WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: 8 Key Differences with Pros and Cons for Each Protocol

types of vpns

WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: 8 Key Differences with Pros and Cons for Each Protocol

Key Points

  • WireGuard is a modern and streamlined VPN solution that prioritizes simplicity and performance.
  • OpenVPN is a widely used VPN standard with a rich feature set and versatility.
  • WireGuard is generally faster than OpenVPN and consumes around 15% less data.
  • OpenVPN has a stronger reputation for privacy and security due to its longevity and multiple independent audits.
  • WireGuard is more adaptable to network changes and offers a more mobile-friendly experience compared to OpenVPN.

When it comes to choosing a VPN protocol, there are several factors to consider. Two notable tools in this sphere are WireGuard and OpenVPN, protocols developed to ensure safe data flow over unsecured networks. WireGuard, a modern and streamlined VPN solution, claims simplicity and performance as its primary strengths. On the other hand, OpenVPN, a product of more than two decades of development, still holds its ground as a widely used VPN standard.

OpenVPN’s longevity comes with a rich feature set, making it versatile but potentially complex. WireGuard, conversely, aims to simplify the VPN scene with a slim design, focus on speed, and modern cryptography. Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone seeking the most suitable VPN solution, and that’s what we’ll explore in this article.

Let’s break down these two VPN services below.

WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: Side-by-Side Comparison

SpeedTypically faster due to its lightweight natureGenerally slower compared to WireGuard
PrivacyLess established in terms of privacy-friendly reputation, potential for future vulnerabilitiesMore thoroughly tried-and-tested, more privacy-friendly, supported by a larger number of VPNs
Data UsageConsumes around 15% less dataCan consume more data compared to WireGuard
Adaptability to Network ChangesHandles network changes betterLess efficient in handling network changes
SecurityHigh level of security, but potential for future vulnerabilitiesHigh level of security, more thoroughly tried-and-tested
Widely compatible but less so than OpenVPN, less flexibility due to a fixed set of protocolsYes, which means it can be reviewed for security vulnerabilitiesYes, this openness has led to a wide range of audits and is considered to be very secure
CompatibilityWidely compatible but less so than OpenVPN, less flexibility due to fixed set of protocolsHighly compatible, more flexibility due to the use of OpenSSL library
Ease of UseWidely compatible but less so than OpenVPN, less flexibility due to a fixed set of protocolsRequires more configuration due to its complexity and larger code base

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard represents the new generation of VPN protocols built for speed, simplicity, and security. Its lean, efficient design reduces latency, boosts connection speeds, and enhances privacy. With state-of-the-art cryptography, WireGuard bypasses traditional issues associated with VPN protocols. It maintains a smooth, stable connection even when switching between networks. WireGuard provides the optimal solution for secure, high-speed internet access.

Pros and Cons

WireGuard is well-loved by users for its quick speeds and reliable performance.Despite its promise, WireGuard is still under development and working towards becoming an industry standard.
Initially designed for Linux, WireGuard now supports all major operating systems, making it more accessible to a broad range of users.While older protocols require more processing power, they may offer more flexibility and options, which WireGuard currently lacks due to its newness and simplicity.
Boasting fewer lines of code compared to older protocols, WireGuard’s simplicity makes it easier for VPNs to implement, reduce the risk of flaws, and facilitate easier code audits.WireGuard has yet to be widely accepted despite its potential due to its ongoing development phase.
WireGuard uses the latest super-fast cryptographic primitives for secure data encryption.Since WireGuard is a new protocol, there are potential privacy concerns as it faces ongoing scrutiny in the industry.

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is a reliable, open-source solution for virtual private networks (VPNs). Encrypted tunnels provide secure, remote access across public networks, safeguarding data traffic. As a versatile tool, it works seamlessly on diverse platforms, from Android to Linux. With its flexibility, OpenVPN supports various cryptographic algorithms, ensuring optimal security. By overcoming network restrictions, it fosters worldwide connectivity, promoting digital freedom.

Pros and Cons

OpenVPN provides top-tier security, using advanced encryption to protect sensitive data.Unfortunately, OpenVPN can be technically complex to manually configure, potentially causing hurdles for novices.
Due to its open-source nature, OpenVPN is free of charge and easily adaptable to specific needs.OpenVPN isn’t available with all VPN providers, limiting your options when choosing a service.
This protocol offers a fast, stable connection, promising reliable VPN service.OpenVPN can sometimes lack in speed compared to other protocols, potentially affecting your online activities.
This protocol has the unrivaled ability to bypass tough firewalls, ensuring unrestricted online access.Despite its open-source benefits, the initial setup of OpenVPN might be a daunting task for some users.

OpenVPN vs. WireGuard: What’s the Difference?

OpenVPN and WireGuard are popular VPN protocols with unique advantages and features. We must examine their differences to understand which one is better.

