WireGuard vs OpenVPN: Which Protocol is Better in 2022?

Last Updated: August 17, 2022
This WireGuard vs OpenVPN comparative article addresses everything you need to know before making the final selection.
WireGuard vs. OpenVPN
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Today we’re discussing WireGuard vs OpenVPN— which one is better?

Anyone who frequently uses a VPN will be familiar with WireGuard and OpenVPN.

There is a decent possibility that you are the one who gets up in the morning and decides which virtual private network (VPN) protocol you intend to utilize to secure your internet traffic.

However, what distinguishes WireGuard vs OpenVPN?

Which is the quicker and more reliable option?

Should you choose one over the other, or can they be used interchangeably?

This WireGuard vs OpenVPN comparative article addresses everything you need to know before making the final selection.

We will examine their speed performance, encrypting, confidentiality and security, integrity, and interoperability. 

WireGuard vs OpenVPN Comparison

WireGuard is dominating the VPN industry. It offers significant enhancements over conventional VPN protocols, and far more VPN providers have adopted WireGuard in 2022.

But can it perform better regarding speed, privacy, and dependability under real-world conditions? This contrast between OpenVPN and WireGuard will address all of your queries.

OpenVPN has established itself as the industry benchmark for Virtual Private Network (VPN) protocols throughout the last few years.

It has undergone numerous different assessments and is regarded as a very safe and reliable open-source standard with impressive efficiency.

FeatureWireGuardOpenVPN
SpeedFastModerate
CompatibilityWindows, Android, Linux, iOSAll device
EncryptionHighLow to high (configurable)
SecurityRelatively highHigh
Open SourceYesYes
PrivacyRequires mitigationsStrong

OpenVPN

OpenVPN logo

OpenVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) protocol that was first made available to the public in 2001.

OpenVPN uses the OpenSSL library, TLS, and a number of other innovations to establish a Vpn provider that is both secure and reliable.

OpenVPN continues to be the VPN protocol that receives the greatest support from business Vpn providers, despite WireGuard’s efforts to threaten OpenVPN’s supremacy in this space.

WireGuard

WireGuard

In 2016, development on WireGuard got underway, and the VPN world took notice of it almost immediately.

In March of 2020, it was reported that WireGuard 1.0.0 stable would be released and that it would also be included in the 5.6 version of the Linux kernel.

Additionally, a stable release is now available on all of the major operating systems and mobile technologies, including Windows, Apple, BSD, iOS, and Android.

The response from the general public has been extremely favorable, and support for WireGuard has been one of the most often important features from us.

Performance And Speed

When evaluating the performance of VPN software, the throughput test and the ping test are two important elements to take into consideration.

After a user has connected to a network, throughput is the amount of storage capacity that may be measured as being able to move past a firewall.

Ping, on the other hand, monitors the transmission delay or time required to send and receive an incoming packet between machines.

When compared to OpenVPN’s throughput of 258 MBPS, WireGuard’s throughput is 1011 MBPS.

Unlike their predecessors, modern computer platforms are able to enable multi-threading computation.

As a result of its integration into the userspace, OpenVPN cannot provide faster speeds. On the other side, WireGuard’s inclusion into the kernel space reduces CPU strain.

The ping tests produce comparable results, with WireGuard coming in at 0.403 milliseconds and OpenVPN coming in at 1.541 milliseconds, correspondingly.

On routers, the bandwidth disparity between OpenVPN and WireGuard is greatest.

In comparison to OpenVPN, WireGuard’s performance on routers is noticeably superior due to the design of the protocol.

To put this in perspective, a mid-range router with an 800 MHz CPU would achieve speeds of 15-20 Mbps when using OpenVPN, but it would reach 100 Mbps when using WireGuard.

Consequently, putting WireGuard to use on routers that are compatible with it is a no-brainer.

Security

Security

When compared to OpenVPN and many other popular VPN protocols, WireGuard utilizes a smaller number of lines of code, which results in a lower risk of errors and vulnerabilities.

This also facilitates auditing. It also utilizes advanced cryptography and is arguably one of the most secure VPNs currently available.

