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What Are The Popular VPN Protocols?

  • 30 Jan 2024
  • 4 min read

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In today's digital age, online privacy and security are paramount. To achieve this, many turn to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which not only shield your data but also offer various features tailored to your needs. Behind the scenes of every VPN lies a crucial element – the VPN protocol. These protocols determine how your data is transmitted securely between your device and the VPN server.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve deep into the world of VPN protocols. We'll explore what they are, the different types available, and which ones are the most popular. By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of the various VPN protocols, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to select the best one for your specific use case.

What is a VPN Protocol?

Before we dive into the specifics, let's establish what a VPN protocol is. A VPN protocol is a set of rules that dictate how data is packaged, transmitted, and secured over a VPN connection. Think of it as the language spoken between your device and the VPN server – it ensures that your data remains private and secure during transit.

How Many Types of VPNs Are There?

There are several types of VPNs, each designed to cater to different needs. These include remote access VPNs, site-to-site VPNs, and the most commonly used, secure socket layer (SSL) and internet protocol security (IPsec) VPNs. However, one fundamental aspect remains consistent across all these types: the use of VPN protocols to establish secure connections.

What Are The 6 Common VPN Protocols?

1. OpenVPN

One of the most popular and versatile VPN protocols is OpenVPN. It's open-source, which means its source code is transparent and subject to scrutiny. OpenVPN excels in providing robust security, utilizing AES-256 bit encryption, 2048-bit RSA authentication, and a 160-bit SHA1 hash algorithm. Moreover, it's compatible with a wide range of platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and even routers. OpenVPN's commitment to security makes it a top choice for many VPN services.

2. IKEv2/IPsec

Developed by Microsoft and Cisco, Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is a fast and reliable VPN protocol often paired with IPsec for encryption and authentication. Its ability to handle network interruptions seamlessly, making it ideal for mobile devices, sets it apart. While proprietary, open-source implementations are available for added security.

3. WireGuard

The newest kid on the block, WireGuard, has gained attention for its exceptional speed and efficiency. Its simplified codebase and support for various encryption types make it a favorite among VPN providers. It's known for its outstanding performance on mobile devices, making it an energy-efficient choice. WireGuard is available on major operating systems, with Windows support being the latest addition.


Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is known for its full integration with Microsoft operating systems, offering native support since Windows Vista Service Pack 1. SSTP employs 2048-bit SSL/TLS certificates for authentication and 256-bit SSL keys for encryption. While it's considered secure, the fact that it's a Microsoft-developed proprietary protocol raises questions about code transparency.

5. L2TP/IPsec

Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP) doesn't provide encryption on its own but is often bundled with IPsec for enhanced security. L2TP/IPsec employs AES-256 bit encryption, making it one of the most secure VPN connections available. However, it defaults to UDP on port 500, potentially making it easier to spot and block.


Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is one of the oldest VPN protocols but is now considered outdated and insecure. While it was once integrated with Windows 95, security concerns have rendered it unsuitable for most use cases. Some users still opt for PPTP due to its faster connection speeds, mainly for streaming and basic web browsing.

Choosing the Best VPN Protocols for Different Use Cases

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Now that we've covered the common VPN protocols, let's explore which one is best suited for specific scenarios.

1. Remote Office Connectivity

Maintaining a seamless connection between remote offices and the central corporate network is crucial for businesses. VPN protocols play a pivotal role in ensuring secure data transmission between these locations. For businesses, protocols like IKEv2 or L2TP/IPsec are recommended due to their reliability and ability to handle network interruptions effectively.

2. Secure Data Transfer

Businesses often deal with sensitive data that requires utmost security during transfer. VPN protocols such as OpenVPN and WireGuard are ideal for secure data transfer between employees, clients, and partners. These protocols offer robust encryption and are suitable for protecting confidential business information.

3. Mobile Workforce Security

As businesses increasingly rely on a mobile workforce, ensuring the security of mobile devices is paramount. VPN protocols like IKEv2, known for their mobile-friendliness, help businesses safeguard data on smartphones and tablets. Employees can connect securely to the corporate network while on the go.

