What is OpenVPN?

Last updated: November 30, 2020

what-is-open-vpn-2020

No matter if you are a new or an experienced VPN user, you must have heard about the OpenVPN protocol. Surprisingly, there are VPN protocols such as PPTP, IPsec, SSTP, and others that can secure your privacy considerably. 

But nothing beats OpenVPN protocol when you want to attain complete online freedom while surfing the web from anywhere. If you wish to know what OpenVPN protocol is and how you can use it on your preferred devices, this guide is for you.  

What do you mean by OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is one of the most popular VPN tunneling protocols that secure point-to-point and site-to-site-connections. In simple words, when you connect to a VPN service using OpenVPN protocol, your data is protected through impressive 256-bit encryption.

Luckily, it is an open-source protocol that means you can access it and change it as per your needs hassle-free. Furthermore, the community of developers and users tests, update and improve the OpenVPN protocol all the time.

How does an OpenVPN protocol work?

In reality, an OpenVPN protocol creates a secure tunnel between the VPN client and the VPN server. For instance, the protocol has to use the OpenSSL library when managing encryption and authentication.

If you do not know about the OpenSSL library, here is the explanation. OpenSSL is an all-purpose library ideal for an open-source implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocols.

Moreover, it can either use TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol) to transfer data securely. In case you do not know about TCP or UDP, you can consider them as transport layer protocols that play a crucial role in transmitting data over the web.

Compared to UDP, TCP looks more compelling as it provides an error correction feature. An error correction feature is when a network packet is sent, and TCP has to wait for confirmation before sending it again.

If we discuss UDP, this type of transport layer protocol does not conduct an error correction activity. Hence, it becomes less stable but much faster than TCP. As far as the performance of an OpenVPN protocol goes, it works amazingly well over UDP. Thus, the protocol tries to create a UDP connection in the first place.

In case the UDP connection is not created successfully, it then establishes a TCP connection. Different VPN services come with OpenVPN over the UDP feature.

Is the OpenVPN protocol fast?

Surprisingly, an OpenVPN protocol may disappoint you in terms of speed. If you prefer online security over speed, there is no harm in neglecting this flaw. That said, you can still get reasonable connection speeds that are enough for casual web browsing and video streaming tasks.

Is it safe to use the OpenVPN protocol?

An OpenVPN protocol is safe to use. Moreover, it is not owned by any particular company. As far as the OpenVPN protocol’s safety goes, it uses strong ciphers that make it more secure from other tunneling protocols.

Similarly, you can customize according to your preferences as and when required. Besides, the OpenVPN protocol is open source since the source code is easily accessible to the users. As a result, you can examine the code yourself.

Furthermore, the OpenVPN protocol uses AES 256-bit military-grade encryption to enhance the online security of the VPN connections. Likewise, it may use blowfish, Cast-128, and 3DES ciphers as well.

In short, OpenVPN is one of the safest protocols out there that allows offers a secure, anonymous, and surveillance-free online experience to its users.

Advantages and disadvantages of OpenVPN

OpenVPN protocol provides the following benefits, including:

Bypass any firewall filters

Through an OpenVPN protocol, you can securely evade any firewall when setting OpenVPN with TCP port 443. Hence, it becomes quite challenging to block OpenVPN connections.

Highly secure

OpenVPN uses industry-standard 256-bit encryption and other powerful ciphers. 

Compatibility

You can use OpenVPN protocol on various operating systems such as Windows, Linux Mac, and Android.

Similarly, there are a few downsides of using an OpenVPN protocol you need to be aware of:

Manual configuration is cumbersome

The new VPN users may face issues while installing OpenVPN protocol on their desired operating systems manually. 

Average connection speeds

At times, there is a strong likelihood that your connection speed might drop considerably because of strong encryption.

How can I set up and use OpenVPN?

Before setting up an OpenVPN connection, you will need to subscribe to a VPN first. By doing so, you can start using the OpenVPN protocol on your desired devices. Here is what you should do: 

Download the configuration files

Firstly, you will have to download the configuration files that allow you to create a secure VPN connection using the OpenVPN protocol. When you use premium VPN services, you can easily find all the required configuration files accessible on their download sections.

Once you have accessed such files, don’t forget to unzip them as they come in the archived form.

Install the VPN client

In this step, you will need to set up the OpenVPN client on your devices. For that reason, you should run the installers available on the download page. At this point, you must accept the default options, then select a different installation destination folder and continue the installation process.  

