Thursday, July 06, 2017

How to Set Up a VPN on Windows 10: The Basics

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a combination of software and hardware used to create an encrypted tunnel between two devices. The purpose of a VPN is to allow devices in different locations to communicate and share data that is protected while being transmitted over a public network, the Internet. Encryption is used to prevent the data from being accessed in a readable format if captured.

To use a VPN, a VPN appliance needs to be set up where the data exists and a VPN client configured on devices located elsewhere. This post covers the "how to set up a VPN client on a Windows 10 device" part of the process.

How to Set Up a VPN on Windows 10: The Basics

To set up a VPN client on a Windows 10 device:
  • Click on the wireless icon in the taskbar located in the bottom right corner.
  • Select the "Network Settings" link in the pop-up menu.

  • In the Settings menu, click on "VPN" in the left column.

  • In the VPN menu, click the button to "Add a VPN connection".

  • Fill out the settings for the new VPN connection including:
    • VPN provider - use the "Windows (built-in)" option unless another VPN software has been installed
    • Connection name - use a name making it clear where you are connecting to
    • Server name or address - use the DNS name of the server or the IP address of the device being connected to
    • VPN type - there are several options available, if you set up the VPN device be sure the option matches what was set up or get this information from whomever set up the VPN appliance
      • Based on the type, there may be secondary fields to fill out as in the example which is prompting for a pre-shared key
    • Type of sign-in info - user name and password are common, but these must be set up on the VPN appliance to work
    • Other optional fields

  • Click "Save" to create the VPN connection.
To access other settings that may need to be configured:
  • Click "Change adapter options" under the Related settings section on the VPN tab.

  • Right-click on the name of the VPN connection to configure.

  • There are multiple tabs with options that can be configured. Some of these options may need to be enabled for the VPN connection to function properly.
    • An example of the options available on the Security tab.

  • Click "OK" to save the changes.
To connect to the VPN network:
  • Open Network Settings, click VPN on the left, click the name of the VPN and click the "Connect" button. OR
  • In the Network Connections menu, double-click the name of the VPN.
Virtual private networks are a great way to connect users with data when they have devices located somewhere other than where the data exists. This is helpful for sales people, mobile users and companies with multiple offices. A VPN requires both a VPN appliance and a VPN client on the offsite devices to be configured. Be sure the options set up on both match if you are setting this up yourself. If already set up, be sure to configure the VPN client to the specifications given to you so it will work correctly.

As always, there are a multitude of features built into Windows that we might not know about, but this does not diminish their usefulness!

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