You have probably heard of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and how they can protect your privacy online. A VPN connection can be established between your computer and a remote server which gives you an encrypted tunnel to hide your Internet activity from snoopers.
Unfortunately, setting up a VPN connection is not as straightforward as some blogs would have you believe. There are actually several different types of VPNs and it is not always obvious what features they have or don’t have. One of the most popular VPNs is the IP (Internet Protocol) VPN which I will deal with in this article. Others include the PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) and L2TP (Layer Two Tunneling Protocol) VPNs.
Since the majority of VPNs use encryption, it is important to know what encryption methods they support and if these methods are actually secure enough to protect your privacy. Unfortunately, this is something that is not straightforward to find out either. Some VPNs will encrypt your traffic using unbreakable encryption algorithms which are extremely secure, however, they may not be suitable for your needs. This is why it is important to do proper research before committing yourself to any VPN.
What Is the IP VPN?
The IP VPN is a type of VPN which uses the Internet protocol for all of its communication. The most popular variant of the protocol is IP version 4, or IPv4 for short. When you use IPv4 VPNs, all of the traffic is encrypted so that nobody, not even the company running the VPN, can peek at your data.
IPv4 can be difficult to find a working connection with, especially if you are in a country which has implemented the country-block regulations, implemented by the Great firewall of China. In recent years, a number of countries have implemented these restrictions to prevent their citizens from accessing certain websites or content which the government does not consider suitable for them.
The good news is that there is a solution to this. Countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, and Finland allow users to access all of the content they want, as long as they are able to access the Internet through a proxy server. In countries such as China, the IP VPN is perfectly functional, but you will need to find a way to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the government. It is advisable to search for a VPN which can help you accomplish this.
What Is the PPTP VPN?
The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, or PPTP for short, is another type of VPN which can be used to create secure connections. The purpose of a PPTP VPN is to relay your Internet traffic through a single connection to a remote server. This is often used for remote working purposes, where you want to access a VPN server which is located on the other side of the world. This kind of VPN is also known as a site-to-site tunneling protocol (S2S) because it allows you to establish a tunnel between your computer or device and the remote server.
The main advantages of a PPTP connection are that it is easy to use and setup, as long as you have a working Internet connection with which you can access the PPTP server. The downside is that it is less suitable for users who want to keep their Internet activity private, since all of the traffic is encrypted and untraceable. This makes it a bit more vulnerable to attackers and hackers. However, if your main purpose is to keep your Internet activity private, a PPTP connection is a perfect option.
What Is the L2TP VPN?
The Layer Two Tunneling Protocol, or L2TP for short, is a VPN protocol which is based on Layer Three of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. The purpose of a L2TP VPN is to securely connect two networks that are bridged together, so that they can share secured and private traffic. This shared traffic is hidden from the view of the Internet at large, since all of the data is encrypted and only visible to the two networks which are sharing it.
L2TP VPNs provide a perfect balance between security and usability. If you want to use the Internet privately, without wanting your snooping neighbors to see your every move (or even worse, to figure out your login credentials), a L2TP connection is the way to go. It is quite easy to set up and use and it gives you the security you need to stay private, while still being able to access the Internet when you want to work or connect to a public WiFi network.
The main disadvantage of a L2TP VPN is that it is more complicated to set up and use than a PPTP connection. This is because you need to have two working Internet connections with which to set up a L2TP tunnel. If you are using a public WiFi network, you will need to connect to the Internet through a proxy server, so that no one will know that you are connected to a VPN. Searching for a L2TP VPN which supports a proxy server is not a straightforward task, so it is better to look for a VPN which can handle this functionality out-of-the-box.
What Are the Differences Between the Three Types of VPNs?
The three types of VPNs discussed so far are all protocols which enable you to connect to a remote server to establish a secure connection. They all work essentially in the same way, but each variant has its specific advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the three types of VPNs.
The first and most basic difference between the three protocols is that of credentials. A PPTP user needs to have a working Internet connection, while an IP v4 user needs to have a working IP address. To use a L2TP VPN, you will first need to establish a working Internet connection and then tell the VPN server the host name of the machine (often referred to as a node) which you are connecting to. If you are using a public WiFi network, you will need to find a proxy server to help you with this step. Once you have successfully connected to the VPN, you will need to create a login and a password and optionally set up a demilitarized zone. Finally, after logging in, you can select a remote location for the server to which you are connecting and start transmitting data. This can all be done from the comfort of your home.