Hello, dear readers. Our next article is again devoted to VPN protocols. This time we will choose the best VPN protocol for the Windows operating system.
Windows, without a doubt, is the most popular operating system for personal computers and laptops. But at the same time, Windows is one of the most vulnerable operating systems. Every year millions of computers around the world become victims of hacker attacks. Every day, attackers create thousands of new viruses, worms, ransomware and trojans, hoping to steal confidential user data or simply cause irreparable damage to their computers and laptops. A good antivirus program and firewall won’t allow an attacker to take control of your computer, but neither antivirus nor firewall or proxy is able to protect your network traffic. Why – we told in this article. It is the VPN that will ensure the security of your Internet connection. We can say that a VPN is an advanced outpost of protecting your computer. But the reliability and invincibility of this outpost depends entirely on the chosen VPN protocol. This article will tell you which VPN protocols should be used in certain cases, and which are recommended to be avoided, and, most importantly, which VPN protocol is able to provide maximum protection to your Windows computer.
Table of contents
- 1 Briefly about VPN and VPN protocols
- 2 Most popular VPN-protocols
- 3 About «branded» VPN protocols
- 4 About SoftEther software
- 5 When you need to use a VPN on Windows computers
- 6 Choosing the best VPN protocol for computers and laptops running Windows OS
- 7 VPN client for Windows by SwitcherryVPN
- 8 FAQ
Briefly about VPN and VPN protocols
VPN or Virtual Private Network is currently the best, proven and reliable technology for protecting network traffic from unauthorized access. VPN is a secure network created on the basis of an existing, insecure network. Secure connections forming a VPN network are called VPN tunnels. To create a VPN network, you need special software – a VPN client and a VPN server. A VPN tunnel is formed between the VPN client and the VPN server. The set of rules and instructions on the basis of which a VPN tunnel is created is called a VPN protocol. Different VPN protocols have different technical characteristics – reliability, degree of protection, data transfer rate, etc. If you want to learn more about VPN and VPN protocols, read my articles «What is a VPN and why we need it» and «Varieties of cryptographic protocols used in VPN».
Most popular VPN-protocols
There are many VPN protocols, but only some of them are widely used. Read more about the safest protocols in this review, here is a brief list of them:
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) – the oldest of all currently used VPN protocols was developed by Microsoft back in the mid-90s of the last century and was first presented to the public as part of the Windows 95 distribution. Now the PPTP protocol is integrated into most operating systems. Its advantages: easy setup and high data transfer rate. However, since the PPTP protocol uses weak 128-bit encryption, it can only be used as a last resort when other VPN protocols are unavailable for one reason or another. The protocol runs on TCP port 1723, easily identified and can’t be used to circumvent censorship restrictions and locks.
- IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) – just like PPTP appeared in the 90s of the last century. In fact, this is a whole set of cryptographic protocols that provide a high degree of data protection. Despite its age, the IPsec protocol is reliable and secure.
- L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) – This protocol was developed by Microsoft to replace the insecure PPTP protocol. By itself, the L2TP protocol does not encrypt data, but only tunnels, so in practice it is used exclusively in conjunction with the IPsec protocol and in this form is called L2TP/IPsec. L2TP/IPsec is a reliable and secure VPN protocol, but it has several serious drawbacks: firstly, it works on unusual ports (UDP-500, UDP- 5500, UDP-1701), which is why it is easily identified and blocked, and secondly, since this protocol uses two-level encapsulation when forming packets, it has a relatively low data transfer rate.
- IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2) – this protocol was developed by Cisco in cooperation with Microsoft Corporation based on the IPsec protocol. That is, the IKEv2 protocol is a subset of the IPsec protocol and therefore it is usually called IKEv2/IPsec. The distinctive features of the protocol are high data transfer speed and stable operation of Wi-Fi networks, so it is most suitable for mobile devices. The disadvantage of this protocol is working on unusual ports (UDP-500 and UDP-4500), which is why the protocol is easily detected and therefore cannot be used to circumvent censorship in countries such as China.
- SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) – another VPN protocol created by Microsoft. The SSTP protocol is based on the secure SSL 3.0 protocol (from the SSL/TLS protocol family, which were also used to create the HTTPS protocol used for secure access to sites). In addition, the SSTP protocol, like the HTTPS protocol, uses the TCP-443 port, so its traffic is indistinguishable from HTTPS traffic. Thanks to these features, the SSTP VPN protocol is the best protocol for circumventing censorship restrictions and blocking. Among the disadvantages of this protocol, it is necessary to highlight the relatively low data transfer rate and the complexity of self-configuration.
- OpenVPN – free, modern and reliable VPN protocol. It is based on the free OpenSSL library. Its source code is open for study and testing, thanks to which the OpenVPN protocol is considered the most reliable, having no weaknesses and disadvantages. However, this VPN protocol does not have built-in support in Windows, so you need to install third-party VPN clients on your computer to work with it. Cause the OpenVPN protocol can work on the basis of either of the two transport protocols TCP or UDP, it is customary to divide it into two types: OpenVPN over TCP and OpenVPN over UDP.
- OpenVPN over TCP – a reliable and secure VPN protocol, but has a relatively low data transfer rate. It uses port 443, so its traffic can be disguised as HTTPS traffic (to bypass censorship and blocking);
- OpenVPN over UDP – faster than OpenVPN over TCP, but not as reliable. This VPN protocol uses an unusual 1194 port, so it is easily detected and can’t be used to circumvent censorship in countries such as China.
