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I am a software developer for a small company, and I need to set up a VPN for my office network.

I want to be able to access the office network from home, almost as if I am plugged in directly. I need access to several servers and other network resources. Is it possible to do this?

For example, I work with Subversion, and would like to be able to commit my source code from home, without the need to change repository URLs or stuff around with any other such things. It needs to be completely transparent. I believe that this is what VPN was created for?

How can I set this up for under $150? I don't have a dedicated machine to surrender as a VPN box. However, I do have a Windows Server 2003 box where my source code is sitting. Do I set up VPN on this box, through Windows? Do I need to purchase additional hardware/software? My broadband router supports something called "VPN passthrough".

Thanks in advance.

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you are double wrong when it comes to openvpn. it runs well under windows [ i use windows machines as clients in production setup, not as servers. but it works both ways - windows box can be vpn concentrator as well ]. it is free and opensource. if you want to have premium management gui - you can pay. look here: runpcrun.com/howtoopenvpn or here itsatechworld.com/2006/01/29/how-to-configure-openvpn at the beginning use pre-shared key as described here: openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/documentation/miscellaneous/… –  pQd Dec 8 '09 at 19:56
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can use the Server 2003 box easily if you are willing to take a little time to configure it:

Configure a Windows Server 2003 VPN

How to Setup your Client to Connect to Server

Basically all there is to it, you setup the configuration in Windows Server 2003, then you configure a 'network connection' on your remote machine. whenever you want to VPN you simply double click the shortcut for the connection you created on your remote machine and it connects you to the server, the server authenticates you and it connects you through PPTP. If you have a firewall/router, port 1723 needs to be open to allow incoming PPTP connections. Furthermore, you could manage the server also by using RDP after you make your VPN connection, simply by typing "MSTSC" in the START > RUN command box. Then type in the IP address or the name of the server and you'll be able to connect to it and see the actual desktop.

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Thanks. This is the most promising answer so far. Very good articles. They've answered all my questions. Will try to set it up and see how well it works. –  Saajid Ismail Dec 8 '09 at 18:55
    
As someone whose core competence is using microsoft products who already uses Microsoft servers this is your best option. I would urge you to require that anyone connecting be running antivirus software at home, preferably be behind a router/firewall. You expose a lot of risk letting a home PC directly VPN to work. –  sparks Dec 8 '09 at 19:16
    
+1 - I agree w/ sparks on both statements. This is the path of least resistance if you're using Windows Server machines already. Don't leave the VPN "wide open" for clients connecting via VPN, either. You can use "RRAS Packet Filter" functionality to limit remote access to, for example, only RDP. RRAS packet filters aren't stateful packet filters, but they do give some ability to limit network traffic for VPN clients. –  Evan Anderson Dec 8 '09 at 20:14
    
I went with a Windows Server 2003 setup. Very easy to do. And I can authenticate people based on their network account details. No additional software needs to be installed on either clients or the server. –  Saajid Ismail Dec 14 '09 at 10:19
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go openvpn! you'll need to invest a bit of time but it's worth it. just google for tutorials.

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I've had a look at OpenVPN, and it's not what I'm looking for. It requires a dedicated Linux box, and I have to purchase licenses for each concurrent connection, even though the software itself is open source. Oh, and working with Linux is awkward for me - I'm a Windows Developer. –  Saajid Ismail Dec 8 '09 at 18:53
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So you know, you can host OpenVPN from a Windows Server machine fine. There's also no per-client licensing fee for OpenVPN. –  Evan Anderson Dec 8 '09 at 20:10
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Actually you can do it for free if you have 15 or fewer clients and non-commercial usage. Check out Hamachi:

https://secure.logmein.com/products/hamachi2/

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I've checked up on this, and it looks promising. However, I do need it for commercial use. Will test it out to see if does what I need. –  Saajid Ismail Dec 8 '09 at 18:24
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