What are OpenVPN and WireGuard?
OpenVPN and WireGuard are two types of VPN protocol. A VPN protocol is a technology used to create a secure tunnel between your device and a VPN server. (Learn more about how VPNs work here).
You can use both OpenVPN and WireGuard independently to create your own VPN connection. However, they’re more commonly used as part of a commercial VPN service.
Here’s an overview of each protocol’s main features:
|Date Released||May 2001||September 2019|
|Encryption||AES, Blowfish, Camellia||ChaCha20, Poly1305|
|Code Length||>70,000 lines||~4,000 lines|
The original OpenVPN software was created in 2001 by James Yonan. He made OpenVPN because he wanted to ensure his connection was private when he was travelling through Central Asia and using Asian and Russian internet connections.
Today, Yonan is the CTO of OpenVPN Inc. The company provides business-to-business services as well as running OpenVPN. The company’s CEO and founder is Francis Dinha, who grew up in Iraq and shares Yonan’s concerns about staying private from state surveillance.
The OpenVPN software has now been downloaded from the website more than 60 million times, and pretty much every VPN today supports the protocol. It’s available under an open-source license, which means anyone can view its underlying code.
For over a decade, OpenVPN has been considered the pinnacle of VPN security. However, with the release of WireGuard, we now have a new contender for that top spot.
WireGuard was created by Jason A. Donenfeld from Edge Security, and had its first stable release in September 2019. It’s designed to improve upon existing VPN protocols by being simpler, faster, and easier to use.
Unlike OpenVPN, WireGuard is “cryptographically opinionated,” to use Donenfeld’s words. That means he’s selected one solution for each aspect of the VPN’s security. WireGuard therefore includes less choice than OpenVPN, but it’s far less complex as a result.
Like OpenVPN, WireGuard is also open source.
Despite only being released in September 2019, WireGuard has already been incorporated into a number of VPN services. NordVPN, for example, built its proprietary NordLynx protocol on top of it.
So which one is better? Let’s start by comparing their encryption and security levels.