We are asked a lot about differences between VPN protocols, what those VPN protocols are, which of them should be used, etc. Well, to be completely honest it is not an easy to explain, especially if one has to do it in short and fairly straight forward way. But lets try anyway.
Every single time computers “talk to each other”, they do it by using “a protocol”. Protocol is a sort of a language for network devices. It defines how digital information is send from one device to another. It has to be done by the same, common for both communicating devices protocol. Different protocols were created to perform different tasks (exchange information in a special way). For example your browser communicates with web sites by using HTTP or HTTPS protocol. Sometimes you may use FTP – File Transfer Protocol. Basically, when you send to or receive any information from the network it is done in one of many protocols.
VPN servers and clients also need special protocols to communicate. VPN protocols were created to act like a physical tunnel, connection between two devices. For example big computer in a company and laptop “in the field”. Because information exchanged this way might be sensitive VPN protocols have to ensure privacy and security of such exchange. This is why VPN protocols use encryption and different authentication methods.
PPTP VPN protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pptp):
It is was the first VPN protocol and as such at its beginning was criticized for some of its flaws or rather that not all features of security have been addressed. For encryption it uses Microsoft’s Point-to-Point Encryption protocol. MPPE implements the RSA RC4 encryption algorithm with a maximum of 128 bit session keys. It may be not as secure as other protocols but thanks to its “simplicity” it is quite fast protocol. In our opinion it is perfect to use for everyone who is not really exchanging sensitive data. If you just want to be hidden while browsing the web, want to watch a movie, etc. Don’t worry it will be perfect for you.
L2TP VPN protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L2tp)
This protocol was created in 1999 and was based on two other protocols – PPTP and IPsec. L2TP on its own is not much more secure than PPTP it relays on but when combined with IPsec (such combined protocol is called L2TP/IPsec – this is what we use at HideIPVPN) is quite strong and interesting alternative to PPTP. For encryption it uses IPSec protocol. Either 3DES or AES encryption algorithm for confidentiality. AES algorithm has up to 256 bit keys available for encryption. You have to remember though that because it is more complex and requires a bit more from your own machine it may perform a bit slower than PPTP VPN protocol.
SSTP VPN protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Socket_Tunneling_Protocol)
This is newest in the family of VPN protocols. In general it is the most complex and secure one. But as all thing it also has its downsides. Because of its complexity it needs to have sufficient excess bandwidth on the un-tunneled network. In the simplest words what it means is that if there is a lot of information to be exchanged and you own broadband/internet connection is slow this performance of this protocol will fall. Wikipedia calls this “TCP meltdown”. In such cases we strongly suggest you use one of the above mentioned VPN protocols. For encryption it uses SSL library with AES 2048 bit key certificate and 256 bit key for encryption.
OpenVPN protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openvpn)
OpenVPN is an “open source” solution written by James Yonan and is published under the GNU General Public License. It is complex solution but it is not installed by default in any of the systems. It uses its own client as well as own OpenSSL library to provide encryption. It supports algorithms as AES, RC5, Blowfish or 3DES. WIth the use of IPsec it uses extremely safe AES algorithm with 256 keys. OpenVPN is quite easy to configure and once setup and working it is considered one of the fastest and most reliable protocols. In HideIPVPN network you can use it via our Windows software or via OpenVPN client that you can download here: http://www.hideipvpn.com/setup-howto/
In cases when VPN protocols are not performing well for you (especially when your broadband is not very fast) you may try to use Proxy access. You can read more about it here: http://www.hideipvpn.com/2012/05/dont-forget-about-our-proxy-servers/.