Having a Windows 7 computer at home or office and you want to allow it to become a VPN server, but how? Don’t worry, in this very post I’ll address that very question of yours! First though, for whoever doesn’t know what is VPN server, I’ll quickly give a brief introduction to it.
VPN is virtual private network. When you allow a computer to act as a VPN server, you basically allow computers outside your network to connect to VPN host and utilize the private network’s capabilities (e.g., accessing Internet, share files, etc…). To make this a little clearer, you can sit in a coffee shop and access your office’s VPN to browse the Internet using your office’s Internet connection!
By now, you probably have a little question wiggles its way into your brain, wondering why you even need to access your office’s Internet connection even though you already connect to the coffee shop’s Internet connection. You see, it’s somewhat safer for you to connect to your office’s Internet connection than from the public’s Internet connection such as one belong to a coffee shop. With a private Internet connection such as your office’s Internet connection, you don’t have to worry about unknown users sniff your Internet traffic (e.g., prying on your Internet activities, stealing your plain text password). In addition, the VPN connection will automatically encrypt all of your data from and to both ends of VPN (i.e., from the public to the private networks).
If you still don’t know why VPN is better for you while you surf the Internet from a coffee shop or a public Hotspot, then you just need to keep one thing in your mind that VPN helps secure your data by encrypting your data in strong encryption algorithm where hackers will find it very difficult to hijack your sessions. So, now you know what VPN is capable of, but how to set it up? Well, read on and I’ll promise you will be able to set up a VPN connection.
You don’t really need to download any special software, because Microsoft’s Windows 7 Home Premium or better allows you to create a VPN type of connection. In this post, I’ll make Windows 7 computer as a host of VPN connection, and a Mac as a client of VPN connection. Whenever I mention a VPN host, I mean Windows 7, and whenever I mention a VPN client, I mean a Mac. Let us begin!
- On Windows 7, go to Control Panel >> Network and Internet >> Network and Sharing Center >> Change adapter settings >> hit Alt key on your keyboard >> File >> New Incoming Connection.
- A new screen will pop up and show couple available users that you can allow to connect to your new VPN connection. Make sure you check the boxes of the users you want to allow to have access to VPN connection, and then click the Next button.
- A new screen pops up with an empty box next to the description which says Through the Internet. Just check the box so you will be able to connect to your VPN connection later over the Internet from a public network such as a coffee shop. Click the Next button.
- At this point, you will see a screen with couple features with boxes that had been checked. Highlight the feature with description as Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP4). Click on Properties button. Make sure the box says Allow callers to access my local area network is checked. Pick the radio button that says Specify IP addresses — this to fix the problem where Windows 7 fails to assign a proper internal IP addresses which leads to no Internet access for VPN clients. Enter a starting static local IP address inside the box with the label From (i.e., 192.168.1.10). Enter an ending static local IP address inside the box with the label To (i.e., 192.168.1.15). You notice that the IP address in the To box determines how many static IP addresses can be assigned to more VPN clients (i.e., included the host and additional VPN clients). In the configuration above, it shows that we can have 5 static local IP addresses to be used with our VPN clients and one IP address is used by VPN host. VPN Host will assign one of these IP addresses to a VPN client of yours so you can connect to the Internet through your private network. Oh, your internal IP addresses might be different, because it’s depending on how your router assigns the local/internal IP addresses. Some routers may use local IP addresses starting not with 192.168.x.x but with something else. It’s up to you to figure that out. Now you can finish this process by clicking the OK button.
- A new incoming connection is now created, and the last screen shows you your computer name. Remember the computer name so you might have to use it inside your VPN client later.
- Open up a command prompt by click on Start button, type cmd inside search box, and then hit Enter key on your keyboard.
- Inside the command prompt, enter the command ipconfig /all.
- If your Windows 7 computer is currently connecting to the Internet/router through ethernet connection, looks for the IP address that maps to an ethernet connection. If it’s a wireless connection, look for the IP address that maps to your wireless connection. Write it down so you can use it later.
- Open up your router’s configuration panel (i.e., access it through the browser). Usually you can get to your router’s configuration panel using a browser. The address of your router’s configuration panel may not be the same as mine, and so you have to look that up with your router’s manual or router’s official website. An example of Linksys router’s configuration panel can be accessed at 192.168.1.1. In the router’s configuration panel, you need to do a port forwarding for port 1723/TCP (PPTP).
- It’s time for you to configure your Mac so you can connect it to your VPN. Go to Settings >> Network >> click on the lock and type in your administrator password so you can add a connection >> click on the plus sign >> choose VPN for Interface and PPTP for VPN Type and type in any name for the new VPN connection in Service Name >> click Create button.
- Leave Configuration as default. Type in the IP address of your Windows 7 machine (i.e., I told you to write down the IP address in step 8). Type in account name (i.e., username of the user you allow to have VPN access to your Windows 7 machine) in Account Name. Try to choose Maximum (128 bit only) Encryption for stronger security. Check the box that says Show VPN status in menu bar. Click on Advance button, in Option tab, check the boxes of Disconnect when switching user accounts and Disconnect when users log out and Send all traffic over VPN connection. Go to DNS tab and click the plus sign under DNS Servers box — enter Google’s Public DNS servers (e.g., 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52). Click OK button to exit and save everything!
- Don’t you see a little icon on your menu bar? It looks like a rounded corner mini bar with many smaller vertical bars within. Anyway, click on it and choose to connect to your VPN connection. A password prompter will ask you for your password, just enter a password of a Windows 7 machine’s user that you had allowed to use VPN in step 2. At this point, you either connect or don’t. If you can’t connect to your VPN connection on Windows 7 machine, then you have to retrace back to previous steps to see what you had done wrong.
- How do you know that by now you’re actually tunneling into your VPN and using your VPN’s Internet connection to surf the Internet and not your current Internet connection? Well, just open up a terminal on your Mac, type in ifconfig, and scroll all the way down where you see something that looks like this:
- You can also open up a browser such as Chrome and try to see if you’ll be able to browse the Internet or not. Also, you can always use one of those IP check service on the web. How? Go to Google, and type in what’s my IP. Click on the first link you see! If the IP address is of your VPN (e.g., of your office or home), then you know you’re browsing the Internet using your VPN connection!
I think I’d pretty much cover all the steps, but I’m not 100% sure. After all, I’m writing this post very late in the night! Nonetheless, I wish you all good luck in creating a VPN connection by following this guide of mine!