Overlay Networks: Tailscale, Netbird, Netmaker, Zerotier

I have talked a lot about overlay networks on my channel going all the way back to 2019. As this type of solution has evolved and become more popular there are more options. While this is not an exhaustive list of every solution out there these are popular solutions that get the most frequent mentions on my channel other other YouTube channels. In this video I share my insights on these to help you decide what might be the best solution for you.

Name Wireguard Based Open Source Client Open Source Server Client Support
Tailscale yes yes no, third party Headscale Win, Mac, Linux, BSD, Android,IOS, Synology, pfsense
Netbird yes yes yes Win, Mac, Linux, Android, IOS
Netmaker yes yes yes Win, Mac, Linux,BSD
Zerotier no yes yes, no web UI Win, Mac, Linux, BSD, Android,IOS, Synology
Twingate no no no Win, Mac, Linux, Android,IOS, ChromeOS

Which is Better: Overlay Networks or Traditional VPN?

Tailscale VS Zerotier

Nebula, the open source global overlay network VPN solution.

How to Setup The Tailscale VPN and Routing on pfsense

Tutorial: Using Tailscale Overlay Network VPN with the Self Hosted Headscale Controller

Zerotier Tutorial: Delivering the Capabilities of VPN, SDN, and SD-WAN via an Open Source System

Video by Awesome Opensource on Netmaker

My Draw.IO template for overlay networks
GitHub - lawrencesystems/Draw_IO_Diagrams: Diagrams used in my YouTube Videos

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Hi thanks for the video comparing overlay networks. I know I need to better understand the basic principles and will be watching more videos, but I’m sure someone can answer this simple question:

Though I guess most people are using systems like Tailscale and Netbird for business purposes, would it make any sense to use them to connect two home networks a thousand odd miles apart?

My elderly father lives in Spain and I’m in the UK. I’d like him to have limited access to my home server, mostly for back ups and access to media. Though he has a laptop and uses it daily to write articles and memoirs, he’s not remotely tech-savvy, so whatever I do needs to be pretty transparent, simple for me to implement and maintain and not interfere with how he normally uses his laptop to access the internet in Spain.

Unless I’m totally misunderstanding how Tailscale (for e.g.) works, I think it might help?
Or maybe there’s a better way? For just media sharing I can always use Plex, but I suspect there may be big advantages (including my needing to help him with tech support and make sure his precious writings are backed up) to an overlay approach?

It struck me there must be plenty of people in the USA needing to do something similar over much greater distances such as east and west coasts, so any guidance gratefully received :slight_smile:

You totally could use something like Tailscale for this. I watched a video on the topic recently…using the DNS feature to make it seamless for the non-tech-savy users…Not a Tom vid (it’s Alex Kretzschmar who is now actually employed by Tailscale) but I don’t think Tom will mind:

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As you will be tech support the main constraint is your knowledge, so there might be a case of the blind leading the blind !! You can set things up so that traffic is routed over the VPN without the end user necessarily needing to know anything more than the destination.

You can also setup VPNs using OpenVPN or Wireguard, so perhaps you need to compare these overlay networks with them also before you make a decision.

Personally I have a bias towards OpenVPN, it has the benefit of being a round for a while and as a result the clients and servers run on virtually everything.

Having a VPN between the UK and Spain won’t be a problem, just remember if your upload speeds in the UK are miserable, then the download speeds in Spain over the VPN will be miserable and vice versa.

Thanks neogrid. What you say about the blind leading the blind is valid, however that’s why I do a LOT of research and study before even thinking about deploying any idea in any fashion I can’t undo or reverse very easily.

In this case I’ll be using my sister (who also lives in Spain) as a guinea pig before even mentioning it to my father!

It’s also something that’s only become viable since we got 500Mb fibre (FTTH) a couple of months ago. That’s 500 up and down.