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I'd like to join a client computer to a domain via the internet. Ideally I just want a basic VPN connection so that the client can see the domain controller. The DC is running Windows Server 2012 Essentials, but apparently the only way to create a VPN is by using Anywhere Access.

Anywhere Access wants me to use a domain name and an SSL certificate, which I don't want to do. This server is not hosting a web site nor is there a domain that I want to use. I just want to connect using the public WAN address long enough to get the client joined to the domain. This is a temporary thing, not a remote work situation.

Is there some other way to set up a VPN on Windows Server 2012 Essentials? The client computer is running Windows 7 Pro.

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It looks like you may be able to coerce OpenVPN into working for you. – davidgo May 17 '14 at 4:27

I finally discovered how to do it:

Create Incoming VPN on Server

First, create the VPN as an incoming connection on the server:

  1. Navigate to the Network Connections control panel (run "control netconnections")
  2. The menus, if not shown, can be accessed with Alt + F.
  3. Select New Incoming Connection...
  4. Select the users that will be using the new connection.
  5. Make sure Through the Internet is checked.
  6. The next screen lets you select which networking software can connect. The default TCP/IP v4, File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, and QoS Packet Scheduler should work, but you may want/need to add TCP/IP v6.
  7. Finish by clicking Allow access

Port Forward

Next, you may need to create a port forward if you have a firewall. The default port is TCP 1723 (also called PPTP).

Create Outgoing VPN on Client

Now, set up the VPN connection on the client computer:

  1. Start from Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center
  2. Click Set up a new connection or network
  3. Select Connect to a workplace
  4. Select Use my Internet connection (VPN)
  5. Enter the Internet address and give it a Destination name (the name is just for your reference). Check Allow other people to use this connection.
  6. Enter the User name, Password, and Domain. I used the domain administrator credentials. The domain might be something like mydomain.local; the server will show this under Computer properties.
  7. Click Connect. If all goes well it should authenticate and connect.

Join Domain, Log In

Finally, my goal was to join the client computer to the domain and log in as an existing user, which creates the user profile folders and allowed me to start customizing software and the environment for that user.

  1. With the VPN connected, go to the Computer Properties and click Change settings under "Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings"
  2. Click Change near "To rename this computer or change its domain..."
  3. Select Domain and enter the domain. Click OK and you'll be prompted for the domain admin credentials.
  4. Restart the computer as directed.
  5. Reconnect the VPN using the local admin user account you were on previously.
  6. Switch users (rather than log out, to keep the VPN connection active) and use the credentials and domain of the user in question. The user account folder is created and can be used for installing or customizing software, etc.


This may not be the best-practice method to do this, but it worked for my purposes, which was to migrate a user to a new computer and transfer data and settings.

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