Connecting to Access Server with Windows

Each Windows device needs a client application to connect with your OpenVPN Access Server. We recommend using OpenVPN Connect, which is pre-configured to connect with your Access Server. This document provides information on using OpenVPN Connect as well as alternative solutions.

Installing a client application

The OpenVPN protocol is not built into Windows. Therefore, you must install a client app to handle communication with Access Server. A client app is required to capture the traffic you want to send through the OpenVPN tunnel, encrypt it, pass it on to the server, and decrypt the return traffic.

OpenVPN Connect with your Access Server

Your installation of OpenVPN Access Server includes a copy of OpenVPN Connect, which is a separate package called openvpn-as-bundled-clients that is updated when new versions of OpenVPN Connect are released. OpenVPN Connect is our official client app and your users can download it directly from your client UI, pre-configured to connect with your server, or download it separately from our website and import a connection profile.

Steps: Access your Client UI

  • Open a browser and enter your Access Server IP address or the custom hostname if you have set that up (recommended).
  • Enter your username and password.
    • Once you have signed in, the recommended OpenVPN Connect app for your device displays at the top. Also shown are downloads for other platforms as well as connection profiles.

OpenVPN Connect only supports one active VPN tunnel at a time. It was purposely designed to not support connections to two or more servers simultaneously. Connecting to two servers at the same time requires two different adjustments to the routing table on the client computer. Therefore, it is very easy to make a mistake and break connectivity or cause traffic to flow to the wrong destination. Limiting connections to one server ensures connectivity and traffic flow. OpenVPN Connect can store many profiles for different servers, but you can only actively connect to one at a time.

OpenVPN Connect also supports client-side scripting, importing connection profiles directly from Access Server, and connecting with a server-locked profile. A server-locked profile enables you to authenticate any valid user on your Access Server without installing unique connection profiles for each user.

For further information, refer to: Installation guide for OpenVPN Connect Client on Windows.

OpenVPN Connect v3

We recommend and support OpenVPN Connect v3 as the official app for OpenVPN Access Server and OpenVPN Cloud. The client software offers client connectivity across four major platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. For Linux, we recommend the open source OpenVPN client.

You can run OpenVPN Connect v3 as a Windows system service, which is especially helpful if you need to activate the VPN before a user signs in. For more details, refer to Use OpenVPN Connect v3 on Windows in Service Daemon Mode.

We recommend downloading OpenVPN Connect v3 directly from your Access Server web client UI. You can also download the installation file for OpenVPN Connect v3 from the download page on our site or with the link below. The app installation from our site does not contain any connection settings, so you’ll need to take additional steps to configure the connection to your Access Server. If you are installing the below file on a computer that already has OpenVPN Connect v3 installed and configured, it simply updates it to the latest version and retains all settings.

OpenVPN Connect v2

OpenVPN Connect v2 is the previous generation of OpenVPN Connect client software for OpenVPN Access Server. Support for OpenVPN Connect v2  ends in 2022. We strongly recommend using OpenVPN Connect v3.

Alternative OpenVPN open source client: OpenVPN GUI

The open source project also has a Windows client called OpenVPN GUI. OpenVPN GUI supports the option to connect to multiple OpenVPN servers at the same time, but doing so requires careful configuration to avoid conflicting routes and subnets. Note that you must also make sure there are enough virtual network adapters. On Windows, OpenVPN creates a virtual network card or adapter, but only one OpenVPN tunnel can connect to a virtual network adapter. If you require three simultaneous OpenVPN tunnel connections, you must manually add adapters using command line scripts in the Start menu.

Similar to OpenVPN Connect v3, OpenVPN GUI also includes a service daemon mode where a connection starts up as a system service on Windows before the user is signed in. For more details, refer to Running OpenVPN as a Windows Service.

You can save OpenVPN connection profiles into the program’s config directory, usually located at C:\program files (x86)\openvpn\config\ with .conf or .ovpn file extensions. For example, you can download a user-locked or auto-login profile from the OpenVPN Access Server web interface and place it in this directory. The system tray menu displays the options to use with this connection profile.

OpenVPN GUI doesn’t support client-side scripting, importing connection profiles directly from an Access Server, or connecting with a server-locked profile.

You can download OpenVPN GUI from the community downloads section on our site and download the installer for Windows. The OpenVPN GUI program comes included with this installer.

The program is limited to 50 connection profiles.

Alternative OpenVPN client: tunXten

tunXten is a third-party client created by Eugene Mindrov. tunXten is only available for Windows and is compatible with OpenVPN Access Server. tunXten supports importing connection profiles directly from the Access Server and can also support multiple simultaneous OpenVPN tunnel connections. Just like the open source version, tunXten needs multiple virtual network adapters to do this, but it comes with a GUI tool to achieve this. You can simply keep adding adapters until you have the required number to establish as many connections as you need. It comes with useful logging information and the ability to place custom icons on connections, rename profiles in the GUI, set connections to automatically connect at boot up, remember saved usernames and passwords, and so on.

Alternative OpenVPN client: Viscosity

Viscosity is another third-party OpenVPN client created by SparkLabs. Viscosity is available for Windows and macOS, and is compatible with OpenVPN Access Server.

Other client GUI projects

There are many VPN clients built for the OpenVPN protocol that also work with OpenVPN Access Server. Refer to the community website for the current list.

Helpful Resources

The following resources may be helpful for VPN configuration details, if needed: