PPTP vs. L2TP – The Comparison of Two Fundamental Protocols

Introduction

There are a lot of things we worry about these days – privacy and security are certainly on top of the list. Technological obsolescence has made our security vulnerable as cyber-goons at every corner of this digital universe are ready to welcome us with their evolved tricks and tools. Our privacy is victimized by the identity thieves along with the vigilant agencies trying to spy on every move we make online.

Geo-restrictions imposed on content would have literally made our lives miserable; if virtual private network wasn’t there to liberate our online freedom. Online security and privacy are one of the prime concerns; however, some may not realize it unless they are deprived from them. There are two prerequisites of a secure device today – an antivirus and a VPN. An antivirus copes with all the malware, spyware and virus attacks on your device.

On the other hand, a VPN lets you bypass every possible geo-restriction and protects your identity. It tunnels your way to a preferred server and masks your real IP – making you invisible to online threats and vigilance. There are different tunneling protocols that you may use to create a virtual private network. In this article, we would discuss two most frequently preferred protocols and their characteristics to contrast their divergence.

 

PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is a process of creating a virtual private network. This protocol facilitates the creation of a virtual link between your computer/device and the server tunneling all your traffic to preferred location. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is more rigid a sophisticated as compared to its antecedent (PPP).

The virtual private network formulated using PPTP accompanies more secure transmission in form of encapsulated data packets where the protocol’s operation is facilitated by GRE tunnel and TCP. One of the reasons for wide acceptance of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is its compatibility with diverse operating systems.

However, it is mostly preferred by those who run Windows as compared to others preferring Linux or Mac. The reason for this is probably connection speed as PPTP performs better on Windows as compared to other platforms. A virtual private network formulated using Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is secure; however, there other protocols that offer more security as compared to PPTP.

 

L2TP or Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol

L2TP is a tunneling protocol that supports virtual private networks just like PPTP; however, the security associated with this protocol is much more sophisticated. L2TP uses a complex encryption protocol known as IPSec. L2TP cannot encrypt your data on its own – it encrypts your data via IPSec protocol and facilitates your privacy.

Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol is often preferred by security conscious people. Just like PPTP, L2TP supports a virtual private network that tunnels your data but with additional security. L2TP is an answer to different paranoia such as Internet security, privacy, identity theft and copyright infringement. Furthermore, L2TP represents 256 bit encryption that takes your data security to the next level and makes it invulnerable to unauthorized access.

 

Tutorial: How to Configure PPTP or L2TP VPN on Windows

Step 1

Access the “Control Panel” option on your Windows.

PPTP vs L2TP

STEP 2

Under “Network and Internet” feature click on “View Network Status and Tasks”.

PPTP Setup on Windows

STEP 3

Click on “Setup a New Connection or Network” option.

 L2TP vpn setup on windows

STEP 4

Click on “Connect to a Workplace” and move forward by clicking “Next”.

PPTP vs L2TP configuration on windows

STEP 5

Now you have to click on “Use my Internet Connection (VPN)” in order to configure your virtual private network supporting Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.

PPTP vs L2TP setup on windows

STEP 6

There are different VPN service providers that you can choose from as per your preference. When registered, your VPN service provider will provide and Internet address in the confirmation email.

You have to enter this ‘Internet Address” along with “Destination Name” which should represent the VPN service provider of your choice. In this case, it is “PureVPN”. Perform a check on “Don’t connect now; just set it up so I can connect later” if already checked then do nothing and just click “Next”.

how to setup l2tp on windows

STEP 7

Now type your username and password which were received in confirmation email from your preferred VPN service provider. If you want to be free from hassle of typing your username and password every time you wish to connect a VPN then check on “Remember this Password” otherwise do nothing and just click create.

configure L2TP on windows

STEP 8

You’re done here – just click “Close” now.

L2TP windows setup

STEP 9

In order to access newly configured VPN connection just click on “Computer Icon” in system tray. If you want it functional – click “Connect”.

pptp configuration on windows

STEP 10

A connection window will pop just like a dialup connection. You have to access configuration settings now by clicking on “Properties”.

configure pptp vpn windows 8

STEP 11

Confirm if the Internet address you entered is correct – find it in “General Settings Tab”.

setup l2tp vpn windows 7

The manual configuration process of setting up a VPN on your computer is completed now. From this point forward, you will be asked to choose your preferred protocol (PPTP or L2TP). Till “Step 11” the configuration process for PPTP VPN is no different from L2TP VPN. This is the point that contrasts the process of setting up a PPTP or L2TP VPN on your Windows.

STEP 12

Now click on “Security Tab” and select a protocol of your choice. Click on “Type of VPN” drop down box for options. Select PPTP or L2TP as per your preference.

l2tp vpn windows 7 setup

l2tp vpn windows 10

Steps to Wrap-up PPTP VPN Configuration

STEP 13

After selecting PPTP as your desired protocol from “Security Tab” you will have to access “Networking Tab” now.

l2tp pptp

STEP 14

In “Networking Tab” you will have to uncheck “File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks” and “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)”. You’re done here – just click “OK” to make your configuration take effect.

vpn pptp or l2tp

STEP 15

You will have to access connection window by clicking “Computer Icon” from your “System Tray” and just click “Connect”.

point-to-point tunneling protocol

STEP 16

Congratulations! You have successfully configured PPTP VPN which is now connected.

pptp

Steps to Wrap-up L2TP VPN Configuration

STEP 13

After selecting L2TP as your desired protocol from “Security Tab” you will now have to access “Advanced Settings” feature to take this process forward. Once you have clicked on advanced settings a new window will pop.

