Main Differences between PPTP & L2TP

Last updated: February 02, 2016

vpn protocols

We are talking about Virtual Private Network (VPN) protocols here. PPTP and L2TP are two main protocols used by VPN services. Learning more about them will be very useful in understanding the working of VPN services better. However, before we see the differences, it would be better to have an individual study.



L2TP stands for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol. Who introduced L2TP? Well, both Cisco and Microsoft are behind this. What they did here was combining the features of PPTP owned by Microsoft and L2F owned by Cisco. L2TP supports number of protocols, including SONET, ATM and Frame Relay. Moreover, L2TP supports non-TCP/IP clients as well. But here they don’t provide encryption. How does it function? Well, the tunnel is used to maintain privacy with the help of encryption protocol. We can see that L2TP connections no longer use PPP encryption from MPPE. Instead, it is encapsulating the ESP header. Moreover, IPSec and trailer are also involved in providing the encryption needed for it. When it comes to IPSec, it is really resource intensive and one doesn’t have to worry about that problem when it comes to PPTP. This is exactly why L2TP is considered more efficient in comparison to PPTP.



Now let’s check out the case of Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). Microsoft was the main developer of this protocol. However, they did it in association with other IT companies as well. Why did they do it? They did it to give client support to the VPN systems. In fact, PPP was gradually developed into PPTP. As for PPP, the layer is linked with other links in serial manner – we are talking about the layer they used to transmit IP packets. We can see that both PPTA and PPP have same authentication. When it comes to PPTP, no encryption is provided – only tunnel is provided here. Microsoft’s MPPE protocol is being used to create safe VPN. As a result, the speed of PPTP got improved a lot. You can compare it with other VPN protocols to see the speed difference.



Now let’s get to the specifics of the L2TP vs. PPTP argument. These two have many similarities as well as differences. Therefore, it would be ideal to talk about similarities as well as differences separately.



Both of them use logical transport mechanism to send PPP payloads. Both rely on encapsulation or tunneling to allow sending the PPP payloads. Both of them rely on the connection process of PPP to allow protocol configuration and user authentication in an effective manner.



Now let’s focus on the differences of these two methods. The advantage of PPTP is that it can be easily deployed. When it comes to the re-transmission, it uses TCP. However, PPTP is less safe compared to MPPE considering the fact that it provides encryption only after completing the connection. Also, when it comes to PPTP, all the connections should be authenticated via PPP protocol. As for L2TP, data encryption will begin before the completion of the connection.