I have a few (mainly personal) VPNs that I use regularly, and over the years, I’ve been thinking about ways to make the process of connecting to one of my VPNs simpler. After all, connecting to a VPN isn’t something that can’t be easily done through a simple connection setting, is it?
It started with the need to connect to my home VPN from my phone, and since my phone is always with me, I figured that it would be easier to just set up a VPN connection when I need to connect to my home network. So, after some research and experimentation, I came up with a simple but effective way of accomplishing this: use a VPN that supports “gateway-to-gateway” mode, and then set up one of its dedicated VPN servers as a gateway between the 2 networks.
Why Use a VPN That Supports Gateway-to-Gateway Mode
You may be wondering why you should use a VPN that supports gateway-to-gateway mode, and here’s a reason: most VPNs don’t support this mode of operation, which makes it rather difficult to set up a VPN connection when you need to use it. So, with a VPN that supports gateway-to-gateway mode, you can easily establish a VPN connection when you need it, without having to set up an entire VPN server first.
Also, in some situations, you may wish to connect to 2 different VPNs to cover your bases. For example, you may want to connect to one VPN for browsing the web and another for sending/receiving emails. If you can configure 2 VPNs to work in “gateway-to-gateway” mode, it would make connecting to either one of them much simpler. Just make sure that you’re aware of any traffic restrictions that these 2 VPNs may have and that you don’t place your personal network in between them. Otherwise, you could potentially break the terms of service agreements of both VPNs.
How to Set Up a Gateway-to-Gateway VPN Connection (with Pictures)
I’ve had my share of problems in the past with other VPNs, where connecting through a VPN would simply not work, and I’d have to either terminate the connection or hunt down an IP to use instead. Since I don’t like hunting for IPs or dealing with broken VPNs, I decided to write this guide to help others easily set up a gateway-to-gateway VPN connection. So, here we go:
Step one: Determine which type of VPN you’ll be using. You have 2 options here:
- PPTP/IP-sec (for Windows users)
- L2TP/IP-sec (for Mac users)
- PPTP/IP-sec (for Windows users)
- L2TP/IP-sec (for Mac users)
If you’re still using a VPN that isn’t on this list, then you might as well stop now, because nothing else really needs to be said about it.
Step two: Install and configure the VPN software on your router.
This step is mostly for Windows users, since most VPNs these days are Windows-based. So let’s start with Windows:
You’ll need to download and install the VPN software on your PC. It’s worth noting that not all Windows users will be able to use the Internet with all of these VPNs, as some of them require the use of a Windows password, which many people may find annoying.
For Mac users, you can use the built-in Safari VPN to easily setup a VPN connection:
- Safari VPN
You should also consider using a VPN that offers a freemium or paid version, as these tend to be much more reliable than free ones. Well, what else is new? Always consider free versions to be a possible security risk, as they’re often times filled with bugs, and if you discover one, it could very well be that it’s already been fixed in the paid version. So, if you do end up using a free version of a VPN, at least make sure that you keep checking for updates.
Once you have your PC set up with the VPN software, you can move on to the next step.
Step three: On your router, point the DNS servers to your PC’s IP address.
This step is also for Windows users, and it’s rather simple. As already stated, you have 2 options here:
One of the simplest and most effective ways of shortcutting a few steps in the process of connecting to a VPN is by pointing your DNS servers to your PC’s IP address. When you do this, all of your devices (laptops, tablets, and mobile phones) will automatically connect to your VPN whenever they’re connected to the Internet. This is, in fact, the preferred method of connecting to a VPN. Another great thing about this method is that it doesn’t require any configuration on your part. Just make sure that you don’t use the same IP address for both your PC and the VPN, or else you’ll break a lot of your devices.
Step four: On your router, add the VPN’s IP address to the exceptions list.
This step is important because if you don’t do this, you’ll have trouble connecting to your VPN whenever you want. Thankfully, it’s rather easy to add an IP to the exceptions list on your router. Just type the VPN’s IP address into the address bar and press enter. Remember: these are the IPs that you’ll use to connect to the VPN, so make sure that they’re not blocked by your Internet service provider (ISP). You can also find more information about connecting to a VPN here:
- IPv4 Address Range
- IPv6 Address Range
- How to Connect to a VPN
Now that you have your router set up with the necessary information, you can move on to the final step.
Step five: Test your gateway-to-gateway VPN connection.
This is the part where you can test your gateway-to-gateway VPN connection. First, ensure that your router is connected to the Internet and that you have a functional connection. Then, from your computer, open a web browser and type in the IP of one of your other connected devices (laptops, tablets, or mobile phones). For example, if your computer is connected to your phone and to your Safari VPN, you’d type in “192.168.1.1” (your computer’s IP address) and then “8126.96.36.199” (your phone’s IP address). This is the IP that your computer will use to communicate with your phone when connected to Safari VPN.
Press the “connect” button on your phone, and you’ll be connected to Safari VPN. From here, you can browse the web, send emails, and do whatever you need to do through the app. Remember: even though your VPN connection is setup correctly, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to access all of the content that you want. It depends on your Internet service provider (ISP) whether or not they’ll allow you to access content that’s restricted to certain users. Sometimes, these restrictions happen at the network level (for example, to protect the security of certain websites), while other times they can happen at the device level (to protect the privacy of customers).
I hope that this guide helped you successfully setup a gateway-to-gateway VPN connection. It’s a simple but effective way of connecting to a VPN whenever you need to, without having to set up a dedicated VPN server first. From here, you can browse the web, send emails, and do whatever you need to do through the app.