Setting up a VPN in Windows 8

While Windows 8 is not the latest installment of this popular operating system, it is still widely used. Launched in 2012, Windows 8 shares a base with Windows 7 architecture but it offers a new design and unique features. The touch based interface sets it apart from other Windows versions and while it may be difficult to get used to it at first, once you manage it, there shouldn’t be any issues completing tasks and accessing the options you need.

The leading VPN services adapted to Windows 8, ensuring that their clients worked seamlessly with the new technology. However, there are some providers that don’t offer a dedicated VPN client for Windows 8 or whose Windows client doesn’t work well with this version of the platform. For these cases, it is important to know how to configure VPN in Windows 8 manually. Here are the steps that you can follow to set up a VPN in your computer running Windows 8.

How to set up PPTP in Windows 8

PPTP is considered as the weakest protocol available and even Microsoft (who created it) has advised to opt for alternative options whenever possible. However, it is is still widely used since it is the easiest and most practical way to set up a VPN connection. In fact, it is built into Windows 8 and while it is not the best solution when security is a priority, it is still worth considering if you need a fast, hassle-free VPN configuration.

  1. The first thing you will need to do in order to set up PPTP is to position your mouse cursor in the bottom left corner from the Desktop of the Modern screen. Do this until you see the change screen icon and then right-click. The other option is to press Windows key + x and then select Control Panel.
  2. Click View Network Status and tasks. Click “Set up a new connection or Network” in the Network and Sharing Center.
  3. Select “Connect to a workplace” and click “Next. Then, click “Use my Internet connection (VPN)”.
  4. Your VPN provider should give you an “Internet address”. You can enter this and choose a name for the connection. In order to get access quickly in the future, it is advisable to select “Remember my credentials box”. Then click “Create”.
  5. Now that the set up is completed, you can connect from the Desktop mode, clicking on the Network Icon in the Task Bar, which is located at the bottom right corner of the screen. The other option is to connect from the “Modern” interface pressing the Windows key + i so that the Settings sidebar appears and then click the Network icon.
  6. In the Network bar, select the connection that you recently created and then click “Connect. You will be asked to enter your VPN username and password.

How to set up L2TP/IPsec in Windows 8

L2TP/IPsec is another Microsoft standard, but it is offers more security than PPTP. Offering protection against snooping, L2TP/IPsec is a protocol that is also very convenient as it it is built into Windows. While OpenVPN is widely considered as the most secure option available, L2TP/IPsec doesn’t require additional software to be used.

  1. In order to set it up in Windows 8, you can follow the same initial steps described above (1 to 5) for setting up PPTP. After that. you will need to right-click on the connection that you created and select “View connection properties”.
  2. Click on the Security tab, from the drop-down “Type of VPN” menu select “Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with IPsec (L2TP/IPsec) and then click “Advanced Settings”.
  3. The “Use preshared key for authentication” radio button should be selected and then, you can fill the box with the key that your VPN provider have you. Click OK.
  4. The settings on the Security tab page should match those specified by your VPN provider. If they don’t have specific settings for Windows 8, then you can use the ones for Windows 7 as they will probably work as well.
  5. You will probably be prompted to disable everything, except “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) and maybe also “File and Printer Sharing” under the networking tab. You can click OK.
  6. In the Networks bar, click the connection and select “Connect”, then enter your VPN details.

How to set up OpenVPN in Windows 8

In order to use OpenVPN in Windows 8 (or any other platform), you will need third-party software. You can download the custom client offered by the VPN provider, otherwise you will should get the open source OpenVPN client available at OpenVPN.net.

  1. Install the client and right-click the OpenVPN icon from the Modern screen. Then select “Open file location” from the Action bar
  2. You can right-click on the OpenVPN GUI icon directly or find it on the Desktop and right click it from there. Then select Properties.
  3. In the Compatibility tab, check the box that says “Run this program as an administrator” and then click OK.
  4. Now you will need to download the OpenVPN configuration files from your VPN provider. This will need to be unzipped into the config folder of the OpenVPN install directory. This would be generally be C:\Program Files (x86)\OpenVPN\config or it can be C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config. It is only necessary to unzip the files for the VPN servers that you are are more likely to use.
  5. Click twice on the OpenVPN GUI icon and a small red icon will appear in the Task bar. Right click on it and select the server that you want to connect to. Then simply click “Connect”. Once you are connected, the icon will turn green.

Conclusion

In general, PPTP is the easiest protocol to set up, followed by L2TP/IPsed, but if you run into any issues, your VPN provider may offer specific guides or additional assistance. Although OpenVPN requires third-party software, it is worth opting for this option above others because it is the most secure one.

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