How to Setup WireGuard VPN Server on Windows

By | July 14, 2021

I suspect that I’m not the only one who runs a small and quiet system with Microsoft Windows at home 24/7 and which can be accessed remotely via RDP (using laptop, tablet or even smartphone) and somewhat worried about the number of none authorized attempts to connect. Over the year ago I have published this post devoted to tunneling RDP connection over SSH and while it works fine, it has some known limitations (see below). Now, I would like to introduce a more flexible alternative based on WireGuard VPN. However, let’s start from the very beginning and consider all possibilities:

  1. RDP over SSH tunneling. Since Windows 10 1809 OpenSSH client and server are installable features and I have described how to configure these in the previous post. After running this setup for a while, I would mention the following issues:
    • While it works fine when using the laptop at the client side, it is hardly possible to do the same from the smartphone. At least for the iPhone, it would require a special RDP client with built-in SSH tunneling because you are not allowed to run an SSH client in the background for over 30 seconds.
    • Only TCP is supported, while RDP can take an advantage of using UDP.
    • Windows updates sometimes demonstrate an unexpected side effect and stop/disable OpenSSH service. I had not researched this issue, but this happened at several times to me.
  2. Install VPN on the home router. Since my router supports both WireGuard and OpenVPN, this is an acceptable option and the disadvantages I could mention are quite subjective:
    • I would not like to put additional “optional” load on the router. This is a critical part of the network and I never use for anything beyond the “routing”. E.g. never use it as FTP-server, NAS etc…
    • It adds an attack vector to the device, which firmware is not updated that often.
    • Requires certain technical skills to read the documentation and configure the device.
  3. Put the Raspberry Pi into the home network and configure it as a VPN server. BTW, you can run a lot more on it, 4th generation is powerful. Personally, I use a couple of Raspberry Pi 4 at home for various purposes, and it is an excellent option if you have some Linux skills and can afford the device. When testing Raspberry Pi 4 in a 1Gbps network, it was able to handle around 300 Mbps of WireGuard traffic.
  4. Rather for complete list than for the real use, you could install Hyper-V on the Windows machine, create a Linux virtual machine and configure it as VPN server. But I would never recommend this because:
    • It requires certain technical skills.
    • It has a significant performance penalty.
    • Problems may occur during power outage or Windows update (the virtual machine may end up in Saved state and the VPN won’t be accessible).
  5. And obviously, you could install VPN server directly on Windows. The choice of a specific VPN is a deeply personal matter, but for the last couple of years I was lucky enough to work with WireGuard a lot, so the choice was obvious.

Preliminary research

I suppose that it is not something new that WireGuard has been included into the mainline Linux kernel for over a year now. At the same time, on Windows side, we are limited to an official client written on Go. However, due to the specifics of the protocol, the official WireGuard for Windows is quite suitable to function as a server. Thanks to Henry Chang and his follower micahmo, we roughly know how to do this with standard Windows tools. To be honest, the process described by Henry looks a bit complicated, so micahmo tried to automate and simplify many of the complex steps. Personally, I had not tried his application because I have occasionally found it only when writing this post, but I suppose it does what it claims to. Apart from that, I was very interested in the following comment under the original Henry’s post:

Good day, excellent article!

I have a Win10 machine that I plan to use as a wireguard server. This machine has a main internet network adapter + OpenVPN client connection that is used for selected routes.
If I understand correctly described above wireguard VPN setup will only allow my wireguard clients to access main internet interface but not the OpenVPN connection, please correct me I’m wrong.
Is there a way for a wireguard client to use all available connections and honor existing routes configuration on wireguard server?

Thank you!

The point is that WireGuard clients should be able to use not only the main Internet interface (this is the only possible option for Windows Internet Connection Sharing), but “all available connections and honor existing routes”. So let’s set up the requirements.

Requirements

  1. Simplify the process of installing and configuring WireGuard as much as possible. The pressure on companies providing VPN services is growing, and we never know what really happens with our data, so it would be good if an average Windows user could:
    • Easily install the WireGuard VPN Server on a cloud hosted VPS without diving into implementation specifics. It could be useful to bypass geographic restrictions on some online products or services. For example, Ghidra web-site can’t be accessed from IP addresses in Russia. The curious thing about it is that at the same time Ghidra binaries can be downloaded from GitHub. Or another example, air tickets fares (and suggested currencies) are often dependent on the country which IP you used to access the airline’s website.
    • Easily install WireGuard VPN Server on a home Windows machine to obtain permanent secure access to home network and ALL the services available to him at home, no matter where in the world he is.
  2. Suggest some kind of Internet Connection Sharing alternative which would use all available connections and honor existing routes.

