Historically the College VPN was the preferred method of connecting remotely, however, while VPNs can be used to securely extend a network to a remote location they have several problems, and for the reasons listed below ICT believe it is better to move away from using VPNs.

We advise users not to use the VPN unless necessary, and recommend they use the Remote Desktop Gateway, or use cloud-based services

The section below explains the various problems with using a VPN:

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Problems with using a VPN

1. VPNs require specific software to be installed and then configured. This process can be difficult across a range of devices, particular on non-college-owned systems. 

2. VPNs are often blocked, intentionally or accidentally, by networks. This can prevent the use of a VPN - and VPN-dependent services - entirely. 

3. VPNs may be rate-limited and therefore suffer from an unreliable or poor performing connection. This is common on residential broadband connections, where many ISPs limit VPNs entirely. 

4. When connected to a VPN traffic may be channelled through a route the user isn’t aware of, as they are not application specific. Examples include BBC iPlayer or Netflix, or other traffic which is legitimate at home, but not permitted. This has been problematic in the past, as ICT have to address these violations of the AUP, even though the user did not intend this. 

5. In some countries, VPNs are not legal. By relying on the use of VPN for our services, we either exclude or place customers in these locations at risk. Staff and Students are advised to consider what they are trying to access and ensure that they will have access to these files from their designated destinations before departing. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that their data is located in a safe secured repository in line with the College's Data Protection Policy (Section 4). 

Set up the VPN on your device

Windows 10 / Windows 8

Follow these instructions to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection on your Windows 10 or Windows 8 machine:

  • Click on the Start button in the toolbar
  • Type Network and Sharing Center in the Search field and press Enter
  • Choose Set up a new connection or network under the heading Change your networking settings
  • Select Connect to a workplace and click Next
  • Choose Use my Internet connection (VPN)
  • Enter vpn.ic.ac.uk in the Internet address field
  • Enter Imperial VPN in the Destination name field
  • Tick Remember my credentials
  • Click Create

The connection has now been created and will be saved and displayed in your list of connections.

Windows 7

Follow these instructions to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection on your Windows 7 machine:

  • Click on the Start button in the toolbar
  • Type Network and Sharing Center in the Search field and press Enter
  • Choose Set up a new connection or network under the heading Change your network settings on the main page
  • Choose Connect to a workplace from the new dialog box and click Next
  • Select Use my Internet connection
  • Type vpn.ic.ac.uk in the Internet address field
  • Type Imperial College VPN in the Destination name field and click Next
  • Enter your College username and password in the relevant fields on the next screen and click Connect

The connection has now been created and will be saved and displayed in your list of connections. 

Mac OS

For Mac OS version 10.12 (Sierra) and above

Apple are no longer supporting the College's VPN method, PPTP, on the latest versions of MacOS and iOS. If you're using Mac OS Sierra, High Sierra or Mojave, follow the instructions below:

  •   Download Tunnelblick and install it
  •   Once Tunnelblick is installed download the OpenVPN config file
  •   Double-click on the OpenVPN file you downloaded and connect using your college username and password

To access Library Journals please visit the Library Website and use Library Search.

Note that the VPN is not intended to provide access to region-restricted resources such as video or audio streaming providers.

For Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan) and earlier:

  • Click on the Apple icon in the top left hand corner
  • Select System Preferences
  • Click on Network under Internet & Wireless
  • Click on the padlock in the bottom left hand corner if it is locked
  • Click on + above the padlock icon
  • Select VPN from the Interface dropdown menu on the dialog box that has appeared
  • Select PPTP from the VPN Type dropdown menu
  • Enter Imperial VPN in the Service Name field and click Create
  • Enter vpn.imperial.ac.uk in the Server Address field
  • Enter your Imperial username in the Account Name field
  • Tick Show VPN status in the menu bar
  • Click Advanced and tick Send all traffic over VPN connection
  • Click OK
  • Select Authentication Settings
  • Enter your College password in the Password field and click OK
  • Click Apply to confirm the settings and then click Connect

The connection has now been created and will be saved and displayed in your list of connections.

Linux

These instructions require you to have the NetworkManager-pptp package (network-manager-pptp and network-manager-pptp-gnome on Ubuntu/Debian) on your machine.

Follow these instructions to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection on your Linux machine:

  • Click on the Network Manager icon
  • Select VPN Connections and then Configure VPN
  • Choose Add from the Network Connections dialog box
  • Choose Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) option from the Choose a VPN Connection Type dialog box and click Create...
  • Type Imperial College VPN in the Connection name field
  • Enter vpn.ic.ac.uk in the Gateway field of the VPN tab
  • Enter your Imperial username and password in the User name and Password fields
  • Click the Advanced button
  • Tick MSCHAPv2 under Allow the following authentication methods
  • Tick Use Point to Point encryption (MPPE) under Security and Compression
  • Click OK to return to the previous dialog box
  • Click Apply to save your settings

The Network Connections dialog box should now show your new VPN connection. To connect in future, click on the Network Manager icon again, select VPN Connections and choose Imperial College VPN.

Android

These instructions require you to have the NetworkManager-pptp package (network-manager-pptp and network-manager-pptp-gnome on Ubuntu/Debian) on your machine.

