WireGuard vs OpenVPN
What is the WireGuard VPN protocol?
WireGuard and Open VPN are free, open-source protocols supporting encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs). The WireGuard protocol was designed by Jason A. Donenfeld and released in 2016. Donenfeld was concerned with ensuring that the goals of high-speed performance, low attack surface and ease of use as primary goals for the platform’s success.
WireGuard strives for more power and better performance than OpenVPN and IPsec, which are two established tunnelling protocols. WireGuard routes traffic over User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and helps to ensure encrypted point-to-point connections between devices over the web. There are many benefits to the WireGuard protocol, including:
Speed and Performance: Due to its effective design and up to the mark cryptographic algorithms, WireGuard is celebrated for high performance and lower latency issues compared to more dated VPN protocols.
Simplicity: WireGuard leverages a straightforward and minimalistic code, making it easier to understand, implement, and audit for potential security vulnerabilities.
Cross-platform Support: WireGuard is compatible with Linux, MacOS, Windows, iOS, Android and other systems, giving the protocol a broad appeal for VPN client users over devices the world over.
Low Resource Usage: WireGuard’s minimalistic design leads to relatively low resource consumption, thereby making it ideal for devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) and such systems; for example anything from washing machines to doorbell cameras via Hive thermostat operations.
What is the Open VPN protocol?
OpenVPN is another open-source VPN protocol, developed around 15 years before Wireguard by James Yonan – first released in 2001. OpenVPN is commonly employed by many VPN providers and well known for flexibility, robustness and likewise its cross-platform compatibility.
Some features and benefits of the OpenVPN protocol include:
Community Support: Due to its open-source nature, OpenVPN is supported by a community of users, developers and contributors, ensuring ongoing improvement and development.
Open-Source: OpenVPN is open-source software, which means its source code is freely available for review, modification, and distribution by the community. This transparency enhances security and allows for ongoing improvements.
Strong Security: The OpenVPN protocol uses cryptographic algorithms, including OpenSSL, to ensure the security and authenticity of data traffic.
Cross-Platform Support: Just as WireGuard is compatible with various operating systems, so too is the OpenVPN protocol, again ensuring access to users with a wide variety of computers and devices.
Customizability: OpenVPN is easily configurable, allowing users to change customizable settings according to their individual specifications. This adaptability is ideal for use with different network setups wherever the protocol is in use.
User Authentication: OpenVPN supports various methods of authentication, including username/password, pre-shared keys and X.509 certificates, ensuring secure access to the VPN network. MD5 challenge / response support was dropped by the protocol as far back as mid 2018 due to security vulnerabilities.
NAT and Firewall Traversal: OpenVPN is compatible with Network Address Translation (NAT) firewalls and devices, thereby simplifying its deployment in complex network environments.
Flexibility: OpenVPN can (and often does) work in two common modes: firstly, ‘Layer 3 Tunnelling Protocol’ (L3TP) and ‘Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol’ (L2Tp). It supports both TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) thereby providing administrators with the flexibility they require. A VPN tunnel is a secure, encrypted connection between a user’s device and the internet through a virtual private network.
What are the main differences, strengths and weaknesses between Wireguard and OpenVPN?
As seen above, both protocols perform the same basic function, which means that they both enable open networks to make encrypted connections to virtual private networks. Let’s look at some of the specific differentials:
Community support: While WireGuard has an active, thriving community, development efforts are fresh and ongoing to further the protocol’s capabilities and address any problematic issues; OpenVPN however benefits from a more established developer community with a long history, thereby enhancing the protocol’s stability and features.
Simplicity and Codebase: WireGuard’s minimalistic and simple design puts it ahead of OpenVPN here. Such simplicity makes it easier to audit for security vulnerabilities. OpenVPN, however, has a more complex codebase, mainly due to its longer history and additional features.
Security: Both protocols are considered secure and employ industry best-in-class cryptographic facilities. However, as WireGuard is a relatively newer protocol, some security experts have said that it hasn’t faced the same level of scrutiny as OpenVPN. In short, not so many people have tried to hack it yet – somewhat like Apple computers when they first came onto the market. As OpenVPN has been on the scene for a long time, it has undergone many more security audits, making it a well-established and trusted protocol.
Performance: WireGuard is designed primarily for high performance, offering lower latency and faster processing compared to OpenVPN. However, despite optimised configurations, OpenVPN may slow down your internet connection and be more cumbersome, in part due to its extensive feature set.
Ease of Configuration: WireGuard is much easier to configure than OpenVPN, not least because WireGuard has fewer configuration options. This simplicity makes the setup and maintenance of the former protocol more straightforward than its complex stablemate, especially for those who are unfamiliar with using a command-line interface or configuration files.
Platform Support: WireGuard is gaining broader platform support day by day, but still may not be as easily supported as OpenVPN across all operating systems and devices. With OpenVPN’s wide has cross-platform compatibility, its maturity and adoption probably has the edge.
In the final analysis, both OpenVPN and WireGuard have their respective strengths and weaknesses; WireGuard being praised for its simplicity, modern design and user experience (UX), leading to high performance. OpenVPN is, however, lauded for its broad platform support, security, and consequent extensive user base. The choice between the two protocols still largely depends on specific use cases, but Urban have found that WireGuard offers the best of all worlds for its customers, who are, after all the most important part of the equation.
WireGuard V.S OpenVPN Which One is Faster?
There’s no denying it, Wireguard is the clear winner in terms of speed. According to Cybernews – they state:
“As is evident from the table, WireGuard is generally faster than OpenVPN by around 52% regarding download speeds, and by approximately 17% when it comes to upload speed.”
The table here illustrates:
There is little more to be said in this regard, and it’s one of the reasons why more and more VPN providers are turning to WireGuard as their VPN protocol of choice.
What is the best VPN protocol for streaming?
WireGuard is better for streaming because IP addresses enabled by OpenVPN are frequently blocked by streaming services like Netflix et al. Streaming providers, especially the BBC’s iPlayer in the United Kingdom, daily update their blacklist of VPN providers and their IP addresses.
Some VPNs add additional security to enhance WireGuard’s IP address assignment. One way to achieve this is that the records that map IP addresses to encryption keys can be erased as soon as the session ends between the VPN client and server for over three minutes. Storing data only for as long as necessary and having only the bare information necessary in the first place reduces the risk of personal data being accessed by malicious third parties.
Although both protocols can do the job of communicating with VPN clients perfectly well, the increased speed and ease of use of the WireGuard protocol is probably, on balance, a better protocol to use. All other things being equal, there are more reasons for VPN providers to base their access via WireGuard than for sticking with the slower and more top-heavy OpenVPN protocol.
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