I have started working on this project about a month ago, and finally, I can introduce it to the public. Meanwhile, I have it running on a couple of home machines with Windows 10 Pro and one VPS in Microsoft Azure cloud (Windows Server 2019 Core, 1vCPU + 1Gb). I have to note that the Linux kernel WireGuard implementation certainly wins in terms of performance, so if you’re familiar with Linux, then it would be a better choice. This solution is primarily targeted at an average Windows users and the most difficult thing about it is setting up the UDP port forwarding (on your home router or admin panel of VPS provider).

WireSock VPN Gateway

It was not an easy to choose the right name for the project, but WireSock is half word match to WireGuard and luckily WireSock.net was available to host it. WireSock Gateway installers and brief installation instructions are available on the web-site. In a nutshell, in addition to downloading and installing the application, you only need to run ‘cmd’ as an Administrator and execute ‘wg-quick-config -add -start’. wg-quick-config will try to determine your external IP address and available local UDP port. If the router is configured with dynamic or static DNS, then you can change the IP to a domain name. If your ISP/VPS provider allocates you a public IPv4 address, and it was correctly determined, then after this step the only thing left to do is setting up the port forwarding for the selected UDP port (on your home router or admin panel of VPS provider). The default virtual network for the WireGuard is set to 10.9.0.0/24, but you can change it to whatever you prefer.

wg-quick-config creates configuration files for the server (wiresock.conf) and client (wsclient_1.conf), after that, it creates and launches the WireGuard tunnel. It also displays the client configuration as a QR code that can be scanned by a smartphone. Additional clients can be added by calling ‘wg-quick-config -add -restart’.

In a nutshell, we-quick-config is just a simple automation tool written in Go. The background work is done by the Wiresock Service, which supports two operational modes: NAT and Proxy.

The first one is a classic NAT: the service enables Windows routing (for some types of connections since Windows 7 built-in routing does not work, and they are routed “manually”), determines the “default” external interface and performs network address translation for the incoming/outgoing packets. It is almost the same as the built-in Internet Connection Sharing, but without restrictions on the addresses of the client’s network.

The second is somewhat more interesting, and this mode is enabled by default. All TCP/UDP connections are transparently redirected to local TCP/UDP proxies, which, on their behalf, establish connections to network resources. Moreover, if the local system has HTTP/SOCKSv5 proxy system settings, then Wiresock Service will respectfully use these. It is worth to note that DNS service is an exception to this rule. By default, instead of the original destination, DNS requests are forwarded to locally available DNS servers to speed up the DNS resolution. If this behavior is not desired, then you can use the special command line parameter -dns followed by a list of preferred DNS servers. And finally, if a Windows machine has no DNS server configured and -dns has not provided the list of preferred DNS servers, then 8.8.8.8/1.1.1.1 are used. The only drawback of this approach is that ping to external addresses will not work, but it seems an acceptable price for the higher performance and flexibility.

Thus, our requirements seem to have been completed. And if there will be an interest in this project, there is still a lot what I consider adding, for example:

  • Currently, (v.1.0.2.4) there is no IPv6 support.
  • IPv4 address space is exhausted, and it may happen that your ISP does not assign you a public IP address. This is mostly always the case with mobile Internet. So, I would like to allow WireGuard server to work behind ISP NAT (and even multi-NAT). However, this will require an external service with public IP address.
  • Would be good to add built-in DNS filtering similar to what pi-hole does but without having to set up the Linux instance.
  • Some kind of UI to monitor connected users and assign access rules or bandwidth limits.

