What Is the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the best ways to protect your privacy and security. It creates a secure tunnel to transmit your encrypted data, and it also hides your real IP address. There are many VPN service providers on the market with different levels of security.

VPN services use several protocols to facilitate connections. These protocols are like ‘recipes’ that VPN follow to create a private and secure connection. PPTP is an example of a VPN protocol. PPTP connections are available on almost all VPN providers.

However, what exactly is PPTP? This article will show all there is to know about this VPN protocol: from the way PPTP works, its pros and cons, and comparisons with other VPN protocols.

What is PPTP?

PPTP, or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, is a VPN protocol that was introduced in the 90s. It is one of the oldest protocols in use. It was developed by Microsoft as an improvement of another protocol called PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol). 

PPTP was first introduced with Windows 95 and is on every version of Windows that has followed. It is one of the easiest VPN protocols to set up. Its codebase isn’t large, so it doesn’t take a lot of processing power. PPTP is the fastest VPN protocol, so it is usually implemented for video or audio streaming and other processes where speed is important.

This protocol supports two types of tunneling:

1. Voluntary Tunneling

Voluntary tunneling is initiated by the client on an existing connection with a server. It doesn’t require bridge support or an ISP (Internet Service Provider).

2. Compulsory Tunneling

This type of tunneling is initiated by the PPTP server. It requires router and network access server support to create a tunnel.

Although PPTP is still built into newer devices, it has some security flaws. This VPN protocol uses authentication protocols like MS-CHAP-v1/v2, which are not very secure, and have been cracked several times by security analysts. PPTP works on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and other platforms.

PPTP supports 128-bits encryption keys. It uses Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE), TCP port 1723, and IP port 47.

How Does PPTP Work?

Like every tunneling protocol, PPTP establishes a secure encrypted tunnel between two points (the PPTP client and the PPTP server) for transmitting your online data and traffic. It only requires the server address and a username with a password.

Once the PPTP connection is established, it encapsulates network data into an IP envelope. As soon as the envelope is sent to other routers or machines, it will be handled as an IP packet. When the PPTP server receives your data, it will be forwarded to the appropriate destination, where it will be decrypted.

The PPTP tunnel uses TCP port 1723 to establish and manage a connection between the two endpoints, and at both ends, the data packets go through authentication.

NAT (Network Address Translation) devices don’t have built-in support for PPTP, so to establish a PPTP through a NAT device, there’s a feature called PPTP Passthrough. This feature makes it possible to create PPTP VPN connections on NAT.

Setting up PPTP connections is very easy because it has built-in support on most operating systems and devices. Even on Linux, it is easy to configure PPTP connections. You’ll just have to adjust some settings, enter some information about the server in your device’s network settings area, and you’re good to go.

Advantages of PPTP

The PPTP protocol has several benefits that have kept it in active use for decades. Some of the advantages of PPTP include:

1. PPTP was created as a simple but efficient protocol, so it is an excellent choice for fast connections.

2. This VPN protocol is available on older systems as far back as Windows 95, and it is also supported by modern devices as a bare-minimum encryption protocol.

3. PPTP setup is fast and easy, so you don’t need to be a tech expert to use it.

Disadvantages of PPTP

PPTP also has some drawbacks that you should be aware of before you use it. They include:

1. PPTP is not very secure. Its encryption isn’t up to the current standards, so it’s not very good at securing online data and traffic. Security experts can easily bypass its MS-CHAP-v1/v2 authentication protocols, which shows that hackers can also break through because there are tools that can allow them to extract NT Password hashes.

When PPTP was first introduced, it was secure, but its security is now outdated. There’s proof of the NSA successfully cracking PPTP traffic.

2. PPTP is not ideal for accessing blocked content because firewalls can easily detect PPTP connections and block them.

3. You need PPTP Passthrough to facilitate connections on routers because PPTP does not work on NAT devices by default. However, enabling the PPTP Passthrough might leave you exposed to cyber-attacks.

