How Does A L2TP VPN Work, and Why Do You Want One?

L2TP, known as for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, is a popularly used protocol for VPN (Virtual Private Network). It supports VPN connections. A brainchild of IT giant Microsoft and Networking giant Cisco, L2TP has its own features, uses and working style. As you move ahead of this post, you will understand what and why a VPN is, why l2TP for VPN and various other aspects of its functionality.

How Does A L2TP VPN Work, and Why Do You Want One? 2

Basics of VPN

When you browse the internet normally by connecting your computer to your internet service provider’s (ISP) router or internet connection, all that you browse on the internet is public. It means any server in the global network of the internet can see and access your personal data and other online preferences. In other words, your online data has no privacy and security guaranteed.

Designed to provide a safer and private browsing experience to an internet user, a VPN is a service that hides all your online actions. When you connect to the internet using a VPN, first you have to access the VPN client and this VPN client connects you securely to your ISP.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service that lets you access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server and hiding your online actions. Every word that you type now while browsing would be encrypted and then sent to internet. It means all your data is safe. Even if someone intercepts your data, they can just see the encrypted version, but not the actual data. Thus, a VPN provides data safety and security.

VPN Protocols

A protocol is the way in which your data is transmitted over a VPN connection. It defines how your VPN client is handling your data and is passing on to the other side of the internet. Various protocols are used for data transmission for VPN connections. Some of the popularly used ones are:

  • Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP/IPsec)
  • Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
  • Internet Key Exchange, Version 2 (IKEv2)
  • OpenVPN

As we said, in this blog post, we would focus on what, why and how’s of L2TP protocol.

What L2TP is all about?

Essentially l2TP contains two components: A tunnel, and a session.

  • The tunnel carries data packets and is responsible for providing a reliable transport between the two endpoints.
  • The session lies inside the tunnel and carries the data.

Note: When data is being transmitted, it happens that the user data is encapsulated by headers and separated by the session identifiers. A single tunnel carries many sessions at a time using this encapsulation and session identifiers concept.

What is involved in a L2TP connection?

How Does A L2TP VPN Work, and Why Do You Want One? 3

When you use a L2TP protocol:

  • A connection is initiated between the two end points of the L2TP connection:L2TP Access Concentrator(LAC) and L2TP Network Server(LNS).
  • Then, a Point to Point Protocol (PPP) connection is initiated by you with your ISP.  Here both you and your ISP are the two points on the either side of the connection.
  • This request is passed on to LAC and once it approves, a PPP link is formed.
  • Now, a slot is assigned within the network tunnel and the request is handed over to LNS.
  • Once all this is finally authenticated and permitted, your virtual PPP is created which freely allows the link frames to pass through the tunnel.
  • The LNS, which is on the other side, accepts the frames and takes off the encapsulation and passes them as normal frames.

How L2TP works?

When a VPN connection over L2TP is raised:

TheIPSec Security Association agreement is done over UDP port 500 through the Internet Key Exchange. Next, through IP protocol 50, a secure connection is established between the VPN client and the VPN server. Now, the L2TP negotiates and forms a tunnel between the two endpoints. L2TP uses TCP port 1701 for this purpose and uses various technologies such as IPSec for its authentication and security mechanisms. This is the reason for the flexibility of L2TP making it compatible to work with different security mechanisms in a network. Besides, this is what makes L2TP more adaptable than PPTP.

Why should you choose L2TP?


L2TP uses IPSec, that is a proven security protocol with powerful encryption ciphers such as AES.

Besides, two encapsulations come into picture – first a normal PPTP one and later the secure IPSec one. It means your data is double encapsulated before it is transmitted over a network. This double encapsulation is a feature that is unique to L2TP and gained it more prominence compared to PPTP connection.

Remember to choose a service provider who offers L2TP/IPSec rather than only L2TP. This way you are safer online. It means no man in the middle attacks, thanks to its AES-256 algorithm.

However, as a safer option to prevent your data from being cracked, you should ensure that your VPN provider has a no-log option. If you are really in need of security, then any other secure protocol would serve better than L2TP.


When you have a broadband connection of minimum 100Mbps and a good to go CPU, L2TP would work pretty fast. Another reason for its fastness is due to its inherent nature of offering no encryption.But, when paired with IPSec, L2TP can use encryption keys of up to 256-bit and the 3DES algorithm. So, not that much to worry about encryption too.

Compatibility and ease of setup

L2TP is multi-platform compatible. It works comfortably both on Windows and MacOS. It also goes well with other mobile devices and platforms too. Users experienced its ‘plug and play’ feature even on the Linux or BSD platforms.

L2TP is fairly easy to setup. You do not need an expert technical help or additional hardware to achieve the set up. All that you need to do is go to Network Settings and follow some basic steps as available in the guide, and you are done setting up the L2TP. It is not that time taking or effort consuming too.

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