What is OpenVPN?

Time and time again users arrive at our site looking to fulfil a specific task, it may be to watch a few TV shows from home while they’re abroad, or may be to protect themselves on wi-fi when they’re on vacation or holiday. Regardless of the reasons of stumbling across our site many quickly learn that in order to carry out the task they require they are going to need to make use of a Virtual Private Network.

When it comes to explaining the technical side of a VPN many users simply don’t care or are uninterested. It isn’t a fault of the user, it is just a fact, many users just want the security of a VPN or the possibility of accessing the content they require without understand the principles behind it. It is like a lot of things in life, we all have different interests in different areas. I drive my car to work yet I don’t have an interest in the in’s and out’s of it’s working. If it breaks and it is serious enough I take it to a garage to get it fixed up, I don’t necessarily want to be diving under the hood to understand how it works. However like a car it is good to know the basics, a car would be useless if you didn’t understand the fundamentals of how to drive it.

So analogies aside there is a benefit to understanding the most simple terms of a VPN and the service itself. Many users sign up to a service and then get confused by the intricacies of the software or download options available to them, many find themselves puzzled with questions like “Should I use OpenVPN or PPTP?” or “Is L2TP safe than OpenVPN?” – It is a confusing world with terminology that can send the novice in to a spin heading for the hills.

With that in mind you’ve come here to find out exactly what OpenVPN is.

OpenVPN is basically a standard or “protocol” of VPN. There are three main types, OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP. All have their advantages and disadvantages which we have highlighted in our earlier guide, The difference between PPTP, L2TP/IPsec and OpenVPN. OpenVPN should be considered the leader of all three protocols and when available should be the one which you use. There are many technical aspects to its working but for the layman or novice these are unimportant and should only serve to further confuse you, if you’re interested in the actual benefits of the protocol in a slightly more technical term then the OpenVPN website has a simple but good description.

OpenVPN GUIIn a nutshell OpenVPN is basically what is going to create the connection you need, for ease of understanding you should understand this as the VPN connection from yourself to the server of your provider. One of the reasons why OpenVPN is so popular is due to its flexibility which allows it to cross all major platforms, you’ve no doubt seen provider software or apps that all make use of OpenVPN be it on desktop or mobile device, it truly is portable and adaptable.

OpenVPN in itself is accessed or used in a command line way. This is basically operating it by typing text commands. For those who have used computers for a while this is commonplace but for everyday users it is almost impossible to grasp nor would you wish to.

The majority of you will be quite happy to use custom software provided by your VPN service provider, usually they will offer an OpenVPN connection and if available is likely to be the best choice for yourself for security. Those of you who use providers without custom software are likely to be more familiar with what is known as OpenVPN GUI. This is a simple interface that allows connection to a server of your choice via a basic windows application.

This in itself is not OpenVPN but in essence a wrapper or clothes for OpenVPN which makes connection so much more simple and painless. It is actually rather easy to use once installed and even novice users should have no trouble making connection. Most good providers bundle the GUI with their OpenVPN downloads and you may not of even realised that the GUI is not the actual connection protocol itself. If not have a search around on your providers website or speak to them directly about providing you with a GUI interface for OpenVPN.

From a novice point of view there really is nothing more complicated to understand, just enjoy your peace of mind and security!