L2TP VPN on Mikrotik, Android and Windows

Make your own VPN.


I haven’t needed VPN access to my home network in the past. Mostly, because my ADSL connection would would make it prohibitively slow. But with a shiny new NBN HFC connection, I have bandwidth to burn!

It’s also useful to have remote access to devices, in case something goes wrong or I need data that’s not in the cloud. And, with the right DNS settings, means I can get the benefit of Pi-Hole blocking even when I’m on the road.


Configure a Mikrotik router to allow L2TP VPN access for Windows and Android devices. No additional VPN apps should be required on Windows or Android; out of the box providers only.

Router Steps

First, we need to configure the router.

Step 1 - Firewall Rules

Before we configure anything related to VPNs, we need to make sure we allow the right packets through the firewall. I’ve allowed traffic on UDP ports 500, 1701 and 4500, plus two IP protocols relating to IPSec: ipsec-esp (50) and ipsec-ah (51).

IPSec related Firewall rules

/ip firewall filter
add action=accept chain=input comment="Allow L2PT / IPSec VPN access" \
dst-port=500,1701,4500 in-interface-list=WAN protocol=udp
add action=accept chain=input in-interface-list=WAN protocol=ipsec-esp
add action=accept chain=input in-interface-list=WAN protocol=ipsec-ah

Step 2 - Configure L2TP

Now we can configure the VPN!

L2TP allows you to tunnel between two endpoints. It doesn’t provide encryption on its own, but is usually combined with IPSec for security.

We need to add a profile and then a secret. Profiles let you define behaviour for many connections, and then you can override some settings at the individual login level (secret).

Go to PPP > Profiles, and Add a new profile. All I add here are internal DNS servers, because I want to take advantage of my Pi-Hole. Everything else remains default.

PPP Profile

add dns-server=, name=l2tp-vpn

Now go to the PPP > Secrets tab, and Add a new secret. You’ll need to select your profile, and enter a password. I assign a static IP addresses at this point as well, because I only have a small number of devices. If you want a dynamic address, use an IPv4 pool name instead of an IP adderss.

PPP Secret

add local-address= name=muj-phone password=ThePassword profile=\
l2tp-vpn remote-address= remote-ipv6-prefix=\

The password you assign at this point isn’t that important, as IPSec will protect it.

Although I have assigned an IPv6 prefix, neither my Android phone nor Windows 10 laptop made use of it. Not sure if the problem is with the router, my configuration or the devices.

Finally, we can enable L2TP! Go to PPP and click L2TP, and tick Enabled. The important thing is to set Use IPSec to required, and to enter an approprate IPSec secret (you may like to generate one from makemeapassword.ligos.net, or use your password manager).

PPTP is Enabled!

/interface l2tp-server server
set allow-fast-path=yes default-profile=l2tp-vpn enabled=yes\
ipsec-secret=S3cre1Pa$$w0rd use-ipsec=required

Recent RouterOS versions will automatically configure IPSec for you at this point. This is a real help, because I’ve always found IPSec to be difficult to get right, and painful to troubleshoot when I get it wrong. If you’re running an older version, look at the “Other Guides“ section below for details.

Mikrotik reference for PPP, and L2TP.

As mentioned above, if you’re on the most recent RouterOS firmware, IPSec will be configured correctly so it Just Works™. Of course, I noticed that it hadn’t turned the encryption up to 11 and decided to muck with it. Eventually, after breaking everything, I swallowed by pride, deleted all IPSec config and let the L2TP re-add it correctly.

My recommendation is to very carefully note the exact dynamic configuration, and use the Copy function to make changes.

Here’s what I have ended up with, for reference:

IPSec Profile with tweaked settings

IPSec Profile with tweaked settings

/ip ipsec profile
set [ find default=yes ] enc-algorithm=aes-256,aes-128,3des

/ip ipsec proposal
set [ find default=yes ] auth-algorithms=sha256,sha1 \
enc-algorithms="aes-256-cbc,aes-256-gcm,aes-192-cbc,aes-192-gcm,aes-128-cbc,aes-128-gcm,3des" \

I’ve just enabled a few more modern encryption options (SHA256 and AES256). However, not all clients (I’m looking at you Windows 10) support SHA256, so the profile hash algorithm remains SHA1 (the default). These settings work for my Windows and Android clients; make sure you test in your environment.

Mikrotik reference for IPSec.

Android Steps

Now, to configure an Android device.

My phone is running Android 8.1 via Lineage OS 15.1; your device may be different.

Goto Settings > Network & Internet > VPN. And tap the plus / add button. And then the Show advanced options checkbox.

