OpenVPN is a powerful tunneling protocol that has become the staple protocol for all safe and reliable VPN services in the market. The VPN technology has evolved over the past two decades, with each new protocol surpassing the previous one in terms of speed and security.
Due to overwhelming popularity, many VPN services today support OpenVPN as their benchmark protocol. So on that note, I’ll discuss some of the best OpenVPN services, and why OpenVPN is the most secure protocol available today.
In a hurry? Here’s a quick overview.
- ExpressVPN – Blazing fast VPN with powerful support for OpenVPN and benchmark protocols.
- Surfshark – Ultra affordable VPN with powerful features and OpenVPN compatibility.
- NordVPN – Offers 5000+ servers all over the world, and is fully compatible with OpenVPN.
- PureVPN – Budget-friendly VPN with 6500+ servers and built-in support for OpenVPN.
- CyberGhost – 6500+ global server coverage, support for OpenVPN, and comes with a free 1-day trial.
Best VPN Services for OpenVPN in 2021
OpenVPN is one of the most secure protocols in the industry right now. Here are the 5 best VPN services for OpenVPN in 2021.
1. ExpressVPN – Best OpenVPN Client
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers in the market. However, it is quite expensive as compared to other VPNs on this list. That is probably the only downside to this VPN because when it comes to performance and security, it is hard to beat ExpressVPN.
The 3000+ server list has a presence in over 90 countries, all of which deliver fast speeds and instant connection response which also makes it one of the best VPN for streaming movies online.
For encryption, it uses AES-256 cipher with RSA-4096 handshake. Perfect forward secrecy is ensured through DH-keys, while it uses SHA-512 HMAC for authentication. As such, your security is virtually impenetrable, making ExpressVPN one of the most secure VPNs.
Check out our comprehensive review of ExpressVPN for more details.
2. Surfshark – Fastest OpenVPN for Windows
It is a British Virgin Islands-based VPN service that uses OpenVPN protocol by default. For encryption, Surfshark uses AES-256 encryption to guarantee the security of your data from brute force attacks. The provider has 3200+ servers in 65+ countries, which makes for a lot of server locations to choose from.
3. NordVPN – OpenVPN Service with Great Coverage
It offers the largest network of server locations out of all other VPNs in the market. It is a power-packed VPN that is full of amazing features on both performance and security fronts.
Based in Panama, the VPN follows a truly zero-logging policy so users can rest assured their data won’t be getting into the hands of anyone you don’t want.
NordVPN uses AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA256 hash authentication in the data channel. It combines these protocols with the RSA-2048 handshake in the control channel. The 2048-bit DH key ensures perfect forward secrecy of the user’s VPN sessions.
Combine these features with NordVPN’s ability to bypass firewalls of streaming services like US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and you have one extremely capable VPN service provider in your hands.
Check out our in-depth review of NordVPN for more details.
4. PureVPN – Best for Streaming With OpenVPN
It is known for its excellent server diversity, having a presence in over 140 countries with server locations in multiple cities in each country. It uses OpenVPN protocol in addition to PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and IKEv2.
When PureVPN is working over OpenVPN, it uses AES-256-CBC cipher with RSA-2048 handshake for encryption, and HMAC SHA384 hash authentication.
In addition, PureVPN utilizes Diffie-Helman key exchange to ensure perfect forward secrecy, which basically means that if your current VPN session is somehow compromised by a hacker, your past sessions will still be invisible to them due to the perfect forward secrecy.
When these security settings are put alongside features such as kill switch, IP/DNS leak protection, and a huge server list, PureVPN is a great OpenVPN service.
5. CyberGhost – Secure OpenVPN Service
It is known for its support for P2P networking and unblocking Geo-restricted streaming sites with ease. Based in Romania, CyberGhost takes advantage of the relaxed privacy-related laws of the county, which allow it to offer a no-logs policy to users.
