Looking for the best VPN service is not just a matter of downloading and installing the first virtual private network that crosses your path. Otherwise, the advertisements alone win when the product is taken at face value.
It is also a matter of tracking down all features that make a VPN service excellent. Perhaps you are interested in a user-friendly graphical interface that has intuitive buttons spread out across the main application window.
Maybe you do not want to spend a lot of money and prefer a cheaper solution instead. Or maybe you just want something fast that is capable of bypassing the Netflix proxy error. Whatever the case may be, the most important aspect of a VPN tool is, by far, the way it connects to the Internet to send and receive data.
Such rules and conditions are dictated by the VPN protocol. As such, we wanted to dedicate this article to a full breakdown of VPN protocols to show you the particularities of each protocol and why it is important to use a virtual private network service with a wide selection of VPN protocols.
Check out the list of topics below to see what we covered (click to jump):
- The particularities of each VPN protocol
- How we examined all VPN protocols here
- Types of VPN protocols
- What is the best VPN protocol..
- So, which is the best VPN protocol overall?
The particularities of each VPN protocol
There are many types of VPN protocols out there, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Thankfully, it is common practice for applications to implement multiple VPN protocols so that you can frequently switch them depending on what you need.
Even so, you should know what hides behind each acronym and not just opt for the default VPN protocol when connecting to the internet – it might be a recommended protocol but that does not mean it is optimized for your online tasks.
When we explained what is a VPN, we specified that, depending on which VPN protocol is being used, the program might slow down your Internet connection or lead to connection drops, to name a couple of examples.
How we examined all VPN protocols here
It is essential to understand how common VPN protocols work. Consequentially, we have prepared a list of VPN protocols adopted by many VPN service providers: PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, SSTP, WireGuard, SoftEther, SSL/TLS, TCP, and UDP.
Besides finding out how each protocol works, you can also check out a bit of background history and how easy the VPN tool is to configure. We have also focused our efforts on inspecting encryption, authentication, firewall, network speed, security leaks (if any), as well as compatibility with multiple operating systems and platforms.
In some cases, there is evidence to confirm or deny reliability when there are multiple connected devices using the same VPN configuration. All of this is accompanied by a summary of the pros and cons of each protocol, together with our personal conclusion.
Types of VPN protocols
Without any further delay, here are the VPN protocols we went over in this article.
PPTP (aka Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is one of the most recognizable VPN protocols out there, even among users with limited networking knowledge. Based on PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol), PPTP works with virtual private networks only.
It has been shipped with Windows editions ever since its release back in 1995 by Microsoft, making it the oldest protocol on our list. It uses TCP port 1723 and GRA port 47 to encapsulate PPP packets ready for transport.
Official specification details about PPTP were published in 1999 as RFC 2637. These include the protocol’s goals and technical info about how it works. However, PPTP was never proposed as a standard by IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and its document remained purely informational. We can only assume this happened because of the security risks implied.
Encryption and speed
PPTP mostly uses 128-bit MMPE (Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption) for encrypting data, which is pretty insecure. It is definitely not recommended for corporations or commercial use.
This is because it is necessary to use a NAT interface (Network Address Translation) and set up a firewall for GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation) when attempting to reach external servers from an internal network.
Although it can still be found in newer operating systems (including Windows 10), PPTP is widely regarded to be obsolete among VPN protocols. It is not intended for users who put privacy above all else, due to the fact that it has many security flaws.
On the bright side, thanks to the low privacy level and stable Internet connections, PPTP is great for accessing online streaming, like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime. Since it is very fast, it can also be used on older computers with limited CPU power, especially routers when security is no longer a problem.
Firewall, security leaks, authentication, OS compatibility
Besides the fact that PPTP connections can be easily blocked by the remote server when the configuration is incorrect, they may lead to drops when there are more devices in the internal network trying to simultaneously reach the same destination.
On top of that, PPTP has a history of exploit risks since it used MS-CHAP v2 before of 128-bit AES. As a result, the protocol is certainly being supervised and can be easily hacked by the NSA. Sadly, MS-CAP v2 is still being used, too.
