WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: Best Protocol for Online Privacy?

Bisma Farrukh

November 15, 2022
Updated on November 15, 2022
WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: Best Protocol for Online Privacy?

With its introduction in 2001, OpenVPN has become the de facto standard for protecting users’ anonymity and data integrity over the Internet.

On the other hand, WireGuard, a new VPN tunneling protocol that debuted in 2019, promises to improve upon all of these aspects. Some speculate that it may be the beginning of the end for OpenVPN. But this is an overly basic take because, in some cases, the 20 years older VPN protocol works better than its more modern counterpart.

To understand the idea, we’ll investigate what sets apart each of these open-source VPN protocols to help you pick the right one for your needs. This involves analyzing how well their encrypted communications perform over long distances and how they try to evade discovery in countries with tight digital control. However, before we get started, let’s quickly review each of these:

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard represents a cutting-edge improvement to VPN technology. It is a free and open-source virtual private network (VPN) protocol developed by Jason Donenfeld. The new technology is designed to be more secure and efficient than previous VPNs. The protocol’s superior encryption, lightning-fast speeds, and fewer lines of code have led it to become the de facto standard for VPN connections. This streamlined code is what gives WireGuard its primary features, like easy implementation and auditing and better resource utilization.

What is WireGuard

Pros

  • In most cases, it’s also the quickest VPN protocol.
  • Less battery power is needed to run it.

Cons

  • There has been less extensive testing of the protocol because it is newer.
  • Firewalls can readily detect and stop traffic.

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is one of the oldest and most used VPN protocols. It has been the standard connection type for the last twenty years due to its versatility and trustworthiness. OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol that can be used with a VPN application and can also be configured manually on your system.

OpenVPN constructs reliable and encrypted communication between the client and the server using UDP or TCP protocols.

What is OpenVPN?

Pros

  • Because of the protocol’s adaptability, it can be used with any system outside iOS.
  • Its data transmissions can be encrypted to circumvent restrictions placed on virtual private network connections.

Cons

  • Having a codebase that is less regularly changed and, therefore, more difficult to audit.
  • Users may have connection problems while switching between WiFi and mobile networks.

Comparison: OpenVPN vs. WireGuard

Now that you know the basics of each, we’ll compare WireGuard and OpenVPN more closely in the following aspects:

Speeds

It’s essential to keep in mind that your baseline internet speed will cap the VPN connection speed. In addition, the configurations of two VPN services that use the same protocol may yield vastly different rates.

Until recently, the speed of OpenVPN was considered adequate. Although it was slower than PPTP and IPSec, the speeds it provided were still acceptable, often reduced by about 30%. With a base connection of at least 40 Mbps, the protocol is fast enough for any typical use case.

From a performance standpoint, WireGuard is far superior to OpenVPN. WireGuard is the only VPN protocol that provides consistently fast speeds even when using the most basic settings. That’s because, unlike OpenVPN, WireGuard doesn’t require nearly as many extra components to function.

Many factors contributed to WireGuard’s success in achieving such high speeds. To begin with, it had a significantly smaller code base (about 4,000 lines) than its predecessor. OpenVPN, which has been in development for about twice as long, currently has about 70,000 lines of code. WireGuard also has multi-threading support, allowing it to use many CPU cores simultaneously to handle data.

Encryption

For security, OpenVPN relies on the OpenSSL library. A wide variety of cryptographic methods are available within OpenSSL’s framework. Because of its algorithmic diversity, OpenVPN is agile and adaptable. Essentially, the code can discuss the appropriateness of using various algorithms. This adds a great deal of flexibility to OpenVPN but also increases the code complexity. Because of OpenVPN’s complexity, some users consider switching to WireGuard as an alternative.

When it comes to cryptographic techniques, WireGuard’s perspective is very different from that of OpenVPN. Unlike OpenVPN, which supports a wide variety of encryption techniques, WireGuard always sticks to the same set. When comparing OpenVPN with WireGuard, it’s important to note that OpenVPN uses certificates for authentication and encryption, whereas WireGuard does not. For these purposes, WireGuard employs public key encryption. Automatic secure key generation and maintenance saves time and effort and pre-sharing a key increases security.

Security

For different reasons, WireGuard and OpenVPN offer comparable levels of security.

OpenVPN has the edge over other protocols because it supports a wider variety of encryption algorithms. Although adaptability has its advantages, it also comes with the danger of poor implementation, which could result in security holes.

Although OpenVPN has been around for almost 20 years, it is still considered the safest VPN protocol. This is partly because Edward Snowden’s leaks from 2013 showed that the NSA could circumvent most VPN protocols, including OpenVPN if a previously shared key were utilized.