Once you have completed the installation process, your default text viewer will show you a new file containing a guide that provides all the required technical details. 

Import the VPN data

Before starting OpenVPN, you should launch the OpenVPN GUI application to include the service to your System Tray. You should now copy all the OVPN files you downloaded to your “Config” subfolder provided in the OpenVPN installation folder.

When you click on the OpenVPN icon, you will see the names of all the files you copied. For the sake of your convenience, you had better rename the files.  

Create or establish the connection

You will need to click on the OpenVPN files available in the OpenVPN application to connect to your preferred server. Now, enter your login credentials, and if everything works fine as planned, you will see a log screen containing some status commands.

When the connection is created or established, the log screen will eventually disappear. At this point, you will notice a desktop notification suggesting the connection has been created successfully.

If you see the OpenVPN icon closely, a green screen will be shown. When you position a cursor on the icon, you can see the server name alongside your new IP address. If you want to disconnect the newly created OpenVPN connection, you will click the OpenVPN icon, then select the server you are currently connected to, and click on “Disconnect.”  

Top VPNs that use the OpenVPN protocol

According to top-performing VPNs available in the market, OpenVPN has become one of the leading VPN tunneling protocols in recent times. Here is the list that includes some of the best VPNs that recommend OpenVPN protocol to their users:

  • PureVPN
  • Surfshark
  • NordVPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • CyberGhost

1. PureVPN

purevpn-for-openvpn-protocol

  • Offers OpenVPN protocol
  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

PureVPN is a Hong Kong-based VPN service that exists in 140+ countries through 6500+ servers worldwide. On the privacy and security front, the service provides a kill switch, dedicated IP address, OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit encryption, 10 multi-logins, etc.

If you want to use PureVPN, you will need to pay $1.32/month at an incredible 88% discount and a 31-day refund policy.

2. Surfshark

surfshark-offers-openvpn-protocol

  • Provides OpenVPN protocol
  • Works well with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming services
  • Supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

Surfshark is a BVI based VPN provider that offers 3200+ servers in 65 countries globally. In addition, the service does not keep a log of its users’ information and provides various security and privacy features.

You can contemplate such features in the shape of a kill switch, dedicated IP address, OpenVPN protocol, whitelister, cleanweb, 256-bit encryption, unlimited simultaneous connections, etc.

You can subscribe to the Surfshark 2-year plan ( including 3 months extra free of cost) at the price of $2.21/month at an incredible 83% discount and a 30-day refund policy.

3. NordVPN

nordvpn-provides-openvpn-protocol

  • Offers OpenVPN protocol
  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

NordVPN is a Panama based VPN service that offers 5300+ servers in 55+ countries worldwide. If we talk about its security and privacy features, you can use kill switch, split tunneling, 6 multi-logins, no logging policy, OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit encryption, and others.

If you want to test NordVPN, you can get its 2-year subscription plan + 3 months free by paying $3.71/month at a decent 68% discount and a 30-day refund policy.

Note: 3 free months have been offered as a part of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deal. The campaign has been launched on the 16th of November and ends on the 29th of November with the opportunity to be extended until the 7th of December. In case of a refund, both the additional free months and the regular subscription are canceled.

4. ExpressVPN

Expressvpn-with-openvpn-protocol

  • Provides OpenVPN protocol
  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services
  • Supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

ExpressVPN is a BVI (British Virgin Islands) based VPN service like Surfshark. The service does not record its users’ online activities. Likewise, it offers a wide range of security and privacy features to its users like kill switch (network lock), split tunneling, OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit encryption, 5 multi-logins, etc.

You will have to bear a monthly cost of $6.67/month that helps you use its yearly plan at a reasonable 49% discount and 30-day refund policy.

5. CyberGhost

cyberghost-with-openvpn-protocol

  • Offers OpenVPN protocol
  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

CyberGhost is a Romania based VPN service providing 6000+ servers in 80+ countries. The service offers a great mix of privacy and security features, including kill switch, IP leak protection, DNS leak protection, OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit encryption, seven (7) multi-logins, etc.

You will need to pay $2.25/month to obtain its 3-year package at an excellent 83% discount and a 45-day refund policy.

Wrapping Up

We hope you would appreciate our guide that describes what OpenVPN is and how you use one of the safest VPN protocols on multiple devices. If you choose a premium VPN service, you can use an OpenVPN protocol without any hassle.

However, you may not be able to get impressive speeds, but it is not a big deal considering you can improve your privacy next level through OpenVPN protocol.

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