A VPN is a virtual private network that encrypts and secures all of your internet traffic, shielding you from eavesdropping and tracking. You can use a VPN to access websites that are restricted in your area, or to make your internet experience feel more genuine. Most importantly, you can use a VPN to secure and encrypt your internet traffic, protecting yourself against hackers and snoopers.
There are two parts to your VPN connection: the Server and the Client. The Server is the computer that maintains the VPN connection, and the Client is the device (such as a laptop or mobile phone) that uses the VPN connection to send and receive internet traffic. Typically, you will have to set up the Server first and then you can move to setting up the Client. On this page, we will discuss what port you should leave open on the Server and what port you should use for the Client.
What Port Should You Leave Open on the Server?
In most situations, you will have to leave the Server port open, meaning that any device can connect to it. This is so that other devices can use the VPN service even if they are not specifically set up with it. There is also an exception to this rule, which we will discuss in a bit. For now, just know that you have to leave the Server port open in most situations.
If you are using a public WiFi network at a hotel or café, you should close this port so that only your VPN Client can connect to the Server. Keeping this port open would cause any bystander nearby to be able to snoop on your traffic. Most WiFi hotspots use ports 443 or 843 for incoming connections, so if you use one of these ports on your VPN Server, nobody else can connect to it (not even your VPN Client).
Incoming connections on the Server port are not encrypted, which means that anybody walking by could potentially eavesdrop on your traffic and steal your personal information. If you value your privacy, you should keep this port closed. However, if you need to access certain websites that are restricted in your area, you should leave this port open.
What Port Should You Use to Connect to the Server?
You connect to your VPN Server with the Client port, which is the port used to transfer data back and forth between your device and the Server. To keep things simple, you should use the same port number on both your Client and Server (this makes it easier for them to communicate with each other, and it also means that your VPN configuration is portable – if you set up the Server on one device and the Client on another, they will still be able to connect).
There are exceptions to this rule. If you are using OpenVPN with UDP port 5001, you should use that port to connect to your VPN Server. This is because UDP port 5001 is the default OpenVPN port, and it is also usually reserved by the OpenVPN software for outgoing connections (which is what you will use to connect to the Server).
Similarly, if you are using L2TP with Microsoft Windows, you should use port 1723 for the Server port and port 1722 for the Client port. Doing this ensures that only your devices can connect to each other, shielding you from onlookers and giving you a better overall VPN experience.
Why Should You Use A Specific Port For Your VPN Connection?
Whether you should use a specific port for your VPN connection depends on your situation. If you are constantly moving around and connecting to different WiFi networks, leaving the Server port open would be a security risk. This is because any device could potentially connect to the Server and steal your personal information. If you use a different port for your Client and ensure that this port is not open to the public, you remove the risk of someone connecting to the Server and stealing your personal information (provided that the Server is configured properly and you use strong security measures on it).
For example, if you are using a WiFi hotspot in a hotel or café and the Server port is open to the public, anybody walking by could potentially connect to it and steal your personal information. If you use a different port for the Client (such as 8443 or 8444), only your configured devices will be able to connect to it, which means that your information will be safe. In this situation, you would not want to use the default port of 443 or 843 because these ports are usually reserved by the system for incoming connections (which is what you do not want to use if you are trying to keep your personal information secure).
In some instances, you will want to use the same port for the Server and the Client so that you can have a more streamlined connection experience. For example, if you are connecting to a VPN Server that is on your local area network, it would be more convenient for you to use the same port number on both ends (so that you can skip the step of finding and entering the IP address of the Server).
In summary, you should leave the Server port open in most situations. Incoming connections on this port are not encrypted, which means that anybody walking nearby could potentially eavesdrop on your traffic. If you need to be sure that nobody else can connect to the Server, you should use a different port for the Client. If you are constantly moving around and connecting to different WiFi networks, you should use a different port for the Server because this would ease the process of connecting to a VPN, which could make connecting even more convenient for you (provided that you use a strong, managed VPN and take proper security measures).