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OpenVPN Server Speed Tweaks

I’ve been running my own VPN so I can access my home-based servers from anywhere with an internet connection (not to mention, in this day & age of Government snooping – personal privacy & increased security).

I’m on a pretty quick connection from Virgin Media here in the UK, currently the fastest they offer:

Virgin Media
Virgin Media

To do these tests, I used the closest test server to my VPN host machine, in this case Paris. This keeps the variables to a minimum. Testing without the VPN connection gave me this:

Paris Server Speed
Paris Server Speed

I did expect a lower general speed to a server further away, this will have much to do with my ISP’s traffic management, network congestion, etc. So I now have a baseline to test my VPN throughput against.
The problem I’ve noticed with OpenVPN stock configs are that the connections are painfully slow – running over UDP on the usual port of 1194 the throughput was pretty pathetic:

Stock Config Speed
Stock Config Speed

I did some reading on the subject, the first possible solution being to change the send/receive buffers so they’re set to a specific value, rather than letting the system handle them. I also added options to get the server to push these values to the clients, this saving me the trouble of having to reissue all the client configurations.

sndbuf 393216
rcvbuf 393216

push "sndbuf 393216"
push "rcvbuf 393216"

Unfortunately just this option didn’t work as well as I’d like, downstream speeds jumped to 25Mb/s. In the stock config, the tunnel MTU & MSSFIX settings aren’t bothered with, some adjustment to set the tunnel MTU to lower than the host link MTU (in my case the standard 1500) prevents packet fragmentation, MSSFIX let’s the client TCP sessions know to limit the packet sizes it sends so that after OpenVPN has done the encryption & encapsulation, the packets do not exceed the set size. This also helps prevent packet fragmentation.

tun-mtu 1400 
mssfix 1360
VPN Tweaked
VPN Tweaked

After adjusting these settings, the download throughput over the VPN link has shot up to 136Mb/s. Upload throughput hasn’t changed as this is limited by my connection to Virgin Media. Some more tweaking is no doubt possible to increase speeds even further, but this is fine for me at the moment.


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