VPN connections in Windows XP
As Microsoft's latest and greatest incarnation of Windows, it stands to reason that XP would make much of VPN connections with a minimum of muss and fuss. In fact, no Windows operating system makes it easier or more straightforward to set up and use VPN connections, though some contortions may still be required, particularly if you wish to set up multiple VPN connections.
Here are the basic steps involved in setting up a VPN connection:
- Click Start, My Network Places, select View Network Connections from the Network Tasks area, then click Create a New Connection in the resulting Network Tasks area.
- This launches the New Connection Wizard. Click Next to continue.
- In the Network Connection Type box that appears, select the radio button labeled Connect to the network at my workplace, then click Next.
- In the Network Connection box that appears, select the radio button labeled Virtual Private Network connection, then click Next.
- In Connection Name window's text box labeled Company Name, type the name of the organization (or connection) to which you'll log in.
- In the VPN Server Selection window's text box labeled Host Name or IP address, type the host name or a numeric IP address for the host with which you wish to establish a VPN connection.
- In the Connection Availability window, select the radio button labeled Anyone's Use only if you wish to make this connection accessible to other users on your machine; otherwise, stick with the default My use only selection. Then click Next.
- Click Finish and you're done! If you like you can even click the checkbox labeled Add a shortcut to this connection to my desktop, so that you don't have to go through the Network Connections interface to activate the connection. That's all there is to it!
Next you can activate the connection, and assuming you've identified the server properly and have provided the right account and password information, you'll be connected.
To those of you who never sweated out building VPN connections on earlier versions of Windows, this may seem totally unremarkable. Those of you who have done so will know just how wonderful this completely ordinary Wizard interaction really is!
For more information on this and other interesting VPN topics in Windows XP, click Start, then Help and Support, then type VPN into the Search box at the upper left hand corner of the display. It will lead you to the Network Connection and the New Connection Wizard with a minimum of muss and fuss; it will also lead you to all kinds of overviews, tutorials, how-tos, and additional useful information. Enjoy!
Thomas Alexander Lancaster IV is a consultant and author with over ten years experience in the networking industry, focused on Internet infrastructure.