Virtual private networks (VPNs) used to be a niche program used mainly for business security. With the recent revelations about internet security coming forward into the mainstream and tales of the government monitoring your traffic, and your ISP selling your browsing data to the highest bidder, VPNs are becoming the standard for the everyday internet user.

Security and privacy is the name of the game when it comes to VPNs. The software allows you to encrypt your data through a private ‘tunnel’ when using the internet, so your movements can’t be monitored by prying eyes.

When you’re setting up a VPN, there are several choices for encryption protocols and one of the most popular is OpenVPN.

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is a protocol which is over 15 years old, and has been in continuous development since it’s release back on 2001. It is used by several different VPN programs to keep your traffic safe and secure.

The protocol in a VPN is the technology used to keep your traffic secure, while also making sure you get a fast connection to where ever you're going. It's a collection of encryption standards and transmission protocols that guide your connection to it's destination, quickly and safely. 

The main advantages of OpenVPN are:

  • OpenVPN, as the name suggests, is open source. This means that its code is open to the public, so it has been inspected, vetted and tested by many different people and organisations.
  • It features military grade encryption, also known as 256 bit encryption, and can use multiple 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 platforms of Android and iOS.

While this makes it an adaptive and powerful too, it also suffers from a couple of drawbacks:

  • OpenVPN is not a standalone VPN service, and requires third-party applications to function. This means, to some extent, that it is only as useful as the applications that it’s relying on – which isn’t a problem if they are legitimate and professionally developed and run.
  • It requires technical knowledge to configure, so you (probably) won’t be playing around with it yourself.

The OpenVPN project has their own VPN client called Private Tunnel, which provides a stable, reliable VPN client to the masses, making sure that everyone has access to high-quality internet security.

We’ve done a round up here at Tech Advisor of our top VPN picks, check out our 2018 selections here.