PPTP vs. Other VPN Protocols

Apart from the PPTP protocol, there are several other VPN protocols that VPN services use. So, let’s quickly compare PPTP with some other protocols VPN providers usually offer:

PPTP vs. OpenVPN

OpenVPN is a more secure VPN protocol than PPTP. It uses the AES-256 encryption cipher and any port. Unlike PPTP, OpenVPN is open-source, so many users trust it more. 

PPTP connections can be blocked by firewalls, but OpenVPN can hardly be blocked because OpenVPN traffic can appear like SSL or HTTPS traffic.

However, in terms of speed, PPTP is the better protocol. This is because OpenVPN supports several other protocols that slow down the connection speed. However, you can use OpenVPN on UDP for improved speeds, even though it won’t be as fast as PPTP’s speed.

Also, PPTP has an easier setup process than OpenVPN because it could take more time to configure OpenVPN if you don’t have enough experience with VPN protocols.

PPTP vs. SoftEther

SoftEther is a VPN protocol that was recently developed. It provides more stable connections than PPTP, and it is four times faster and more secure than PPTP. SoftEther uses SSL 3.0 to secure connections, and it can use military-grade 256-bit encryption.

A SoftEther VPN server supports other VPN protocols like OpenVPN, SSTP, IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, and SoftEther. However, a PPTP VPN server does not have such capabilities.

In terms of cross-platform compatibility, PPTP has more coverage than SoftEther. It is available on more devices, and it is easier to set up. At the moment, SoftEther is only available on devices through third-party applications, meaning you’ll need to install extra software apart from a VPN if you want to use it. Also, only a few VPN providers offer SoftEther support for the time being.

PPTP vs. WireGuard

PPTP is less secure than WireGuard. On the one hand, WireGuard uses the latest uncrackable cryptography while PPTP’s encryption is outdated and weak. It is also just as fast as PPTP.

Both protocols are available across multiple operating systems. However, WireGuard is the better option because it offers high-speed connections with enhanced security.

PPTP vs. L2TP/IPSec

L2TP/IPSec is another security protocol that outshines PPTP in terms of security. It can use AES 256-bit encryption. L2TP/IPSec can also bypass NAT firewalls, while PPTP can easily be blocked by the firewalls.

However, PPTP offers better online speeds than L2TP/IPSec. PPTP’s low encryption makes it very fast. So if you don’t mind compromising your security for faster connections, PPTP is the better option. Nonetheless, you’re still better off using L2TP/IPSec.

PPTP vs. IKEv2/IPSec

Without a doubt, IKEv2/IPSec is more secure than PPTP because it offers AES-256 encryption. It can also withstand network changes, which makes its connections more stable than PPTP connections. Also, while PPTP can easily be blocked by firewalls, IKEv2/IPSec fares better.

Both VPN protocols offer similar speed rates. So, with the IKEv2/IPSec protocol, you have better security with your fast connection speeds.

PPTP vs. IPSec

IPSec is a more secure VPN protocol than PPTP, even though they both use encapsulation technologies. However, PPTP is more stable but easier to block with a firewall. IPSec, on the other hand, can encrypt traffic without server admins detecting a VPN connection. Additionally, IPSec is more difficult to configure and is slower than IPSec.

PPTP vs. SSTP

Like PPTP, Microsoft Corporation also developed SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol), and it was launched ith Windows Vista. 

SSTP offers better security than PPTP because it can use 256-bit encryption, and it uses SSL 3.0 like OpenVPN. SSTP can also get through firewalls easily because it uses port 443 like HTTPS traffic.

However, in terms of speed, SSTP is slower than PPTP. Only Windows operating systems have built-in support for SSTP, but it can be configured on routers, Android and Linux. This is one area where PPTP is better.

Conclusion

PPTP is one of the earliest VPN protocols used to ensure effective communications between a VPN client and a server by creating a tunnel and using encryption. It started out on Windows platforms, but it is now available on other platforms as well.

It is not very secure, so you should only use it if your activity doesn’t require high-standard encryption or only when it is absolutely necessary. PPTP doesn’t outshine many other VPN protocols you may have at your disposal. So if you have to choose, you’d be better off with other secure and fast protocols.