Updated March 12, 2019
If you want to access and your VPN, you’ll usually have to set-up your VPN and use it through its dedicated client. Each VPN’s client is somewhat different and they come in a wide variety styles, but you can also choose to not use the dedicated client at all.
This is where OpenVPN's clients comes in.
What Is OpenVPN?
OpenVPN is an open source VPN protocol that can handle all of your privacy needs. It is the most widely used and vetted protocol. The open source code is constantly being fiddled with by such a variety of coders that any such bugs will immediately be fixed.
In addition to offering its own VPN service, OpenVPN Technologies Inc. allows you to connect to any VPN server using the OpenVPN protocol through the OpenVPN Connect client or the open source OpenVPN GUI client. The OpenVPN clients are not at all resource-hungry, ensuring seamless running of your VPN. This is, in essence, the Linux of VPN clients.
Between the two OpenVPN clients, OpenVPN GUI has the most functionality so we will focus on that in this article.
The Pros Of Using OpenVPN GUI
The pros of the OpenVPN GUI client are that if you choose to use multiple VPN providers, they’re all consolidated into one user interface. You also gain access to the VPN’s servers using the OpenVPN protocol without relying upon their in-house designed user interface.
At first, this second point may not seem to be such an important advantage. Why wouldn’t a VPN’s own client be a perfectly adequate means of accessing their VPN? Where OpenVPN GUI helps is that VPN clients can be quite buggy. This is especially so if the provider is a more obscure one. If the VPN client were to malfunction due to some dodgy coding on the user interface, this would effectively bar the user from being able to access the service.
OpenVPN GUI is open source and like the OpenVPN protocol is constantly being improved by coders all over the world.
The Cons Of Using OpenVPN GUI
The negatives to OpenVPN GUI might be easy to guess, it can be a very daunting method of approaching virtual privacy.
You may have heard people, rightly, decry how complicated OpenVPN was to set up, how many plugins that were required, and how you’ll still need VPN provider to even use it. However, we’re here to make that part of the equation easier.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to setting up OpenVPN GUI on Windows.
First Things First: VPN Configuration Files
Before you can download and utilize OpenVPN GUI you are going to need the configuration files for the VPN or VPNs that you plan on using with OpenVPN GUI. This sounds daunting, but it’s quite simple.
Configuration files hold the information that OpenVPN GUI will use to communicate with your desired VPN server. What’s handy is that many VPN providers will have these readily available for you. Many providers even have tutorials for setting them up on OpenVPN clients.
If your VPN doesn’t have a handy setup guide, you can find many on the Support Pages of the VPN and search for any references for OVPN or OpenVPN files. Once you have your configuration files downloaded and extracted from their zip files, you’re ready to download OpenVPN.
Download The OpenVPN GUI Client
Now you’re ready to head on over to OpenVPN’s website.
Click on the “Community” tab and then click on “Downloads”. To launch the installer, now click on the button by the category “WINDOWS INSTALLER (NSIS)”. From here on, a setup wizard will take you through all the necessary steps to get OpenVPN GUI up and running.
Configuring Your VPN With OpenVPN
Now that OpenVPN is downloaded, launch the application by clicking on “OpenVPN GUI”. While this is open, within the files where OpenVPN is saved, you need to open the configuration folder. This should be under these headings:
\Users\Name\OpenVPN\Config or \Program Files\OpenVPN\config
With this open, copy the configuration files from your VPN into this folder.
If you want to view the servers you’ve copied, right-click the system tray icon for a list. They’ll appear alphabetically. Be warned however that OpenVPN GUI only has the capacity for 50 servers and so you’ll have to pick and choose if you have a VPN with thousands of potential servers.
Now You're Ready To Begin Using OpenVPN GUI
From here on in, everything should be fine and dandy for you to restart your explorations of the cyber world free from the dizzying fears of being spied upon by the nefarious corporations and governments.
To log in, right-click the system tray icon and select your desired server. Click “Connect” and then input your login details. You should now be logged into your VPN with a changed IP address. To check what your new IP is, you can hover over the green OpenVPN icon.
What Else Can You Do?
One of the joys of an open source client for your VPNs is the customisability of it. From simply going into the settings menu you can control whether OpenVPN GUI boots up with your computer, or you can hide your log screen while you’re connected.
Beyond these adjustments, there are tons more you can do through OpenVPN commands. Here advanced users will be able to adjust the granular details of how OpenVPN GUI runs, from selecting new protocols to altering the value of the Maximum Transmission Unit.
Ultimately, it’s this flexibility that will sell people on OpenVPN GUI. If you think you’re up for the challenge of tinkering, then now we hope this guide has opened the floodgates for your OpenVPN journey to begin.