Updated on in

Choose The Best VPN Protocol

Author: Helga York
Helga York Article author

The best VPN protocol allows you to establish a secure and fast connection between the internet and you. A Virtual Private Network sends data through a secure tunnel from your devices to your VPN’s servers and the servers you’re trying to reach. This data transfer is made possible by different types of VPN encryption.

Generally best of VPNs will let you choose which protocol to use, while others may not. In this article, you’ll discover the different VPN encryption types and the best VPN protocol for you regarding security, stability, and efficiency when transferring from point A to point B.


What is a VPN Protocol?

A VPN protocol is a set of defined rules that determine how data packets flow between a device and the VPN server. These rulesets often determine the speed, security, and stability of the software in use.

Here’s how a typical VPN operates: First, the application creates different encrypted tunnels which it uses to transmit your online traffic. Next, next your traffic goes to VPN server it assigns your device a new IP address, keeping you anonymous on the web. A VPN protocol is key in deciding how these encrypted channels are structured and used.


Learn which VPN protocol is best for you

Your VPN recognizes protocols as instructions as to how it will deliver your data through a secure connection or what type of tunnel will be used. Different types of VPNs are architected for certain specific purposes and use protocols that are most suitable for the specific task.

Despite having the same function, protocols differ when it comes to encryption strength, efficiency, security, and stability. Each has their own pros and cons. Check out the comparison table below to know the different types of VPN protocols and which suits your needs best.







Read on and get to know each protocol better to help you decide which one’s best for you.


7 common types of VPN Protocols

Different VPN protocols depend on the device’s OS and performance. Here, we explore the common types, their pros, and cons.


IKEv2/IPSec hybrid protocol

The IKEv2/IPsec is popular among mobile VPN users because it provides stable connections when switching networks. This is particularly useful for people who consistently switch between cellular data and wifi networks and is perfect for working while traveling. Developed by Cisco and Microsoft, this closed-source software is a common type of VPN protocol.

Furthermore, its lack of encryption sets it apart from other protocols. It only performs authentication and secure data transfer through different VPN tunnels.

The IKEv2 and IPSec protocols have a symbiotic relationship that allows them to function as a unit. Although IKEv2 does not provide encryption, it is responsible for authenticating connections and creating secure VPN tunnels. On the other hand, IPSec uses 256-bit ciphers to encrypt the user’s data as it passes through the tunnel.

Another thing to note about this protocol is it’s compatible only with UDP port 500. Being a single port protocol, IKEv2/IPsec isn’t as effective as other protocols in bypassing firewalls or admin blocks. The software is only open source on Linux, although it does have a lot of compatibility with most VPN services. Despite this, it still comes pre-installed on all devices with Windows 7 and above.

IKEv2/IPSec Pros

IKEv2/IPSec Cons

The protocol offers better speed and security than others, like the L2TP

The software only works on UDP port 500

It is very stable in circumstances that require frequent network switching

It is difficult for users and wifi administrators to bypass censorship in authoritarian spaces

The UI makes it easy to set up and navigate

Many community members have concerns about the quality of anonymity and privacy the software offers

This protocol provides extensive support for a wide range of encryption protocols


L2TP/IPSec hybrid protocol

If security is your concern, the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol can be a great choice paired with IPSec. The VPN protocol supports AES-256 encryption algorithms. This compatibility allows users access to different security features when surfing the internet.

The L2TP/IPSec hybrid protocol often comes installed in most mobile and desktop operating systems, making it easy to implement. It’s an extremely secure protocol that offers a double encapsulation feature. This basically means that your data is protected with two security features. Despite its popularity, it can only use a UDP port 500 to make a connection. To get around a firewall, the user has to perform additional configurations.

The downside of using an L2TP/IPsec hybrid protocol is its slow speeds. This is because the traffic is converted into an L2TP form before it is encrypted. This double encapsulation means that the protocol requires more resources than usual to transfer data packets through the tunnels.

Furthermore, the VPN protocol is also prone to eavesdropping since it uses a pre-shared key that hackers can exploit to perform man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. During an MITM attack, hackers can grab authentication credentials, go into your network, and gain access to your data without being detected. To prevent this, the protocol uses an IPSec encryption service to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.

L2TP/IPSec Pros

L2TP/IPSec Cons

The software uses IPSec to provide additional security to users

The L2TP protocol doesn't have the best speed because of double encapsulation

It also provides better performance because it supports multithreading

The protocol is rarely able to get around firewalls and restrictions

It comes pre-installed on many devices, making it pretty easy to configure

As a result of the NSA, the software has a weak and insecure protocol


Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

Created in the late 1990s, PPTP is an obsolete protocol that was developed by a Microsoft consortium. Users today aren’t encouraged to use the software for their virtual private network because of its many security risks.

Despite the old age, many corporations use the PPTP as the standard for internal business VPNs. There are several reasons why this VPN protocol is the go-to for business.

First, it already comes pre-installed on many platforms and devices, which means the company doesn’t need a lot when setting up. Secondly, the company only requires a server address, username, and password to create a secure connection.

