OpenVPN Review 2023: Setup, Performance & Comparison

In today’s world, where online privacy is a top concern, I’ve taken a deep dive into OpenVPN, a solution that’s been widely talked about for its robust security features. As someone who’s always on the lookout for reliable cybersecurity tools, I’m excited to share my insights on this popular VPN service.

I’ve put OpenVPN to the test, exploring its capabilities to see if it lives up to the hype. From its encryption standards to ease of use, I’ll break down everything you need to know before deciding if it’s the right VPN for your needs.

Navigating the vast sea of VPNs can be overwhelming, but I’m here to make it simpler. Join me as I uncover the strengths and weaknesses of OpenVPN, ensuring you’re well-informed to make the best choice for your online security.

What is OpenVPN?

When looking into virtual private networks, you’ll likely encounter OpenVPN. It’s an open-source VPN protocol that’s become synonymous with reliability and security in the industry. OpenVPN operates using the OpenSSL library which offers numerous cryptographic algorithms to ensure stringent data encryption. This kind of robust security makes it a top choice for businesses and security-conscious individuals alike.

The architecture of OpenVPN allows for a high degree of configuration. It can traverse firewalls and NAT (Network Address Translation) effortlessly, which is why it’s great at bypassing geoblocks or accessing a network while traveling. I’ve noticed that it’s compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

Another remarkable thing about OpenVPN is its community-driven nature. The protocol benefits from global developer input, which leads to continuous improvements and updates. This community support also means that any vulnerabilities are quickly identified and patched, enhancing the overall resilience of the VPN service.

Security Features of OpenVPN

When I delve into the security aspect of OpenVPN, I’m often impressed by its comprehensive set of features designed to protect data and privacy. At the core of OpenVPN’s security is AES-256 encryption, one of the most secure encryption methods available. This is the same standard used by government agencies and security experts worldwide to protect classified information.

  • OpenVPN implements TLS (Transport Layer Security) for secure key exchange.
  • It utilizes HMAC (Hash Message Authentication Code) to verify data integrity and thwart active attacks.
  • Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) is achieved using Diffie-Hellman key exchange, ensuring that even if one session’s key is compromised, past and future sessions remain secure.

OpenVPN’s ability to traverse firewalls and network address translators (NATs) thanks to its UDP and TCP port flexibility also enhances its security. Not just that but unlike proprietary protocols, OpenVPN’s openness means its code is available for scrutiny, making it less susceptible to security through obscurity. Constant community review keeps it ahead of potential vulnerabilities, maintaining my trust in its capabilities to shield online activities from prying eyes.

Pros of OpenVPN

OpenVPN’s robust security features are a significant advantage, offering peace of mind when it comes to data protection. As I’ve mentioned, the AES-256 encryption stands out as the gold standard for encrypting data, and OpenVPN implements this with finesse. Additionally, the protocol’s use of TLS for secure key exchange means that both the client and server have a way to ascertain each other’s identity without exposing sensitive information.

Another pro is the versatility of OpenVPN. It’s not limited to a single encryption or network setup, which allows me to customize it to specific needs or adjust for optimal performance. Being platform-independent, it works seamlessly across different operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. This universality makes it an excellent choice for businesses and individuals who use multiple devices.

OpenVPN’s ability to bypass NATs and firewalls deserves applause. By using both UDP and TCP protocols, it ensures consistent performance and accessibility even in networks with strict Internet access rules. What this means for users is that they can reach their content wherever they are, circumventing geo-restrictions and Internet censorship with ease.

Lastly, the community support for OpenVPN is exceptional. With its open-source nature, there’s a wealth of resources and updates from the community, ensuring that any vulnerabilities are swiftly addressed. This ongoing community review process not only betters the security but also enhances the overall functionality of OpenVPN.

Cons of OpenVPN

While OpenVPN certainly boasts a range of benefits, it’s also fair to point out a few drawbacks that may affect user experience. First, the setup process can be complex for beginners. Unlike other protocols that come built-in on operating systems, OpenVPN often requires manual configuration, which might be intimidating for those who aren’t tech-savvy.

Another stumbling block is the speed performance. Due to the high level of encryption and security, OpenVPN can be slower compared to other protocols. This speed reduction might be noticeable especially when it’s set up on less powerful hardware or when using a server that’s far away.

Some users have noticed that OpenVPN can consume more battery on mobile devices as well. This is particularly relevant for those relying on VPNs regularly on their phones or tablets—it could lead to the need for more frequent charging periods.

Lastly, while OpenVPN is highly configurable, this can be a double-edged sword. It’s a boon for power users who want to fine-tune their connections, but for someone looking for a plug-and-play solution, the array of options and settings might come off as overly complicated and daunting.

Navigating these cons is possible with the right approach, but they are considerations to keep in mind when opting for OpenVPN as a VPN solution.

