If you are asking yourself “what is SoftEther?”, then you’ve come to the right place. In the article you’re about to read, we will try to answer that question, and also provide a lot of hopefully useful information regarding this VPN protocol.
VPN protocols are multiple and diverse, each offering a slightly different recipe for the finished product, which is meant to provide a VPN service to the client. Some protocol recipes offer a pungent taste of security, but a slightly more subtle aroma of speed, whereas others have an impressive speed, but lacking security.
Since we will be talking specifically about one VPN protocol, SoftEther, it would be ideal to also know what a VPN is, how it works, and what it is used for and what VPN protocols are.
Table of contents
- 1 What is SoftEther?
- 1.1 A short SoftEther history
- 2 SoftEther technical details
- 3 How does the SoftEther VPN work?
- 4 Is SoftEther VPN safe?
- 5 What speeds does SoftEther offer?
- 6 How compatible is SoftEther?
- 7 SoftEther setup
- 8 SoftEther versus other VPN protocols
- 8.1 Softether vs OpenVPN
- 8.2 Softether vs IKEv2/IPSec
- 8.3 Softether vs L2TP/IPSec
- 8.4 Softether vs SSTP
- 4.5 Softether vs PPTP
- 9 Conclusion
What is SoftEther?
SoftEther is currently an open-source VPN software that enables the use of multiple protocols across a wide variety of devices and operating systems. Initially a university project started by Daiyuu Nobori, a student from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, SoftEther VPN went on to become one of the top VPN protocols in the world.
Basically, SoftEther is a software project which enables users either to connect to a SoftEther VPN server (this can be done with or without the SoftEther VPN client software), but also allows users to set up their own servers.
Moreover, it allows users to customize their experience by being able to freely switch from one protocol to another. This multi-protocol VPN software, besides the fact that it offers great options, is impressive because it is completely free of charge.
A short SoftEther history
As mentioned previously, one thing that stands out as an unusual particularity regarding this VPN protocol is that it was singlehandedly produced by a student from a university in Japan.
While studying on campus he was working with PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), and noticed this protocol didn’t allow him to connect to his home computer from his campus wi-fi network without the use of additional software. Thus, he began working on the first version of what would later become SoftEther.
The SoftEther VPN was worked on by Daiyuu Nobori for his Masters Degree. It was released at the beginning of 2014. Currently, the project is called SoftEther VPN Project, and is still being worked on by the inventor and other people from the University of Tsukuba. On top of this, any interested party can collaborate with others on developing the project further, to solve issues and NAD pull requests through GitHub.
It offers SoftEther VPN, the open-source, cross-platform VPN service which allows multi-protocol implementation and usage. Moreover, the university project aims to encourage academic research regarding SoftEther.
While I’m not sure that they offer any official customer support, they do have an active user forum, where you can also communicate with the project staff.
SoftEther technical details
SoftEther VPN is composed of three basic elements, which work together to provide the VPN service to the customer. I will present these briefly in order to provide a clearer image of how the protocol works.
Firstly, we have the VPN server, which takes on VPN client requests. What’s special about the SoftEther VPN server is the fact that it accepts an impressive number of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, L2TPv3, IPSec, Microsoft’s SSTP, as well as their native HTTPS protocol.
Secondly, there’s the SoftEther VPN client which, if installed on a user’s computer, allows the user to connect to a VPN server. While the SoftEther client is not absolutely necessary for connecting to a SoftEther VPN server (since this can be done using other clients and protocols), it does offer certain advantages for the overall user experience.
Lastly, the SoftEther VPN service does offer the SoftEther VPN bridge function, which enables many convenient features for users or businesses. In fact, the SoftEther VPN software offers an impressive array of possibilities. You can find out more about these features on their own website, softether.org.
How does the SoftEther VPN work?
Now that we have an idea about the components that go into the structure of the SoftEther VPN service, we can begin to analyze and understand how this program functions. For this purpose, we will begin by investigating the SoftEther VPN itself. I will once again rely mostly on the clear and relevant information found on the softether.org website.
The SoftEther VPN relies on HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) for establishing the VPN tunnel. The destination used by the HTTPS protocol is TCP port 443. These two attributes are quite convenient and can improve the chances of a functioning VPN over most networks, from your home network to the public wi-fi at the coffee store or in the train station.
When using the SSL-VPN (HTTPS) protocol, users can benefit from multiple features, such as the parallel transmission of multiple tunnels, which allows for fast and well-optimized throughput.
The SoftEther VPN server doesn’t rely solely on the HTTPS protocol. In fact, it allows users to choose from a variety of VPN protocols which I have already mentioned above.
What is highly convenient about this software is that clients can also use a wide variety of operating systems to access the SoftEther VPN server, as long as these devices are using one of the compatible protocols. In this sense, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, and Mac devices are able to connect to a SoftEther VPN server.
However, there are certain attributes only available to users who use the VPN service through the SoftEther client software. But in any case, overall, these characteristics make SoftEther VPN a very accessible VPN service.
Is SoftEther VPN safe?
For a student-made university project, the SoftEther VPN software has evolved into a surprisingly secure VPN service. A strong point is that it allows users to use their protocol of choice, thus enabling them to opt for the security features they prefer, to a certain extent.
Moreover, it offers the possibility of using the integrated HTTPS protocol (HTTP combined with the secure socket layer protocol). Thus, users also benefit from website authentication while the data transferred over the network is verified in terms of integrity, to make sure it was not tampered with.