On the other hand, WireGuard has a few advantages of its own. For starters, it’s more up-to-date than OpenVPN. It has fewer security flaws than OpenVPN due to its usage of more contemporary encryption algorithms supported by security experts. It offers a smaller attack surface than OpenVPN since it employs less code, which means there are limited chances for hackers to exploit it. Furthermore, if a vulnerability is discovered in any cipher or algorithm, in that case, all endpoints are immediately compelled to update to a new version, ensuring that nobody is using the compromised WireGuard code.

Auditability

Privacy advocates prefer open-source VPN protocols because they can be verified. But just because something is open source doesn’t mean auditing it is easy. OpenVPN has passed more audits than any other open-source VPN technology, but its massive size makes it challenging to implement. When auditing a codebase the size of OpenVPN, it takes a team quite a while to do so correctly.

The WireGuard protocol is also open-source and thus auditable. WireGuard is around 1% as long as OpenVPN, although it only has 6,000 lines of code. Because of this, it will likely replace OpenVPN as the most extensively audited VPN protocol. WireGuard allows a single engineer to audit the code in hours rather than the days it would take a team.

Privacy

Comparing both protocols is hard because WireGuard and OpenVPN are reliable and highly secure VPN protocols. Both of these protocols mask your IP address and DNS and provide AES 256-bit encryption.

WireGuard is designed in a way that it keeps the user’s IP address on the VPN server. Once you reboot your system, its crypto key routing algorithm flushes the user data stored on the VPN server. This is one of the downsides of WireGuard when it comes to privacy. If your VPN server gets compromised, your IP can also leak. Though it is nearly impossible, this stands out as a weak link.

This issue can be negated by using AstrillVPN’s WireGuard protocol. The reason it’s better to use WireGuard on Astrill is that AstrillVPN has a strict no-logs policy, which is why the chances of being vulnerable get lowered more.

On the other hand, OpenVPN provides the same level of privacy when used through a VPN app or configured manually. This protocol consistency is why many people prefer to use OpenVPN more.

Ease of Use

Both VPN protocols have their unique pros and cons regarding the end of use and configuration. One thing is that

Wireguard vs. OpenVPN: How Does Astrill Offer these two Protocols?7

Astrill offers four different VPN protocols: Wireguard, StealthVPN, Open Web, and OpenVPN. The best thing about Astrill’s Wireguard and OpenVPN protocol is that they’re pretty easy to set up. Take a look below to learn how you can easily use either of these protocols:

WireGuard

WireGuard is a VPN protocol that uses cutting-edge cryptographic methods while remaining incredibly easy to set up and use. The best thing about Wireguard on AstrillVPN is that it can be configured very quickly, unlike other VPN providers, where you have to configure the port and MTU manually.

Wireguard

As shown in the picture, you can easily select the Wireguard protocol from the drop-down list and start using it immediately by toggling the connection ON.

OpenVPN

Astrill offers an easy-to-use OpenVPN configuration. You can easily select the OpenVPN protocol and use it without having to set up an OpenVPN connection on your device, which takes a lot of complex steps. Follow these steps to set up AstrillVPN OpenVPN protocol:

  1. Simply choose the OpenVPN protocol from the drop-down list
OpenVPN

2. Now click on the menu bar on the left and select the OpenVPN options.

OpenVPN options

3. Set up the connection as you wish

UDP

4. Now click Ok and Turn ‘On’ the VPN connection.

OpenVPN

WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: VPN Device Compatibility

OpenVPN has long been regarded as a multitool for safe networking due to its flexibility. The protocol supports plugins and script hooks, allowing the server to tailor its behavior to a specific client’s request.

However, this opens the door to slower performance and heightened security risks. ChromeOS and other less common platforms and routers can establish VPN connections using this protocol.

Most VPN software users (iPhone owners in particular) will discover that OpenVPN is incompatible with iOS.

Compared to OpenVPN, WireGuard’s code base supports current devices but falls short regarding backward compatibility. In addition, WireGuard is currently only compatible with the most popular operating systems: iOS, Windows, macOS, Android, Fire TV, and Linux.

Neither system has a clear compatibility advantage over the other right now.

OpenVPN is superior to the more recent protocol in terms of the breadth of platforms it supports, but it is not compatible with Apple’s iPhone and iPad. WireGuard, on the other hand, triumphs when it comes to compatibility for all main platforms. However, it is limited to popular gadgets released during the past few years.

Conclusion

A virtual private network (VPN) is a good security measure, but no single protocol is superior. OpenVPN will continue to be a good option until something like WireGuard becomes widely available, simple to install on routers, and indecipherable without extra obfuscation tools.

Instead, it’s up to consumers to select the optimal method for accomplishing each given endeavor. For example, a TCP-based OpenVPN connection may be preferable if you’re having trouble bypassing geo-blocking. Using WireGuard may be the better choice if you want to maximize performance.

Author: Bisma Farrukh

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