When you’re choosing VPN you'll notice they use encryption protocols with different trade-offs between security and speed. One of the most popular is OpenVPN which is based on an open source code that’s in continuous development.
The OpenVPN project was founded by James Yonan, and was initially released back in 2002. Yonan’s background in software development spans from working on the original IBM PC to modern financial trading. He serves as the CTO of OpenVPN Technologies which he co-founded to monetize the protocol.
The protocol of a VPN is the technology used to keep your traffic secure. It's a collection of encryption and transmission standards that guide your device’s connection to its destination, quickly and safely. OpenVPN, in particular, has garnered a lot of popularity, partly due to its open-source nature, but mostly because it’s free.
OpenVPN is unlike most other VPN protocols in it’s open-source development. This means users enjoy a notably vetted secure network thanks to the vast OpenSSL Library that is completely unowned and unaffected by profit-minded tech giants like Microsoft or Cisco.
Additionally, because OpenVPN is open-source, a worldwide community supports the development and modification of the code. Any bugs in OpenVPN are squashed in a moment’s notice. Plus, when a VPN connection using OpenVPN goes down, the entire connection halts to assure no data is lost or stolen.
If you don't like the default client of your VPN and they are using the OpenVPN protocol, you can run your connection through the OpenVPN GUI. The OpenVPN project has their own VPN service called Private Tunnel, which provides a stable, reliable VPN network, making sure that everyone has access to high-quality internet security.
Using The OpenVPN Client
The OpenVPN client is popular because it is compatible with all notable operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. A large issue with the OpenVPN client is that it’s just too complicated for the everyday user.
On whether or not you should use OpenVPN, if you’re new to VPNs the answer is a flat no. Between the complicated setup process, the elaborate labyrinth of third-party plug-ins, and the additional overhead makes for a huge hassle if you aren’t experienced.
If you know what you’re doing and are happy to delve into some pretty full-on settings, then OpenVPN may have everything you need. You just need to know how to set it up and tweak it as you go.
The Advantages Of The OpenVPN Protocol
- OpenVPN as the name suggests, is open source, meaning that its code is open to the public. It has been inspected, vetted and tested by many different people and organizations.
- It features military grade 256-bit encryption, and can also use different encryption techniques and algorithms.
- It’s extremely secure and very flexible.
- It can be used on almost any platform, including Windows, Linux and macOS and even mobile like Android and iOS.
While this makes it an adaptive and powerful too, it also suffers from a couple of drawbacks:
- The OpenVPN protocol is only as useful as the VPN provider using it – which isn’t a problem if they are legitimate and professional.
- It requires technical knowledge to configure your VPN run through the OpenVPN GUI.
Choosing Between VPN Protocols
So why choose OpenVPN over PPTP or L2TP? What are the advantages of other popular VPN protocols?
PPTP is easy to set up and use, and provides a fast connection. It is recommended for users that are whose main concern is setup simplicity and accessing blocked or restricted content or websites in their area. PPTP is NOT recommended for those whose primary intent is network encryption and security since PPTP is not as secure and reliable.
An L2TP/IPSec VPN connection is slower, yet more secure and reliable, but interoperability between devices can be difficult and varied.
When given the choice we recommend OpenVPN because it offers the best of both worlds (speed and security) when it comes to VPNs protocols. Check carefully the technical details of VPN providers to make sure OpenVPN will be available to you.