9 thoughts on “How to Setup WireGuard VPN Server on Windows

  1. Nuts_

    Есть заметные замечания к “юзабилити” данного туториала.
    0) сам wiresocks ставится в programfiles и надо еще додуматься щапустить командную строку да с админскими правами чтобы программа могла сгенирировать конфиги в собтвенную же папку.
    1) наличие оригинального WireGuard. Об этом только на сайте безгло написано что вродже бы надо и его. У меня установлен официальный wireguard.msi, но когда я просто запускал wg-quick-config -start то получал множество сообщений в смысл когторых еще предтояло понять. с удивлением понял что похоже не может запуститься wireguard.exe И понятно что не может запуститься так как он лежит в соей папке и path к не й никто не прописал. я тупо скопировал wiresock.exe в туже папку
    2) тунель как бы и стал подниматся но в консоль валились ошибки о том чтоwg-quick-config не может получить доступа к сетевым профилям. Ну понятно – софт расчитан на winserwer через powershell про обычную win7 никто и не думал.
    3) а ведь для всегоупомянутого можно было бы использовать wreguard-nt. А ведь зачем то еще в wiresock лежат отдельные драйвера tun – я тоже не понял

    Reply
    1. Vadim Smirnov Post author

      Возможно инструкция на wiresock.net будет понятнее… Юзабилити не мой конек, но в меру возможности я постарался упростить процесс…

      0. Админские права нужны не только для этого, в частности они нужны для установки сервиса туннеля для сервера. Без этого никак…
      1. Оригинальный WireGuard прописывает себя в PATH (это я проверял), возможно какая-то проблема с инсталлятором…
      2. Я проверял Windows 7, действительно, там wg-quick-config может сообщить об ошибке при реконфигурировании новой сети из public в private (точнее при проверке прав доступа, с этим у Go обнаружились некотрые проблемы под Windows 7), но эта ошибка не критична и ее можно игнорировать. Все будет работать.
      3. Ни Wireguard-go ни wireguard-nt сами по себе не обеспечивают маршрутизацию клиентов во внешнюю сеть. Можно подключиться непостредственно к серверу, но ни к локальной сети сервера ни к интернету не получится (нужен NAT или прокси). Wiresock service решает конкретно эту проблему.

      Reply
      1. Nuts_

        Перепроверил и стало интересно. После “чистой” установки в path прописалось все, но этим решилась только проблемма что wireguard стал запускаться сам без ошибки
        wg-quick-config я так понимаю ищет конфиг только в текущей папке. то есть нужно бы сделать CD в нужную папку, т.к. командная строка по идее где угодно может стартовать. это есть на форуме но не в инструкции.
        при этом неприятный момент с самим wireguard в том что если его запускает wiresock в командной строку то его wireguard GUI не отображает статус соединения, по умолчанию он вобще “пустой”
        В туториал навернео стоило бы четче записать “Поставить WireGuard, вручную его не запускать, настройки не трогать”.
        кстати ссылка https://github.com/WireGuard/wireguard-windows/releases – ведет на исходники. Правильная ссылка https://download.wireguard.com/windows-client/
        wireguard-nt я не предлагаю для маршрутизации, его дело – поднять тунель без этих тонкостей. Ну.. ка да что уж теперь.

        Reply
        1. Vadim Smirnov Post author

          Да, wg-quick-config сохраняет конфиги по тому пути по которому он был запущен, но так как его надо запускать под админом, то если не менять папку после запуска, то это как правило это либо system32 либо папка юзера.

          Можно и Wireguard GUI использовать, самому сервису не принципиально на какой конкретно адаптер расшаривать сеть. Перконфигурировать сервис для произвольного адаптера/конфига можно так:

          wiresock-service uninstall
          wiresock-service install -start-type 2 -mode proxy -interface {WIREGUARD_CONFIG_NAME} -log-level none
          sc start wiresock-service

          Reply
        2. Vadim Smirnov Post author

          P.S. Учел замечания и в версии 1.0.28 перенес конфиги в “ProgramData\NT Kernel Resources\WireSock VPN Gateway”

          Reply
    1. Vadim Smirnov Post author

      Yes, I’ve just tested Windows 7 32 bit and it works just fine.

      There is one problem with wg-quick-config which worth to mentiuon, when “Trying to make Wireguard tunnel network private” the corresponding powershell scripts returns an error:

      `The term ‘Get-NetConnectionProfile’ is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program. Check the spelling of the name or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again.`

      This error can be safely ignored, just note to set wiresock network as Private if you ‘d like to access host local services over WireGuard, e.g. RDP.

      Reply
  2. youxiaojie

    I see your nat part support xp, is it possible to compile xp version of wireguard? it seems like wireguard does not support xp. to ask such question is that I hope it run on win2003 server:)

    Reply
    1. Vadim Smirnov Post author

      You are right, official WireGuard for Windows does not support Windows XP/2003… It is possible to somehow back-port it, but I don’t think that it worth an effort.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *