Netmaker: A better alternative to Tailscale VPN

Posted by
Alex Feiszli
February 23, 2024

Recently, the demand for secure and efficient Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions has reached an unprecedented high. Both organizations and individuals are striving to safeguard their communications and data, and choosing a reliable VPN is a critical factor in ensuring security and seamless connectivity.

One such widely recognized VPN solution is Netmaker, an open-source VPN solution that stands out in the crowded VPN market. Its commitment to transparency, community-driven development, and a host of powerful features presents it as a compelling alternative to what traditional VPNs offer. We will unravel the strengths of Netmaker while drawing a sharp contrast to Tailscale VPN, a popular VPN solution that comes with its limitations.

In this article, we will go through a comparative analysis of Tailscale and Netmaker. We will discuss how Netmaker VPN provides additional configurability and faster speeds due to its utilization of the WireGuard protocol. By the conclusion of this article, readers will have an extensive understanding of why Netmaker could be a better alternative to Tailscale.

Tailscale: Basic Features and Limitations

Tailscale is a popular VPN service with an array of features that cater to individuals and businesses. It offers a user-friendly setup, peer-to-peer connections, end-to-end encryption, split tunneling, and more. One of its key strengths lies in its user-friendly setup and management, making it an excellent choice for smaller networks or teams. Additionally, Tailscale supports various platforms, ensuring seamless integration across different systems and devices such as Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.

Cons Of TailScale

Even with its attractive features, Tailscale is not without limitations. Understanding these limitations is essential for users seeking a VPN solution catering to their needs.

Closed-Source Nature:

Tailscale’s closed-source nature raises concerns about the risk of visibility into the underlying code. Open-source software has immense significance in the tech community. It allows users to scrutinize the source code, contributing to transparency, security, and community-driven development. Netmaler’s open-source approach ensures transparency, fostering collaboration, community contribution, and active engagement of users in software development.

Network Customization Limitations: 

Timescale is often criticized for its inability to create custom networks with private IP segments. This limitation impedes users who require a higher degree of customization in their network configuration. In contrast, Netmaker’s highly configurable nature enables users to create various types of networks beyond the standard “mesh VPN”, providing users with greater flexibility and customization options.

Data Ownership: 

Tailscale is a SaaS platform, so your devices are registered with a third party. While your data is encrypted and invisible to Tailscale, having your personal information stored on a third-party site can be disconcerting. Additionally, communication will be routed through Tailscale's relay servers rather than directly between your devices.

Why Netmaker?

Netmaker emerges as a compelling alternative to Tailscale, particularly due to its open-source architecture, which fosters transparency, community-driven development, and extensive customization. The advantages of using Netmaker over Tailscale are multifaceted and include:

Open Source Architecture:

Netmaker's open-source nature is pivotal, as it enables transparency, community-driven development, and extensive customization. This approach fosters collaboration, allowing users to tailor the solution to their specific needs and contribute to its ongoing enhancement.

Utilizing WireGuard Protocol:

Netmaker leverages the WireGuard protocol, a modern, secure, and fast VPN protocol. This choice enhances the security and performance of the solution, making it a robust alternative to traditional VPN protocols. The advantages of WireGuard include reduced latency, improved efficiency, and a smaller codebase, making it an ideal choice for modern VPN solutions. By incorporating WireGuard, Netmaker showcases its commitment to utilizing cutting-edge technologies that prioritize both security and user experience.

Low-Level Configuration:

Netmaker has a “Client Gateway” feature that allows users to generate and “hook in” pure WireGuard config files; these features provide users with extensive control and customization options, making it an ideal choice for those who require low-level customizations and complete control over their implementation.

Data Ownership:

In addition to its SaaS offering, Netmaker allows users to "self-host" the control plane and relay servers, ensuring complete data ownership.


Netmaker offers a cost-effective solution, with a paid SaaS version starting at just $1 per device per month.


Netmaker has demonstrated superior speed, which is attributed to its utilization of the WireGuard protocol. This protocol, known for its enhanced performance and security, positions Netmaker as a high-speed VPN solution.

Comparative Analysis: Netmaker vs Tailscale

When comparing Netmaker and Tailscale, several factors come into play. These factors include but are not limited to customization options, security protocols, community support, and integration capabilities. Here is a detailed comparison of the two VPN solutions based on these factors:





Customization Options Netmaker offers more customization options than Tailscale, allowing users to create custom networks with private IP segments, providing greater flexibility and control over their network configuration.

Tailscale does not allow users to create custom networks with private IP segments, which can be a drawback for those who require more tailored network configurations.

Security Protocols Netmaker's use of kernel WireGuard provides faster speeds compared to Tailscale's use of user space Go, which can impact data transfer speeds. Tailscale uses the user-space Go variant of WireGuard, which is known for its speed and security benefits.
Community Support Netmaker's open-source nature fosters transparency, collaboration, and customization, allowing users to access and modify the source code, enhancing security, flexibility, and community-driven development. Tailscale has active communities, with users sharing their experiences and critiques of these VPN solutions. 
Integration Capabilities Netmaker's client is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and FreeBSD, but the Windows and Mac experience could be more polished than Tailscale, and there currently needs to be an iOS or Android application. Tailscale offers more integration capabilities than Netmaker, with support for various platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.


In conclusion, the comparison between Tailscale and Netmaker highlights distinct advantages and considerations for users in search of a VPN solution. Netmaker, an open-source platform utilizing the WireGuard protocol, presents a compelling alternative to Tailscale. It offers extensive customization options, faster speeds, and enhanced transparency and collaboration opportunities. Moreover, Netmaker's cost-effectiveness, data ownership features, and advanced configuration capabilities make it an appealing choice for users with diverse networking requirements.

While Tailscale stands out for its user-friendliness and integration capabilities, Netmaker's focus on transparency, community-driven development, and the utilization of the WireGuard protocol positions it as a superior alternative for users seeking a highly customizable, high-speed, and transparent VPN solution. Therefore, exploring Netmaker as a potential solution for your networking needs is recommended, particularly if you value security, transparency, flexibility, and top-notch speed. Ultimately, the decision between Tailscale and Netmaker hinges on your specific needs and preferences.


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