- Wireguard – a new, free VPN protocol. Reliable, safe and very fast. However, due to its novelty, it has not yet been well studied and tested, so it may potentially contain disadvantages and weaknesses. Naturally, this protocol does not have built-in support in Windows, you will have to install third-party software to work with it.
About «branded» VPN protocols
Some VPN providers create their own VPN protocols. Such «branded» protocols are developed on the basis of existing, well-established protocols, for example, OpenVPN or Wireguard. However, the source code of «proprietary» VPN protocols is not available for testing, therefore, they may well contain weaknesses.
About SoftEther software
SoftEther – free and open source software is used to deploy your own VPN network. The SoftEther VPN server and VPN client can be installed on all popular operating systems. SoftEther can also work with the built-in Windows VPN client. SoftEther supports the following VPN protocols:
- EtherIP/IPsec (SoftEther proprietary VPN protocol, developed on the basis of IPsec protocol);
- SSL-VPN (SoftEther proprietary VPN protocol, developed using the free OpenSSL library).
When you need to use a VPN on Windows computers
The need to use a VPN can arise anywhere: at home, at work, at school and college, in business affaires, during foreign trips, etc.
Why use a VPN on your home computer
Wherever you live – in a free democratic country or in an authoritarian state with total censorship – in any case, your Internet service provider monitors all your network activity and records all your actions in log files that are stored for at least six months and are provided to employees of special services and other representatives of state structures on demand. Being under the hood of total surveillance is unpleasant in itself, and in such states as China, Iran, and Russia it is also extremely dangerous. A proven and reliable way to protect against tracking on the Internet is using a VPN. VPN will also help you change geolocation, download files from torrents safely, get unlimited access to streaming services and bypass all censorship restrictions and blockages.
Why use a VPN at school, college and at work
Access to social networks and many entertainment Internet resources is blocked in the local networks of most enterprises, schools, colleges and universities. With a VPN, you can easily bypass all bans and blockages.
Using VPN in business
In recent times, the use of VPN in business has become a vital necessity. Here are just some examples:
- do you need to link the company headquarters to remote offices? With a VPN, you can easily solve this problem;
- similarly, using a VPN, you can easily organize secure access to the company’s servers to remote workers and freelancers;
- do you need secure communication during business trips? And here a VPN will come to your aid;
- imagine that you are in China on business of your company. How do I get access to Google, YouTube, social networks, cloud services? These and many other Internet resources are blocked in China. VPN will help you bypass all censorship bans and blockages.
You can learn more about when it is necessary to use a VPN if you refer to our articles:
- «VPN for home – why you need it, and how to use it»;
- «How to use VPN for torrent»;
- «How to use torrent safely»;
- «How to use a VPN to access Facebook»;
- «VPN technologies for business»;
- «Can a VPN overcome the Great Chinese Firewall?»
Choosing the best VPN protocol for computers and laptops running Windows OS
Now that you know the characteristics of popular VPN protocols, you can easily choose the best protocol for your needs. Different apps dictate different requirements for the VPN protocol, not always the security and confidentiality of VPN connections are crucial, sometimes high data transfer speeds are no less important:
- for watching streaming videos and online games, the main importance is high data transfer speed, and the security of a VPN connection takes a back seat. Therefore, in this case, it is allowed to use even such an outdated protocol as PPTP, but even here preference should be given to more modern secure protocols, the fastest of which is Wireguard, followed by IPsec/IKEv2 and OpenVPN over UDP;
- anonymity is also very important when downloading files from torrents, in addition to speed, so it is recommended to use Wireguard or OpenVPN over UDP protocols;
- when transmitting strictly confidential information, always choose the OpenVPN over TCP protocol;
- the best protocol for bypassing locks and overcoming the Great Chinese Firewall is SSTP. You can also try OpenVPN over TCP.
As you can see, in most cases, the OpenVPN protocol turned out to be one of the leaders. It is he who is currently the best VPN protocol for the Windows operating system.
VPN client for Windows by SwitcherryVPN
So, you decided to use a VPN to protect your computer and laptop. In order not to waste time and effort on configuring the built-in Windows VPN client, just download and install the VPN application of our company. Our main advantages:
- installing a VPN client with a couple of clicks;
- reliable high-speed connection;
- you can connect up to seven devices simultaneously on one account;
- we do not keep log files and do not provide customer data to third parties;
- we own more than 6 thousand high-speed VPN servers in dozens of countries around the world;
- with our app, you can easily bypass any censorship restrictions;
- changing geolocation in the VPN client with a couple clicks;
- easy and secure downloading of files from torrents;
- unblocking any streaming service;
- there is, among other things, a free tariff plan;
- we guarantee a high-quality, anonymous VPN connection without leaks and disadvantages.
1. Which VPN protocols are supported in Windows at the operating system level?
1. Which VPN protocols are supported in Windows at the operating system level?
Windows has built-in support for only those VPN protocols that were developed directly by Microsoft (or those in the development of which Microsoft took an active part). Here is a list of VPN protocols supported by the built-in Windows VPN client:
- IPSec /IKEv2;
2. Can I use my home computer as a VPN server?
2. Can I use my home computer as a VPN server?
Yes, this can be done if your ISP provides you with a static IP address. The easiest way is to create your own VPN connection using SoftEther software.