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Creating a VPN Connection with Windows XP Professional

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  1. Creating a VPN Connection with Windows XP Professional
  2. Selecting a Router with VPN Support
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Creating a VPN Connection with Windows XP Professional

Windows XP Professional, like Windows 2000, contains integrated support for VPN clients using with L2TP or IPSec protocols. VPN connections, like other types of network connections, are created and configured through the Network Connections folder.

Prerequisites for a VPN Connection

Before you can set up a connection to a VPN server, you need to know the following information:

The IP address or host name of the server

Your username and password

The security settings used by the remote server

The PPP settings used by the remote server

Setting Up and Using a VPN Connection in Windows XP

In Windows XP, VPN connections are created using the same New Connection Wizard used for other types of network connections. To set up a VPN connection in Windows XP, follow this procedure:

  1. Click "Create a new connection" from the Network Tasks menu in the Network Connections folder.
  2. From the opening dialog, click Next to continue.
  3. Select "Connect to the network at my workplace" and click Next.
  4. Select "Virtual Private Network connection" and click Next.
  5. Enter a descriptive name for the connection. This is the name that will be displayed in Network Connections. Click Next.
  6. If you use a dial-up, ISDN, or PPPoE connection, select "Automatically dial this initial connection" and select the connection to use from the pull-down menu. If you use an always-on connection, select "Do not dial the initial connection" and click Next.
  7. Enter the host name or IP address for the VPN server. Click Next.
  8. To add a shortcut to the desktop, click the "Add a shortcut to this connection to my desktop" checkbox. Click Finish to complete the setup.

As soon as you click Finish, a Connect dialog appears. Enter your username and password, and click Connect to try your connection. If you want to save your credentials, click the "Save this user name and password..." checkbox. Specify "Me only" if you want to restrict the use of this VPN connection to the current user only. Click "Anyone..." to enable any user of this computer to use the connection.

To configure the VPN connection, click Properties on the Connect dialog, or right-click the connection icon in Network Connections and select Properties.

VPN Connection—General Tab

Use this tab to change the host name or IP address of the remote VPN server. If you use a dial-up or other connection that requires you to log in first, such as an ISDN or PPPoE connection, use the First Connect portion of the dialog to select the connection to open before starting the VPN connection. You will need to do this if you change to a different dial-up or other provider that requires a manual login after you created your VPN connection.

By default, an icon appears in the notification area (systray) of your desktop when you are connected. Clear the "Show icon..." checkbox if you prefer not to see a notification icon.

VPN Connection—Options Tab

Use this tab to adjust dialing and redialing options, such as if the line is busy or the connection is dropped. However, keep in mind that this dialog is also used to specify whether you are prompted for user name and password, security certifications (enabled), and whether to include the Windows logon domain (disabled). Adjust the defaults if required by your VPN server.

VPN Connection—Security Tab

Use this tab to adjust the VPN security defaults used by Windows XP. This is necessary only if you receive an error message such as "The remote computer does not support the required data encryption type" when you attempt to connect.

The default (Typical) settings used by Windows XP's VPN client include "Require secured password" and "Require data encryption." If you use a smart card, select "Use smart card" instead of "Require secured passport."

If you need to adjust data encryption, logon security, or allowed protocols, select Advanced, and click the Settings button. Before making any changes, be sure you know the settings required by the remote VPN server. Table 46.1 lists the default and optional settings for the Advanced Security Settings dialog.

Table 46.1—Advanced Security Settings for Windows XP VPN Client





Data encryption

Require encryption (disconnect if server declines)

No encryption allowed; Optional encryption; Maximum strength encryption

Use the setting recommended by your VPN server; if Optional is selected, you could make an unprotected connection without realizing it

Logon security

Use EAP: Smart Card or other Certificate or MD5-Challenge

Click Properties to select the certificate or smart card to use; use View Certificate to determine expiration date and other settings. Note that this dialog is not enabled unless you select it in place of Allow these protocols.

Allow these protocols

Microsoft CHAP; Microsoft CHAP version 2

Unencrypted password (PAP); Shiva PAP; CHAP; allow older MS-CHAP version for W95 servers; automatically use Windows logon name/password/domain

If you connect to a non-Windows VPN server, you will probably need to change these defaults.

Click the IPSec Settings button if you need to provide a pre-shared key for authentication of your connection.

VPN Connection—Networking Tab

Use the Networking tab if you need to specify the type of VPN connection you are making or to adjust the clients, protocols, or drivers used by the connection.

The default VPN connection type, Automatic, will normally be satisfactory for either PPTP or L2TP IPSec connections. Click Settings to adjust the following PPP options:

  • Enable LCP Extensions (enabled)
  • Enable software compression (enabled)
  • Negotiate multi-link for single-link connections (disabled)

The network clients, protocols and drivers for the current connection are also listed. If you need to install a new client, protocol, or driver, click Install. To disable a particular client, protocol, or driver, clear the checkbox. Note that items with a grey checkbox are required for VPN and cannot be configured through the Properties button or disabled.

VPN Connection—Advanced Tab

The VPN connection Advanced tab is used to configure the Windows Firewall and Internet Connection Sharing.

Troubleshooting a VPN Connection

If you are unable to connect to a VPN server, check the following:

  • Check basic settings such as user name, password, and host name or IP address. These settings are easy to change, and a single digit or letter error is enough to prevent a successful connection.
  • Compare the settings used by your VPN client to those expected by the VPN server. Adjust client settings to match those used by the server.
  • If you use a router to connect your computer to the Internet, make sure the router is configured to provide IPSec and PPTP pass through. With a Linksys router, check the Filters dialog to check these settings. For other routers, check your documentation. If either or both pass through settings are disabled, you will not be able to connect to a VPN server.
  • If you use a router to connect your computer to the Internet and another user has a VPN connection running, but you can't connect at the same time, this is normal. Most low-cost routers for home and small office support IPSec and PPTP pass through for only one user at a time. If you need support for multiple VPN connections, see "Selecting a Router with VPN Support," this chapter.

For additional VPN troubleshooting suggestions, check with the help desk for the VPN server.

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