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I saw there are 2 available methods (that I know of and currently focusing on) to connect to a vpn. The first one is through their application based of that vpn provider. The others is by configuring VPN Connections > OpenVpn.

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I have searched on internet and found link1 and link2. Of course, method from link2 is easier and less complex than the method in link1, but this is not my main focus here. I can't find anywhere explain pros and cons of these 2 methods or any page explain why should a user pick one method over the others.

To be more specific in comparison, I have narrowed some areas to focus on below. Feel free to add more if there are something I should know, but missed.

  1. Speed / overall performance of the connection
  2. Security --> The permission that the VPN has accessed to on user's devices. I'm not sure if there is any major important thing to consider if compare between OSes. Feel free to add in the answer if you would like, but I current am focusing on linux.
  3. Others. Please explain.

By the way, I used the link of the same VPN provider to show that there are actually more than 1 method to connect to the same VPN provider and not just something that varies between each VPN provider.

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Unless a proprietary/custom VPN protocol is used, a VPN client application will typically be a wrapper around the same existing programs and protocols. If you were to study the application, you would very likely see that an OpenVPN binary and OpenVPN configs are used.

The application's main advantage is most often the user experience. Instead of manually downloading config files or finding what IP address you need to connect to when you want to switch location, the program can display high-level choices (e.g. VPN server location) through a fancy UI.

Another feature of these programs is that they sometimes can manipulate your firewall rules to ensure there are no leaks. Of course, you could set this up yourself if you wanted.

Otherwise, the performance and behavior of the VPN should be identical to that of OpenVPN alone.

However, any additional application you run on your system can increase your attack surface, creating opportunities for privilege escalation; e.g. the client application may run under your user, but may also require a root level daemon to manipulate your network configuration. Additionally, like with any application you install, you must trust it to not be malicious, although this is usually not a concern from well-known companies.

  • So, if somehow the user doesn't trust the vpn provider they use for whatever reasons, they should just configure it themselves, right? Of course, the said user have to know what they are doing or at least willing to learn to troubleshoot. – Discrete Loner Jun 3 '20 at 9:30
  • @DiscreteLoner yes, it probably reduces your attack surface and eliminates any possible configuration surprises, at least if you know what you are doing. That said, if you don't trust the provider, why are you sending all your internet traffic through them? – multithr3at3d Jun 3 '20 at 13:32

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