The best VPN protocols for Android OS

Hello, my name is Nicholas Cuts. I am an employee of the Switcherry VPN company. In my new article, we will talk about which VPN protocols are best suited for mobile devices running Android OS.

The free open source Android operating system is developed on the basis of LinuxOS with the financial support of Google Corporation. Android occupies a leading position among operating systems designed for tablets and smartphones. Android OS is also installed on many other gadgets: game consoles, netbooks, laptops, smart watches, Smart TV, etc. Tens of millions of users around the world do not part with their Android devices day or night. Lightweight and compact smartphones and tablets are becoming indispensable travel companions. According to statistics, devices running Android OS are most often used in public Wi-Fi networks. Naturally, most users sooner or later think about their network security and many of them decide to protect their device with a VPN. However, not everyone knows that the degree of security of a VPN connection almost entirely depends on the correct choice of VPN protocol. What VPN protocols will best protect your smartphone or tablet running Android OS, and will be described in this article.

What is VPN

VPN – Virtual Private Network is a modern advanced technology that protects data transmitted in open networks from unauthorized access. In other words, a secure VPN network is deployed on top of an existing insecure network by creating secure VPN connections between servers and users’ devices. Secure communication channels that form a Virtual Private Network are called VPN tunnels. VPN tunnels are created by encapsulating and encrypting data packets. You can learn more about VPN technology if you read my article «What is a VPN and why it is needed».

Why it is necessary to use VPN on devices running Android OS

Like any other devices connected to the Internet, tablets and smartphones with Android OS also need protection from the leakage of confidential information. But owners of gadgets with Android OS should pay even more attention to network security than computer owners, since mobile devices are more often used in insecure networks and therefore they are more at risk of becoming a victim of attacks by intruders and hackers. And VPN is the best protection against these threats. Here are the most important reasons for using a VPN on Android OS devices:

  • as mentioned above, tablets and smartphones with Android OS are the most popular devices used to work in public Wi-Fi networks. But the insecurity of free Wi-Fi networks is well known. Using a VPN will eliminate all threats and ensure complete privacy and anonymity.
  • during your stay abroad, you may need to circumvent censorship restrictions and unblock banned sites. VPN will easily cope with this task;
  • on business trips, there is often a need to get remote access to a local network – home or corporate. Naturally, it is very important to minimize the risk of leakage of confidential data. You can safely log into a local network from a public one only using VPN technology.

Of course, there are other ways to protect the Internet connection, but they lose out in many ways to VPNs. Why – read my articles “VPN vs Tor” and “VPN vs proxy“. Now that you have found out when it is absolutely necessary to use a VPN with Android devices, let’s move on to the description of VPN protocols.

There are many different devices running on Android
There are many different devices running on Android

What are VPN protocols

Network protocols are a programmed set of instructions that define the rules for transmitting data over a network. VPN protocols are a kind of network protocols, their main task is to protect information transmitted in open networks from hackers, intruders and just outsiders. It is the VPN protocols that determine the methods of encryption and encapsulation of creation data packets. If you want to learn more about VPN protocols, read my article about what protocols are.

How the choice of VPN protocol affects the security of the VPN connection

There are quite a few VPN protocols, but only some of them are widely used. Here are the most popular VPN protocols: PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec, SSTP, OpenVPN and Wireguard. It is very important for the average user to understand that different VPN protocols provide different degrees of protection. Also, the data transfer rate depends entirely on the VPN protocol used.

For example, the PPTP protocol is outdated, it is able to provide only basic protection, so it is better to abandon its use. The degree of protection of protocols such as L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec, and OpenVPN largely depends on their correct configuration. Finally, the protocols that Microsoft participated in the creation of (L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec and SSTP) may potentially contain backdoors – sections of program code that enable special services to intercept and decrypt VPN traffic protected by these protocols.

What VPN protocols does Android OS support

Android OS devices can work with all popular cryptographic protocols. Some of them are built into the kernel of the operating system, for others to work, you need to install third-party software.

