Wireguard vs OpenVPN: What to Choose?

Wireguard vs OpenVPN: What to Choose?

WireGuard and OpenVPN are both popular VPN protocols, but they have different designs, goals, and features. Here’s a comparison of the two:

1. Age & Maturity:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Launched in 2001.
    • Mature and widely adopted in the VPN industry. Many commercial VPN providers offer OpenVPN as one of their protocol options.
  • WireGuard:
    • Introduced around 2016.
    • Newer and has gained popularity quickly due to its simplicity and performance.

2. Code Base:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Larger codebase.
    • Complexity can make it harder to audit, although its age and widespread use mean that it has undergone considerable scrutiny.
  • WireGuard:
    • Much smaller codebase (around 4,000 lines of code).
    • Easier to audit, which can be advantageous from a security standpoint.

3. Performance:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Generally slower than WireGuard.
    • Uses OpenSSL, which can be resource-intensive.
  • WireGuard:
    • Designed for high performance with low overhead.
    • Uses modern cryptographic protocols, contributing to speed and security.
    • Typically provides faster connection times.

4. Encryption & Security:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Uses OpenSSL, which supports a wide range of cryptographic algorithms.
    • Flexibility can be both an advantage (adaptability) and a disadvantage (potential misconfiguration).
  • WireGuard:
    • Uses a specific set of modern cryptographic primitives, reducing the choices and complexity.
    • Less flexibility, but reduces the risk of misconfiguration.

5. Configuration & Use:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Can be complex to set up, especially for advanced configurations.
    • Offers both server and client software.
  • WireGuard:
    • Emphasizes simplicity in configuration.
    • Typically easier and faster to set up than OpenVPN.

6. Platform Support:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Broad platform support including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and more.
  • WireGuard:
    • Originally developed for Linux but has since been ported to other platforms including Windows, macOS, BSD, iOS, and Android.

7. Statefulness:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Stateful, meaning it operates with the concept of a connection or disconnection.
  • WireGuard:
    • Stateless. There’s no “connection” or “disconnection” process, simplifying the operation and reducing potential points of failure.

8. Licensing:

  • OpenVPN:
    • Open-source under the GNU GPL. Commercial versions and licensing are also available.
  • WireGuard:
    • Open-source and released under the GPLv2 license.


Both WireGuard and OpenVPN have their strengths. The choice between them often comes down to specific needs:

  • WireGuard might be preferred for its simplicity, performance, and streamlined configuration.
  • OpenVPN might be preferred for its maturity, extensive platform support, and flexibility in cryptographic options.

Always consider the context and specific requirements when choosing a VPN protocol. It’s also worth noting that the security landscape evolves, so it’s crucial to stay updated on both technologies’ developments.

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