People who still use PPTP are usually the ones who do not want to go through the trouble of learning how to configure a modern protocol, like OpenVPN, thanks to the fact that it is one of the easiest VPN protocols to set up.
When it comes to authentication, it only requires a server name, username, and password. Another upside is that, because it has been around for so long, it has native support for most operating systems and platforms. It includes Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Tomato. This means that you do not have to install any additional software to be able to use PPTP.
- Great speed, but slower than IKEv2/IPsec
- Easy to configure, no advanced skills required
- Great compatibility with multiple operating systems and platforms
- Native support, no third-party installations required
- Stable Internet connections, great for online streaming
- Needs low processing power, ideal for older computers
- Can be installed on routers when security is not an issue
- Very low security, worst on this list
- History of security exploits
- Hackable by the NSA
- Weak against firewalls, easy to block by the remote server you want to reach
- Unreliable for multiple devices with identical VPN configuration
- Not recommended for corporations or commercial use
If you are not keen on security and do not plan on using a VPN for shady business (like downloading illegal torrents), you can go with PPTP. However, if you want to play it safe and protect your online identity, it is recommended to look for a more secure VPN protocol.
Considered the successor of PPTP, L2TP (Layer Two Tunneling Protocol) is based on PPTP (by Microsoft) and L2F (Layer Two Forwarding Protocol, by Cisco). But it is one of those VPN protocols which do not have built-in features for ensuring encryption and protecting privacy.
Such features are covered by a separate encryption protocol, and the most common one for L2TP is IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), which can encrypt data sent over an IPv4 network.
Therefore, L2TP provides the tunnel while IPsec takes care of security. Another conclusion we can draw from this is that L2TP is not actually the protocol susceptible to hacking (since it has zero shields), but IPsec is the real target. How it works is that IPsec authenticates and encrypts the data packets individually while you are connected to the VPN.
Encryption, authentication, firewall
IPsec is one of the VPN protocols that use multiple encryption modes. It supports 128-bit AES, 256-bit AES, and 3DES. These offer a pretty great level of security but only with the right kind of authentication (nothing public).
In most cases, L2TP/IPsec authentication is done using pre-shared keys, public keys or certificates, although there are other methods, too. This type of authentication makes the protocol simpler to configure, so no coding skills are necessary.
L2TP uses UDP port 500 to get past the first step and exchange keys between the server and the client. Unfortunately, this means that your connection can be blocked by the remote firewall when using the NAT interface.
Unlike OpenVPN, it cannot be masked by switching to another port. In the following stages, IPsec uses protocol 50 to encrypt information, UDP port 1701 to configure L2TP settings, and UDP port 4500 for NAT traversal.
Security leaks, OS compatibility, speed
The L2TP/IPsec combination was a protocol standard proposed by IETF in 2001 in RFC 3193. Unfortunately, there have been strong suggestions of NSA cracking IPsec-based VPN connections, so it is safe to assume that, besides PPTP, IPsec is also on the NSA watchlist.
L2TP/IPsec has native support for most major operating systems, like Windows, Mac OS, and Android. But it is not as good as PPTP when it comes to extensive compatibility.
Thanks to the fact that it uses UDP (kernel-based acceleration), it ensures good Internet speed. At the same time, because more CPU processing power is needed to encapsulate data twice, speed is hampered. Therefore, it ensures medium security when compared to other VPN protocols on this list.
- Medium security, better than PPTP
- Easy to configure
- No known security flaws (unless public shared keys or certificates are used)
- Good compatibility with multiple operating systems, native support
- Reliable for multiple devices with identical VPN configuration
- Medium speed, worse than PPTP and OpenVPN due to double encapsulation
- Not recommended for computers with limited CPU processing power
- Can be easily blocked by firewalls via the NAT interface
- Can probably be hacked by the NSA
- Security flaws: if public keys or certificates are used, the system is susceptible to MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) attacks
- Fair reliability on networks experiencing stability issues
Practically, L2TP/IPsec takes PPTP to a new level by adding more security but by losing speed. It is better than PPTP but worse than OpenVPN.