Protocols built into the Android core

All supported versions of the Android operating system have built – in support for the following VPN protocols:

  • PPTP;
  • L2TP/IPSec;
  • IPSec.
Built-in vpn in android
Built-in vpn in android

That is, to create a VPN connection based on these protocols, there is no need to download third-party software, it is enough to get the data necessary for connection from the VPN provider (IP address of the VPN server, login, password, etc.) and specify them in the built-in VPN client.

The good news is that the Wireguard protocol in the newest, 12th version of Android OS, has received built-in support.

As I already wrote, the Wireguard VPN protocol is part of the Linux operating system core. Since Android OS is based on the Linux core, its developers have also included the Fireguard protocol in the new version of the operating system. Thus, in Android OS version 12, the built-in VPN client fully supports working with the Wireguard VPN protocol.

Third-party applications

In order for other VPN protocols to work with Android, third-party software must be installed on the device. Most often, a free OpenVPN client for Android is installed. However, most VPN providers offer to install their own VPN client, which has built-in support for most popular VPN protocols.

Switcherry VPN app for Android OS

In order not to waste time setting up the built-in VPN client, we recommend downloading and installing the Switcherry VPN application for Android. Using our application, you will get a first-class, high-speed and secure VPN connection anywhere in the world. To get the download link and install the Switcherry VPN client, go to our website page VPN For Android. .

Which VPN protocols are more suitable for Android OS devices

When choosing a VPN protocol for devices running Android OS, the following factors must be taken into account:

  • data transfer rate;
  • connection security;
  • required computing power.

The PPTP protocol has the best data transfer rate and consumes a minimum of system computing resources, but its security leaves much to be desired, so it is recommended to use it in the most extreme cases.

VPN protocols
VPN protocols

L2TP/IPsec protocol is quite secure, but has a relatively low data transfer rate. SSTP and OpenVPN work well only on devices with high processing power. Modern top-end smartphones have powerful multi-core processors, and therefore work perfectly with any VPN protocols. But old and budget models will not work too well with SSTP and OpenVPN protocols, since these VPN protocols will consume a significant part of the computing power of the device.

So, we have only two protocols left: IKEv2/IPsec and Wireguard. IKEv2/IPSec – an excellent protocol for mobile devices  – fast, secure, productive. In addition, this protocol has a very useful extension MOBIKE (Mobility and Multihoming protocol), thanks to which the user can switch from one Wi-Fi network to another without breaking VPN connections. However, this protocol is owned by Microsoft and Cisco and does not have built-in support in Android. Because of this, only a small number of VPN providers use this VPN protocol.

Creating your own VPN connection

Travelers on the road often need to get secure access to their home computer from their smartphone or tablet. The easiest way to do this is to install Wireguard software on your home computer and configure it to work as a server.

Another solution to this problem is to install a free SoftEther VPN Server on your home computer. In this case, only two protocols will be available for use: L2TP/IPsec and OpenVPN. As mentioned earlier, the L2TP/IPsec protocol has built-in support in Android, and to work with OpenVPN, you will have to install a third-party VPN client on the device. For instructions on installing a VPN at home, click here.

When setting up a VPN connection on an Android device on your own, you must enable two options in the built-in VPN client:

  1. Always-on VPN (VPN-connection is always enabled) – if this option is enabled, the mobile device independently establishes a VPN connection immediately after the device is connected to the Internet.
  2. Block connections without VPN (block connection without VPN) – if this option is enabled, the connection will be blocked if there is no working VPN connection.

FAQ

1. Does Switcherry VPN have a free tariff plan for Android OS devices?

1. Does Switcherry VPN have a free tariff plan for Android OS devices?

Yes, you can use our services for free. However, on a free tariff plan during «peak» hours, the data transfer rate may be limited. Therefore, for those who need to have a round-the-clock high-speed VPN connection, we recommend switching to a paid tariff plan.

Author: Nicolas Cuts

Product Managers at SwitcherryVPN. Have 5 years background in management and marketing. I never stop learning!

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