How to set up a VPN in Windows 7
If you’re abroad and connect to free wireless hotspots on a regular basis, you’re probably thinking – or should be – about protecting yourself with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Maybe you use a VPN to connect to your work network when you’re working remotely, but maybe you’re looking for a way to protect your activity when you’re not working, or you don’t have an offer from work.
A VPN creates a tunnel, and all your activities on the network and on the Internet travel through it. From the point of view of someone else inhaling the same network, your activity is hidden because it is inside that tunnel. Moreover, all your data is encrypted, giving you another level of security.
You have a few options when it comes to a VPN. You can try a VPN service, which creates a tunnel from its servers to your computer. Once you are connected to the service’s servers, you use the service’s VPN for the rest of your online session. Not only is your connection encrypted, but you also hide your geographic location from website owners. Or check out third-party VPN software, such as Comodo and LogMeIn Hamachi, to easily create secure connections between computers.
Another alternative is to set up your own VPN and take control of your destiny online.
There are two types of VPN connections: incoming and outgoing. An outgoing session means that the user is using the computer to remotely connect to a network or other device, as might happen when the user accesses the work computer. If you have a wireless router at home that supports VPN, you can set up an outgoing connection from your laptop to connect to the router and access your media server, home computer, and other devices on your home network remotely.
An incoming session means that other devices can access your device. Think carefully before granting access to your computer. One scenario where this makes sense is if you have a lot of media files or documents on your computer that people need to access at any given time.
It’s easy to set up any type of connection using the built-in VPN client in Windows 7.
Outbound VPN: Connect to a VPN server or router
1. In the Network and Sharing Center (under Control Panel, Network, and Internet), there is an option to “Set up a new network or connection.” The next option is to click “Connect to Workplace” to start the connection wizard, and then select the “Use my Internet connection (VPN)” option to start the process. If you have a 3G card installed, you may first see a prompt to use a 3G card instead of creating a “new” connection. In this case, you want the “new” connection so you can use your existing internet connection (yes, that’s a bit confusing).
The easiest way to get to this point is to click on the Start button and type “VPN” in the search box. It will go directly to the “Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) Connection” window in the wizard.
2. In the Internet address field, enter the IP address of the VPN server or the name of the network domain. This information is usually provided by the network administrator. If you are connecting to your home router, you can enter the IP address of that router.
The Destination Name field displays the name that users will see. If you don’t want to connect right away, check the “Don’t connect now; just set it up so I can connect later” checkbox.
Leaving it unchecked means that the client will try to make a connection at the end of the wizard. If there are multiple users in the Windows 7 box, you can either select “Allow other people to use this connection” to make the VPN connection available to others, or leave it unchecked to ensure that no one else has the option.
3. This screen asks for a username and password. If you leave it blank, you will be asked to enter information when you make the actual connection.
4. The last window, if you select “Don’t connect now”, will display the “Call now” option. You can close the window now, or call.
When you’re ready to connect, simply click on the network icon in the systray (the icon could be wireless or wired) and the previously created connection will appear in the list under “Dial-up and VPN.” You can also get here by clicking “Connect” network” in the Network and Sharing Center.
5. In the VPN connection box, enter the username and password for the VPN, if not previously filled in, along with the domain provided by the administrator. This connection should work with the majority of VPNs.
6. If the connection fails, click Properties. The most common problem is related to the server configuration. Select the Security tab in the Properties window. The VPN type should be set to Automatic. Check with your administrator if it should be set to PPTP, L2TP/IpSec, SSTP, or IKEv2. If it still doesn’t work, you can uncheck the Include Windows logon domain under the tab Options”.
7. After saving the properties, select Connect to start the connection. You are now connected to a VPN server and your connection is secure.
Next: Make incoming connections>
Incoming VPN: Allow other computers to connect to you
Incoming VPN: Allow other computers to connect to you
1. Before you can set up an incoming VPN connection, you first need to configure your network router so that it knows which computer to forward all VPN traffic to. Log into your router’s control panel—it’s usually as simple as opening a web browser and typing 192.168.1.1 (or whatever IP address your router has)—but refer to the router’s manufacturer’s setup instructions for more details.
Once you are in your router’s control panel, configure the port forwarding or virtual server settings so that port 1723 contains the IP address of the Windows computer on which you are setting up the VPN. You can always get the IP address of your Windows computer by typing ipconfig at the command prompt.
By default, most routers have PPTP or VPN pass-through options enabled in their firewall settings. It is worth checking to make sure it is turned on before closing the router settings page.
2. Once the router is configured, open the Network and Sharing Center (under Control Panel, Network and Internet) on your Windows 7 computer which will accept incoming VPN connections. Find the “Change adapter settings” subheading on the left side of the screen. You can also get to this window by typing “Network and Sharing” from the search bar under the Start menu.
3. In the Change adapter settings windows, you will see the adapters that display the wireless connections you have already configured on the computer, VPN connections, and the regular network adapter installed on the computer. Click on the File menu and select New Incoming Connection. If you don’t see the list of files, press ALT-F to open the list.
4. Select all user accounts that can access this computer. You can also create new accounts using the “Add someone” option.
5. After selecting the users, you will be asked how people connect to the computer. Select the “Online” checkbox.
6. In the next window asking about network protocols, most people will only need to set up only a TCP/IPv4 connection. If your computer is on an IPv6 network, or if you know your users will be coming over IPv6, you can enable that as well. You should make it a point to deselect (turn off) File and Printer Sharing as keeping it enabled will allow the remote user to access other resources on the network. If you want the remote guest to be able to move from one computer to another, or use the printer, keep it turned on, but think carefully before making that decision.
7. You will see a confirmation message that the incoming VPN connection has been established, with the name of the computer the remote user will need. The remote user will enter this computer name when establishing the outgoing VPN connection on their computer.
If you go back to the list of adapters in Network Connections, you will now see the connection you just created, and the message No clients connected. When remote users connect successfully, this message will change.
And that’s it! You can now have remote users connect to your computer securely, and you can also create secure VPN connections to another computer.
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