Nonetheless, the platform is extremely young (it was released in 2019); thus, it is likely that vulnerabilities exist but have not yet been discovered.

OpenVPN supports a wider variety of encryption algorithms than WireGuard, which only supports ChaCha20 and Poly1035.

Therefore, if OpenVPN identifies a vulnerability in one of the algorithms, it may notify users, and they can rapidly switch to a new service.

There are no known vulnerabilities in the OpenVPN or WireGuard platforms.

Encryption

WireGuard, in contrast to OpenVPN, only employs a single collection of protocols and ciphers, which includes ChaCha20, Poly1305, Curve25519, BLAKE2s, and SipHash25.

This decreases the complexity of the code and the attack surface available to hackers. There is also no potential for inferior attacks.

The OpenSSL library allows OpenVPN to execute a variety of protocols and ciphers, including AES, DES, RSA, and SHA-1.

However, this agility is accompanied by a growth in complexity, an expansive attack surface for hackers, and susceptibility to downgrade attempts.

WireGuard utilizes current encryption methods and has a lower attack surface.

OpenVPN, on the other hand, provides greater flexibility in terms of the encryption algorithms you can choose but relies on rather obsolete technology.

Both are highly secure protocols, and your preference will determine which one you select.

Pricing

Pricing

Both WireGuard and OpenVPN are open-source, which means that there are no fees associated with utilizing their respective software when it is deployed.

However, you will continue to pay for a VPN service, despite the availability of free alternatives.

You may also get the free source code and manually configure your own VPN. WireGuard is superior in this circumstance due to its lightweight codebase.

OpenVPN makes manual configuration significantly more difficult, even for skilled users.

Given both WireGuard and OpenVPN products might differ based on the vendor, it is impossible to determine which option offers the greatest value.

Code Size

WireGuard consists of approximately 4,000 lines of code. In contrast, OpenVPN contains almost 70,000 lines.

In addition, it is reported that modified versions of OpenVPN can have up to 600,000 lines of code.

By employing fewer lines of code, WireGuard minimizes the attack surface and, thus, the likelihood of a cyberattack.

With a smaller code base, developers can more easily find vulnerabilities, and a single auditor can audit the code more efficiently.

Thus, it is less probable that hackers will uncover security holes in WireGuard. Even with a large codebase, OpenVPN is impervious to attack. Perhaps it was susceptible in the past.

The extensive examination is one of the benefits of being in the sector for nearly two decades.

In addition, OpenVPN’s wide community of diverse stakeholders ensures that it is constantly bug-free.

Censorship

OpenVPN has an obvious advantage over WireGuard when it comes to evading restrictions.

OpenVPN, which is commonly used to overcome internet restrictions in countries such as Russia and China, only supports the TCP communication protocol.

TCP guarantees that a safe and secure data flow was initiated. The user receives confirmation that a sent data packet was successfully received before sending the following packet.

Keep in mind that this protocol can sometimes be slow, especially when a user is distant from a VPN server.

(This is yet another reason why WireGuard performs better than OpenVPN.)

TCP connections are permitted to use port 443, which is also used for HTTPS traffic.

Given that port 433 hosts a variety of critical online services, it is unlikely that it would be blocked; hence there is a clear winner here.

Crypto-Agility

Crypto-agility refers to a system’s capacity to switch between alternative cryptographic methods.

This can be accomplished without requiring any changes to the current system. WireGuard is not crypto-agile, but OpenVPN is.

OpenVPN encryption can be altered or modified based on the user’s preferences. Certificates of security are necessary for its implementation.

Therefore, we may say that OpenVPN is a protocol based on certificates.

WireGuard employs a mechanism referred to as “Versioning.” It makes or releases versions of its product that are superior or enhanced.

Therefore, updating WireGuard is easier. The fact that WireGuard is not crypto-agile makes it simpler and, therefore, more secure. Consequently, WireGuard has fewer vulnerabilities.

OpenVPN updates are more complicated and time-consuming. A new set of keys and key lengths must be implemented on an individual basis.