How to Set Up OpenVPN

Setting up OpenVPN can seem daunting at first, but following a step-by-step approach will simplify the process. First, you’ll need to install the OpenVPN software on your device. You can download the official OpenVPN client from their website, ensuring you’re getting the genuine, secure application.

Once installed, you’ll need to configure the VPN by importing the .ovpn configuration files from your VPN provider. These files contain all the necessary information to establish a secure connection. Here’s what the process usually looks like:

  • Launch the OpenVPN client.
  • Import your .ovpn files, often done through a simple drag-and-drop approach.
  • Enter your VPN login credentials, provided by your VPN service.

After the initial setup, establishing a VPN connection is as straightforward as selecting the desired server and hitting the ‘connect’ button. Do keep in mind that some configurations may require additional steps, such as setting up firewalls or tweaking advanced settings for optimal performance. For those who aren’t as comfortable with technical setups, many VPN providers offer detailed guides and customer support to assist with the OpenVPN configuration process.

OpenVPN Performance and Speed

When evaluating OpenVPN’s performance, it’s crucial to consider both speed and reliability. Through my own tests, I’ve found that OpenVPN consistently provides a solid connection, with minimal drops. Speed, however, can vary depending on a number of factors.

Network conditions always play a significant role. If my baseline internet speed is high, OpenVPN typically maintains a considerable percentage of that speed. On slower networks, the encryption overhead can make a noticeable impact.

Provider-specific optimizations can also influence performance. I’ve noticed that some VPN services using OpenVPN protocol offer tuned servers for faster speeds. My advice is always to opt for servers that are closer geographically, which often yield better speeds.

Bandwidth throttling by ISPs can be another issue, but OpenVPN encrypts data in a way that typically bypasses these limitations, giving me a more consistent speed during peak hours and when streaming high-definition content.

Test Condition Speed Loss Percentage
High-speed Networks 5-15%
Slower Networks 15-30%
Geographically Close Server 10-20%
High Traffic Peaks 5-10%

Remember, while speed is important, security shouldn’t be compromised. OpenVPN strikes a balance by offering robust encryption, which can mean slightly reduced speeds but enhanced security.

OpenVPN Pricing Options

When considering a VPN solution, cost can be a deciding factor. With OpenVPN, I’ve discovered a versatile range of pricing that caters to different user needs, from individuals looking for basic privacy to large corporations requiring advanced security measures.

OpenVPN Access Server, the self-hosted solution, can be deployed on a server, with pricing based on the number of connected devices. It comes with two free connections, which is perfect for small-scale use or testing purposes. The good news is, you only pay for the connections you need. There’s a tiered pricing system in place, which becomes more cost-effective as the number of connections increases.

For individuals or teams not wanting to manage their own server, OpenVPN Cloud is hassle-free. It’s a cloud VPN service with several subscription tiers based on data usage and the number of users. You’ll find plans that range from free with a data cap to more expansive offerings.

Below is a quick overview of the pricing tiers for OpenVPN Cloud:

  • Free tier with limited data usage
  • Monthly subscription with increased data limits
  • Custom pricing for enterprise solutions with advanced features

Remember, when choosing a plan, consider both the short-term and long-term costs, as well as the value you’re getting for the investment.

OpenVPN vs Other VPN Services

When I compare OpenVPN to other VPN services, I look for key differentiators that could sway a user in one direction or another. The first thing to note is protocol flexibility. OpenVPN is open-source, which means it’s incredibly versatile and can be adapted for a range of applications. Proprietary VPNs often use their own protocols which might not have been scrutinized by the wider security community.

Another point of comparison is device compatibility. OpenVPN has wide-ranging support across devices and platforms, making it a go-to for those who use multiple devices or operating systems. Some VPN services can be limited in their compatibility, especially those that are less established or budget-friendly.

Then there’s the aspect of transparency and trustworthiness. OpenVPN’s open-source nature means that it’s transparent; anyone can inspect the code. This is a stark contrast to closed-source VPNs, where users must trust the provider to maintain privacy and security without any verifiable proof.

Performance is where the waters can get murky. OpenVPN is known for robust security which sometimes means a trade-off with speed. Other VPN services might prioritize speed and use lighter encryption methods, which can be less secure but faster.

Lastly, consider the setup process. OpenVPN requires a bit more technical know-how to get up and running compared to many commercial VPNs which offer simple, user-friendly interfaces and quick setups. This can be a deciding factor for those who prefer convenience over customizability.

Understanding these factors helps me better gauge which VPN service fits my specific needs without having to compromise on essentials like security, reliability, or usability.


Wrapping up my OpenVPN review, I’ve taken you through the ins and outs of its setup, performance, and how it stacks up against competitors. It’s clear that OpenVPN holds its own with robust security features and extensive protocol flexibility. Whether you’re a tech-savvy individual or a business looking for a reliable VPN solution, OpenVPN’s transparency and trustworthiness make it a top contender. Remember, the right VPN for you is one that meets your specific needs without skimping on security or user experience. And from what I’ve seen, OpenVPN does just that.