July 18, 2024


Step Into The Technology

What Is the Best VPN Protocol? OpenVPN vs. WireGuard vs. SSTP and More

6 min read


A digital illustration featuring the term "VPN."
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There are several VPN protocols, and which protocol a VPN makes use of has a massive influence on how it functions. Some protocols are a good deal much better than other people. Fortunately, discovering the best VPN protocol is easy as there are only a couple of candidates.

What Is a VPN Protocol?

In brief, a protocol is a established of rules that govern how devices in just a network connect with just about every other. When you link to the world-wide-web, for instance, you are utilizing the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to let your pc speak to the website you are accessing. A VPN protocol is a certain style of protocol meant for—you guessed it—VPNs.

A protocol can consist of all varieties of data. In the circumstance of HTTP, it’s a set of rules encompassing how two units can exchange details (in the type of HTML paperwork) as well as some essential security guidelines.

When you use a VPN, you are rerouting your relationship as a result of a server operated by your VPN assistance. To do so securely, the VPN requirements to use a individual protocol, just one that is designed for VPNs and contains info about the encryption used in the relationship as properly as some other technical aspects.

How a VPN Protocol Affects You

This may possibly sound a tiny summary, but it influences you specifically: A fantastic protocol will be a ton quicker and a large amount more protected than a undesirable a single. Some protocols are slow simply because they have to have a lot more methods when sending details, while some others are a lot less secure due to the fact they include a flaw or use an encryption critical that has a identified weakness.

To aid you decide the most effective VPN protocol for you—and by extension the greatest VPN, period—we’re heading to go about the protocols we’ve occur across the most, as effectively as some proprietary types. We’ll commence with the very best ones out there, OpenVPN and WireGuard, and function our way down from there.


OpenVPN is in all probability the most preferred VPN protocol out there. Practically all VPN providers offer you it to their consumers in some kind or an additional. It delivers both speed and stability, with out any substantial trade-off in possibly. When utilizing OpenVPN, most VPN companies will permit you to opt for in between TCP and UDP. You are normally greater off likely with UDP, as it’s more rapidly.

To give you an thought of how great OpenVPN is, almost all VPNs use it as their default. In the large greater part of instances, there is no great cause to use anything at all else. The only exceptions are WireGuard or notably reliable proprietary protocols like NordLynx and Lightway, all of which we demonstrate beneath.

In truth, we would go so considerably as to endorse not employing any VPN that does not offer you OpenVPN, and to be a little leery of any provider that doesn’t have it as their default—besides the exceptions we talked about before. We chat about a person illustration in our Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN piece, where by we docked Surfshark some major factors for defaulting to a mediocre protocol.


For most folks, most of the time, OpenVPN would seem to be the ticket. On the other hand, in 2021 a very appealing new protocol came out, which has the potential to dethrone OpenVPN. Named WireGuard, it’s speedy as greased lightning, generally beating OpenVPN on a identical server load—though keep in intellect that there’s a good deal additional than just the protocol to identify a VPN connection’s speed.

However, WireGuard appears to be strong. It has had at minimum one exceptional proprietary protocol dependent off of it: NordVPN’s NordLynx. That reported, there have been some rumblings about how private WireGuard seriously is, as it would seem to retail store users’ IP addresses indefinitely in some conditions.

That stated, if velocity is your overriding worry, WireGuard may perhaps be an outstanding alternative to OpenVPN. While overall we want OpenVPN, WireGuard comes in a close 2nd.


Our third entry is the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, or SSTP, which dates from the early 2000s and is commonly thought of to be rapid and safe, even though frequently performs a little significantly less perfectly than OpenVPN. If for what ever cause you simply cannot use OpenVPN, SSTP is a good fallback preference, while.

The principal difficulty people today seem to have with it is that its code is owned by Microsoft, a enterprise with a considerably less-than-stellar status when it arrives to privateness. Although it is unclear regardless of whether Microsoft gathers information from SSTP connections or not, if it is anything you are nervous about, you may well want to keep away from this protocol.

L2TP/IPsec and IKEv2/IPsec

This entry is two for the price of a single: equally L2TP and IKEv2 are two link protocols that are typically paired with the IPsec stability protocol to beef up encryption. In both circumstances, you are earning a trade-off: L2TP is reliable, but slow, even though IKEv2 is fast—very rapid, even—but has security troubles.

In possibly situation, they are an appealing option for developers as they’re a great deal more versatile than OpenVPN. Most operate-of-the-mill consumers, though, could not discover a great deal of a change. Generally, we only recommend using these two if you have no other alternative.


From some of the far better VPN protocols out there, we go to probably one particular of the worst available. Level-to-issue tunneling protocol (PPTP) is a VPN protocol relationship from the nineties—ancient in tech terms—which is not notably safe and extremely slow.

It is frequently not utilised any more as it is obsolete, but for some explanation some VPNs still present it. Regardless of what you do, do not use PPTP—especially if you are accomplishing something sensitive like working with BitTorrent to down load documents or tunneling out of China.

Proprietary VPN Protocols

We’ll complete up by heading more than three appealing proprietary protocols which have come out. Formulated by a VPN company for its personal use, these protocols generally boast increased speeds, even though some of them are a little bit of a black box.


The Hydra protocol was designed for and utilised by Hotspot Defend and is a good illustration of sacrificing some safety for pace. It is very rapidly but takes advantage of weaker encryption—128-AES somewhat than the 256-little bit variant. It’s not the most significant deal, and the insane speeds Hydra exams at may perhaps be truly worth it.


NordVPN also wished its very own protocol, but it tweaked WireGuard to its liking alternatively than establishing a single from scratch. The end result is a blazing rapidly VPN protocol that looks fairly safe. It would be even improved if NordVPN preset its servers, a thing we go more than in our posting comparing NordVPN vs ExpressVPN.


Very last but not the very least is Lightway, made from scratch by our over-all favored VPN, ExpressVPN. Like NordLynx, it appears to be perfectly secure but is somehow even faster than just about anything else put out there, which include WireGuard. While we hesitate to phone it the greatest VPN protocol—OpenVPN just has a much better pedigree and track record—it is absolutely value checking out.


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