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VPN Protocols: Find your perfect match

Here’s the thing about VPN protocols: they are not all the same. That means if you have particular needs when you go online, you might also need a particular VPN protocol. 

What is a VPN protocol? 

Let’s start with the basics. BlufVPN offers a Virtual Private Network to you - a private, underground tunnel for your information to travel - because it’s private, no one else can use it and because it’s underground, no one can see it either. That means you can go online safe in the knowledge that your personal data is safe, and that your digital footprint and location can’t be tracked by anyone. 

Each time you connect to a BlufVPN server, you’re using one of our available protocols. They all have their pros and cons, which we’ll go through in this blog, and like people none of them are perfect. It’s all about finding the right one for you. Like dating, but with less boring small talk. 

Different protocols for different needs 

To help you make the right decision, we’re going to play the part of protocol dating consultant. Imagine it like having a best friend to help you make the right choice when you’re out meeting new people. Only with more discussion of encryption algorithms. 

IKEv2/IPSec 

Internet Key Exchange version 2 and Internet Protocol Security suite are the meat and potatoes of the VPN protocol world - basic but reliable to get the job done. 

In terms of the pros of using this protocol, you can be sure of a very stable connection and decent speed even on mobile, as IKEv2 uses an IPSec tool called a multi-homing protocol to continuously establish a solid VPN connection even as you move around the world. 

Because it works with most leading encryption algorithms it’s a very secure protocol too, commonly connecting with an AES 256 bit encryption key.

On the downside, it has limited compatibility across platforms which means not everyone will have an easy time with it. Windows users are fine, as it was developed by Microsoft, but those on other platforms may want to choose another protocol. You also can’t choose which port to use when you connect with IKEv2/IPSec, which means it’s easy for some platforms to block. 

I rate it 8/10, it’s great for when I’m on the move, and it’s nice and stable so I know I’m safe. But the lack of compatibility can be annoying when I’m changing between devices…

OpenVPN 

There’s a reason that OpenVPN is a popular choice as a protocol for many VPN services, and that’s because it’s highly secure, open source and versatile. 

Being open source means that it’s essentially honest - it allows you to check for any skeletons in the closet of its coding, or potential vulnerabilities. It can run a vast number of different encryption protocols too, which makes it hugely versatile. On top of those great qualities, it can be run through either the UDP or TCP port, making it a very difficult VPN protocol to block when  it’s configured correctly. 

OpenVPN uses the same AES 256 bit encryption as IKEv2/IPSec, but as it’s so versatile and customisable, can also be configured to use RC5 and Blowfish encryption protocols. 

The compatibility of OpenVPN can also be a downside though - for a less experienced user, it can be overwhelming and excessively complicated to set up. The speeds it can achieve are also not the absolute best. 

I rate it 9/10. I love being able to switch up encryption types and which port I’m using depending on what I’m doing online - which means I can get around most blocks. If OpenVPN was that little bit faster, I’d definitely give it a 10. 

Wireguard

When you’re talking about VPN protocols, Wireguard is the one that gets back end developers and encryption specialists all excited, like school children around their crush. That’s because it’s the newest, sexiest protocol on the market and uses a brand new encryption algorithm which is making the other protocols jealous. 

Wireguard uses ChaCha20 symmetric encryption, Curve25519 for anonymous key exchange, Poly1305 for data authentication, and BLAKE2s for hashing. That might sound like technological nonsense, but a coder who is reading this just felt a little tingle. 

As well as using the latest technological advancement in the VPN world, Wireguard is the tightest piece of coding available in VPN protocol terms. It only uses 4000 lines of code to function, which is easily 100 times less than the likes of OpenVPN. 

It’s got variety too and can run through any UDP port, making it super hard to block. Last of all - the speed is excellent thanks to that ChaCha20 encryption, which no other VPN protocols currently have. 

The only downside to Wireguard is that it is still so new. That means VPN providers are finding their own solutions to slight gaps in Wireguard's security that are still being found. 

I rate it 10/10. The newest isn’t always the best, but if you need a fast VPN connection Wireguard is the one. When I’m streaming, downloading large files or gaming, I always go with it and it hasn’t let me down yet.

Which VPN protocol is my perfect match? 

As we’ve explained, the different VPN protocols can be best used in different situations. 

If you’re just looking for a seriously safe VPN connection that won’t ever let you down, then there’s an argument to go with OpenVPN all the time. It means that you can be sure your data will be safe and your anonymity preserved. 

When you’re looking for straight up speed of connection and a tiny bit of instability doesn’t bother you, maybe Wireguard is the one. You know it will always get the best connection speed because of that brand new ChaCha20 encryption. 

If it’s stability you rely on above all else, then IKEv2/IPSec is probably your choice. It’s been around for the longest and has the most miles on the clock, so it’s been more rigorously tested than either of the other two we offer at BlufVPN. 

Essentially, your perfect VPN protocol match might depend on how you’re feeling at the time, but now you have the tools to make an informed choice.   


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