Selecting a VPN provider shouldn’t be simple but then you look at all the vendors and include all the different VPN protocols that they offer- it doesn’t help…with all the different services on the market, some providers support several VPN protocols. Why do they offer different types of VPN protocols? First of all, some protocols are more secure than others. For example PPTP VPN is 128 bit encryption (good for most users) while secure OpenVPN is 256 bit (the same level of security that banks and credit card sites use). Some of the more robust VPN protocols take more resources. They may not perform as well as the less secure protocols.
There are good reasons to use less secure protocls like PPTP and L2TP. Those who want to enjoy secure VPN access from their cell phones will appreciate these protocols. As PPTP connections are very simple to setup on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Mobile and a number of other devices including DD-WRT routers (the routers have their own section). So choose carefuully based on which devices you’ll be connecting from.
Let’s review some of the most popular VPN protocols:
OpenVPN or SSL is a very popular protocol offered by most VPN providers. It is a little more challenging to set up but easy none the less. Those seeking OpenVPN access might consider a service like Hide My Ass that includes a good software interface. OpenVPN is very popular because it’s more secure and compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux systems. OpenVPN can also be setup on some DD-WRT routers. Refer to the vendor’s site to ensure they offer set up instructions. As some advertise support but do not have guides. However, OpenVPN does not support iOS and Android mobile devises. OpenVPN also comes in 128 and 256 bit encryption levels. Note that 256 bit encryption is used on many secure websites such as your banking or credit card websites.
PPTP VPN Protocol
PPTP or Point to Point Tunneling Protocol is the most common and widely used VPN protocol. PPTP VPN typically uses your existing internet connection and lets you log onto the VPN service by username and password without the installation of additional hardware or software. It is very easy to set up and 128bit encryption is good enough for most users. PPTP VPN is the easiest to install on most PC and mobile devices. Supporting Windows, Mac and Linux. In addition to iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android, Windows mobile and DD-WRT routers.
L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is another popular protocol offered by many VPN services. The protocol by itself does not provide confidentiality or strong authentication. When paired with IPsec, L2TP/IPsec offers greater protection and privacy of one’s data. L2TP also provides data integrity, which we define as protection against alteration of data from the sender to its final destination/recipient. Due to the higher overhead associate with L2TP, it is usually slower than PPTP VPN. Like PPTP, L2TP support iOS and Android mobile devices.
SSTP VPN, also known as Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, is a newer VPN technology mostly supported by Windows Vista and Windows 7. An advantage of SSTP VPN is that the protocol is difficult for many ISP’s to detect. If your ISP or country blocks PPTP VPN, this could be another option. This version of VPN is also based on SSL instead of PPTP or IP sec. SSTP VPN uses TCP Port 443 for moving its traffic. That is also the same port that many secure websites (banks, ecommerce sites) use which makes an ISP less likely to block it.
Click on any of the links below to jump to that section of the guide.
VPN Buyer’s Guide:
Part 1 – VPN Server Locations – consider which countries you’d like to access VPN servers in. This is especially important for those who travel frequently and others who are focused on avoiding geo restrictions.
Part 2 – VPN Protocols – without boring you with too much technical jargon we’ll explain what terms like OpenVPN, SSL, PPTP, L2TP and SSTP mean and the advantages of each for VPN connections.
Part 3 – VPN Account Types – this is the most important section of the guide. Don’t pay anymore than you need to for VPN access. Here we suggest tips for finding a high quality service at the lowest possible price.
Part 4 – Performance – we focus a lot on the reliability and performance of VPN services. Testing the speed of several top services. You’ll want to do the same. Both be reviewing our results and testing for yourself.
Part 5 – VPN Routers – this is a more advanced section of the manual. Using a router flashed with DD-WRT firmware will allow you to run every connected device through a single VPN account.