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PPTP vs L2TP - what VPN should you use?


2017-January-21

vpnjack.com offers both PPTP and L2TP (to be more precise, L2TP over IPSec or L2TP/IPSec) VPN connections. Which one should you be using?

First of all, there are no separate PPTP or L2TP subscriptions: when you get your VPN credentials at vpnjack.com, you can use them for both PPTP and L2TP, and you can switch between them as you wish.

PPTP VPN

PPTP VPN is the simplest to configure, very fast and compatible with a wide range of operating systems and devices.

It was demonstrated that the encryption in PPTP VPN is not very strong and can be broken with some effort. Why would anyone want to use it then? Two answers: 1) speed; 2) ease of use.

No other VPN protocol can provide as little overhead in terms of the speed of connection as PPTP. It also takes just a few moments to set up PPTP VPN connection on any device or operating system. Basically, all you need is the server address, the login and the password and you are ready to go.

For instance, if you are connected with a wired Internet connection where the risk of traffic interception is minimal (as long as you trust your ISP - Internet Service Provider, of course) then setting up a PPTP VPN connection might be not a bad idea. Yes, PPTP's encryption is weak but it would still require a significant effort to decipher the traffic in your PPTP VPN connection and most probably it cannot happen without your ISP being involved in this.

Important note: latest versions of Apple iOS (10 and later) and macOS (10.12 Sierra and later) do not support PPTP VPN connections anymore, so you have to use L2TP for them.

L2TP VPN

L2TP VPN is newer and more secure but is a little slower and a bit more complicated to configure. It also consumes more CPU for its stronger encryption.

If you are on a public WiFi where there is a significant risk of traffic interception or if you have a reason to believe somebody might be interested in the content of your Internet traffic then you should definitely choose L2TP VPN over PPTP. Even if intercepted, its strong encryption will ensure that the data your transfer is safe.

In order to configure a L2TP/IPSec VPN connection you will need the server address, the login, the password and also a preshared key (sometimes called a preshared secret) that is provided to you as well together with the VPN credentials. This preshared key does not need to be secret, per se, and in fact is the same for all clients of vpnjack.com.

Since L2TP/IPSec VPN provides a much better encryption it requires more computing power and, as a result, affects the speed of connection bit that can be noticeable on slower old devices/processors. All modern computers, mobile devices and routers should not be suffering any significant impact of the L2TP/IPSec encryption in terms of speed.

Network Configuration Considerations

There are situations when you might be forced to stick to either PPTP or L2TP just because the other VPN type won't work for you. This may be caused by factors out of your control, such as your ISP's policy on blocking some network protocols or ports, the corporate firewall configurations etc. If you can configure the firewall yourself or can request it to be configured for you then this is the information you need:

For PPTP VPN connections:

  • TCP port 1723 must be open
  • IP protocol ID 47 (GRE) must be enabled

For L2TP VPN connections:

  • UDP port 500 must be open
  • UDP port 1701 must be open
  • UDP port 4500 must be open
  • IP protocol ID 50 (ESP) must be enabled

Conclusion

In short, if your main concern is security and privacy then L2TP is your choice. If all you care about is high speed connection and simplicity then PPTP is for you.

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