Follow these instructions to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection on your Linux machine:

  • Click on the Network Manager icon
  • Select VPN Connections and then Configure VPN
  • Choose Add from the Network Connections dialog box
  • Choose Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) option from the Choose a VPN Connection Type dialog box and click Create...
  • Type Imperial College VPN in the Connection name field
  • Enter vpn.ic.ac.uk in the Gateway field of the VPN tab
  • Enter your Imperial username and password in the User name and Password fields
  • Click the Advanced button
  • Tick MSCHAPv2 under Allow the following authentication methods
  • Tick Use Point to Point encryption (MPPE) under Security and Compression
  • Click OK to return to the previous dialog box
  • Click Apply to save your settings

The Network Connections dialog box should now show your new VPN connection. To connect in future, click on the Network Manager icon again, select VPN Connections and choose Imperial College VPN.

iOS

Instructions for iOS 10 and later

Apple are no longer supporting the College's VPN method, PPTP, on the latest versions of MacOS and iOS. If you're using iOS 10, please follow the instructions below:

  • Download the OpenVPN connect app from itunes.
  • Download the OpenVPN config file and tap Open in "OpenVPN"
  • Tap the green button with a + sign plus on it
  • Enter your College Username and Password
  • Tap Save
  • Tap the switch underneath Disconnected which will then connect you to the VPN

If you have connected to the VPN using the instructions above and still can’t access journals please see use one of the alternative access methods.

Please note that the VPN is not intended to provide access to region-restricted resources such as video or audio streaming providers.

Instructions for iOS 9 and earlier

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap General
  • Select VPN
  • Tap Add VPN Configuration
  • Select PPTP
  • Add Imperial VPN as the Description
  • Type vpn.imperial.ac.uk in the Server field
  • Type your College username in the Account field
  • Type your College password in the Password field
  • Tap Save

The connection is now set up. To use it, go to Settings > General and swipe the VPN button to ON.

How to connect to your H: drive using VPN

How to connect to your H:drive using VPN

Once you have connected to the VPN successfully, use the Online Home directory finder to find the location of your H: drive on the network, e.g. \\icnas2.cc.ic.ac.uk\yourusername.

Instructions

To map your H: drive on your Windows or Mac computer while using VPN, follow these steps:

Windows

  • Click Computer on the Start Menu
  • Click Map Network drive
  • Login to Home directory location to find the path name, e.g. \\icnas1.cc.ic.ac.uk\jbloggs.
  • Select H in the box marked Drive
  • Enter your Home directory location in the box marked Folder
  • Select Connect using different credentials and enter your username in the format ic\yourusername and your College password, if you did not login to the computer with your College username and password

Mac

  • Login to Home directory location to find the path name, e.g. smb://icnas1.cc.ic.ac.uk/jbloggs
  • Select Go from the Finder menu
  • Select Connect to server...
  • Enter your Home directory location in the Server Address box
  • Enter your College username and password to connect, if you did not login with your College username and password

Support and FAQs

VPN FAQS

Can I use the College VPN to access ICIS?

No. A secure access gateway service has been developed to enable remote access to ICIS instead. Go to this page to use it

I've set up the VPN client as instructed. Why isn't it working?

To get your connection working, try the following steps:

  • Make sure that the installation has completed properly
  • Ensure that your operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux etc.) is fully updated and patched
  • Check with your Internet service provider's help desk that it allows Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP)

If you try all the above and still can't get the VPN client to work, log a request in ASK and get help from IT Support

I'm trying to use the VPN from behind a corporate firewall/other academic site. What ports and protocols does the VPN use?

Many other websites (academic or otherwise) use a firewall to control network traffic outside of their network. For instance, NHS Trust websites do not allow access to the College VPN service. To gain access, you must request that your local IT support team opens the following on their firewall: Port 1723/TCP (PPTP) Protocol #47 (GRE)

The remote site may need to enable PPTP ALG or PPTP fixup on their firewall or Internet router.

Note that VPN access is against current NHS Trust policies, so if you are using the NHS Trust networks you must find alternative methods to gain access to College resources.

Why can't I connect to VPN from an Intercollegiate Hall?

Some Intercollegiate Halls may block access to Virtual Private Network (VPN) services. Please log a query in ASK to request more information.

Why do I keep getting Error 800, which says that my security parameters are incorrect, when I try to connect?

If you receive the Error 800 message when trying to connect to the Imperial College London Virtual Private Network (VPN), please follow these steps:

  • Check that the Type of VPN field under VPN properties on the Networking tab is set to PPTP
  • Check that your personal firewall is set to allow VPN connections or that your corporate or academic website firewall allows these connections.

This error message stems from places that do not allow VPN connections, including Halls of Residence, some Intercollegiate Halls of Residence and NHS Trust networks.

Why am I getting a message saying that my username is invalid?

Make sure that you're using the username and password for your College account and that your username is not prefixed with IC, e.g. IC\yourusername.

Why am I having problems connecting with my Virgin home router?

It's often necessary to change the settings on your home router to allow access to the Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Some routers need to have their Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP) settings changed before they will work with the Imperial College London VPN. Contact your Internet service provider to arrange this.

If your VPN settings are correct but you are still unable to connect, follow these steps:

  1. Look at the sticker on the back of router and locate the web address under Super Hub Settings (or similar)
  2. Open a web browser on your machine and enter the web address
  3. Enter the username and password on the sticker when prompted
  4. Click on Advanced Settings and then Firewall Settings to make sure that PPTP Pass Through is ticked
  5. Click on Services and make sure PPTP Pass Through is ticked
  6. Click on Firewall Settings, then Advanced Settings, then Security and make sure that PPTP Pass Through is ticked
  7. Try setting up the VPN connection again

Note

All routers are slightly different, so Steps 4-6 may vary for your router.

Occasionally your home Internet service provider will update your router without telling you and reset any changes you've made. If your VPN connection suddenly stops working and you receive an Error 619 or 800 or a message that states The PPP server could not be authenticated, then you will need to make the changes again.