Does OpenVPN Keep Logs?

Does OpenVPN Keep Logs?

While browsing through the internet, there are times we want our online history to be completely removed. Although the logs are designed to offer a more personalized experience to each network user, it may not always be desirable. So the question is, can you avoid saved logs by using OpenVPN? 

OpenVPN does not keep logs. Because OpenVPN is made to offer privacy, the internet user’s history is kept completely private. There are no ISP logs for the network use through OpenVPN, and you can use it in case you wish for your logs to not be saved.

Internet Service Providers (ISP) keep logs of our activities online. Using VPN can give us privacy from the saved logs, however, some logs may still be accounted for in the ISP logs. Let’s look at what OpenVPN and ISP logs are, how they work, and what sort of logs OpenVPN saves.

What Is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) system that allows peer authentication. Network users can authenticate each other by using pre-shared passwords and usernames, or secret keys or certificates.

In a multi-client server configuration, OpenVPN allows the server to release individual authentication certificates for each client. The authentication certificates are released using signatures and certificate authority.

OpenVPN creates secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections. These connections can be used through OpenVPN in remote access facilities and in routed or bridged configurations. The VPN is able to implement both client and server applications.

How Does OpenVPN Work?

We commonly use VPN for secured connections in public networks. So, OpenVPN is designed with the ability to provide numerous internal security features. OpenVPN does not support IKE, IPsec, L2TP or PPTP. Rather, it runs a custom security protocol that is based on SSL and TLS protocols.

OpenVPN can provide through the OpenSSL library up to 256-bit encryption. However, depending on the service provider, the clients may get a lower rate. It stills remains one of the fastest VPN connection available to consumers

The VPN does not require IP stack operation, and instead, it runs in userspace. OpenVPN has some specific abilities to strengthen security.

  • To drop root privileges
  • To prevent the swapping of any sensitive data to disk by using “mlockall” 
  • To enter a “chroot” jail if needed following the initialization
  • To apply a SELinux context as well after initialization

What Are ISP Logs?

Internet Service Provider (ISP) logs are the saved history of all of your internet activity. ISPs are required to log all the online activity of each of their clients.

The ISP logs include all information like each page you visit online, the time you spent on each of these pages, and what you download from there. Besides, sensitive information like email activity and mac address of the device are also logged.

However, ISP logs are expensive to maintain. The internet service provider, moreover, respects the client’s privacy. That being said, if your online activities were asked to be revealed for any legal purposes, ISPs would be bound and able to do so.

This may seem like a security concern for the clients, and in some cases, it can be one. For everyday internet use, ISP logs can make it convenient by providing a more personalized browsing experience. However, when it comes to private information, ISP logs are the last things you want to be saved.

ISP logs are saved even after you delete the history of any online activities. The amount of data generated by all these ISP logs is however quite massive, and your internet service provider is likely to periodically delete the logs to save unnecessary data costs.

How Long Do ISPs Keep Logs?

Each internet service provider has different regulations on which logs they keep and how long. Some ISP logs may be erased as soon as it is created. ISP logs are very expensive to maintain and thus mostly deleted by the providers.

The average time to delete ISP logs is 90 days from the time they are created. These massive chunks are data that are never tracked unless the ISP has to respond to any subpoenas they could get from law enforcement. 

Once these logs are deleted, the internet service provider has no way to retrieve them. Besides, shifting from one service provider to another will cause the logs to be deleted. The ISPs cannot import or export user-specific logs between themselves.

So, as long as your online activities do not include anything suspicious or illegal, ISP logs are not something to worry about.

Does OpenVPN Keep Logs?

OpenVPN has a very strict policy when it comes to logs. They do not, under any circumstances, keep logs. Moreover, there are no compromises to it.

VPN users turn to the virtual private network system seeking privacy. So, OpenVPN prioritizes the clients’ privacy first and foremost. OpenVPN does not track any of the internet traffic, nor does it keep the logs. 

OpenVPN does not save or maintain any log regarding the websites a client visits while connected to the VPN. It also does not keep logs about the data or traffic transmitted over your internet connection. The bandwidth a client uses, while OpenVPN is enabled, is also not recorded.

What Information Does OpenVPN Save?

The only control or authority for your data and information that OpenVPN needs is the writing rights. OpenVPN uses real-time servers and thus requires writing rights to function properly each time you turn on the VPN.

Without a real-time server, OpenVPN would need to keep logs that go against the policies. With a real-time server, the writing rights are necessary for establishing a setup and a secure way to mask the IP. 

OpenVPN does not have any writing privileges for keeping logs. The only writing privilege it has is for IP masking.

So, enabling OpenVPN can assure you that your information will be protected from all sorts of hackers and other organizations including your ISP. More importantly, it is also safe from OpenVPN since it does not keep logs.

Mark Lewis

Security nerd with a Data Privacy First mindset!

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