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The Magic of Virtual Private Networking

For a virtual private networking the emphasis, of course, is on the words private and secure. (It’s one thing to have access to your files from across the country, but giving that same access to an interested hacker is another thing entirely.)

Your data is protected by encryption when it passes over the Internet; so for all intents and purposes, your connection is as well protected as a correctly configured wireless network.

VPN places you squarely back into the realm of client/server networking, where the VPN client is the PC that you’re using remotely and the VPN server is the machine on your home network that you’re connecting to.

Here's how to set up your laptop PC (or a remote desktop) as a VPN client under Windows 8, with the following assumptions (based on how VPN is used most often in real-world situations):

  • You’re using either

    • A broadband connection to the Internet

      VPN over a dialup modem connection is the definition of the word frustrating. Don’t.

    • Another company’s network Internet connection

  • Your network administrator has provided you with the IP address of the VPN server (in an office environment) or you’ve configured a VPN server on a PC on your home network.

  • You’ll use your regular network username and password to log in.

Follow these steps to create and use a VPN connection:

  1. Display the Charms bar, click Search, and then click Settings. Type VPN into the Search box. Click the Set Up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) Connection button in the Search results pane.

    The Create a VPN Connection Wizard appears.

  2. Enter the following:

    • The VPN server address, provided by your network administrator or displayed by your home network’s host PC (such as 157.54.0.1), into the Internet Address text box

      This address can also be in the form of a host name in good ol’ English (like mlcbooks.com).

    Don't enable the Remember My Credentials check box because anyone using your (unattended) computer can simply log on as you. Weigh carefully the possible results of convenience.

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    • A descriptive name to help you keep track of the connection (such as MLC Books VPN Client) in the Destination Name text box

  3. (Optional) If you want to allow other user accounts on your PC to use this connection, select the Allow Other People to Use This Connection check box.

    As Windows 8 indicates with the “shield” security icon, allowing anyone with access to your PC to use a VPN connection might not be a good idea. Unless more than one user account on your computer has to have this VPN connection, leave this check box deselected and prudently keep your VPN connection to yourself!

  4. Click Create.

    Windows 8 creates the connection and displays it under the Networks heading in the Charms bar.

    image1.jpg

If you need to make changes to your VPN connection properties — for example, if you have to change the IP address of the VPN server on your network — open the Charms bar and click Settings, and then click Network to display the Networks list. Right-click your VPN connection and then choose View Connection Properties, which displays the VPN Connection Properties dialog box. From there, you can make any necessary changes.

When you’re ready to use your VPN connection — and you’re hooked up to the Internet during your travels — open the Charms bar and click Settings, and then click Network to display the Networks list. Click the VPN entry, and click Connect.

Windows 8 prompts you for your username and password; type your username and password and then click the OK button to begin your VPN session, and you’ll find that you can now access all the network resources that you’re accustomed to on your host PC.

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