Let’s dive into these critical differences!

Speed Comparison

OpenVPN has been highly regarded for its consistent and reliable performance for years. However, WireGuard generally takes the upper hand when it comes to speed. It has been found to be much faster than OpenVPN in many comparisons. Its more lightweight protocol results in less computational overhead and better speeds. It also handles network changes more effectively, reducing latency and improving overall performance.

OpenVPN, despite not being as speedy, its track record of stable performance must be noticed. Its thorough testing and wide acceptance have made it the go-to for many users who value dependability over high-speed performance. Plus, OpenVPN provides the flexibility to operate over TCP or UDP protocols, enabling users to balance speed and reliability depending on their specific use case.

wireguard VPN protocol
WireGuard is faster than OpenVPN.



WireGuard utilizes modern cryptographic algorithms such as ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption, Curve25519 for elliptic-curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key agreement, and BLAKE2s for hashing. This makes it highly secure without any needless complexity. Additionally, these algorithms offer excellent security margins and are less resource-demanding, contributing to WireGuard’s impressive speed.

On the flip side, OpenVPN also boasts strong encryption. The OpenSSL library allows various encryption methods, including AES, ChaCha20, and Blowfish. While OpenVPN has the benefit of multiple encryption choices, it also introduces complexity that can, in specific scenarios, potentially lead to configuration errors and vulnerabilities. Hence, while OpenVPN’s flexibility is a strength, WireGuard’s simplicity and streamlined approach to encryption can also be seen as a significant advantage.


OpenVPN has a proven track record. It has been around longer and passed multiple independent audits. Its maturity and the broad scrutiny it has undergone make it a trustworthy choice for the privacy-conscious user.

WireGuard’s privacy features are designed differently. While it has strong encryption and is secure, it doesn’t support dynamic IP address management or perfect forward secrecy. This implies that OpenVPN might be more suitable for users whose primary concern is absolute privacy. However, it’s important to note that WireGuard is still a solid option, particularly for those who prefer a blend of speed, security, and privacy in their VPN use.


WireGuard was designed with the modern internet user in mind, particularly those who require a high degree of mobility. This protocol is noted for its “roaming interface,” enabling users to switch between networks seamlessly. Let’s say you’re using your VPN on a laptop and connected to a Wi-Fi network. If you change your location and switch to a cellular network, WireGuard maintains the VPN connection without manual intervention. It’s designed to maintain its state despite changes in your network connection. In essence, it offers a very mobile-friendly experience.

On the other hand, OpenVPN doesn’t handle transitions between networks as smoothly as WireGuard. The OpenVPN protocol lacks the roaming interface that makes WireGuard superior in mobility. If you switch from a Wi-Fi network to a cellular one, your OpenVPN connection may drop, requiring manual reconnection. OpenVPN may be better for people on the go who often find themselves switching between networks. Despite this shortcoming, OpenVPN has been a reliable protocol for many years, but in terms of mobility, WireGuard takes the lead.


OpenVPN being an older and more established protocol, OpenVPN has been extensively audited for security vulnerabilities. Its open-source nature has allowed many developers and cybersecurity experts to review its code, test it, and report any issues. As a result, OpenVPN has a robust reputation for security, backed by a history of thorough audits.

Contrastingly, WireGuard’s relative novelty means it has yet to undergo the same level of scrutiny as OpenVPN. Although WireGuard was built to be more streamlined and easier to audit, it has yet to be around long enough to undergo as many security audits as OpenVPN. This doesn’t necessarily mean WireGuard is less secure; its codebase is designed to be more straightforward than OpenVPN’s, potentially reducing the risk of security issues. Nevertheless, until WireGuard has undergone more extensive auditing, OpenVPN will have the edge regarding audibility.


Due to OpenVPN having a longstanding presence in the industry, it is widely supported across almost all platforms and operating systems. The OpenVPN protocol can be implemented without issues from Windows, macOS, and Linux to Android and iOS. Moreover, many VPN service providers support OpenVPN, making it a versatile choice for users.

WireGuard, though catching up quickly, still needs to catch up regarding compatibility. While it is compatible with many major operating systems, not all VPN providers support the WireGuard protocol. However, the number of providers offering WireGuard as an option is steadily increasing. WireGuard is rapidly closing this compatibility gap with continuous development and increased protocol adoption. Still, as of now, OpenVPN claims excellent compatibility across a broader range of platforms and VPN providers.

OpenVPN VPN protocol service
OpenVPN is compatible with more platforms and operating systems than WireGuard.

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Data Usage

WireGuard tends to outperform OpenVPN when it comes to data usage. It is designed to be lightweight, with less than 4,000 lines of code, making it highly efficient in data usage. It consumes approximately 15% less data compared to OpenVPN. This can be particularly advantageous for those who rely on VPNs on mobile devices with limited data plans.