The SoftEther VPN software provides AES 256-bit encryption. On top of that, it offers security features such as the RSA certificate authentication and RADIUS/NT domain user authentication. Thus, overall, this VPN protocol seems to offer a decent security level for internet activity.
What speeds does SoftEther offer?
It seems that SoftEther is one of the fastest protocols, with good internet speeds which don’t require high memory usage, and also don’t tax the CPU too highly. The team at softether.org attribute this good speed to “highly optimized VPN processing modules”, among other things. They state that the protocol was designed for performance and boasts a 1gbps throughput.
Using the SoftEther client can only be done in order to connect to a SoftEther server, and if the user is using the HTTPS protocol, the parallel transmission mechanism will kick in to boost throughput. Their website states that a study from 2006 showed that SoftEther’s throughput was 4 times as fast as PPTP, and an impressive 13 times as fast as the well known and respected OpenVPN.
How compatible is SoftEther?
This is yet another strong point for the SoftEther VPN software. While it is not natively available and built into any operating system, as opposed to Microsoft’s SSTP, the SoftEther software is readily available for download and offers compatibility across most operating systems.
According to softether.org, the Windows and Linux operating systems offer compatibility to all three features of the SoftEther VPN (client, server and bridge). FreeBSD, Solaris and Mac OS X also offer compatibility for the server and bridge software.
From another source, it would seem that the VPN client is now available for Mac OS X devices as well. This doesn’t however completely rule out the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. They can still connect to a SoftEther server using either L2TP/IPSec protocol or the OpenVPN protocol. However, they cannot use the SoftEther client.
It seems that many VPN service providers don’t currently offer the SoftEther protocol in their catalog. However, you can still manually create your own SoftEther server by installing this software since it is free and open-sourced.
Once again, you can download it from their home site, softether.org, where you can also get an idea about how to use SoftEther VPN software. Thankfully, they also provide detailed instructions on how to install it and set it up. Depending on whether you want to install it as a client, or if you want to set up a server, you will have a different procedure to follow. All of this information and more is readily available at SoftEther’s own website.
Alternatively, since there still are certain VPN providers having this protocol as part of their offer, you can simply follow these steps.
SoftEther versus other VPN protocols
To get a better understanding of the SoftEther performance, the best way of exploring its speed, compatibility and security is to simply compare it with the other existing VPN protocols.
SoftEther vs OpenVPN
Regarding speed, some tests would show that SoftEther is superior. And if we can take the developers’ word on it, then it would definitely seem so. Compatibility-wise, the race is almost tied, however, OpenVPN does seem to offer support on a few extra operating systems, but these are not very common.
Even so, SoftEther’s ability to integrate and use multiple protocols, including OpenVPN, offers unparalleled flexibility to its clients. Security-wise, both seem to be strong competitors offering free open-source software.
However, SoftEther is somewhat outmatched by OpenVPN’s veterancy. The fact that SoftEther hasn’t been on the market for as long as OpenVPN may lessen some people’s trust in it. Personally, I was quite impressed by SoftEther’s features as well, however, this does not nullify OpenVPN’s reputation as one of the safest protocols out there.
SoftEther vs IKEv2/IPSec
SoftEther seems to offer a strong security. It’s open-source character also emphasizes this aspect, and although IKEv2 doesn’t seem to lack security, it was designed by Microsoft, in partnership with another company.
SoftEther provides better compatibility thanks to its multi-protocol option and widespread availability. At the same time, IKEv2 is natively available on Windows and does offer great stability (including for mobile devices through the MOBIKE feature). However, there may be limited support for devices using other OSs than Windows and Blackberry.
SoftEther vs L2TP/IPSec
Yet again, the weighing scale appears to be tipped in favor of SoftEther. With better speeds and seemingly better security, there don’t seem to be too many things in favour of L2TP.
Having been worked on by Microsoft and due to the fact that it may be susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, some users may be reticent with regards to its security.
Once again, therefore, I would recommend SoftEther. If you are a fan of L2TP, perhaps you will be reassured to find out that you can use the L2TP protocol to connect to SoftEther servers.
SoftEther vs SSTP
The SoftEther VPN is clearly victorious against this competitor. Security-wise, SoftEther may be the better choice. While they both offer AES 256-bit encryption, the latter was developed by Microsoft, a company known to poorly guard user information.
We already agreed that SoftEther is one of the fastest protocols. SSTP can offer decent speeds but highly taxes the CPU. So, without a good device, you may encounter lagging. Compatibility-wise, SoftEther is a clear winner.
SoftEther vs PPTP
SoftEther claims to be even faster than the famous PPTP. Since speed is one of the few strong points PPTP boasts, SoftEther is clearly better, offering reassuring security and compatibility.
SoftEther seems to be a very well-designed and optimized software, offering good speed and security. Also, because it’s an open-source software, it will likely see continued development. In conclusion, SoftEther seems to be a good VPN protocol that will likely see further improvement.
Now that you know how SoftEther is and how it works, in case you decide to start using it in the future, it’s good to know that HideIPVPN does offer this protocol.
HideIPVPN is a cheap, fast and secure VPN service and we are proud of the years of experience the team behind our project shares.
On top of this, our client is user-friendly, having been designed by a team of experts with you, the customer, in mind. We offer all the major VPN protocols and our support team is always available in case you have any questions or issues.
Give it a shot and you won’t be disappointed!