The VPN uses AES-256-CBC cipher with RSA-4096. For authentication, it uses HMAC SHA256. This is a great encryption and authentication scheme that rules out all kinds of intrusions on your data packets. CyberGhost is one of the few VPNs that offers 7 multi-logins.
It also offers a 1-day free trial, so you can also use it as a free OpenVPN service for a week. All things considered, this VPN is well worth the investment as a security and privacy tool.
Check out our in-depth review of CyberGhost for more details.
What is OpenVPN?
OpenVPN is an open-source tunneling protocol that uses OpenSSL, a cryptographic library for securing communication over the Internet. OpenVPN can be used in different configurations, depending on the preference and goals of the user.
The encryption length supported by OpenVPN is up to 256 bits. It can use certificates, usernames/passwords, or pre-shared keys for authentication purposes. The strongest security it provides is through the use of certificates.
The security protocol that OpenVPN uses is different from those used by L2TP and IPSec, as it relies only on SSL and TLS for security and encryption of communication.
SSL and TLS are virtually impenetrable encryption standards, which is where the real strength of OpenVPN as a secure tunneling protocol stems from. Users can visit the OpenVPN community to discuss configuration and development related issues regarding this protocol. This is one of the reasons why the open-source VPN protocol has gained so much popularity.
Is OpenVPN Safe?
OpenVPN is one of the safest protocols to use. It uses AES for encryption, which is an a powerful encryption standard. However, OpenVPN is not entirely untouchable and VPN traffic through OpenVPN can be blocked by governments.
This is because the use of OpenVPN can be identified through Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). In countries like China and Russia with strict online regulations, DPI is often used to find and block the traffic of users that may be using an OpenVPN-based service to bypass state-imposed restrictions on websites.
It is possible to deal with the problem of DPI and still be able to use OpenVPN. This can be done by disguising OpenVPN traffic as HTTPS by routing it over port 443, which is associated with HTTPS traffic. This is the simplest “obfuscation” method that VPNs generally use.
Other methods of obfuscation also exist such as using Obfsproxy, which is more reliable than simply routing OpenVPN over port 443. Generally, OpenVPN is sufficient for online privacy and security in democratic countries where the Internet is generally free and is not heavily monitored.
However, in countries that treat VPN traffic with suspicion, you might experience difficulties getting your VPN to work with OpenVPN enabled. In these cases, you will require obfuscation features to have any chance of accessing the web with the VPN.
What Can You Do with an OpenVPN VPN?
With OpenVPN, you can do pretty much everything that a VPN was designed for. This includes browsing the web with stronger privacy and encryption so that you don’t have to worry about your online activities and identity being scrutinized by third-parties such as governments, agencies, advertisers, and cybercriminals.
Another important benefit of OpenVPN is its ability to bypass censorship and restrictions on websites. With OpenVPN, you can browse the web unhindered by any geo-restrictions or other blockades, making for a free open-access online experience.
Thus, whether it is better privacy you are seeking or free access to the internet, OpenVPN has all the bases covered.
What Makes OpenVPN Better than Other Protocols?
OpenVPN is the only open-source VPN protocol. As a result, the versatility of this protocol is unmatched. The VPN has been repeatedly audited by experts all over the world, which has established it as the most reliable and trusted VPN protocol in existence.
The use of digital certificates and hash authentication allows OpenVPN to offer much higher levels of security and encryption than other protocols. In addition, most other protocols have to compromise between security and speed. OpenVPN provides the perfect balance of both, enabling fast speed without compromising on the strength of security.
Disguising yourself through OpenVPN SSL
Although decrypting the content of your traffic is almost impossible, ISPs can still find out whether you are hiding behind an OpenVPN connection or not. As it turns out, the OpenVPN protocol is equipped to deal with this problem, using a particular TCP configuration.
Ideally, we should aim for camouflage as good as that.