In contrast, with its vast lines of code and high-level security features, OpenVPN is a more data-intensive protocol. The higher level of data usage can be attributed to its extensive security features and robustness, making it suitable for organizations with complex security requirements. However, this efficiency often comes at the cost of data consumption.

Bypassing Censorship

When it comes to bypassing censorship, OpenVPN offers greater flexibility and success. It can run on any port, including the standard HTTPS port (443). This makes it more difficult to be blocked by firewalls or internet service providers, allowing it to bypass stringent censorship, such as the Great Firewall of China.

However, WireGuard struggles in this aspect. Its inability to effectively disguise traffic makes it easier to block by firewalls and other censorship tools. The lack of obfuscation tools in WireGuard’s setup currently limits its ability to circumvent restrictions as efficiently as OpenVPN. As such, while OpenVPN and WireGuard both have their respective strengths in bypassing censorship, OpenVPN is the more reliable choice.

WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: 8 Must-Know Facts

  • WireGuard uses a more straightforward code base than OpenVPN, which makes it easier to audit and troubleshoot.
  • OpenVPN provides more configuration options, giving advanced users a broader range of customizability.
  • While OpenVPN supports TCP and UDP, WireGuard only uses UDP, which can lead to faster connections.
  • WireGuard offers improved performance in terms of speed and latency due to its modern cryptographic algorithms.
  • In terms of operating system compatibility, OpenVPN outshines WireGuard with broader support across platforms.
  • WireGuard doesn’t natively support obfuscation, making it potentially easier for third parties to detect VPN traffic.
  • Despite its more straightforward design, WireGuard provides a high level of security, leveraging modern and secure cryptographic protocols.
  • Being around longer, OpenVPN has extensive community support and a wealth of online resources for troubleshooting.

WireGuard vs. OpenVPN: Which One is Better?

WireGuard, a newcomer in the VPN space, boasts remarkable speed and performance due to its lightweight design and modern cryptographic algorithms. In the speed race, it outpaces OpenVPN and offers lower latency, making it an ideal choice for activities such as streaming and gaming. Moreover, it consumes around 15% less data and handles network changes more efficiently.

On the other hand, OpenVPN, an old-timer in the VPN world, stands tall due to its proven reliability and flexibility. Having stood the test of time, it enjoys widespread support across numerous VPNs and has passed several independent audits, enhancing its reputation for security. Although WireGuard shows promise, OpenVPN remains the go-to protocol for the most privacy-conscious users, mainly due to its extensively tested and reliable nature.

Your choice between WireGuard and OpenVPN should hinge on whether speed or time-tested security is your priority.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between WireGuard and OpenVPN?

WireGuard is a newer protocol promising higher speeds, improved security, and reliability. It uses about 4,000 lines of code, which makes it easier to audit and less prone to security vulnerabilities. On the other hand, OpenVPN is a long-standing, reliable, and highly secure VPN protocol that uses around 70,000 lines of code. It has been thoroughly audited and is known for its flexibility.

Which VPN protocol is faster, WireGuard or OpenVPN?

WireGuard is generally faster than OpenVPN. It uses modern cryptographic protocols, which are computationally more efficient, thus providing better speeds. However, the speed can also depend on other factors, such as the network environment and the VPN service provider.

Which VPN protocol offers better security, WireGuard or OpenVPN?

Both WireGuard and OpenVPN offer robust security features. OpenVPN’s security has been extensively audited over the years, making it a reliable choice. WireGuard, while newer, offers robust protection due to its more straightforward and easier-to-audit code base.

Which VPN protocol is more privacy-friendly, WireGuard or OpenVPN?

While both protocols prioritize privacy, OpenVPN is considered to be more privacy-friendly. It’s been around longer and has undergone more audits and real-world testing. It also provides a higher level of configurability that can be advantageous in specific privacy scenarios.

Are both WireGuard and OpenVPN compatible with all devices?

Both WireGuard and OpenVPN are widely supported across many platforms and operating systems. However, as OpenVPN has been around longer, it might be more likely to be supported on older devices or less standard operating systems.

Can WireGuard and OpenVPN bypass censorship?

Both WireGuard and OpenVPN can be effective in bypassing censorship. OpenVPN has been historically more successful due to its ability to operate over multiple ports and its obfuscation features. WireGuard, while potentially more efficient, doesn’t have built-in obfuscation, making it more likely to be blocked in highly censored regions.

Which VPN protocol should I use, WireGuard or OpenVPN?

The choice between WireGuard and OpenVPN depends on your specific needs. If speed and efficiency are your primary concerns, WireGuard may be the better choice. However, if you require greater flexibility and privacy, and have a higher priority for a tried-and-tested protocol, then OpenVPN may be the better option.

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