How to Create a Virtual Private Network

by Chad Anderson

A VPN is a perfect solution for keeping data secure between the office and home. Since transferring data over the Internet is often insecure, a VPN provides an encrypted tunnel that allows any user to transfer data with peace of mind. There are several free VPN solutions and even some that come pre-bundled with Microsoft Windows.

Windows XP/Vista VPN Creation

Click "Start," "Settings," and then "Network Connections" and click on the "New Connection Wizard."

Click "Next" and then select "Set up an advanced connection" before clicking "Next" again.

Click on "Accept incoming connections" and click "Next" twice, skipping the next page of connection preferences until you can select "Allow virtual private connections." Click "Next."

Add the user accounts that you would like to have the ability to connect. If you are just going to be transferring files from the office, then just add your home user account. Click "Next" until you can click "Finish" and complete the setup.

If your computer is behind a router, you will need the forward the ports 1723, 500 and 50-51 so that you can connect remotely.

Using OpenVPN

Download OpenVPN from the company's website. Since it's open source, the software is free. One of the advantages of using OpenVPN is that it provides a graphical Windows client interface and support for every major operating system out there. You can use it on just about anything.

Install the server software on the machine of your choice. With OpenVPN, it might be a good idea to have a dedicated server, but it's not required.

Once installed, open a command prompt and move to the easy-rsa directory of your installation. Run the init-config batch file to move configuration files into place. Edit the vars files (vars.bat on Windows) and fill out all of the Key parameters.

Initialize the PKI by runnings vars, clean-all, and then build-ca. On Linux, these will be prefaced with './' to run them. Note those are three separate commands. Run 'build-key-server server' to generate the key for your server's access.

Build keys for your VPN users by running the script 'build-key clientname'. You can password protect these with build-key-pass as a substitute. Finally, run the 'build-dh' script to complete the setup process. If you are going to use the default configuration files, then you can start your VPN server now by running the command 'openvpn serverconfigfilenamehere.ovpn', otherwise, you will need to create your custom configuration files from the sample ones provided. Make sure port 1194 is open on your router if you are using the default configuration.


  • close While setting up OpenVPN may seem like a more complicated process, it is the more secure method in the end. If you are a casual user, however, the Windows option is probably best since it is likely there is no need for you to have a full VPN server.

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About the Author

Chad Anderson began writing professionally in 2009. He primarily contributes articles on technology and outdoor topics for various websites. His areas of interest include Linux and open-source software along with cycling and other outdoor sports. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Nevada in Reno.