OpenVPN TCP over port 443 cloaks all traffic moving through the VPN. Port 443 is normally used for HTTPS (SSL) traffic, which is invisible to ISPs. As such, OpenVPN configured to run this way will make it considerably difficult for your ISP to detect you are using OpenVPN.
How to Setup Up OpenVPN
OpenVPN can be set up in two different ways. The first method that I’m going to show you is much simpler and I would recommend it for users that are not too technically inclined.
Dedicated OpenVPN Apps
All leading providers offer dedicated clients which have built-in support for OpenVPN. These clients are extremely easy to setup: users can select the OpenVPN protocol by a single click and even change to other tunneling protocols like PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, etc.
The VPN providers listed above all have their dedicated apps. All you need to do is to download and install the VPN client of the provider on your system and device. So, if you want to use an OpenVPN service in the easiest way possible.
You can setup OpenVPN services using third party clients like OpenVPN GUI as well. This is an open-source software client that can be used to configure your VPN. Almost every major VPN offers .ovpn files, which are what you need to have in order to configure that VPN using OpenVPN GUI.
Once you download and install these files, you can use the VPN through the OpenVPN GUI. If you have difficulty finding .ovpn files of your preferred VPN service, contact customer support. They are, more often than not, happy to provide you with the lives and even assist with the setup process.
OpenVPN Compatibility with Major Platforms
Most premium VPN services offer cross-platform compatibility. Some providers go the extra mile and offer compatibility with routers, gaming consoles, and media streaming devices.
OpenVPN for Windows
It is easiest to find an open VPN service for Windows. Every provider that is worth mentioning has at least a dedicated VPN client for the Windows platform. So, you should have no trouble getting an OpenVPN server setup clients from the official website of your VPN provider.
In case your VPN service is too backward to have a native VPN client, you can use OpenVPN GUI to run the VPN through .ovpn files.
OpenVPN for Mac
The story with Mac compatibility is a little bit different. Although many top VPN providers have dedicated apps for Mac, this isn’t a general rule. For instance, all the VPNs on the list above offer native OpenVPN clients with the exception of Surfshark.
You can use a third-party client such as Tunnelblick for those VPNs that do not have a dedicated VPN client compatible with macOS.
OpenVPN for Android
Like Windows, OpenVPN apps for Android are really easy to find and are available for hundreds of providers. Almost every popular VPN provider has its OpenVPN app available on the PlayStore.
Nonetheless, if you are interested in a provider that doesn’t have an OpenVPN app for Android, you can use this third-party client. It is easy to use and does not require rooting/jailbreaking your Android device to get it to work.
OpenVPN for iOS
Apple has an inexplicable fondness for L2TP protocol, which is set up by default on all iOS devices. However, there are many VPN apps that support OpenVPN for iOS.
OpenVPN Connect is a good third-party app for iOS, which will allow you to configure OpenVPN for those VPN services lacking a native client for iOS.
OpenVPN for Router
Some VPNs can be set up on a router itself, which adds VPN protection to your network at the router level. Simply connecting to such a router puts you under the protection of the VPN that you have configured on it.
Though there are only a few routers that support OpenVPN services and the setup process is quite tricky and detailed for those that do.
If you are interested in installing an OpenVPN connection on your router, read my instruction for DD-WRT router VPN setup.
OpenVPN uses ports 443 and 1194. These ports should be open for OpenVPN to work. This isn’t usually a problem, but if you suspect these ports are blocked, ask your ISP to look into it and it should get resolved.
Currently, there is no protocol that offers a better combination of security, reliability, and speed than OpenVPN. So, yeah OpenVPN is VERY good.
The security and performance of the best VPNs have considerably improved thanks to the OpenVPN protocol. While many VPNs offer OpenVPN service, it still depends on the provider how they configure this protocol to enable optimum security and speed.
With the VPNs mentioned above, you can elevate your security and take advantage of the OpenVPN protocol to the fullest.
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