A Popular VPN Software Solution Open VPN is exactly what it says – An open source VPN Software package (Open source means that anyone can use it and modify it at their leisure). It is an increasingly popular VPN option due to its open source nature and the fact that it has a great variety of features and is quite easy to use and modify. A prime use for Open VPN is for protecting or hiding your identity on the internet or to access the internet privately without a direct connection.
The basic methodology of Open VPN is based on a client/server relationship – A client (you) will connect to an Open VPN server which will, in turn, filter your information before connecting to the internet.
The cycle can be seen below for connecting and retrieving information from the internet: VPN Connection Cycle - OpenVPN Client > OpenVPN Server > Internet > OpenVPN Server > Client
Standard Connection Cycle – Client > Internet > Client
The server aspect is the cornerstone of why VPNs are so popular and useful – As you can see above, in a standard internet connection there is no bridge or security filter between yourself and the internet – This could mean that you have an unsecured connection or could fall prey to hackers etc. A VPN connects to the internet for you and provides a means of security.
There are a variety of different server providers that use the open VPN platform and there are some considerations to make when choosing one: - How many physical server locations does the provider have? - What devices does the provider support? (Mobile, tablet, PC?) - What security features does the provider have? - What data protection features does the provider use? - What costs are involved with using the OpenVPN?
This may differ depending on which provider you are using and also what device you are using the VPN service on so there is no definitive guide. For instance, to use an Open VPN connection on a Windows PC you would need to download the software and then use a configuration file to set the connection up; whereas on a mobile device you may need to simply install and app and follow the instructions. For the purposes of this guide, the below is how to use OpenVPN on a Windows PC:
As you can see the process is quite straightforward, and the benefits justify this small setup time. Before you use any OpenVPN client, ensure you are fully aware of the service provided, and the reputation of the provider. A VPN is only as good as its producers.
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