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PPTP vs OpenVPN

PPTP vs OpenVPN: Differences, Advantages & Disadvantages in 2024

OpenVPN is the top dog of secure VPN protocols, while PPTP is a protocol that has security vulnerabilities. Read on as we compare PPTP vs OpenVPN to find out whether it’s worth using PPTP in today's internet age.

Aleksandar KochovskiAleksander Hougen

Written by Aleksandar Kochovski (Writer, SEO Editor)

Reviewed by Aleksander Hougen (Co-Chief Editor)

Facts checked by Simona Ivanovsk (Formatter)

Last Updated: 2024-04-04T09:43:52+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

PPTP & OpenVPN Compared
  • PPTP is an older VPN protocol with weak encryption and known vulnerabilities, making it unsuitable for securing sensitive data.
  • OpenVPN is a highly secure open-source protocol that can easily bypass network restrictions.
  • Though PPTP is faster than OpenVPN, the latter offers much better security and flexibility.

Facts & Expert Analysis: OpenVPN vs PPTP

  • Security Vulnerabilities: PPTP uses the deprecated MPPE cipher with just 40-bit or 128-bit keys, which are considered cryptographically insecure by modern standards.
  • Secure VPN Protocol: OpenVPN’s OpenSSL library supports a wide range of ciphers, like AES, Blowfish, CAST and Camelia, though it’s most often paired with AES-256.
  • Unblocking Protocol: It’s impossible for websites and services to distinguish OpenVPN traffic from regular internet traffic unless they use deep packet inspection; this makes it an excellent choice for unblocking online content.

A VPN’s main job is to set up an encrypted tunnel for your internet connection and anonymize your online activity. It does this using what’s known as a VPN protocol, which wraps your traffic in encryption protocols to hide it from interlopers. OpenVPN and PPTP are two such protocols. In this article, we’ll pit PPTP vs OpenVPN to see which one is better to use with your VPN application. 

We’ll delve into their features and differences, and in the end, we’ll make a recommendation. Alternatively, if you’re interested in an in-depth look at other protocols, you can read our VPN protocol guide.

  • 04/04/2024 Facts checked

    We rewrote the article with a new structure, adding more practical information on the VPN protocols and more comparisons to other protocols.

PPTP vs OpenVPN Comparison: At a Glance

One of the few advantages PPTP has over OpenVPN is its fast speed. Unfortunately, OpenVPN is better than PPTP in most other regards, including having better security, better reliability and more customization options. 

If you’re still curious, we’ll go in depth on why PPTP is so bad for online security and why OpenVPN has been the darling of the VPN world for more than two decades. You can also read our VPN statistics article for more background on PPTP’s history.

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At a Glance: Differences Between OpenVPN and PPTP

PPTPOpenVPN
Not secureVery secure
Some of the fastest speedsGood speeds
Built into most major OSesRequires OpenVPN client or VPN app to run
Encryption up to only 128 bitsEncryption up to 256 bits
Can be unstableVery stable

Security

OpenVPN is much more secure than PPTP because it uses practically uncrackable AES-256 encryption and solid open-source code. On the other hand, PPTP has been cracked since the ’90s, and you can even find tools online that can decrypt its encryption.

Performance and Speed

PPTP may be the faster protocol, but OpenVPN has the advantage of being more reliable. Not only is it generally more secure, but OpenVPN over TCP also has guaranteed packet delivery, ensuring no data is lost in communication. This can be crucial for applications such as online gaming, where a rock-steady VPN connection can make all the difference.

What Is PPTP?

PPTP stands for “point-to-point tunneling protocol.” A Microsoft-led group developed and released it with Microsoft Windows 95. It operates over TCP port 1723 and uses the GRE protocol to encapsulate data packets. PPTP was once ubiquitous, coming preinstalled on many operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android.

However, PPTP has been replaced by more modern and secure protocols like WireGuard and IKEv2. In fact, almost none of the VPN providers on our best VPN list support PPTP anymore, with the top provider offering a slim selection between OpenVPN and WireGuard or a custom protocol.

PPTP Advantages 

These are the advantages of the PPTP protocol:

Fast Speeds

PPTP is extremely lightweight and is therefore very easy to process, providing faster speeds than most other protocols, especially heavier ones like OpenVPN.

Simple Setup

The PPTP protocol comes preinstalled on many operating systems, which means you can easily run a PPTP connection without using specialized VPN software.

PPTP Disadvantages

These are the disadvantages of using PPTP:

PPTP Encryption & Authentication

A team of scientists led by Harvard lecturer Bruce Schneier found Microsoft’s implementation of PPTP to be broken all the way back in 1998. The team pointed out that the flaws are so severe that anyone could see passwords on a network protected with it. Authentication is also broken, which can allow unauthenticated attackers to take down a PPTP server.