Based on IPSec and resulted from a collaboration between Microsoft and Cisco, IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2) became an Internet Standard in 2014 when it was published in RFC 7296. It was not originally destined to be a VPN protocol, but it successfully mimics one nonetheless.
Unlike L2TP that relies on double encapsulation, which has a negative impact on Internet speed, IKEv2 is one of the many VPN protocols that do not have this kind of issue.
How it works is that an IKE daemon (background process) runs in the user space (outside the OS kernel) to gain access to configuration info, like IPsec keys and certifications. Meanwhile, an IPsec stack from the kernel handles IP packet processing.
Speed, encryption, authentication, security leaks
Since these two tasks are taken care of separately, network performance is not affected, resulting in great speed. Compared to PPT2P and L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec provides better security, ensuring support for 128-bit AES, 192-bit AES, and 256-bit AES encryption modes.
When it comes to authentication, IKEv2 uses pre-shared keys or X.509 certificates, making it easy to configure. It also creates and maintains a security policy for every connected peer.
As far as security flaws go, the IKEv2/IPsec combination sadly inherits IPsec’s security drawbacks, which we previously mentioned when describing L2TP/IPsec (strong suggestions of IPsec being monitored by the NSA). Furthermore, recent reports indicate that IPsec with IKEv2 is susceptible to security risks.
Firewall, OS compatibility, connection reliability
Similar to L2TP, IKEv2 uses UDP with port 500 (usually), which means it can be easily blocked by firewalls when using a NAT interface. When it comes to compatibility with operating systems, IKEv2/IPsec has native support for Windows 7.
There are also some implementations available for Linux, BlackBerry, Android, iOS, and other platforms. Unfortunately, it does not excel in this department since it has limited support beyond Windows and BlackBerry.
On the upside, it puts emphasis on mobile compatibility, featuring support for MOBIKE (Mobility and Multihoming protocol). The protocol can quickly reconnect to the Internet on connection drops. It ensures stable connections even if you want to jump from one network type to another, like from wireless to data, or from one hotspot to another.
- Excellent speed, best on this list (surpassing OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and SSTP)
- Great security, better than PPT2P and L2TP/IPsec
- Quick reconnection on drops
- Great compatibility with mobiles
- Stable connections even when you are switching network types (e.g., from Wi-Fi to data)
- Limited compatibility with operating systems
- Can be blocked by firewalls
- Known history of security flaws
- Probably monitored and already hacked by the NSA (allegedly, since nothing has been confirmed)
Widely considered the best out of all VPN protocols, OpenVPN (Open Source VPN) has leverage over others when it comes to advanced security and customization features. It comes in two flavors: free and open-source (OpenVPN Community Edition) and premium (OpenVPN Access Server).
On top of what the free edition offers, the premium subscription adds web UI management features, SMP server support, and LDAP integration, to name a few examples.
Firewall, authentication, encryption
OpenVPN uses a custom security protocol and SSL/TLS to exchange keys over the internet. It supports IPv6, TCP (better chance than UDP to get past firewalls) and UDP (faster than TCP). In fact, this VPN protocol can be configured to run on any port, which has many advantages over firewalls.
For instance, if OpenVPN uses TCP with port 443 (same protocol and port used by SSL websites), then your connection becomes increasingly difficult to block by remote servers since it will be seen as a typical HTTPS connection. We call this obfuscation and it comes in handy for users who must hide the fact that they are using a VPN, like journalists, whistleblowers, and political activists who fear government repercussions.
There are several authentication options available: username and password, pre-shared secret keys (not public), and certificates. The username and password combination can be used even with certificates to boost security.
Speaking of security, OpenVPN is compliant with AES encryption up to 256-bit, thanks to the fact that it heavily relies on OpenSSL and TLS for data security and control. It can also use 2048-bit RSA authentication and 160-bit SHA1 hashing. If you still have concerns over security, you can top it off with another layer using HMAC packets.
Security leaks, speed, setup
If you want to set up a VPN server to be used by multiple clients, then OpenVPN can release distinct authentication certificates for each client. There are no known security flaws, not even involving the NSA.
It is mostly thanks to the open-source architecture that permits any developer to chip in and patch leaks as soon as they are spotted. The protocol used to be slow but the community worked hard in enhancing speed in newer implementations, all without losing sight of strong security.
