OpenVPN Explained – What Is It & How Does It Work?

If you’ve had the chance to go through a number of VPN services and the features they offer, among the listed protocols you’ll find on their list is OpenVPN. Introduced over 15 years ago, OpenVPN is currently the only protocol that can be accessed through an open source application, and due to its popularity it has been built to work on some of the most popular user platforms such as macOS, Windows XP, Android, iOS and Linux.

OpenVPN Explained - What Is It & How Does It Work?

OpenVPN Explained – What Is It & How Does It Work?

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Why OpenVPN is so Popular

Most users who are familiar with the service will agree that its high level of security and configurability are among their top reasons for use. Its native support over a wide variety of devices and platforms is also very much appreciated. The service allows you to work around firewalls thereby providing improved access to content from geo-restricted websites.

Peers connected through VPN are authenticated through either a pre-shared key, a combination of username and passwords, or a verified certificate. The connection is also guaranteed to be strong and reliable, with a large support network to ensure everything stays on track.

How OpenVPN Works

The main mode of operation with OpenVPN is through client-server communication. This ensures a safe transfer of information between the client and the Internet. The connection is composed of two tiers, where the client would need to connect first to the server side, which then connects it to the Internet. Once connected, the client appears as the server itself, and so it uses the physical location of the server thereby hiding the identity of the client itself.

For encryption and authentication processes, OpenVPN relies on OpenSSL, with the option to use either UDP or TCP for transmission. OpenVPN allows users to get past HTTP and NAT, which are security measures put in place to control access to web content.

OpenVPN: Technical Specifics

For those that want to deal with the raw technical attributes behind how OpenVPN works, here are a few pointers to shed some light on some of the technical aspects of the service:

  • Devices and platforms such as Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 & 8, and supports Android, Linux, FreeBSD, Maemo and Windows Phone.
  • OpenVPN operates under a 256-bit OpenSSL encryption, where the quality of connection is directly determined by that of the encryption.
  • IPSec, L2TP and PPTP are not supported, but OpenVPN relies on its own protocols based on TLS and SSL.
  • Third party plugins and scripts can be used to enhance attributes such as logging and authentication.

Pros & Cons of Using OpenVPN

As with most things, using OpenVPN has its very own advantages and disadvantages. This is why we recommend testing the service out through a VPN provider to see whether or not it’ll fulfil your needs. Here’s what to expect:


  • OpenVPN is able to make use of a good number of encryption techniques and algorithms. It therefore promises an advanced level of online protection.
  • The service allows you to work around firewalls.
  • OpenVPN as a technology has been thoroughly and verified as a method of providing security.
  • It also allows for various options for configuration.


  • There’s a great deal of technical knowledge required to harness the complete advantages of OpenVPN.
  • OpenVPN continues to have increasing support for mobile use despite only being recently introduced to mobile users.
  • It has a huge dependance on 3rd party software and applications.

Best VPN Service Providers for OpenVPN

If you’re looking for a VPN that offers its users OpenVPN, take a look at the top VPN services we have listed below.

VPN Provider
Best VPN
  • Best for streaming and privacy
  • High speed servers in 160 VPN locations
  • Works for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu
  • 24/7/ live chat support
  • 3 extra months free on annual plan
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Second Best VPN
  • UltraHD streaming
  • Free Smart DNS proxy
  • Unblocks all major streaming services
  • Limited Time 72% Discount
Third Best VPN
  • Unlimited VPN connections
  • Over 1000 servers
  • Ad-blocking feature available
  • User-friendly application
  • Exclusive Smart VPN feature
  • Standalone Smart DNS subscription available
  • Extra security features
  • Extensions for Firefox and Chrome
  • Split-tunneling available

Conclusion: OpenVPN Explained

The advantages that users get to benefit from by relying on OpenVPN as their VPN protocol are many, and level of encryption provided by the service is also a cut above the rest. If you want to gain from the advantages of using this service, make sure to go through the list of supported VPN protocols by any VPN provider you’re considering before moving forward with the subscription. There are a number of services out there that don’t support it


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