What’s the difference between PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SOCKS when talking about VPNs?

Deciding on the type of “protocol” to use for your VPN is like choosing the best tasting ice cream: there are many choices, and some people prefer one choice over another.

For VPNs, the 3 main choices are PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. We also include SOCKS, but that is not really a VPN protocol. Some people also use SSTP too, but that is not being used so much these days (yet!). Then you also hear of “IPSec”, but that is really a marketing brand used by Cisco and other companies and really refers to L2TP.

Did we confuse you yet?

Yes, it can be a little confusing. So we will only concentrate on the differences between PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SOCKS. There is a good comparison chart on Kovurt.com, but here is our own chart too:


VPN Protocols





Ease of Setup Fast Fast Moderate Moderate
VPN Speed Fast Fast Moderate Moderate
Security Moderate Very Good Very Good Best
Stability Good Good Better Best
Suggested Systems iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac Mac, Ubuntu Mac, Windows 7

PPTP and L2TP do not require any software for you to install! So many people like to use them because you only need to enter your username and password once on your computer or phone, and in the future you can connect with a click of a button

OpenVPN is a little more cumbersome because you must download software first to use it. Then you must install the software and maintain the software when there are upgrades. OpenVPN is a little more stable, but most people agree that PPTP and L2TP are just so much easier to use. Plus, PPTP and L2TP can be used on iPads, iPhones, and Android mobile phones, but OpenVPN can not be used on those devices (unless you “crack” them).

So those are our thoughts on the differences. Please leave your comments below to let us know what you think.

How to setup L2TP VPN on Mac OS X

For our instructions and tutorial, we are using the VPN services from Kovurt.com. You can use any service you like, but we prefer Kovurt.

After you confirmed your Kovurt subscription, we sent you an email. Inside that email you should see something like the following:

Your VPN Username: username
Your VPN Password: password

The good news is that you do not need to install any more software! Everything you need is already on your computer. Follow the easy steps below to start using “L2TP over IPSec” on Kovurt VPN:

1) In your “System Preferences…” click the “Network” icon.

2) A window will open and in the bottom-left corner you should click the “+” icon.

3) In the “Interface” please choose “VPN”. Then for “VPN Type” choose “L2TP over IPSec”. Finally, for the “Service Name” you can anything you like, so “KOVURT VPN” is a good choice to type in this field. Finally, click “Create”.

4) Now in “Server Address” you can choose ot add any server from the list we emailed to you after you registered. For example you can add “us2.kovurt.com” or “uk2.kovurt.com” or jp2.kovurt.com” or any of more than a dozen more. Then in “Account Name” you should type your “VPN Username” that we emailed to you — usually this will be your email address, but you should double-check the email to make sure. Finally, click “Authentication Settings…”.

5) In the “Password” area please type the “VPN Password” that we emailed to you after you registered. In the “Shared Secret” please type “mysecurevpn“. Then click “OK”.

6) Next click the “Advanced…” button.

7) Make sure the “Send all traffic over VPN connection” link is ticked. Then click “OK”.

8) First click the “Apply” button. Then click the “Connect” button. You will then connect!

9) Another easy method to connect is to go to the top of your computer screen and dropdown the “VPN” icon. Then click the “Connect KOVURT VPN”.