OpenVPN on Windows works surprisingly well


I’ve been using OpenVPN for a few years on Linux to establish site to site VPNs. It has never let me down, and i was always able to get the configuration working in the way I wanted it, without much effort and fiddling. Another nice ability of OpenVPN is that it can work it’s way through almost any firewall, which can be especially nice when working with restricted internet access.

A few days ago, i’ve got into a situation where I needed to get to a site to site VPN up as quickly as possible, behind a restrictive firewall. I’ve started with the obvious route, and found a few resources referring to OpenVPN on the net.

One of them is the OpenVPN GUI, which is mostly aimed at roadwarrior scenarios. The Windows installation notes and the Windows section in the howto are quite sparse. As such, my expectations weren’t high.

Installing OpenVPN results in the creation of a virtual ethernet adapter, that’s backed by the TAP driver (which is not signed). The install went fine, and configuration was the same as on Linux.

The Windows installer automatically installs as service that defaults to a disabled state, which when started launches OpenVPN for all *.ovpn files in %ProgramFiles%\OpenVPN\config. Simple, but efficient. Logs get written to %ProgramFiles%\OpenVPN\log.

After creating an appropriate configuration, i put it into the config dir, started the service, and everything just worked. Right out of the box. Without thinkering. Without error messages. It just worked.

As such, the application clearly shows it’s Linux/Unix origin, but it works nicely. Windows administrators that have never worked with a unix-like operating system might be put off by the application. I would still suggest everyone to take a look at OpenVPN for some low cost VPN improvisations.

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