Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are an important tool in remote connectivity, especially in corporations and professional organizations, but their usage may vary from instance to instance. In any case, VPNs allow a user to access a remote network’s resources with ease, and has the potential to make life a lot easier for the end user should it be used properly.
With Windows 7, setting up a VPN server on your PC that can be accessed from anywhere on the internet is pretty simple, yet most people are neither aware of the benefits nor know the process. In this article, I’ll guide you through how to set up a VPN server on Windows 7 without using any extra software or applications.
Before I go into detail on how to set up a VPN server, here are a few assumptions that this guide makes:
- Your internet connection utilizes a router, on which you have port forwarding permissions
- You know your way around your router’s user interface setup, because they vary with make and model
- You understand and acknowledge any potential security risks involved with using VPNs
- Administrator access on the machine where you’re trying to setup the VPN server
How to set up a VPN server
The process is not that complicated. Let’s begin.
Navigate to Windows Control Panel, and select Network and Internet. You then need to access the Network and Sharing Center, bringing you to a screen showing all your network information and configured connections. On this window, select ‘Change adapter settings’ from the left sidebar.
Clicking this will bring you to a new window listing all your network connections, however many you may have. In this window, the top menu bar is usually hidden (as with all of Windows 7), so press Alt to bring it forth, and navigate to File > New Incoming Connection.
A wizard shall now start which will help you set up a VPN server on your PC. In the first screen, you define who shall be able to access your network – it can be anyone from you to your spouse or children – but it’s generally a good idea to give your administrator account access to connect via VPN as well.
Hit Next and you will be telling your computer how people will connect to the VPN. Usually there is only one option available, “Through the internet” but in my case you can see an additional one which is a virtual modem.
The final page will determine what kinds of machines can access the VPN – including Macs and Unix servers – so it’s best to leave the default setting as it is here.
Complete the wizard, let it populate the VPN settings and wait till you’ve given with a final name for this incoming connection. This name would usually resemble your PC’s network name, but make a note of it as this information will be required to establish connectivity with the VPN.
Connecting to your VPN
Next, you need your PC’s IP address and the default gateway. If that information is not already available, the easiest way to obtain it is using “ipconfig” command in Windows’ command prompt interface. See the screenshot below.
Finally, you need to add VPN’s communication port to your router’s settings. To do that, log in to your router and navigate to port forwarding settings (there are no standard instructions because every router’s interface varies from others). You need to create a new forwarding to port 1723 which is by default the port that VPNs use to connect. Also, this port needs to be pointed to your PC’s IP address that was obtained through ipconfig command. Save your settings and reboot the router once.
That completes the entire tutorial on how to set up a VPN server on your Windows 7 computer. Depending on your machine and hardware, you may require a couple of reboots more both on your PC and router, but that’s about it. Your VPN server is up and ready for any client computer to communicate with.
Was setting up a VPN easier than you thought? Would you rather use third party software? Let us know through your comments.