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How to Set Up a VPN on Windows 7

If you’re a regular internet user, connecting to the internet through public Wi-Fi, poorly configured wireless networks or unsecured cable network, you probably should consider using a VPN.  Connecting to a VPN is brilliant way to share sensitive files over the internet, unblocking websites and securing privacy in a highly censored web.

What is Virtual Private Network (aka VPN)?

Virtual private network establishes a secure private tunnel over the public network such as internet (there’s no other better example of public network rather than the Internet). It is more like using an Ethernet cable to connect with a private network. Once a VPN connection is established, you can share files with other PCs on the same network as the windows server.

The strong virtual tunneling encryption technology employed by VPNs makes them an important accessory in the corporate world.  Organizations use VPNs to enable employees into securely accessing the company’s servers outside their work stations. VPNs also enable employees to safely share sensitive company files over the internet, and makes it possible to connect the company’s various branches in different locations. Individuals use it to get over the geo-restrictions and censorship issues.

When it comes to choosing VPNs, you can either subscribe to a premium VPN service which offers a secure VPN server to route your internet traffic or  go for a third party VPN software such as Comodo to help you set up a simple VPN connection between your devices. Better still, you can set up your own VPN connection using your windows 7 PC.

Why do I need a VPN on Windows 7?

  • To hide your IP address for Web anonymity – A VPN masks your device IP address and routes your internet traffic through a VPN server based in a different location. To the web police (government spying agencies such as NSA etc.) and bad actors (hackers), your device assumes a new virtual IP address based on the location of your VPN server.
  • To Bypass Internet restrictions – A VPN comes handy in highly censored countries such as China, Iran, and Syria where keyword filtering is used to manipulate the openness of the internet. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and makes you appear in another country rather than yours, allowing you to bypass the censorship imposed in your country.
  • To secure your online privacy on Public Wi-Fi – VPN provides your internet traffic with a strong end-to end encryption therefore eliminating man in the middle (MITM) attacks and consequently protecting your private information from hackers and scammers.
  • To unblock restricted websites – A VPN does this by encrypting your internet traffic such that your School/work proxy server cannot tell when you are accessing a blocked website.
  • To bypass Geo-restriction and Location errors – A VPN enables you to unlock geo restricted content such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go (to name few) that are only available in certain geo-blocks. Just as a food for the thought, see how to bypass geo-restriction and Location errors using a VPN and other methods.

Setting UP a VPN connection in windows 7

Generally, Windows 7 OS comes with a pre-installed agile VPN client and all you need is to configure the VPN client to connect to a VPN. Notably, a VPN has two parts. One is the server part which receives the connection and Client part, which remotely accesses the private network. In other words, a Windows VPN server waits for an outside connection from a VPN client. It allows the VPN client to connect to the remote network over the internet.

Setting up a VPN connection on Windows 7 involves configuring the Incoming VPN connection and Outgoing VNP connection.  An outgoing VPN connection implies you’re using your windows 7 Pc to connect remotely to another machine (windows VPN server) over the internet. On the other hand, an incoming VPN connection implies other machines are remotely connecting to your windows 7 device over the internet.

How to set an Outgoing VPN connection in Windows 7

  • Go to Start menu > Control Panel, click Network and Internet, under Network and Sharing center section click on View network and tasks, a dialog box will appear.
  • In the Networking and Sharing Centre pop up window, click on set up a new connection or network.
  • On this screen, choose Connect to a work place and Click Next. A connect to a workplace dialog box will appear.
  • Here, Choose Use my internet connection then enter your VPN server internet Address and Destination name. Note this could be the IP address of the VPN server of a fully qualified domain name (FQDM).

You can obtain these details from your network administrator in case of a commercial VPN or open the command prompt and run the following command “ipconfig” to get your VPN Server internet address in case you are running your own VPN.

