Difference Between OpenVPN and PPTP


Difference between OpenVPN and PPTP is very important to know topic when it comes to Virtual Private Networks. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is a technique that is used to expand a private network over a public network such as Internet. Various techniques have been implemented to create VPN and both OpenVPN and PPTP are such methods. PPTP, which stands for Point to Point Tunneling Protocol, was introduced by the Microsoft and was available as early as from Windows 95. OpenVPN , on the other hand, is an open source software solution that was introduced in 2001. Both PPTP and OpenVPN is available across multiple platforms from PCs to routers on most used operating systems, but both have its own advantages and disadvantages.

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is a software that can be used for creating Virtual Private Networks (VPN). The implementation is open source and it is released under the GNU GPL license. The first version was released back in 2001 and by now it has developed to a great capacity. The software is supported across multiple platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and even FreeBSD. Not only on personal computers and server but also on embedded devices running firmware such as open-WRT, DD-WRT and tomato OpenVPN is supported. Nowadays, there are implementations for mobile platforms such as iOS and Android as well. The application corresponds to client server architecture where one is configured as a server and one or several are configured as clients to connect to the OpenVPN server. Even routers can be configured as either clients or servers.

A great advantage of OpenVPN is its high -level security. It uses OpenSSL library to provide security techniques such as encryption and authentication while allowing many cryptographic algorithms such as AES, triple DES, RC5 and Blowfish. Another special advantage is the ability it has to work through NAT (Network Address Translation) and proxy servers while it is also capable of bypassing firewalls. Service runs default on the port 1194 but can be changed by the user if necessary. Both TCP and UDP is supported as the transport layer protocol and if necessary internet Protocol version 6 is also supported. If needed LZO compression can be used to compress the stream. Currently, this is the most widely used VPN implementation both on computers as well as embedded devices.

Difference Between openVPN and PPTP

What is PPTP?

Point to Point Tunneling Protocol is also a method that can be used to create VPN. This protocol was published by a consortium of Microsoft and initially it was used to create VPN over windows dial up networks. The protocol itself does not define any encryption and authentication procedure but instead the security depends on the tunneling of point to point protocol. Microsoft uses MPPE (Microsoft Point to Point Encryption Protocol) in MS-CHAP (Microsoft Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol) to provide security. Many platforms including windows has PPTP capability inbuilt into the system letting user use the service with minimal effort for configuration just by using a user name, password and a server name. From Windows 95 Windows has inbuilt support for PPTP. Apart from Windows, operating systems such as Linux, Android, FreeBSD, OS X and iOS also have built-in support for PPTP.

The greatest drawback in PPTP is the presence of security issues where it has several known vulnerabilities. A PPTP connection is initiated by communicating via TCP port 1723 and then a GRE (General Routing Encapsulation) tunnel is created. So by disabling GRE traffic PPTP connections can be blocked easily.

What is the difference between OpenVPN and PPTP?

• PPTP is a protocol that is used to implement VPN while OpenVPN is an open source software solution used to implement VPN.

• PPTP was introduced by Microsoft while OpenVPN was written by a person called James Yonan.

• MPPE and MS-CHAP is used to implement security in PPTP. OpenVPN implements its security based open SSL/TLS using OpenSSL library.

• There are some major security vulnerabilities in PPTP, but OpenVPN does not have such known major vulnerabilities.

• PPTP support is inbuilt in all mainstream operating systems including Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD, Android, OS X and iOS, but OpenVPN must be installed as it is not inbuilt into the OS. However, OpenVPN also supports all above operating systems when installed.

• PPTP is much easy to configure as what is needed is only a username, password and server address. However, on the other hand, OpenVPN involves a bit difficult configuration where certain files must be edited and parameters must be set.

• PPTP uses port 1723 and GRE protocol. OpenVPN uses port 1194 but can be changed to any.

• PPTP can be easily blocked by firewalls while OpenVPN can bypass many firewalls by setting the port to some known port like 443.

• OpenVPN works across NAT and proxy servers easily than PPTP.

• PPTP is much faster than OpenVPN.

• OpenVPN is reliable over unstable network connections than PPTP as it can recover easily.

• OpenVPN can be customized and is widely configured across various settings as preferred, but PPTP is not much configurable.



PPTP is a protocol that is used to implement VPN where it was introduced by Microsoft. OpenVPN is an open source software solution that uses SSL/TLS protocols and OpenSSL library to implement security. The basic advantages of PPTP is the convenience to configure and the inbuilt availability in various operating systems. However, it has various security vulnerabilities, so it is not recommended for cases that need high security. OpenVPN is much more secure but it must be installed as third-party software and the configuration is a bit difficult, but it is reliable even on unstable network connections.


Images Courtesy:

  1. OpenVPN logo by OpenVPN Technologies, Inc. (CC BY-SA 3.0)