Top 7 VPN Protocols in 2019 – What Are They and Which Should You Be Using?
Choosing the right VPN for your needs and web activities is tricky enough! There’s plenty of choice out there and you’ll also need to be smart about the VPN protocols you choose to use as well. VPN protocols are essential to the running of the VPN program, period. These will essentially set your VPN with parameters to work with when setting up a secure, private connection.
We have rounded up the seven best VPN protocols that are available for you to use right now. Whether you are making use of the brilliant NordVPN, ExpressVPN or other alternatives, you should always choose a protocol or two which reflect your need for speed and privacy.
PPTP or Point to Point Tunneling protocol, is one of the most common VPN protocols around. It’s also been around since the late 1990s, so it’s been a firm favourite for Windows users in particular for over twenty years. It’s extremely easy to set up and get going, making it popular with wider audiences but it’s perhaps outpaced these days by more secure protocols and standards.
Certainly, if you prefer easy connectivity and old, reliable standards, PPTP is worth going for. It’s stable and secure enough to protect you against minimal risks.
• Pros: An old standard for Windows, straightforward to set up and use.
• Cons: Nowhere near as secure as newer kids on the block.
OpenVPN is one of the most popular, modern protocols around. Why is this? For a start, it’s thanks to its open source nature. It’s always being updated, which means that it’s always a firm finger on the pulse to have at your side when you’re set to browse the web or stream. Boasting up to 256-bit encryption, an extremely stable connection and some of the fastest speeds you’ll find among all protocols, it’s a fantastic asset to all sorts of web users.
Traffic traveling via OpenVPN is difficult to narrow down. It’s versatile running in all ports, though what may deter some users is the fact that it has a fairly in-depth setup procedure and that there’s no native system built for it.
• Pros: Open source, great for navigating around firewalls, versatile from port to port.
• Cons: Perhaps not the best option for newbies, you need third party software to run it.
Wireguard is one of the more interesting VPN protocols available and one that’s worth discussing. It’s super-fast and is optimized to work particularly well with home routers and other devices. It’s also remarkably simple to set up and run, making it a hot choice for VPN newbies and for those who aren’t sure about where to begin when picking a protocol.
However, it is a technology which is still very much in development and therefore in ‘beta’ mode. While it shows much promise, this is a protocol that will require some time to settle to gain the stability, so many users require from their connections. Its surprising minimalism will appeal to plenty of users however, and we don’t see why it won’t catch on once things are ironed out a little more.
• Pros: Fast, secure and very easy to use, a minimal interface is a top priority here.
• Cons: The protocol lacks stability at this time, meaning it’s perhaps a little less versatile than other platforms right now – it’s one to watch.
Offering 256-bit encryption as well as one of the most stable services a protocol can provide, makes SSTP a star. The clue is in its name – Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol. It’s a Windows-based protocol which is great for bypassing some troublesome VPN blocks and walls. What’s more, it’s super adept at handling complex tasks.
Despite being easy to use and despite its remarkable stability, its ties to Microsoft will put a few people off. It’s a protocol that is owned by Microsoft outright, having been released with Windows Vista.
• Pros: Super-stable, very easy to use and an asset at bypassing firewalls.
• Cons: Links to Microsoft are not ideal.
This is a dual-protocol that is found in most operating systems. It’s popular because it focuses on security as well as simple integration and can be tweaked to your own preference. As such, it’s an excellent option to consider.
However, what may let this protocol down is its speed. It’s a double encapsulated protocol, which while secure, can lead to lower speeds. It’s also somewhat limited to only one port.
• Pros: A worthy choice for ease of use thanks to its prominence in many systems already.
• Cons: Not the most efficient performer.
SoftEther is a relatively new protocol that’s becoming more and more popular. Useful for cross-platform VPN access, you can configure it for use across mobile and desktop devices alike. It's also extremely efficient and is remarkably stable at all times.
The youth of this technology may not persuade too many people, particularly as other services may seem more stable or secure – but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
• Pros: Versatile across various platforms, it’s super secure and very fast.
• Cons: It has some way to come in terms of growth in the years to come.
Otherwise known as Internet Key Exchange, this protocol is on its way to being supported by various devices and operating systems. It’s one of the fastest protocols out of the block and is a great asset to anyone suffering from unstable connectivity.
However, it is by no means a open software which means there are some concerns over how many links it has back to big corporations. It is also not yet as widely supported as some of the other names on this list, even though it performs with the best of them.
• Pros: Very efficient and very stable – a promising protocol to consider.
• Cons: Lack of open source tech and widespread uptake do not make this a popular choice.