VPN Protocols Explained: Why Protocols Matter

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What’s a VPN protocol?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protocol is basically a set of rules that governs how data is transmitted between your computer and a secure VPN server. You can think of a protocol as a type of language. Every language has a set of rules that needs to be understood in order for one person to be able to communicate with another. In the case of VPN protocols, the software on your computer has to use the same protocol as the software on the VPN server, in order for your computer to use the VPN service.

Just like there are different languages in the world, there are also different VPN protocols. Let’s take a look at the most popular protocols and their benefits and downsides.

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Hotspot Shield VPN uses our own proprietary Hydra protocol

We weren’t satisfied with the existing protocols that most of the VPN industry uses today, so we decided to develop our own. Most of the top VPNs are very secure, but they suffer from high latency. In other words, there can be a fairly long delay in between the time that data is sent and when it’s received.

Our challenge was to find the ideal balance between speed and security. After a lot of real-world testing and optimization, we developed the Hydra protocol. It works on all major platforms and provides a super secure connection that’s 2.4 times faster than OpenVPN, over long distances.

An independent third party ranked Hotspot Shield VPN as the fastest overall VPN service, out of all the consumer and enterprise grade VPNs in the study. But don’t take our word for it, give it a try right now and see for yourself.

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Hotspot Shield Premium subscribers enjoy…

  • Unlimited data for unlimited browsing and streaming
  • Military-grade encryption and security
  • 1800+ ultra-fast VPN servers in 70+ countries
  • Connect 10 devices under 1 account
  • Dedicated, live 247 tech support
  • Complete privacy from your ISP and other trackers
  • No hassle 45-day money-back guarantee

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The VPN protocol to avoid

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is one of the oldest protocols that is still widely used today. The only benefit of this protocol is that it’s blazing fast. However, it’s not secure.

Some VPN services still use this protocol, so be sure to double-check before you sign up. It’s extremely risky to send your data over PPTP.

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Popular VPN protocols: pros and cons

  • OpenVPN

    OpenVPN is currently one of the most popular protocols because it’s open source and very secure. Hotspot Shield used to use the OpenVPN protocol, but we discovered that it had major latency issues. We developed Catapult Hydra to address these issues and significantly improved performance, without sacrificing security.

  • Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)

    SSTP is a protocol that was developed by Microsoft and is considered secure. The downsides are that it’s relatively slow and is primarily designed for Windows devices.

  • Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)

    IPSec encrypts data, it doesn’t actually maintain the VPN tunnel (connection). Therefore, it has to be used with one of the protocols listed below to create a complete, secure VPN connection.

  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

    The biggest downside of L2TP/IPSec is that it’s slow. This is because it packages data twice before its sent, and unpacking the data also requires 2 steps. It’s also easy to block this protocol because it uses just one port. On the upside, it’s easy to set up and is compatible with most devices and operating systems.

  • Internet Key Exchange Protocol Version 2 (IKEv2)

    IKEv2/IPSec is one of the fastest VPN protocols and is more secure than L2TP/IPSec. The biggest drawback is that it’s only compatible with a limited number of platforms.

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Insist on only the best VPN protocol

As you can see, the Hydra protocol solves the issues of speed, security, compatibility and ease of use, that affect many of the widely used VPN protocols available today. Other VPN services allow you to switch between protocols in their software because they know that each of these protocols have their weaknesses. But what if you want to access your bank’s website and forget to switch back to the more secure (but slower) protocol? That could end badly.

We only offer one protocol because it’s the only protocol you’ll ever need. Give it a try for 45 days and if you don’t absolutely love it, we’ll give you a full refund.

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