On the downside, OpenVPN cannot be used as a standalone product, and it is not natively built into systems like PPTP or L2TP. Instead, it depends on third-party applications (like SoftEther VPN), which may have their own particularities besides facilitating a simple GUI.
In fact, it is not easy to configure OpenVPN. As such, extensive investigation is necessary if you want to set up a virtual private connection correctly, without security leaks, connection drops, or speed issues.
OS compatibility and customization features
On the bright side, you can install OpenVPN on routers to create a virtual private network for all devices connecting to those routers, without having to separately install a OpenVPN client. Supported router firmware packages include Tomato, OpenWrt, DD-WRT, OPNsense, PfSense, Gargoyle, D-Link, and MikroTik.
It is also compatible with many OSes and platforms: Windows XP and newer, macOS, Linux, NetBSD, Solaris, OpenBSD, QNX and mobile OSes like Android (even those with Cyanogenmod), jailbroken iOS, BlackBerry, Maemo, or Windows Mobile. Palm OS is not supported.
OpenVPN is fully customizable due to plugins. There is an extensive range of plugins that can be downloaded and installed to optimize the VPN tool, whether you are interested in dynamic firewall updates, enhanced authentication, and data logging, or something else.
Plus, if you are not pleased with any VPN client, then you can become adventurous, learn how to build a VPN client with OpenVPN, and make it your own. OpenVPN is not based on any standards (RFC).
- Great security and encryption (up to 256-bit AES)
- Excellent firewall: use any port on TCP or UDP to “blend” with the public web
- Great speed
- Steady connections, even over wireless, mobile, and unreliable networks
- No issues when used by multiple devices to connect to the same VPN network from the same location (thanks to separate certificates)
- Can be installed on routers to eliminate the need of installing VPN clients
- Extendable functionality, thanks to plugins
- Great compatibility with operating systems and platforms
- No reported security leaks or NSA surveillance
- Recommended for corporations or commercial use
- No native support with operating systems
- Depends on third-party software
- Can be difficult to configure
Once skilled with OpenVPN configuration, it becomes easy to see why it is not worth switching to other VPN protocols. Currently, OpenVPN is the best VPN protocol available.
SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) is designed to transport PPP-based traffic with the help of an SSL protocol. SSL/TLS handles the security aspects when it comes to negotiating keys with the remote server, encrypting data, and verifying the integrity of the network traffic. It is widely regarded as one of the most secure VPN protocols that come bundled with Windows.
Authentication, encryption, firewall
A server using SSTP has to pass authentication while the SSL/TLS channel is busy with its assignments. This is optional for SSTP clients, however, as long as they are authenticated before data reaches its destination. Thanks to PPP, SSTP supports common authentication methods like EAP-TLS and MS-CHAP.
When it comes to security, SSTP uses 2048-bit SSL certificates (military grade) for authentication as well as 256-bit SSL keys for data encryption. Suffice it to say, SSTP surpasses other VPN protocols when it comes to security (comparable to OpenVPN).
It uses TCP port 443, which we mentioned earlier when talking about OpenVPN: connections are more difficult to block since they are disguised as typical HTTPS connections (unlike L2TP/IPsec or IKEv2/IPsec).
OS compatibility and speed
Because it is proprietary to Microsoft, SSTP was originally available only for Windows-based operating systems, such as Windows Vista SP1 and newer, Linux, BSD, and RouterOS (runs on MikroTik routers).
However, it now has variations for other operating systems like Android and iOS. It is also supported by SoftEtherVPN Server. Nevertheless, compatibility is limited.
Made for remote-client access, the protocol has limited support with site-to-site VPN. But it tries to overcome this issue by adopting SSL instead of IPsec since, besides site-to-site VPN, SSL adds support for roaming.
On top of that, it shares the speed performance issues of IP/TCP tunnels: if there isn’t enough extra bandwidth on the normal network (without tunnels), then the tunneled TCP timers will expire.
