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How To Setup OpenVPN On Windows

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

The OpenVPN protocol is one of the most secure VPN protocols currently available. The protocol offers better security than PPTP and L2TP protocols which explains why it is so popular among large corporations and government agencies. However, OpenVPN is not yet compatible with all operating systems (especially mobile operating systems) so it is not as versatile as other VPN protocols. In this article, you will learn how to setup OpenVPN on a Windows machine. The setup process is more or less similar for most versions of Windows including Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 so you can follow the steps given below for any version of Windows.

How to Configure OpenVPN for Windows

Before you configure the VPN on your machine, it is advisable to download and install latest updates for Windows. Most Windows installations are configured to download Windows updates automatically but you can also download them manually by clicking on the Windows Update option available through Control Panel or Windows Start Menu. Once your computer has the latest updates from Microsoft, restart the machine and follow the steps given below to setup OpenVPN:

Step 1:  The first step is to download the latest OpenVPN client from OpenVPN website (openvpn.net). Unlike PPTP and L2TP protocols, the OpenVPN protocol is not yet bundled with Windows operating system so you need to download and install it manually. Download the OpenVPN client for Windows and save the installation file on your computer.

Step 2:  Double click on the OpenVPN installer to begin the installation process. If you come across a security warning, click on Run button to continue with the installation. Click on the Next button in the OpenVPN Client Setup Wizard window to continue. (Refer to Image 2a, Image 2b)

Step 3:  Next, you need to agree to OpenVPN’s End-User License Agreement. Click on the “I accept” checkbox once you have read the agreement and then on the Next button. (Refer to Image 3)

Step 4:  In the “Choose Components” window, you need to select the components that you wish to install. It is recommended that you do not change the default selection since it may affect the functioning of the OpenVPN client. Click on the Next button once you have made the selection. (Refer to Image 4)

Step 5:  In the next window, you need to specify a destination folder for the OpenVPN client. While you can install the client at any location, it is advisable that you install the client at the recommended location. Click on the Next button once you are done. (Refer to Image 5)

Step 6:  If you see a hardware incompatibility message, click on “Install” (or “Continue Anyway”) option to continue with the installation process. (Refer to Image 6)

Step 7:  After the installation is complete, you will see a Success message. Click on the Finish button but do not select “Launch OpenVPN client” option as we still need to configure certain settings related to the client. (Refer to Image 7)

Step 8:  Next, you need to download and copy the OpenVPN configuration files on your computer. The configuration files contain important server, security and authentication information that enables the client to connect to the VPN server. Most VPN providers bundle the configuration files in a compressed (ZIP) file and offer it through the customer area of their website. Download the configuration file and unzip its contents to the Config folder located within the OpenVPN folder (usually C:Program FilesOpenVPNconfig). Your VPN provider may also provide a separate configuration file for each VPN server that they offer so make sure to download and extract configuration files for all VPN servers that you wish to connect to. (Refer to Image 8a and Image 8b)

Step 9:  The next step is to test the connection. Double-click on the OpenVPN client icon on the desktop or invoke the client through the Start menu. As soon as you run the client, you should see a new network icon in the system tray area. To run the client, double-click on the new network icon; select the server that you wish to connect to and then click on the “Connect” option. Enter your login credentials and then click on the login button. Once the connection is established, you should see “Connection is established” message. To disconnect, simply click on the OpenVPN icon in the system tray and click on the Disconnect option. (Refer to Image 9a , Image 9b, Image 9c and Image 9d)

Step 10:  Always remember that you would need administrator privileges to run the OpenVPN client. To run the program in administrator mode in Windows Vista, 7 and 8; right click on the OpenVPN icon on the desktop (or Start menu) and choose “Run as administrator” option from the properties window. For Windows Vista, you may also have to disable User Account Control option through the Control Panel in case you are not able to connect to the VPN service (Refer to image Image 10).

July 16, 2013

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