On his website, Schneier claims:

“The mistakes they made are not subtle; they’re ‘kindergarten cryptographer’ mistakes. The encryption is used in a way that completely negates its effectiveness. The documentation claims 128-bit keys, even though nothing remotely close to that key length is actually used. Passwords are protected by hash functions so badly that most can be easily recovered. And the control channel is so sloppily designed that anyone can cause a Microsoft PPTP server to go belly up.”

Poor Content Unblocking Ability

Being one of the oldest VPN protocols and having such glaring security vulnerabilities means that online services that screen for VPNs, such as Netflix and other streaming services, can easily detect PPTP. This means that you’re far more likely to run into a Netflix VPN ban than you would be using other protocols.

What Is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is a robust, highly configurable and secure open-source VPN protocol. It can run over the very secure TCP port 443 or UDP ports like 1194 for faster speeds. Today, it’s considered the gold standard for VPN protocols, and any VPN worth its salt supports it.

OpenVPN Advantages 

These are the advantages of using the OpenVPN protocol:

Highly Secure VPN Protocol

As if we haven’t made it abundantly clear by now, we’ll reiterate that OpenVPN is much more secure than PPTP. It uses AES-256 encryption, which is yet to be uncracked and will likely remain that way, unless any of you happen to have a supercomputer and a few billion years to spare. If you want to make your VPN as safe as possible, read our article on VPN safety and security.

Flexible & Customizable

OpenVPN allows for a great deal of freedom when it comes to choosing encryption ciphers, authentication methods, ports and other connection settings. This makes it highly adaptable for different use cases, platforms and network environments.

Open Source With a Large, Active Community

Because OpenVPN is open source, anyone can run security audits and make improvements to its performance. As the most widely used VPN protocol, it has a large and dedicated community that can help out with implementation and troubleshooting. 

Great for Unblocking Content & Bypassing Network Restrictions

OpenVPN can be very difficult to detect, especially if you’re using TCP (though UDP’s speeds are better for streaming). This means that geographically blocked websites and online services are much more likely to let you through than if you were using PPTP.

OpenVPN Disadvantages

OpenVPN is great, but not perfect. Here are some of its flaws:

Needs a Dedicated Client to Run

Unlike PPTP, you need to install an OpenVPN client to use it — it can’t run directly from your OS. Installing a VPN service will let you access OpenVPN too, so if you already have one, this won’t be an issue for you.

Slower Speeds Than Other Lightweight Protocols

OpenVPN’s code is notoriously large and bloated due to its strong data encryption. VPN protocols with lighter codebases like PPTP, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec and WireGuard are likely to offer better speeds than OpenVPN.

PPTP & OpenVPN vs Other VPN Protocols 

Using PPTP can pose a security risk and potentially expose your sensitive data. Here are how some alternative protocols compare to PPTP and OpenVPN, and if there are other secure VPN protocols you should use. 

ExpressVPN protocols
ExpressVPN is a secure VPN option that offers OpenVPN and its own proprietary protocol.
PPTP vs OpenVPN vs L2TP/IPsec

L2TP/IPsec is a combination of the L2TP tunneling protocol and IPsec encryption. It is fast and generally more secure than PPTP, though it can also be more complicated to set up.

PPTP vs OpenVPN vs IKEv2

IKEv2 is a newer VPN protocol that many mobile operating systems natively support. It is faster than older protocols and offers much faster network switching than OpenVPN, which makes it appropriate for mobile use, where you may often switch between WiFi and mobile data.

PPTP vs OpenVPN vs WireGuard

WireGuard is the newest major VPN protocol and aims to be faster, simpler and more secure than even OpenVPN. Most of the top VPN providers offer it, with NordVPN even forking it into its own NordLynx protocol.

What’s Better for Gaming: PPTP or OpenVPN?

Though PPTP is the faster protocol, we can’t in good conscience recommend using it in any application when there is a more secure option available. So, even though PPTP is technically faster for gaming, OpenVPN is still the superior gaming protocol thanks to its security.

Final Thoughts 

Though PPTP was once a popular VPN protocol, more modern and secure options have eclipsed it, like OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard. When choosing a VPN service, be sure to choose one that offers these modern protocols, and stay away from PPTP if possible.

Have you had any experiences with PPTP? Were you aware of its security flaws? What are your thoughts on OpenVPN? Please let us know in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.

FAQ: OpenVPN vs PPTP

  • Though easy to use, PPTP’s aging encryption standards mean you should avoid it whenever a newer and more secure protocol is available.

  • PPTP is one of the fastest protocols, though the newer WireGuard can compete with it in speed while also providing much stronger security.

  • OpenVPN is better than PPTP in almost every aspect, with the exception of speed. In fact, OpenVPN is broadly considered to be the best VPN protocol, with WireGuard as its only serious challenger.

  • L2TP/IPsec is the more secure option of the two, which makes it better by default; PPTP’s security flaws make it too much of a liability to online privacy.

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