Download Speeds

The demand for a wide range of WireGuard protocols stems mostly from the rapid delivery of data packets over the tunnel.

This speed is achieved by operating in the kernel space, which increases the speed-to-CPU ratio. WireGuard provides a higher speed per level of CPU utilization than OpenVPN.

Wireguard exceeds OpenVPN in throughput and ping speed by more than threefold during benchmark tests.

Usability And User Experience

OpenVPN

WireGuard operates on a straightforward architecture that gives users an intuitive yet robust interface.

Changing IP addresses without having to manually re-configure connections or start daemons is a thing of the past.

In terms of implementation, configuration, installation, and configuration, WireGuard appears simpler than OpenVPN.

WireGuard prioritizes cross-platform usability over cryptographic flexibility.

It implements its protection system based on the version of the system without switching security measures and encrypted methods.

Moreover, no technical expertise is required to deploy WireGuard.

You may easily execute a 32-bit or 64-bit deployment of the service using the various versions that are available. WireGuard’s user interface is more intuitive and interactive than OpenVPN.

Authentication

OpenVPN supports two varieties of authentication. The first is Certificate-based, whereas the second is Pre-shared keys.

Although certificate-based authentication is seen as extremely safe, it is really slower. Preshared keys are less secure yet faster, and vice versa.

OpenVPN can select either of these two authentication techniques, depending on the network situation.

Nonetheless, if you discover that you require additional security, you can create your own configuration.

WireGuard employs a separate protocol known as AEAD from RFC 7539. AED’s function in RFC 7539 is to authenticate network endpoints.

WireGuard encrypts data using the Poly 1305 cryptographic algorithm.

Geo-Unblocking

Geo-Unblocking

Not all users choose a VPN for security; some also use it to access geo-restricted content.

OpenVPN uses the TCP protocol, which makes use of port 443, which is also utilized by the majority of HTTPS websites.

Therefore, OpenVPN is more adept at circumventing geo-censorship. Choose OpenVPN, especially if you intend to reside in a nation such as China or Russia.

Auditability

As stated previously, WireGuard’s code base is far smaller than OpenVPN. This simplifies its auditing, allowing a single individual to complete it in a relatively short amount of time.

In comparison, OpenVPN’s code base is typically more complex and requires a small team to examine each line of code.

However, it has been around for a long time, so if there were any errors, they would have been discovered by now.

Mobility

Many people access the Internet on their smartphones and tablets today, frequently hopping between Wi-Fi and mobile networks.

WireGuard excels at this network transition, whereas OpenVPN has difficulties when users frequently switch between networks.

This is the primary reason why certain VPN services recommend mobile devices use the IKEv2/IPSec protocol. A more triumph for WireGuard.

Select Wireguard If

You desire quicker speeds than other protocols can provide. You desire an intuitive protocol. The WireGuard shortcode length is adjustable.

You wish to assure increased and current security. WireGuard lacks cryptographic agility.

When a security system is less complicated, it presents fewer opportunities for intrusion. In addition, WireGuard employs more current encryption techniques to increase your security.

Choose OpenVPN If

You would like to circumvent regional content limitations.

OpenVPN’s usage of TCP increases the likelihood of success while attempting to access the Internet in strongly censored countries such as China.

You desire to participate in P2P activities.

OpenVPN’s enhanced privacy makes it a fantastic alternative for P2P and torrenting, and the fact that it is more established than WireGuard makes it even more suitable for such online activities.

The Bottom Line

WireGuard vs OpenVPN are two very famous VPN service providers. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel using a VPN protocol between your device and a VPN server.

You can choose between OpenVPN and WireGuard. In contrast, they are increasingly utilized as a component of personal VPN services.

Regarding the above-discussed features and aspects of both VPNs, WireGuard stands as a winner.

WireGuard has stronger encryption and more speed that can be more beneficial for you when it comes to guarding your online presence. 

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Written by Trevor Cooke

The only safe internet is a private internet. You’ll see me at parties talking about cybersecurity, privacy, and VPNs. Yes, I’m that guy.
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