- Excellent, military-grade security, best on this list
- Native support for Windows-based operating systems
- Connections are difficult to block by firewalls
- Stable Internet connections
- No reported security flaws or NSA hacks
- Recommended for corporations or commercial use
- Medium-to-low speed, may vary depending on the VPN configuration
- Limited compatibility with operating systems and platforms
- Limited support for site-to-site VPN
- Performance problems due to insufficient extra bandwidth on untunneled networks
SSTP is excellent if you are looking for the top of the line in VPN protocols when it comes to security, as long as you do not mind reduced speed.
Back in the 1990s, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) used to be a protocol that permitted Netscape-based clients to use HTTP when establishing a secure connection with Netscape web servers.
However, it eventually developed security flaws and was put out of commission, being superseded by TLS (Transport Layer Security) in 1999. They are virtually one and the same since TLS is an updated version of SSL, taking over its name.
The architecture of TLS is pretty easy to digest. It provides bi-directional security that consists of two layers: one for making sure the connection is private and stable (TLS Record Protocol) and another for encrypting data before transporting it (TLS Handshake Protocol).
On the other hand, it is important to understand that security is ensured only while it is being transported from one machine to another (no privacy is offered before or after that time).
OS and platform compatibility
VPNs with SSL provide remote-access connections using a web browser only, without any other programs. The best example for this is VPN browser extensions available for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Microsoft Edge and others. Plus, it is already built into some web browsers, like Opera.
Another key aspect that we can draw from this is that SSL-based VPN addons work on any operating system that supports the web browser in question. Since it is a VPN protocol used at a global level, it ensures compatibility between operating systems and platforms.
Encryption, authentication, speed, firewall
As far as encryption is concerned, TLS uses E2EE (End-to-End-Encryption), which facilitates a high level of security thanks to the fact that data is protected from other parties, including ISPs and hackers.
Meanwhile, authentication can be done using pre-shared keys or digital certificates for symmetric encryption. On the downside, SSL demands a lot of CPU processing power, leading to reduced speed and performance, in general. There are workarounds for this, though, like using SSL accelerators or setting traffic priorities.
Since SSL uses the standard HTTPS port 443, it makes VPN connections look like they are routed through the public internet, so they are difficult to block by firewalls (unlike L2TP/IPsec or IKEv2/IPsec). Unfortunately, recent reports indicate TLS security leaks when certain (unlikely) conditions are met.
- Great security, better than PPT2P and L2TP/IPsec
- Strong against firewalls: difficult to block connections
- Excellent compatibility with operating systems and platforms via web browsers
- Easy to configure
- Reduced speed
- Reported security leaks
SSL/TLS is a secure protocol for using VPNs with web browsers. As it turns out, more and more web browsers have pushed for strong TLS implementation in newer releases. It is a pretty good VPN protocol when using VPN browser extensions.
7. TCP and UDP
Along with IP (Internet Protocol), TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is part of the Internet protocol suite, also known as TCP/IP. The role of TCP is to transport data from one host to another over an IP, making sure it reaches its destination undamaged. It is used by the World Wide Web (www) and other major web-based platforms.
TCP focuses on reliability. As such, it is best to use it when the main goal is to deliver the data as a whole, without losing any packets along the way. It relies on handshaking to exchange data and it keeps track of all sent data.
When sending a packet, it waits for confirmation from the other side before passing on the next. This is also known as acknowledgment. On the downside, the procedure takes a toll on Internet speed. Therefore, when users shift their attention from reliability to speed, they should opt for UDP instead of TCP.
UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is also a core member of the Internet Protocol suite, next to TCP. It became a standard in 1980, published in RFC768. The main difference between UDP and TCP is that UDP takes advantage of connectionless datagrams when transferring information over the Internet.
This means that it’s not necessary to recall previous communications when creating data paths. Because it does not depend on handshaking, acknowledgment, and error checking like TCP, UDP cannot guarantee that the data will reach its destination.
On the bright side, UDP ensures very fast network connections. It is a VPN protocol frequently used by service advertisements and streaming apps, to give you a couple of examples.
Pros and cons
- TCP is more reliable but slower than UDP
- UDP is faster but not as reliable as TCP
Many VPN applications let you pick between TCP and UDP mode when it comes to establishing the type of Internet connection. Go with TCP if you want guarantees that your data is transferred, or choose UDP if you are in a hurry and not interested in data integrity.
