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 OpenVPN on Windows Vista

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.

If you would like to use the more stable OpenVPN protocol, you will need to first download Kovurt’s special OpenVPN software. Please click this link, register, and download the software.

Follow the instructions in the download to install the software. Installations should take you about 30 seconds and is very easy.

After you registered, we emailed you some brief instructions and they contained your VPN Username and VPN Password like this:

Your VPN Username: username
Your VPN Password: password

1. Choose “Save” in your browser
2. Now “Save” the file to your Desktop

3. After the download completes, choose “Open”.

4. Double-click the KovurtPC.exe file

5. Click “OK” to begin extracting and installing Kovurt

6. Click “Next” and follow the instrcutions to continue fully installing the software. You will see a few windows and confirm them to continue.

7. On your Desktop, double-click the OpenVPN GUI icon

8. Go to the bottom of your menu bar and click the red computer icon. A list of locations will open and you can choose one and click “Connect”.

9. Enter your VPN Username and VPN Password. We emailed these to you, so please check your email first!

10. You will see a list of commands and then you will be connected when the red computer icon becomes a green computer icon.

How to setup PPTP VPN on Windows Vista

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.

1) From the Start button, select “Connect To.”

2) Windows Vista Start menu: Select “Set up a connection or network.”

3) Creating a new VPN connection: Select “Connect to a workplace” and click “Next.”

4) Choosing a connection option: Select “Use my Internet Connection (VPN).”

5) If prompted for “Do you want to use a connection that you already have?”, select “No, create a new connection” and click “Next.”

6) Input the Internet Address and Connection name:
Internet Address: [we emailed you a list of server addresses]
Destination Name: KOVURT VPN

Click “Next.”

7) Input the username and password:
User Name: [Kovurt emailed you the Kovurt VPN Username]
Password: [Kovurt emailed you the Kovurt VPN Password]

8) Click the Create or Next button

9) Click the Close button

10) To connect, click on “Start,” then “Connect to.” Then select the KOVURT VPN connection in the window and click “Connect.”