4. Vendor or Client Access

Many businesses collaborate with vendors, clients, or third-party partners. Granting them secure access to specific resources on the company's network can be achieved through VPN protocols like SSTP, which ensures secure and authenticated connections.

5. Branch Office Connectivity

For businesses with multiple branch offices, maintaining a secure and stable connection between these locations is essential. VPN protocols like L2TP/IPsec offer the necessary encryption and security features to establish reliable connections between branch offices and the central network.


For downloading data from P2P networks, a balance of speed and privacy is crucial. Opt for WireGuard, NordVPN's NordLynx, or OpenVPN in UDP mode to ensure secure and speedy downloads.

7. Privacy

If your top priority is privacy, especially in restrictive regions, prioritize the safest protocols: WireGuard and OpenVPN. Look for a VPN that offers a stealth mode to bypass firewalls effectively.

In today's digital landscape, VPNs have become essential tools for ensuring online privacy and security. The choice of VPN protocol plays a vital role in shaping your VPN experience, balancing factors like security and speed to meet your specific needs. By understanding the differences between these protocols and considering your use case, you can make an informed decision to protect your online presence.


In the ever-evolving landscape of online security and privacy, choosing the right VPN protocol is a critical decision. Each protocol brings its unique blend of security, speed, and compatibility to the table. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of popular VPN protocols and considering your specific requirements, you can navigate the digital world with confidence, knowing your data is safeguarded. Whether it's streaming, gaming, or simply ensuring your privacy, there's a VPN protocol tailored to your needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

What VPN protocol should I use?

The choice of VPN protocol depends on your specific needs. For a balance of security and speed, OpenVPN is often a reliable choice. If you prioritize speed, WireGuard or IKEv2 may be more suitable. Ultimately, consider your use case and the level of security you require when selecting a protocol.

What is the most secure VPN protocol?

WireGuard and OpenVPN are considered among the most secure VPN protocols due to their robust encryption methods and open-source nature, allowing for transparency and scrutiny. However, the choice also depends on the implementation and your VPN provider's security measures.

Which VPN protocol is the fastest?

WireGuard is renowned for its speed, thanks to its simplified codebase and efficient encryption methods. If speed is your primary concern, WireGuard or IKEv2 are excellent choices for fast VPN connections.VPN disconnections can be caused by server congestion, firewall settings, or DNS issues. Opt for less crowded servers, temporarily disable your firewall, and troubleshoot DNS settings to address this problem.WireGuard is renowned for its speed, thanks to its simplified codebase and efficient encryption methods. If speed is your primary concern, WireGuard or IKEv2 are excellent choices for fast VPN connections.

How much will a VPN reduce my internet speed?

The reduction in internet speed when using a VPN depends on various factors, including your chosen protocol, server location, and the VPN provider's infrastructure. Typically, VPNs may cause a slight decrease in speed, but modern protocols like WireGuard aim to minimize this impact.

Which VPN protocol to choose for Android or iPhone?

For mobile devices like Android and iPhone, VPN protocols like IKEv2 and WireGuard are suitable choices due to their fast connection and ability to handle network changes seamlessly. Many VPN providers offer apps with these protocols for easy setup.

What is the fastest VPN protocol?

WireGuard is often considered the fastest VPN protocol due to its efficient codebase and encryption methods. It's particularly well-suited for mobile devices and resource-efficient applications.

What is the most secure VPN protocol?

WireGuard and OpenVPN are frequently regarded as the most secure VPN protocols. Their strong encryption, transparency through open-source code, and track record for security make them reliable choices for privacy-conscious users.

What is the most stable VPN protocol?

Stability in a VPN protocol can vary based on the provider and the specific implementation. However, IKEv2 is known for its ability to maintain a stable connection, especially during network switches, making it a solid choice for mobile devices.

What is the easiest VPN protocol to set up?

The ease of setup depends on the VPN provider and the device you're using. However, IKEv2 is known for its straightforward configuration, making it a user-friendly option, especially for beginners.