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To protect your Internet activity, many people around the world use various VPN services. These services encrypt the traffic you send or receive on your device and let you hide your Internet activity and bypass some local restrictions.
Each service uses a bunch of common security protocols and ports. But what is a port? Is there any difference between them? What ports are typically used by the VPN apps? Find out about all these in this article.
What is a port?
A network port is a system resource identified by a number and dedicated to an application running on some network host for communication with applications running on other network hosts (including other applications on the same host).
Typically, the port is written as a 16-bit number from 1 to 65535. Each of the TCP and UDP protocols can use the set of 65536 numbers simultaneously.
Why are network ports used?
A computer connected to the Internet can send and receive various data packets: transfer files via FTP, get browser data, receive and send emails, etc. Network ports sort this data flow and distribute the traffic to the right addresses.
How a network port works
To avoid confusion between simultaneously running network applications on the same computer, the system uses the ports that distribute incoming and outgoing traffic. To do this, a network application needs to know:
- the protocol — a set of rules for data exchange in a network — for example, TCP, UDP;
- the IP address of the sender’s device and IP address of the recipient’s device;
- the port of the sender’s device and the port of the recipient’s device.
Many popular protocols have standard port values assigned to them. The IANA organization regulates and approves standards of actions with ports. This distribution significantly reduces the time for data exchange.
A set of IP addresses and network port numbers is called a socket. The socket is often called a transport layer address and looks like 188.8.131.52:2039, where 184.108.40.206 is an IP address with the port number 2039.
What is the difference between UDP and TCP ports?
TCP ports: when using the TCP protocol (Transmission Control Protocol), before sending data, a port establishes a connection, which makes it more reliable.
UDP ports: when using the UDP protocol (User Datagram Protocol), data packets are sent without a previously established connection, which increases the data transfer speed.
Why do you need to know the port numbers?
Certain programs may use different types of ports, so when setting up firewalls or giving applications certain permissions, it may be useful to scan port numbers. In addition, some applications, such as VPN clients, can use multiple ports simultaneously.
List of ports used by VPNs
Different VPN providers can use these specific network ports. It is almost impossible to list all of them. However, some ports are commonly used by most services. Their numbers depend on the VPN protocol you currently use. Let’s see the list of common ports and protocols.
|These ports are used to establish the OpenVPN connections. OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol that is widely used by many providers. 443 TCP is also used by SSTP — a protocol created by Microsoft with native Windows support — for data and control path.|
|PPTP uses 1723 TCP to instantiate a VPN tunnel, while the 47 port is the best for GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation). In other words, the 1723 port is utilized for the PPTP control path, while the 47 port for the PPTP data path. PPTP is one of the oldest protocols on the market and is not always supported by the latest operating systems.|
|500, 4500 UDP
|L2TP uses 500 and 4500 UDP ports to negotiate IPsec keys, and the 50 port for ESP (Encapsulating Security Payload). If the protocol uses IPsec encryption, it is connected via the 1701 UDP port. The L2TP protocol was designed to set up VPN connections and being paired with IPsec, it guarantees a high-security level.
Also, these ports are used by IKEv2 — a VPN encryption protocol that also supports IPsec to provide powerful encryption. It was created by Microsoft in cooperation with Cisco.
|51820 UDP||WireGuard establishes incoming connections via this port|
This is a list of common ports to establish a VPN connection by the majority of providers. If you are not sure, please contact technical support to find out which port is used and how to open it.