to its mobile operating system compatible protocols. And it is the only option for Blackberry users.
  • SSTP is somewhat similar to OpenVPN for it offers the same benefits as OpenVPN does. The only difference is that all its features are limited to the Windows environment only (see more about the best VPN for Windows). 

Conclusion – Which is the best VPN Protocol? PPTP vs L2TP/IPSec vs OpenVPN vs SSTP and IKEv2

So here we conclude that you should use OpenVPN or IKEv2 for mobile devices. However, if you want an instant solution. For instance, protecting your phone if you want to connect to a public Wifi Hotspot. Then you can consider using L2TP or IPsec protocols.

Additionally, in the long run. You must go for that VPN service provider that uses OpenVPN protocol. To help you get the most secure internet connection with high speed.  But ultimately, the decision is yours, we have provided you with the contrast differences of all the five VPN protocols and even suggested you the best one after researching a lot so you can be guided with the best VPN protocol and that is according to us is OpenVPN protocol with the best VPN solution for you.

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Sandy Roberts is technology admirer and a computer specialist who is always curious for new technological advancements in the IT industry. With her extensive experience and apprehension of IT industry and technology, she writes after concrete research and analysis with the intention to aid the reader the content full of factual information. Being so ambitious to facilitate the readers, she intermittently tries her hand on the tech-gadgets and services popping frequently in the industry to reduce any ambiguity in her mind related to the project on she works, that a huge sign of dedication to her work.


  1. This is a very useful article. Thank you. I wonder regarding IPsec. Does the implementation vary amongst VPN providers and does that make a difference to it’s security (e.g. NSA can break it no matter how it’s implemented)? And the encryption (128 vs 256). For example, is a 256 IPsec encryption safer than a 128 OpenVPN encryption? I really don’t care about the NSA. I care about my next door neighbor or the customer sitting next to me at Starbuck’s. That said, I’m not comfortable making security choices unless I really do understand what they mean and how they work.

    • OpenVPN is better than L2TP/IPSEC in both security and speed. Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol is a VPN protocol that doesn’t offer any encryption. That’s why it’s usually implemented along with IPsec encryption. IPsec encryption should be secure, theoretically. There are some concerns that the NSA could have weakened the standard, but no one knows for sure. OpenVPN uses open-source technologies like the OpenSSL encryption library and SSL v3/TLS v1 protocols. It’s very configurable and will be most secure if it’s set to use AES encryption instead of the weaker Blowfish encryption. I’ve seen no serious concerns that anyone (including the NSA) has compromised OpenVPN connections. At the end of the day each user has a choice of VPN protocols and that’s a great thing. Nowadays most VPN providers support OpenVPN and L2TP. I hope it helps you to understand which protocol works best for you.

      • Thank you, this helps tremendously. My vpn provider does offer OpenVPN connections, but it is limited to blowfish. Good pointer, thanks. Also, FaceTime has problems connecting on my system (Comcast, Apple, OpenVPN are the only things between the devices). Okay, yes, it’s to my mom’s computer. I rely on FaceTime to connect and chat frequently to keep a caring an on my elderly mother and it requires things to work right, if you can imagine. The problem is not the initialization of the call, but it’s the “connecting” phase that fails. It never connects after a call is accepted. That’s where IPsec comes in. This is not an issue over L2TP/IPsec. The FaceTime connection works perfectly fine over IPsec. Also, this is a relatively new issue. I’ve been doing this for years, but only now run into the issue. Someone changed something. Apple? Comcast? The VPN server? We will never know.

        So, this leads me to believe that I need to search for a newer VPN provider that may be implementing the newest protocols.

        I’m not trying to turn this into a tech call but simply trying to add contex, and let you know that I appreciate your article and your response. It’s helped connect the dots more than you know!


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