Recently, there’s been a rise in the use of powerful brute-force attack methods to steal and hack sensitive information. As a result of this, using this protocol today can expose you to a deep and dangerous data breach. This is why individuals and large corporations are not advised to use the VPN protocol.

Surprisingly, PPTP’s poor security is what makes it one of the fastest VPN protocols on the market. Because the protocol doesn’t have to worry about encrypting and securing sensitive information, it transfers data packets at exceptional speeds. If you care about speed alone, this is a great option to consider.



The protocol is easily accessible as it comes pre-installed on most devices

The protocol offers poor security to users

It offers great speeds at the expense of security

The software is outdated and does not match other recent competitors in the market

It is not compatible with military-grade AES-256 cipher encryption keys

It is very easy for the NSA to access

Because it is outdated, it is easily blocked by firewalls


Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)

This protocol is similar to the PPTP tunnel but has better security and is equipped with encryption and traffic integrity checking. It uses TCP Port 443 (the standard for HTTP data transfer. This integration makes the protocol relatively difficult for firewalls to detect and block.

You can also choose to use the SSTP strong bypassing capability if you want to access strict locations and bypass censorship. It’s also very fast compared to the other protocols available on the market, even when it offers strong encryption with AES-256.

SSTP VPN protocol is available to other operating systems beyond Windows. However, details about its implementation are unclear because it is a close-sourced software. Even though Linux, Router, and SEIL support SSTP, there isn’t a wide adoption of the protocol.

When using this software, users usually have to decide which parameters matter the most to them: speed or security. For example, although the SSTP provides great speeds, it is prone to a specific man-in-the-middle attack called Poodle. Furthermore, community users speculate that Microsoft has collaborated with the NSA to build a backdoor into the program. These concerns are quite disturbing, especially when other users can’t evaluate the software.



The protocol is compatible with military-grade AES-256

The software is vulnerable to numerous attacks and other third-party surveillance

It is difficult for firewalls to block

It is not a great option for instances where anonymity, privacy, and security are important

Users enjoy great speeds and browsing experience


OpenVPN protocol

OpenVPN is among the best VPN protocols out there. Most VPN clients support it, and it is also compatible with numerous ciphers, including ChaCha20, Blowfish, and AES, among many others. It can also be used for Windows, MAC, Android, Linux, and IOS.

Because the protocol has been around for over two decades, there are no documented vulnerabilities in it. This extensive security check makes it a go-to choice for VPN providers. It can run using UDP and TCP transports, which gives it extra compatibility and flexibility.

By default, connection profiles are set to UDP, and if the default transport fails, you can switch to TCP. With OpenVPN, you can utilize most public networks since they mostly run TCP-only protocols such as HTTP, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP, among others.

Watch out for several things before using an OpenVPN protocol. For example, if you worry about security, using AES encryption will protect you from unsecured sites. If you worry about speed, using the UDP internet protocol will deliver your data packets faster. Lastly, if you worry about ordered delivery, consider using the TCP internet protocol with OpenVPN.

OpenVPN Pros

OpenVPN Cons

OpenVPN is easy to customize, making it accessible to a wide range of customers

The software is not light and efficient compared to other options on the market

A secure VPN protocol

Users reach their maximum allowance quicker when they use cellular data

The technology is updated and maintained consistently

OpenVPN has one of the largest bandwidth requirements

It is less vulnerable to blocking and hacking

The software requires a complex setup

The software allows users to bypass many major firewalls


WireGuard protocol

This new VPN protocol uses exceptional cryptography to provide fast data tunnels. There are no serious vulnerabilities currently known, the open-source software is the leanest protocol available on the market (with only 4,000 lines of code). This smaller code base makes it easier for security experts to audit and prevent hacking.

Furthermore, the protocol does not require a lot of bandwidth to function. Because the protocol is relatively new to the market, there are major concerns about its privacy settings. For example, WireGuard’s default configuration requires that the application stores a temporary log of your IP address before it can function. This can be concerning, especially as other major VPN protocols do not have this requirement.

However, if you don’t mind trusting a new protocol and speed matters most to you, consider using the WireGuard VPN protocol. This software takes a minimalist approach to VPN protocol, making it a very flexible option to work with. It is a popular choice for streaming, gaming, and downloading large chunks of data.

WireGuard Pros

WireGuard Cons

WireGuard provides extremely fast speeds to users

The software still provides poor anonymity to users

The software does a great job of handling network changes 

WireGuard protocol doesn't have extensive support from many VPN providers

It is easy to customize, making it accessible to a wide range of customers

Unfortunately, the software is only compatible with the UDP internet protocol

It requires low bandwidth consumption, which makes it a great tool for mobile users


SoftEther protocol

SoftEther is a fast and secure protocol that is used by many to bypass strict censorship in some locations. Developed as part of a master thesis, the application supports ciphers such as AES-256 and RSA-4096, which are both known for their heavy-duty encryption.

Its encryption and authentication protocols are based on OpenSSL, making it compatible with TCP Port 433. This means that it is also very hard for firewalls to block. At the moment, SoftEther is only used by a handful of VPN providers and is not natively supported by operating systems.

