It’s probably a good idea for you to consider getting yourself a Virtual Private Network (VPN) setup when you find yourself connecting to free wireless hotspots on a regular basis. With a VPN, you will have a free and protected tunnel through the Internet. Your data will be safe and no one will be able to get a sniff of what you are doing. In other words, you will have complete privacy.

Guide to Setting up A VPN in Windows 7

Types of VPNs You Can Establish

There are different types of VPNs to use, and you need to choose one according to your needs. You may go for a VPN service which provides you safety in terms of protecting your data through encryption and it also hides your location. This has a great level of security and it’s normally a preferred choice due to easy accessibility.

There is also the option of getting a third-party VPN like Combo. This type of VPN establishes secure connections between computers. You can also set up your own VPN, which may be either incoming or outgoing.

With an outgoing VPN, you can remotely access another network or machine. With a wireless router, you can establish an outgoing connection to gain access to a media server, your office computer, as well as other devices remotely. With an incoming session, other computers will be able to access your computer.

Establish a VPN through the Built-In VPN Client Available In Windows 7

  1. When you proceed to the Network and Sharing Center (Go to Control Panel > Network and Internet), you’ll see an option there to “Set up a new connection or network.” Your next step will be to “Connect to a Workplace”. Once the network wizard is set up, go to “Use my Internet connection (VPN)”. This will initiate the process.
    1. With a 3G card installed, you will probably be prompted to utilize the 3G card as opposed to creating a “new” connection. However, you will need to click on the option offering to make a “new” connection. This will allow you to use your current Internet connection. An easier route to this point is to click on your computer’s Start button and then type “VPN” to run a search. You will be taken straight to “Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection”.
    2. Feed the network domain name or the IP address of the VPN in the Internet address field. This information can be delivered by the network administrator. You can feed in the IP address of your home router if you are connecting to your home router. It’s the destination name field that will display the name that a user will see.
    3. The next screen that you are prompted to will ask you for a username and password. Leaving this blank means that you will be prompted to a box where you will need to feed in your information while establishing the actual connection.
    4. If you selected “Don’t connect now” at the earlier stage, you will see a “Connect now” option. You can either close this window, or connect. When you want to make a connection, all you need to do is go to the ‘systray’ and click on the network icon.
    5. Enter your username and password for the VPN network in the VPN connection box.
    6. If you experience connection failure, click on ‘Properties’ where you will need to change the server configuration. Go to the “Security” tab in the ‘Properties’ window, and make sure the “Type of VPN” is set to Automatic. Also check with the administrator to make sure whether it should be set to SSTP, PPTP, L2TP/IpSec or IKEv2. If you still experience failure, you should uncheck “Include Windows logon domain” which is available under the Options tab.
    7. Save the properties, then select ‘Connect’ in order to launch the connection. You should now be connected to a VPN server.

Experiencing failure is usually a sign that something small is not being configured correctly. You will only need to tinker around with the configuration a bit in order to sort things out.

[Image via harshvaghela]