Add VPN Connection in Android

Enter the following:

Field Details Example
Name Something to identify your VPN My Home
Server Address IP or DNS name for your router vpn.ligos.net /
L2TP Secret blank
IPSec identifier blank
IPSec preshared key Your pre-shared key, S3cre1Pa$$w0rd
DNS serach domains blank
DNS servers blank
Forwarding routes blank
Username Your L2TP username murray
Password Your L2TP password wordpass

VPN Connection Details in Android

Tap save. And then tap your VPN and Connect.

After a few seconds, it should connect and you’re good to go!

VPN Connected in Android

Always On VPN

Android can be configured so all network traffic must go across a VPN. This means your mobile provider cannot observe anything about your activity - they’ll just see a stream of L2TP packets on UDP port 500.

I’ve opted to go for this option. However, it does have several caveats:

  • You need a static IP address; “all traffic” includes DNS - so you can’t use a dynamic DNS service to work around this.
  • You need to statically configure DNS servers. I’m not 100% sure why this is the case, because the router is perfectly capable of assigning DNS when the tunnel is created. And no traffic is allowed until the tunnel is up. In any case, you can use your router’s internal IP address, internal DNS servers, or a public DNS service of your choice.

Make the following changes to your VPN settings:

Field Details Example
Server Address Your static IP address
DNS servers Space separated IP addresses of DNS servers
Always on VPN ticked

Always On VPN Connected in Android

For the DNS servers, I recommend either a) use your router, b) use multiple internal servers (in my case, I have several Pi Holes), or c) at least one public DNS server (eg: Cloudflare or Quad9). Without functioning DNS, the Internet just doesn’t work.

Windows Steps

Now to configure Windows.

Open Seetings and search for Network Status. Select VPN from the menu on the left. Click Add a VPN Connection.

Add VPN Connection in Windows 10

Enter the following:

Field Details Example
VPN Provider Windows (built-in)
Connection name Something to identify your VPN My Home
Server address or name IP or DNS name for your router vpn.ligos.net /
Type L2TP/IPSec with pre-shared key
Pre-shared key Your pre-shared key S3cre1Pa$$w0rd
Type of sign-in info Username and password
Username Your L2TP username murray
Password Your L2TP password wordpass

VPN Connection Details in Windows 10

Click save. And then click your VPN and Connect.

After a few seconds, it should connect and you’re good to go!

VPN Connected in Windows 10

Active Connections

Mikrotik always gives you good status and diagnostic tools (compared to residential routers). This is what you see when there’s an active connection:

PPP Active Connections

Double click the PPP interface and you’ll see the usual real time statistics and graphs.

PPP Interface Status

And similar details in IPSec.

IPSec Active Peers

IPSec Installed SAs

If you manually create a L2TP interface with the same name and user as the dynamic one, that will let you assign the interface to firewall rules or interface lists. You could also use a static IP address for this, but I’ve come to prefer interface lists rather than IP addresses in my firewall rules. Simply see what the names are, disconnect your device, and manually create an L2TP interface.

/interface l2tp-server
add name=l2tp-muj-phone user=muj-phone


My main use for VPN is on my phone.

The “always on” connection works as advertised, most of the time. But it struggles when my LTE connection drops in and out, which happens on train trips - moving at speed and going in and out of tunnels. It also doesn’t cope that well when I connect and disconnect from WiFi - the device’s IP address changes and the VPN sees packets from the wrong address. Android will reconnect automatically, but the VPN takes ~60 seconds to notice the old connection was dropped, and doesn’t always reconnect successfully. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 minutes to reconnect, only for the connection to drop again 2 minutes later.

Frustrating to say the least.

My other annoyance is the VPN doesn’t pick up an IPv6 address; it’s IPv4 only. But a kind of restricted IPv4 - you can connect to other devices, but you can’t discover them, probably because the VPN is in a different broadcast domain. All that means SyncThing can’t discover or connect other devices, even when I’m on my home WiFi. And, SyncThing is how I upload photos from my phone to a computer. So, every weekend (at least) I need to change the VPN to not “always on”, so the phone can exist on my normal WiFi, connect to SyncThing peers, and upload photos.

Future Work

I’d like to experiment with an SSTP based VPN as well. However, for that to work I need a ready supply of certificates. And updating certificates on Mikrotik devices using LetsEncrypt is a little too complex for me right now.

I’d also like to get IPv6 working. Partly because it seems to be 90% working, but mostly because I like the new and shiny,

Other guides for configuring a Mikrotik VPN include:


You can create your own VPN on your Mikrotik router to access your home network from anywhere in the world. Windows and Android have a built in L2TP + IPSec VPN provider which works out of the box.

This also lets you bounce all your traffic off your home IP address and hide any activity from your mobile provider (although, such activity is still visible to your ISP).