Furthermore, using this protocol can also expose you to man-in-the-middle attacks. This is why users are advised to enable the “Always Verify Server Certificate” option in their VPN Connection Settings. Therefore, users are advised to perform a manual configuration to keep it safe.

Softether is an excellent choice when you need to bypass censorship; however, it may not be the right protocol for you if you’re looking for the secure one.

SoftEther Pros

SoftEther Cons

This VPN protocol is easy to customize and access

Many existing VPN providers do not offer it yet

It is free and supported by many operating systems

Because it is relatively new, it's not supported by native operating systems

It works with a wide range of VPN protocols

It offers quick speeds and a pleasant browsing experience


Proprietary VPN protocols

Proprietary VPN Protocols refer to custom VPN tunnels that VPN providers have created. When developing solutions for the market, some providers prefer to develop their protocols to offer better speeds, security, and firewall bypass.

However, users who patronize these types of VPN protocols are usually faced with a tough choice to make. On the one hand, they can access a better browsing experience and top-notch privacy when surfing the internet. On the other hand, they need to care about the provider’s integrity, seeing as most Proprietary VPN Protocols are not open-source.

The ultimate choice will depend on what the user chooses to prioritize. Regardless, Proprietary VPN Protocols allow VPN providers to match their customer’s requirements when and how they need it.


Best VPN protocols for different use cases

No single VPN protocol is a one size fit solution. The best protocol depends on the unique needs you need to fulfill and what tasks you want to perform on the internet. For example, if your game, you would most likely rely on a different protocol from someone who streams TV shows or works in a cafe.

Here, we discuss which protocols are best for which needs. Let’s dive right in.



If you stream a lot, you know that speed is key. You’re better off using VPN protocols that avoid geo-blocking and allow you to access your favorite series. For a better streaming experience, consider using NordVPN’s NordLynx. Other alternatives you can consider include OpenVPN in UDP mode, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2 VPN protocols.



When downloading torrents, make your IP public in line with the transparency requirement of BitTorrent. This publicity makes you vulnerable to copyright holders and hackers. For the best download experience, you’ll need a VPN protocol that combines speed with privacy and security. If downloading is your forte, consider using a Wireguard VPN protocol like OpenVPN in UDP mode and NordVPN’s NordLynx.



A slow ping is super important if you want to have the best gaming experience. Fat tunneling VPN protocols like WireGuard and IKEv2 allow you to connect to the nearest location. The shorter the distance between both signals, the lower the latency, and the better the game.



One of the most common reasons for increased security requirements. This is the use of a remote connection for business or remote work. If security is a non-negotiable for you, consider using a VPN protocol that is secure and great at providing anonymity while working remotely. OpenVPN and Wireguard are some of the safest options that the best VPN business solutions use.



First of all, we do not encourage illegal copyright infringement and illegal torrenting. At the same time, some VPN users are interested in fast, legal file sharing.

Before selecting a VPN protocol, you’ll have to consider a few key questions: what jurisdiction laws affect the protocol? Does the VPN protocol collect any logs? Is it fast enough when downloading large files? Is torrenting allowed or restricted? Best torrenting VPNs available is the NordVPN and OpenVPN. It gives you speed, security, anonymity, and no torrent limits.


How to Choose VPN Protocol

For many VPN service providers, you can change the VPN protocol within the app’s settings. Follow this simple guide:

Open the settings menu and proceed to select your desired VPN protocol.

If you’re unable to change the protocol within the app, manually install and configure an alternative protocol. For example, although NordVPN runs on an OpenVPN protocol, users can still install an IKEv2 VPN protocol.

When performing manual configurations, it’s super crucial that you follow the guides on the official websites. Even if a VPN provider uses the most secure protocols, they may also put your data at risk in other ways.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t mind using a new product, Wireguard provides the best speeds. It is very effective, even on weak devices, and it uses cryptography to create fast data tunnels. Because it has a very light code base, the protocol is able to transfer your data quickly.
OpenVPN protocol has proven to be the most secure on the market. Many experts recommend it because it uses 256-bit encryption as the default cipher for most devices. This provides excellent security right off the bat. Other alternatives you can consider include SoftEther and Wireguard.
The most stable VPN protocol is the IKEv2/IPsec. Users can easily switch between their networks without being exposed. Another alternative to consider is the SoftEther protocol simply because it was written to prevent crashes.
Although it is unsecured, the PPTP VPN protocol is the easiest to install. It was the blueprint for many protocols that exist today. Hence, many devices natively support it. Users may also find IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec easy to set up.
Regardless of your needs, one of the best protocols for mobile devices is the IKEv2. It offers all-round protection, especially because mobile users tend to switch between cellular data and wifi services frequently. So even if you change network, your information remains private at all times.
Many devices provide native support for PPTP since it is essentially the blueprint of modern VPN protocols. They often come pre-installed on many devices. However, because it is a security risk, users are encouraged to explore other options like L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2.
Many VPN protocols can bypass firewalls easily. They make use of obfuscated servers to evade censorship in certain areas. The best protocol to settle for will depend on the other factors you consider before choosing one, like your exact location.