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I have read that using your router as your VPN server wasn't a good idea. Things would slow because your router would be responsible for encrypting and decrypting the data from all your devices. And even the most powerful routers don't have enough CPU to encrypt and decrypt the data from multiple devices on your network.

I'm guessing that this might also apply to VPN servers on my NAS. My NAS is responsible for so many other things like backing up computers, streaming movies and musics, etc.

So, wouldn't a VPN server on a dedicated old computer be the best solution? It's sole responsibility would be to manage the VPN server, encrypting and decrypting VPN traffic.

What do you experts think?

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The first thing to do is to quantify your needs and resources - particularly the CPU's in the available systems, and what the VPN is required for.

I have several offices which I connect using VPNs on an ASUS AC1900 dual band gigabit router. I use a similar router with VPN at home, and do heavy backups over it. (I do note that in both cases I'm only encrypting traffic to key destinations, but that would be the majority of traffic) - as if your needs are not extremely high, using a decent router is the way to go - Consensus is you should be able to get > 40 megabits over VPN from an ASUS RT-AC68 or better.

(The statement that " even the most powerful routers don't have enough CPU to encrypt and decrypt the data from multiple devices on your network." is patently incorrect - there are any number of x86 boxes with multiple interfaces configured as routers, and they are more then up to pushing anything a typical home environment could throw at it - especially if they have AES-NI on the chip - but this is not a requirement) - hell, once upon a time I ran a whole ISP this way.

Using a NAS, it again depends on the NAS, but yes, a lot of them will do an adequate job - but in most cases they use a similar chip to a Router, so doing it on a router is a better idea.

Bottom line - if you get a mid-high end router and put dd-wrt or similar on it, and you don't need to push more then 50 megabit of traffic and can use an OpenVPN router, it should be more then adequate. If you drop more money on it, you can get even more throughput.

A VPN on a dedicated computer could be a viable solution - but it will consume extra power. Of-course, throw Linux and an extra couple of NICS on it, and its a router. Throw in some disks and its a NAS.

  • Thanks for the great, informed answer. Router it is. One thing you mentioned is that a separate computer dedicated as the VPN server would require extra power. Would the annual power be all that much? I would have thought that using an old computer as a VPN server would be the best solution as you would have a dedicated CPU doing the encrypting and decrypting. It's better than throwing it out, no? – John Greer Mar 11 '18 at 17:21
  • This is a whole nother question, and depends largely on the age/specs of the computer. Generally speaking, new computers use a lot less power then old ones. Assuming your computer is drawing on average100 watts, and your power bill is 12.5c/kwh you would be paying 100/1000kwh * $0.125* 8760 hrs per year= $109.50 per year in power to run the PC as a router. – davidgo Mar 11 '18 at 18:09
  • Generally speaking, the CPUs on routers are a lot less powerful then on Intel based PCs, but they are also a lot more power efficient. This is because they typically use low power ARM based chips - similar to those used in cellphones - where long running time on limited power is way more important then on an always-connected desktop. (Think at least 1/10th the performance @ 1/10th the power) – davidgo Mar 11 '18 at 18:19
  • Thanks for another good answer. That's a lot more than I thought to run a computer! But for me, that might be worth it though if 1. OpenVPN dramatically increases your security and 2. by doing so, it doesn't slow things down appreciably by using OpenVPN on a dedicated computer. People have paid a lot more for less. – John Greer Mar 14 '18 at 17:42
  • OpenVPN offers very strong encryption between yourself and a remote point in the Internet, but no security beyond that - the rest is up to the remote network, so it depends on your usage case. How fast is your connection and why/for what do you use a VPN? How many computers are sharing this network ? – davidgo Mar 14 '18 at 20:07

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