What can I download with a VPN

VPN problems guide: This is how secure remote access works

Frank-Michael Schlede, Thomas Bear

VPN tunnels are the ideal tool for employees in the field and the so-called "road warriors": We show what can help if access to the company network does not really work.

EnlargeVPN problems guide: This is how secure remote access works
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It should actually be completely normal to work from anywhere with secure access to all data, both at work and at home. If you believe the full-bodied announcements of the companies, the users do not need any office space, as they can quickly and securely access and work with their data from anywhere.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are an important means for this type of work, which allow, for example, secure access to the data in the company network or on the home NAS storage with open WLAN access in the hotel. However, if you are frequently on the move in Germany, you will find that the beautiful theory is often overtaken by harsh reality: Not only that the German hotels of large luxury chains tend to charge horrific hourly prices for often unstable WiFi access , technical problems can also be on the user's nerves. We describe some of the common problems that can occur with VPN connections and give tips on how users can help themselves if the VPN does not work.

Tip 1: check the connection

This tip may sound trivial at first, but if you have problems with the VPN connection, it is a good idea to first check whether the computer, tablet or smartphone was really able to establish a functioning Internet connection. Even if many commercial solutions use their own virtual network card and this shows "No Internet access" by default in the Windows network and sharing center - if the WLAN in the hotel or café does not establish a connection, the VPN connection will not work either.

EnlargeTip 1: Even if it sounds trivial: A check of the Internet connection should be the first step if the VPN tunnel does not work.

Users should not be fooled by the fact that a connection is displayed in the so-called task tray on a Windows system, for example: Move the cursor onto this symbol. If Windows reports the name of the WLAN and "Internet access", the "way out" is always ready. If the VPN still does not work, you should simply try to access a website that is not in your browser's cache.

Tip 2: signal quality

If it then turns out that there is an Internet connection at the location, but that even web pages are only opened painfully slowly, you can take a look at the signal quality of the connection in the next step. To do this, switch to the network and sharing center of your Windows system and double-click the current WLAN connection there. In the "Status of WiFi" window, the system then also shows the signal quality of the connection. With mobile systems such as Android, too, the signal quality is usually displayed in the WiFi connection settings.

EnlargeTip 2: Is the signal strength enough to establish a VPN connection? Checking the settings on mobile devices such as smartphones also helps here.

Tip 3: the name resolution

Name resolution can lead to problems with the network connection. So if it is not possible to establish a VPN connection, it cannot do any harm if the user takes a look at the setting for the DNS server. If, for example, a specific DNS server is permanently set there, it makes sense, especially with WLAN hotspots, to select the setting for the automatic search for a DNS server, since your own server may not be accessible in this network. If you basically want to test whether your connection problems and thus the problems with the VPN connection are related to a non-functioning name resolution, you can enter the IP address of a known website in the address line of your browser.

EnlargeTip 3 is a simple test: By entering the (known) IP address of a website or the VPN server, users can determine whether the name resolution is a problem.

If this is then displayed without any problems, it is very likely that there is a problem with the name resolution and the DNS server. If you know the IP address of the remote site of your VPN solution, you can of course also enter this directly in your VPN client or in the browser that establishes the SSL connection, thus avoiding a possible DNS problem.

Tip 4: error code 741 on Windows 7

Sometimes users of a Windows 7 system who try to connect to the Windows server in the company network using a PPTP-based VPN connection (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) are faced with the problem that the computer displays an error message the code 741 is displayed. If an XP system is used as the client, the error code 742 can also be displayed at this point. First of all, this error message states that the local system does not support encryption. However, it is usually also displayed if the client system uses a different encryption method than the VPN server at the other end of the tunnel. Microsoft recommends using a 3DES (Data Encryption Standard) setting here.

  • To do this, switch to the Network and sharing center.

  • Select there in the left pane Change adapter settings out.

  • There you right-click on the VPN connection and choose properties from the context menu.

  • Now switch to the tab Security.

  • Now select the option under data encryption Maximum (disconnect if server refuses) and then click on OK.

EnlargeTip 4: If the error code 741 appears under Windows 7, it may be due to the security settings of the VPN network connection.

Then it should be possible to establish a VPN connection with the Windows server again. Please note, however, that the server must also be configured accordingly, so that in case of doubt you will have to contact the responsible administrator.

Tip 5: check all settings

Basically, in the event of VPN connection problems, users should take a close look at all settings relating to the network connection of their end system:

  • Has a fixed IP address been entered? This should be replaced by a dynamic assignment via DHCP.