  • Once you have entered your VPN internet address and Destination name (optional), uncheck the “Don’t connect now; just set it up so that I can connect later” check box then click next.
  • In the dialogue box that appears, enter your Username and Password. You will need the password and Username to verify your connection later. Click on Create and close the VPN connection wizard in the next pop up window.
  • At this point, go back to Network and Sharing Center and Click on Change Adapter setting. A Network connection dialog box will appear.
  • Here, your newly created VPN connection will be listed. Right click on the VPN connection Icon and select Properties. A VPN connection properties window will appear.
  • Under the general tab, verify your VPN’s IP address. Under the options tab, uncheck Include windows log on domain check box.
  • Under the “Security” tab, choose “Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with IPsec (L2TP/IPsec), check “Unencrypted password (PAP)”, and uncheck all other options. Lastly, Click on Advanced setting
  • In the Advanced Properties dialog box, select Use preshared key for authentication”, enter same key you used for the client VPN settings and click ok.
  • Now go back to Network Connection window, Right click on you newly created VPN connection Icon and select connect. You will be prompted to enter your username and password before connecting.

How to set up an incoming VPN connection

  • Go to Start menu > Control Panel, click on Network and Internet > Network and Sharing center then click on change adapter settings.
  • In the Network connection window that appears, click on File at top left connect and select new Incoming connection in drop down box.
  • Here, select the users to access your connection. You can also add someone who is not on the provided list, then click next.
  • On this next screen, check the Through the Internet Check box and Click Next. An allow connection to this computer check box will appear.
  • Select your preferred Internet Protocol. Usually the selected (TCP/IPv4-) internet protocol will work for you.
  • Lastly click on Allow access and your Incoming VPN connection set up should be up and running.

Which are the Best VPN services for Windows 7?

  • HideMyAss VPN is a great VPN service for windows 7. It is fast, reliable and offers a strong encryption that guarantees total security on the web. HideMyAss (aka HMA) allows you to choose from hundreds of their VPN servers around the World. It has round the clock customer support and user friendly VPN client that will definitely work with your windows 7 PC. , download and install the VPN client software.
  • ExpressVPN is another brilliant VPN service you can pick for your windows 7. It has a round-the-clock customer support, excellent download speeds and a user friendly VPN client software for windows 7. Express VPN has hundreds of VPN servers to choose from and supports your smartphone for no extra charge. As like HideMyAss, once you’ve subscribed to their service – you just need to download the free , install it and you’ll have a VPN running on your Windows 7 in a flash.
  • PureVPN is another great VPN worth trying. PureVPN don’t not keep logs (neither does ExpressVPN, HideMyAss keeps some logs that include the time your VPN section starts and ends but no personal logs like what you do online, which sites you visit etc.) and has numerous VPN servers enabling its users to have thousands of IP addresses to choose from. PureVPN comes with 128bit encryption and a round the clock online customer support.  Has the most user friendly VPN client software with brilliant features and powerful customization.
  • IPvanish VPN is one of the fastest VPN service we have tested so far. It supports Layer 2 tunneling (L2TP] vpn security protocols among others, and has servers in over 60 countries to route your internet traffic. IPvanish VPN has mobile app for both android and Mac OS. You might want to read our complete IPVanish review, to see if it actually suits you or not.
  • CactusVPN is another outstanding VPN service we can recommend you to use with windows 7. With a round the clock customers’ support and 256 bit strong encryption, CactusVPN guarantees you real value for your money. The provider has excellent download speeds, is pretty much reliable and you can get started with it for only $3.25 per month.

To sum it up, we tried to give you step by step guide on what (and why) you need a VPN for windows 7, how to set up a simple VPN in windows 7. We have also reviewed the best premium VPN service for machines running on windows 7. At this point your VPN should be up and running if you followed all the steps correctly. Please write to us on the comment section for a more personalized in case of any difficulty when setting it up.

Top/Featured Image: By VertayArtz / Deviantart

Lawrence Mwangi Lawrence is a technology and business reporter. He has freelanced for a number of tech sites and magazines. He is a web-enthusiast, with a special interest in Online security, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. When not writing about tech he can be found in a Tennis court or on a chess board.
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