WireGuard is one of the newer VPN protocols developed in recent years. Using state-of-the-art cryptography, it is a secure network tunnel that runs as a module within the Linux kernel and operates at layer 3. It intends to surpass OpenVPN and IPsec when it comes to performance.
Because it can be implemented with less than 4,000 source code lines, significantly less than OpenVPN or IPsec requirements, WireGuard ensures that it can be quickly checked and patched for errors. Both IPv4 and IPv6 are supported for layer 3.
Authentication, encryption, OS compatibility
The product of lengthy academic research, WireGuard uses Curve25519 for a single round-trip key exchange, Poly1305 to authenticate data, ChaCha20 for encryption, SipHash for hashtable keys, as well as BLAKE2s for hashing. It delivers excellent results when it comes to identity protection and Perfect Forward Secrecy.
As far as operating system compatibility is concerned, WireGuard initially worked only on the Linux kernel. But it now supports multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, BSD, iOS, and Android.
Implementation in VPN services
WireGuard is still in the beta development stage, and its makers wish everyone to know that it should be treated as an experimental project. However, WireGuard has already caught the eye of some noteworthy virtual private network providers.
- Great security and speed
- Easier to implement and audit
- State-of-the-art cryptography
- Considered the future of VPN industry
- Still in the experimental phase
- Not yet ready for mainstream release
- Few VPN services have implemented it so far
WireGuard is an exciting, optimized VPN protocol that we still do not know many things about. As soon as it reaches a stable version, we will probably hear more about it.
Similar to WireGuard, SoftEther is the result of extensive academic research. Published in 2014, it is one of the newest VPN protocols on this list, which can be used to establish secure communications between clients and servers as well as between sites and sites (in bridged mode).
Security and reliability
SoftEther connects to obfuscated VPN servers because it uses Ethernet over HTTPS to conceal the fact that it is a VPN tool. This makes it ideal for people who are living or traveling to countries where VPNs are illegal or only approved by the government.
It utilizes AES 256-bit and RSA 4096-bit encryption, making it better than VPN hardware. Thanks to this, SoftEther can prevent Man-In-The-Middle-Attacks. In addition to SSL-VPN (HTTPS), it supports OpenVPN, IPsec, L2TP, MS-SSTP, L2TPv3 and EtherIP as underlying VPN protocols, together with both IPv4 and IPv6.
Furthermore, SoftEther supports VPN over ICMP and VPN over DNS, in order to allow Internet traffic to penetrate restricted networks which normally allow only ICMP and DNS traffic, not TCP or UDP. It is the only VPN protocol on this list that has this capability.
Speed and OS compatibility
Although it comes with strict security features, the VPN protocol does not disappoint when it comes to speed. It delivers 1Gbps-class high-speed throughput performance while using minimum system resources.
As far as OS compatibility goes, SoftEther can be installed on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, and Windows Mobile. But the VPN server can only run on Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, and Mac OS X.
- Excellent for bypassing firewalls, best from this list
- Great security and speed
- Supports other major VPN protocols
- Good OS compatibility
- Can be challenging to configure
- Not shipped with too many VPN native clients
SoftEther is a promising VPN protocol with extraordinary potential, but it has not been implemented with too many VPN native clients. Examples which included it in their set of VPN protocols are ibVPN and CactusVPN.
What is the best VPN protocol..
It can be difficult to determine the best possible VPN protocol that you can use with your virtual private network service. It mostly depends on the type of online activity you want to perform once you connect to a VPN server.
Here are some types of Internet activities matched with what we think is the best VPN protocol for it.
If you need to connect to a VPN server to join a multiplayer game, reduce lagging, and access game rooms which are not normally available to your region, then you need a speedy VPN protocol.
If it is not necessary to secure your connection, then you can minimize encryption by opting for IKEv2/IPsec or even PPTP. In case your connection gets blocked by the remote firewall, then switch to OpenVPN.
As far as torrenting is concerned, security is just as important as speed and stability. You need to protect your true identity from other users when joining the torrent swarm, as well as to prevent your ISP from sending you DMCA notices.
