How to setup a VPN in 6 steps
Why does your business need a VPN?
At its simplest, VPNs protect businesses, users, and their confidential data. Here are some other reasons why your business can benefit from a VPN:
Ease or convenience
VPNs are a convenient way to give employees, including remote workers, easy access to your business network without the need for physical presence – while keeping private networks and business resources secure.
Connecting with a VPN connection offers a higher level of security than other methods of remote connection, keeping private networks closed to people who do not have authorized access. The actual geographical locations of users are protected and not disclosed to public or shared networks such as the Internet.
It’s easy to add new users or user groups to networks with flexible VPN software tools. This is good for companies that are growing faster than their budgets because it means that you can often extend network footprints without adding new components or creating complex network configurations.
Are there downsides to using VPNs?
The success of a VPN depends on other parts of your network infrastructure. Here are the factors that may cause issues with your VPN’s performance:
Configuration security risks
The design and implementation of a VPN can be complex. If you’re not sure how to keep it up and running safely, consider hiring an experienced network security professional to make sure your VPN’s security isn’t compromised.
Since VPN connections work offline, you need to choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that consistently delivers excellent service with minimal or no downtime.
If you need to add new infrastructure or create new configurations, you may encounter technical issues due to incompatibility – especially if you are adding new products from different vendors.
slow connection speeds
If you are using a VPN client that provides a free VPN service, your connection speed may be slow, as these providers usually do not offer high speed connections. Consider whether the speed is sufficient for business needs.
Should you create your own VPN, or buy one?
Instead of trying to build one yourself, you can buy a pre-made VPN solution. If you’re shopping for VPN solutions, ask questions about ease of configuration.
VPN Setup Steps
6 steps to setup a VPN
Step 1: Align the main VPN components
To get started, you will need a VPN client, a VPN server, and a VPN router. The downloadable client connects you to servers all over the world, so employees everywhere can access your small business network. The client can be used on devices such as smartphones and laptops, even if workers are using public Wi-Fi networks.
To secure and encrypt all your network traffic, you will also need a VPN router. Many routers come with built-in VPN clients.
Step 2: Set up the hardware
Sometimes, VPN clients can conflict with other clients, or fail to work properly. It is a good idea to set up your network system before you set up the VPN so that you can avoid problems in the future.
As a first step, uninstall any existing VPN client software that you don’t need. In theory, VPN clients should be able to work well together, but competing clients can also be a source of problems, so it’s best to remove them.
This is also a good time to look at your network configuration. If you plan to install a VPN for workers who will access online resources in a variety of ways — such as Wi-Fi, 4G modems, and wired connections — you may need to spend more time configuring the VPN client. Simplifying networking by disconnecting unused devices can help.
Step 3: Download and install VPN clients
The simplest way to operate your VPN is to install clients from your VPN provider. However, they may not offer software for every platform you need, such as Windows, iOS, and Android. Even if they don’t, it’s best to install what they offer first and then make sure your VPN account is working properly.
Find the Downloads page on your VPN provider’s website. You should also download apps for the mobile devices your workers use because you’ll want to protect connections from as many devices as possible.
If the initial client you installed works right away, you can contact your VPN provider about clients of other platforms. And if you can’t log in at all, you can pass this information on to the VPN provider’s support team.
Step 4: Find a setup tutorial
If, for some reason, your VPN provider doesn’t offer software for the hardware your business uses, check the provider’s website for guides on manual setup. We hope you find the documents you need. If you haven’t, find setup guides for other providers that use the same hardware.
For example, if your business uses Chromebooks, you can search for tutorials specifically for these devices.
Step 5: Log in to the VPN
After the VPN client apps are installed, it’s time to enter the login information. Generally, your username and password will be the two you used when you signed up with the VPN provider, although some companies require you to create a separate login for the VPN client itself.
Once logged in, the VPN app usually connects to the server closest to your current location.
Step 6: Choose VPN Protocols
VPN protocols define how data is routed between your computer and the VPN server. Some protocols help improve speed, while others help improve data privacy and security.
This is an open source protocol, which means you can view the code for it. OpenVPN is also quickly becoming an industry standard.
L2TP / IPSec
Layer 2 tunneling protocol is another common protocol. It has strong security protection and is often bundled with the IPSec protocol, which authenticates and encrypts data packets sent through a VPN.
Secure Socket Tunneling is fully integrated with Microsoft’s operating system.
The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest VPN protocols. But it is becoming less and less used due to faster and more secure protocols available.
Step 7: Troubleshooting
Usually, your VPN provider’s client will start working right away. But if not, try these steps:
- Turn off and reopen the client and try restarting your device.
- If you have any other VPN software running, make sure to disconnect, then close it.
VPN clients need appropriate drivers to work properly. In some cases, you can click on the “Repair” setting to reload the drivers. Check the settings page to see if this feature is available.
If you are having trouble logging in, double-check your login credentials. Some VPN clients create their own login information, and others let you choose your own logins.
Make sure you are using the correct login and, if necessary, read any welcome emails or quick start guides you may have received from the provider.
You can also try switching servers. Choose to connect to a different server close to your actual location.
Another option: Try to connect with different protocols, assuming the VPN client allows you to change them. For example, you can use OpenVPN using TCP, then switch to L2TP and PPTP.
If you are still having problems, other software may be the culprit. Sometimes, firewalls or security software can disable VPN connections. You can temporarily disable programs that might be causing the problem — just be sure to restart them once connected so you don’t leave critical work systems vulnerable to attack.
Step 8: Refine the connection
Once you have the basics done, it’s time for improvements. Make sure that the settings you have applied to the VPN fit your business needs.
For example, decide if you want to turn on the VPN as soon as people start their devices. This might be a good idea if you need VPN protection all the time – for example, if most people work out of the office. But if you think you’ll only need to use the VPN occasionally, you can set it to run only when needed, freeing up network resources for other uses.
Another fine-tuning option is to choose commonly used servers as virtual servers or ‘favorites’. This can save you a little time as you and other employees won’t have to search for preferred servers every time you connect.
You may also want to turn on a “kill switch” if your VPN provider offers it. The kill switch is designed to prevent a device from sending or receiving data if the VPN connection drops.