OpenVPN is, as of the time of this writing, the most popular VPN protocol available. It is open-source and supported by a passionate community of developers. It is easy to use. Most importantly, it provides the strongest security of any protocol to date.

What does that all mean? Let’s dive into this incredibly innovative VPN protocol and get a better idea of why so many services rely on it today.

A Quick History of OpenVPN

Unlike many other protocols, OpenVPN was forged from oppression. OpenVPN Inc. founder and CEO Francis Dinha was born in Iraq and, after his home was bombed, spent quite some time living in caves until his family could settle in Baghdad. During this period, it was dangerous enough to live in Iraq, but his family was from a minority religion (Christianity) and of Assyrian descent, on top of speaking Aramaic instead of Arabic. Dinha eventually moved to Sweden as an asylum seeker, and finally made his way to a job with a technology company in Dallas, TX.

Meanwhile, toward the end of 2001, James Yonan was traveling through central Asia for work. His job required that he remotely access the company’s computer servers, but that necessitated using Russian and Chinese ISPs, which he felt had dubious track records of consumer privacy. Inspired by open source projects like OpenSSL, Yonan developed OpenVPN as a side project to ensure that the data he was sending and receiving from the work systems remained secure.

Dinha heard about this little project in Texas and reached out to Yonan with a business plan. Soon they had released the first version of OpenVPN and it rapidly became the most popular VPN product in the world.

How Does OpenVPN Work?

There are plenty of websites that will give you the gritty technical details of this innovative VPN protocol, but that’s not what you came here for, is it? No, we’re going to explain this as directly as possible.

There are two big things that OpenVPN does for you: it encrypts your data, and it makes a safe tunnel for it to travel through.

The encryption part is actually the easier to understand. For those that don’t know, encryption basically scrambles your data in a way that looks random but can be put back in order if you have the right key. OpenVPN uses resources available through OpenSSL, called “libraries,” so it can take advantage of years’ worth of improvements on one of the most important security technologies online. It could take decades to decode an encrypted file if you aren’t the intended recipient.

Creating the safe tunnel is a bit more complex. The Internet is a combination of various, smaller networks that connect to devices like computers, servers, and phones (to name only a few) through gateways called “ports.” Part of what made OpenVPN so good was that it only took one port to send information through, providing fewer potential points of entry or ways to intercept a transmission. This protocol connects a port on your device to a port on a VPN server, then connects that server to where you want your data to go. The tunnel keeps your data from leaking and foils attempts to tap into the signal while it’s in transit.

How do I Use It?

That’s the big question. There are several ways to utilize OpenVPN on your system to protect your data while you surf online.

First, you can manually install a VPN on your system that uses OpenVPN technology. Because it’s open source, several other companies make use of their high-quality encryption and tunneling, including PrivadoVPN. In fact, we have detailed instructions on exactly how you can accomplish that for all of your devices, including your home router.

However, a much easier way is to download a client application like the one that PrivadoVPN has available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS systems. In our Settings you can simply choose to use OpenVPN as your protocol with the push of a button. Once you’ve made that selection, you can relax knowing that your device is being protected by one of the best VPN protocols ever produced.

Getting Started with OpenVPN

You can start protecting your most important personal information today by setting up a PrivadoVPN account and downloading our OpenVPN-ready app for free. You’ll also get access to 12 total servers, 10 GB of free data transfer a month, and the confidence that we will never keep records of your online activity.

Or you can sign up for PrivadoVPN Premium and get access to all 175 of our servers in 42 countries, as well as unlimited data, new VPN protocols, and plenty of other features. Needless to say, whether you’re using the free or paid service, you’ll be able to use OpenVPN to keep your data secure whenever you’re online.