In this case, we suggest going for the SoftEther protocol since it hits all three points. Alternatively, if you cannot use SoftEther because it has not been implemented into your VPN native client, then you can go with OpenVPN UDP.
Streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, or Amazon Prime does not require you to hide your IP address and encrypt your data because it is not illegal to use such services in other regions, only frowned upon.
As such, you can try out weaker VPN protocols like PPTP, which ensure good speed while sacrificing security. On the other hand, you will rarely come across PPTP VPN servers that work with Netflix. Therefore, you will have a better chance at bypassing the Netflix proxy error with the OpenVPN UDP protocol.
..For defeating government censorship?
If you are living or traveling to a country where VPN usage is prohibited or controlled by the government, then you must use a top-grade VPN protocol that can conceal your online identity as well as your Internet activities.
OpenVPN is your best bet since it is commonly integrated with obfuscated servers in certain virtual private network services. But we also suggest experimenting with SSTP if you do not need good connection speed since it surpasses OpenVPN’s security. SSL/TLS is also an option.
Unless you are traveling to a foreign country where the Internet is censored and VPN services are forbidden or restricted, then you do not probably need to worry about government repercussions.
In this case, you could dabble with IKEv2/IPsec because it is the most stable protocol on this list when it comes to switching different kinds of networks. For example, you will not disconnect from the VPN when your travel laptop switches from a public wireless network to your mobile data plan.
..For accessing blocked sites?
Network restrictions are usually set at school or college, on campus, and at public institutions. These prevent students and employees from reaching certain websites, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anything that would be a distraction.
In this case, you must resort to a versatile VPN protocol that can penetrate various firewalls and make it seem like you have access privileges. OpenVPN is a pretty good choice when it comes to accessing blocked sites. But you can also try SSTP, SSL/TLS, and SoftEther, depending on your possibilities.
..For escaping VPN blocks?
VPN blocks take network restriction a step further. The network administrator not only restricts access to certain websites but also blocks VPN connections. It is a backup measure for what we previously discussed about using a VPN protocol to bypass firewalls.
It can be tricky to escape VPN blocks, especially since ISPs and governments may use Deep Packet Inspection to detect such connections. You might even get in trouble if VPN usage is illegal where you live. Nevertheless, you should try connecting to obfuscated VPN servers using OpenVPN, SSTP, or SSL/TLS.
..That works with multiple devices?
Device compatibility is a security issue because not many VPN protocols can be used on multiple platforms and operating systems. It would be inconvenient because it means configuring different VPN protocols to ensure the safety of all your devices.
Besides, you can install OpenVPN on routers to share your VPN connection with all nearby devices. And it counts as one simultaneous connection, so you will not have to worry about exceeding the limit.
IKEv2/IPsec is the fastest VPN protocol on this list, a great choice for general online activities that require great connection speed. It also has decent security and swiftly reconnects on drops.
SSTP is the most secure VPN protocol on this list, providing you with military-grade security. It can get past most firewalls and keeps the Internet connection stable, ideal for businesses. But you should not except equal speed.
..Easiest to configure?
PPTP is the most user-friendly VPN protocol to configure in manual configuration mode. Because it has been around for so long, it was natively built into many operating systems.
SSTP is equally easy, but only on Windows systems. If you opt for a commercial VPN solution, then you will not have to worry about this, since you just have to pick a protocol from a menu.
So, which is the best VPN protocol overall?
As we mentioned earlier, it is quite challenging to pinpoint the ideal VPN protocol, considering how many options are there. WireGuard sounds really exciting on the long run, but it is not ready for a showcase just yet.
Considering how it shipped with all major premium VPN services (no exceptions), we have no other choice but to pick OpenVPN as the best VPN protocol overall. We think that OpenVPN is a Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-some type of deal that deserves all the attention.
And we fail to see actual scenarios where Internet speed becomes so important that it is suddenly okay to lose sight of security. OpenVPN brings the perfect balance between speed and security, can be concealed as HTTPS traffic, and can penetrate most firewalls. Moreover, it supports many platforms and can be installed on routers to ensure VPN protocol for all devices.