Introduction to Running an OpenVPN Server
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can be utilized for a number of very useful applications. You can securely connect to any public WiFi hotspot. You can overcome geo-blocking restrictions on your favourite websites. And you can even connect to your home or office network from anywhere in the world, as if you were sitting right at your desk. This guide will walk you through the process of setting up your own OpenVPN server, and connecting to it with your copy of Viscosity.
Running your own OpenVPN server will allow you to encrypt everything you do on the internet, so that you can safely do your online banking on the free WiFi at your favourite cafe. If you connect to a public WiFi hotspot without using a VPN, then you are at risk of anyone else connected to that hotspot seeing everything you do, including reading any login details you may use (including your password!). However, with an OpenVPN server set up at home, you can connect to it from a public WiFi hotspot and protect your confidential details from eavesdropping. Anything you send over the VPN connection will be encrypted from your device until it reaches your OpenVPN server at home, where it will be decrypted and sent out to its destination, as if you were sitting in the comfort of your own home. Any files you access on your home/office network will also be encrypted as they travel through the internet. Setting up your OpenVPN server to access your home/office network gives you full access to all your files on your network. It's like having your own personal cloud, where you control it 100%.
The first step to setting up your OpenVPN server is to decide why you want a VPN Server. We'll cover a couple of popular scenarios below. Which ever way you choose to go, we have a growing list of setup guides for OpenVPN in our setup guides section to help you get started.
Securing Your Traffic
If all you want to do is secure your traffic when out and about, the easiest thing to do is purchase a package from a VPN Service Provider. We have a list of providers that support Viscosity here. The advantage is you don't need to worry about setting up or maintaining the security of your own server, plus a provider has many locations to ensure you get the best connection.
If you'd like to go it alone, you have two options. The first is to rent a VPS or server. We won't cover these but there are plenty of suggestions online for reputable VPS or Server providers. A popular one is Amazon Web Services, though you may find this more expensive than simply purchasing a package from a VPN Service Provider.
The second is to use your home Internet connection to dial back to.
There are many reasons you might want to connect home. You can utilise your home internet connection when out and about, creating a secure connection when on public WiFi, or you may like to access files on a home server when not at home.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your download speeds while connected via a VPN back home are limited by your home Internet's upload speed. If you are on an ADSL connection for example, this can be quite slow. If you have a fibre connection however, this will usually be more than enough.
Many home routers now have VPN capability built in, we cover some of these routes in our setup guides section. If you don't have a home server, another option is to run up a Virtual Machine on your home computer with something like Virtual Box or even pick up a cheap computer like a Raspberry Pi.
You will also need to make modifications to your router, usually in the way of Port Forwarding. Check your home routers user manual for more information about how to do this for your model of router.
You can find some setup guides for OpenVPN in our setup guides section.