 L2TP

STEP 14

You will now have to click on “Use Pre-shared key for Authentication”. After clicking this options, enter the pre-shared key provided by your VPN service provider. Let’s assume that your pre-shared key is 12345678. Just enter the key and click “OK”.

windows setup L2TP

STEP 15

You will now have to access “Networking Tab”. In the networking tab make sure that “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)” and “File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks” are not checked. If they are checked – uncheck them and simply click “OK”.

windows setup  PPTP

STEP 16

You will have to access connection window by clicking “Computer Icon” from your “System Tray” and just click “Connect”.

windows configuration PPTP

STEP 17

Congratulations! You have successfully configured L2TP VPN which is now connected.

windows configuration L2TP

Advantages of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

There are different advantages that you can avail from the use of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. There are certain characteristics that make PPTP more frequently adopted protocol as compared to L2TP.

  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol was the first formally recognized VPN protocol
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is compatible with diverse platforms such as Windows, Max and Linux.
  • When you create a virtual private network, your actual Internet speed is affected. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol has minimal effect on your Internet speed as compared to other protocols such as L2TP.
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is much easier to use as compared to Layer-to-Tunneling protocol. Setting up a virtual private network through Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is a complete hassle free process.
  • While establishing a virtual private network using Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, IPSec encryption isn’t required. Hence, PPTP doesn’t require Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) or computer certificates to be installed while establishing a virtual private network.
  • Windows support Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol by default allowing you to flee from the hassle of configuration.

 

Disadvantages of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

Along with several advantages associated with Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, there are some disadvantages that need to be listed here.

  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol surely is compatible with diverse platforms. However, its performance is best suited with Windows as Linux and Mac users may face speed or connectivity issues.
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol uses 128 bit encryption only. This enhances your security to some extent; however, cyber-goons with their sophisticated tricks and tools will easily decode the encrypted files.
  • Your key can be extracted by using browser add-ons such as ‘FireSheep’ if you are using Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.
  • For a secure virtual private network, at least 256 bit encryption is required.
  • Lack of IPSec encryption unlike Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol leaves your security vulnerable when using Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.
  • PPTP accompanies lack of data origin verification; hence, it cannot detect data alteration in transit or verify the source authenticity.
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol often encounters performance issues on unstable networks which is not the case if you use L2TP.

 

Advantages of Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

There are different advantages associated with Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol that proves it to be a better alternative as compared to PPTP.

  • Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol offers data encryption through IPSec protocol. IPSec protocol maximizes your security and prevents all unauthorized access.
  • L2TP just like PPTP is compatible with different platforms such as Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • L2TP offers almost everything that PPTP does along with value-added security privileges.
  • Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol authenticates data origin along with its integrity – this is something PPTP doesn’t offer.
  • Unlike PPTP, Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol can be easily configured with some firewalls as it uses UDP to encapsulate data.

 

Disadvantages of Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

Along with different advantages, there are several disadvantages of using L2TP that you need to consider as well.

  • Due to double encapsulation process of the data, L2TP functionality may wear down with some firewalls.
  • The thing most of you would hate about L2TP is that it requires PKI along with other computer certificates to be configured.
  • Some versions of Windows such as Vista and Server 2008 might instruct you to change registry settings prior configuration of Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol.
  • Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol has a substantial impact on your Internet speed and deteriorates it a bit more than PPTP.

 

Conclusion

There are different reasons for which you may use a VPN. Similarly, there are different characteristics for which you may prefer a tunneling protocol. Usually the purpose for which you use a VPN is aligned with the characteristics of a tunneling protocol that you prefer. In this article, we compared and contrasted two different protocols: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol and Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol. One of the major advantages of PPTP is ease of use and minimal effect on Internet speed; however, the flaw observed is that it provides minimal security.

L2TP on the other hand provides enhanced security with 256 bit encryption but has a significant impact on Internet speed. People who use a VPN mainly to bypass geo-restrictions in order to watch their favorite TV shows, movies and access other content prefer PPTP due to its speed. Nevertheless, L2TP is often preferred by security freaks due to IPSec protocol which facilitates rigid encryption. Our remarks – PPTP is good; but, L2TP is better.

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Arsalan Jabbar

Author

Arsalan Jabbar's Biography :


Arsalan Jabbar is a tech-research enthusiast who wants to explore technological obsolescence and its influence. With a little spice of wit in his writing style, Arsalan fanatically researches contemporary discoveries in the IT industry and critiques their significance in his own special way. Arsalan’s hypotheses are always reflected through in-depth scrutiny and valid notions.


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