Virtual private network (VPN)
ICT recommends that you use Unified Access to access College applications, which can be done from anywhere in the world, directly from your device. This replaces the need to use a VPN or remotely accessing a computer.
VPN access will be maintained for existing users, however if you are a new staff member and you require access to the College network using a VPN, please contact the ICT Service Desk.
Access to the VPN may also depend on the country you're in when you try to connect. Please see our page on internet censorship for more information.
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 Status in the Search field and press Enter
Choose VPN from the left menu
Select Add a VPN connection
In Connection Name type Imperial VPN
Enter vpn.ic.ac.uk in the Server Name or Address field
Enter Automatic in the VPN Type field
Select User Name & Password in the Type of Sign-in info field
Enter your College username (without IC\ prefix)
Enter your College password
Tick Remember by sign-in info & Click Save
The connection has now been created and can be accessed and connected to by clicking the Wi-Fi symbol in the bottom righthand corner.
- Download and install the latest OpenVPN client.
- Download the OpenVPN configuration file.
- Click the start button, type OpenVPN and click on the OpenVPN icon to open the client
- Under Import Profile click File, browse to the location of the OpenVPN configuration file that was downloaded in step 2 and open it.
- Enter your College username.
- Tick Save Password and enter your College password
- Click Add
- Click on the Open VPN Profile to connect to the VPN
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.
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.
For Mac OS Big Sur
ICT at Imperial recommends those using Big Sur to download the beta version of Tunnelblick for a smoother experience. More information can be found on the Tunnelblick web pages.
- The VPN is not intended to provide access to region-restricted resources such as video or audio streaming providers
- Those running Mac OS versions below 10.12 (Sierra), please contact the ICT Service Desk for guidance
- If you wish to change the name of the config file, please download these instructions: Change the configuration name for Tunnelblick
These instructions require you to have the NetworkManager-pptp package (network-manager-pptp and network-manager-pptp-gnome on Ubuntu/Debian) on your machine.
Users of this service will need to have an Imperial College user account and access to the SSH Gateway service. To access the SSH Gateway service please place a request via the ICT Service Desk.
Follow these instructions to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection on your Linux machine:
- Download Putty or another SSH v2 client
- You will need to first follow the instructions to wake my PC.
- Enter sshgw.ic.ac.uk as Host Name
- Click Open
- Enter your college username
- Enter your college password
- You will get a warning about trusting this machine the first time, enter yes
- Type ssh 'your computer hostname' (without quotes)
- Enter the username you use on the Linux machine
- Enter the password you use on the Linux machine
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.
To connect to the Imperial College London Virtual Private Network using an Android device, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings on your Android device.
- Select Wireless & networks.
- Select VPN settings.
- Tap on Add VPN.
- Select Add PPTP VPN.
- Edit the VPN name, type Imperial and click OK.
- Set the VPN server to vpn.ic.ac.uk and click OK.
The connection is now set up. To use it, go back to the VPN settings screen and tap on Imperial.
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.
To map your H: drive on your Windows or Mac computer while using VPN, follow these steps:
- Click start and type This PC and click on the icon
- Click Computer at the top of the page
- 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
- 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
- For issues please refer to our FAQs below or contact the ICT Service Desk
- If you are working with an external contractor that requires access to College services, please read our Contractor VPN Service web pages for instructions.
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:
- Look at the sticker on the back of router and locate the web address under Super Hub Settings (or similar)
- Open a web browser on your machine and enter the web address
- Enter the username and password on the sticker when prompted
- Click on Advanced Settings and then Firewall Settings to make sure that PPTP Pass Through is ticked
- Click on Services and make sure PPTP Pass Through is ticked
- Click on Firewall Settings, then Advanced Settings, then Security and make sure that PPTP Pass Through is ticked
- Try setting up the VPN connection again
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.
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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).