The L2TP (Layer to Tunneling Protocol) protocol is the protocol of choice for individuals unsure about internet security. The protocol is also favored by paranoid people like me who will believe in any conspiracy theory they read – particularly those about governments and aliens covertly observing humans and their data in the pursuit of global domination.
If you want to learn about L2TP VPN, the first thing you need to know is PPP (Have to learn to walk before you can run). PPP stands for ‘Point to Point Protocol’ and is a commonly used link-layer protocol.
What is a protocol? (Save time – Jump this paragraph if you know the answer) A protocol is a set of rules and guidelines that are followed by both systems involved in sending and receiving data. This helps both systems communicate effectively, reduces the time required for data exchange and eliminates the need for the users at both ends to interfere. The resultant formation makes protocols a basic building block of all network communication connections.
The PPP is used by PPTP
and L2TP alike, and essentially comprises of three parts:
- Data encapsulation guidelines
- Link Control Protocol (LCP) to authenticate network peers
- And Network Control Protocol, which manages the formation of network layers over the LCP once it has been established.
So that is where the basic L2TP infrastructure takes root from. However, the L2TP protocol is not very strong on its own, which is why you will mostly find yourself reading the term ‘L2TP/IPSec’ instead of ‘L2TP’ alone.
How Does L2TP VPN Work
The L2TP VPN essentially buffs up the PPP VPN. A traditionally functioning PPP will present a scenario in which data packets will be vulnerable during transmission from the client to the server (and vice-versa). The implementation of the L2TP VPN means that each data packet being transmitted will be subjected to an L2TP header. Upon receiving the data, the server will demultiplex the L2TP packets. This might sound like a bit of extra hard work and is known to lessen speeds, but the security it can provide (in WiFi powered internet sessions for instance) is priceless.
In tech-terms, the creation of the L2TP protocol means the combination of Cisco L2F and the Microsoft PPTP protocols. Bear in mind that L2TP VPN will weigh down on your CPU’s processing power because encapsulating data twice is a processing-intensive activity. Add the fact that 256 bit encryption is as near-mandatory addition to the L2TP VPN, and you are looking at greater security at the cost of reduced speed.
Double encapsulation is one of the fundamental reasons because of which L2TP VPN gained popularity over PPTP VPN in VPN use. Of course L2TP VPN cannot stand up to OpenVPN
in a comparison, but it can take on PPTP VPN any day!
The first encapsulation of data takes place when the L2TP VPN functions much like a PPTP VPN and carried out encapsulation as if normal PPTP was in place. This is then topped off with the second encapsulation thanks to the IPSec. Encryption keys for the encapsulated data rely heavily on Data Encryption Standards if not on Triple Data Encryption Standards.
Reasons to Use a VPN Client for L2TP VPN
L2TP VPN runs into complications when users try to use it over routers or when excessively heavy firewalls are in place. This causes the L2TP VPN speed to fall to the point that it undermines the utility of the protocol altogether. L2TP VPN can also prove to be challenging if you try to set it up and manage it yourself.
Our advice is to use VPN service providers
that provide you with client software (a VPN connection manager) for your device. This will eliminate complications for you and let the software take care of all the complicated decision making and inter-software cooperation that takes place at the back end. Using a VPN client for your device will provide you with the comfort of plug and play VPN.
L2TP VPNs can prove to be somewhat irritating for individuals looking to switch servers frequently during VPN protected internet sessions. Using L2TP VPN with IPSec protection (which is normal for L2TP VPN use) forces authentication to rely on your IP. Every time you switch a server, expect a connection-wide communication of your new IP to cause lag.
Using a VPN client will help you gauge server traffic load for available servers and pick out servers with the right ping, upload speed and download speed for you. Doing so can help you compensate for the loss of speed you can expect to experience when you use L2TP protocol.
At the end of the day, the L2TP VPN (for all intents and purposes), becomes an upgraded (bulked up) version of the PPTP protocol. It is the preferred (and most widely available) type of VPN protocol on account of the extensive compatibility it incorporates – as well as the heavy duty data security it provides.
If you are looking for a VPN protocol that can guarantee security and are not particularly concerned about losing a bit of speed during your internet session, then the L2TP VPN is the VPN of choice for you. It is recommended for business and pleasure applications – individuals who shop online (whether frequently or rarely) as well as those who are in the habit of making business related financial transactions.
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