With so many of us now working from home, we’ve been getting a lot of input from our customers and have focused on improvements for remote work situations in VPN Tracker 19.6.6.
We’ve focused on three core areas: Remote DNS, Connection Checker and general connection improvements.
Remote DNS and Split DNS Improvements
To briefly recap: when using Remote DNS, you can ask your company’s DNS servers to resolve addresses for you. This is required if you have internal pages that are only known to your internal DNS servers, e.g. “internal.corp.example.com”
Instead of sending all requests to your company DNS server, you can also only send requests for certain domains – this is usually referred to as “Split DNS”.In VPN Tracker 365 19.6.6, we have added split DNS support for lower-level tools and libraries: anything that relies on etc/resolv.conf will now get the correct split DNS settings you have configured in VPN Tracker.
We’ve also fixed a few issues, one of which is worth mentioning in particular: when using split DNS with a host-to-everywhere connection, in some circumstances all DNS queries would also be sent through the tunnel; This has now been corrected. So if your internal domains can no longer be found with the new update, check your DNS settings and make sure all the necessary search domains have been added.
Connection Checker Improvements
Another big area of focus for this release is Connection Checker. If you’re working from home, it’s important to figure out the best settings for your home internet connection.
Connection Checker can tell you which VPN protocols your router and ISP support and will give you advice on what settings you may need to change to get things working.
Thanks to customer feedback, we’ve been able to improve the in-app suggestions and hints and have also fixed a few bugs.
As always, we’ve also made a number of improvements to the VPN Tracker engine, for more reliable VPN connections.
With remote work becoming increasingly more important, it’s critical that you have the equipment you need. Alongside other factors, a good VPN gateway for remote work is essential in enabling your team to securely connect to the office network and work from home productively.
This guide takes you through everything you need to know about choosing a VPN gateway for remote work, as well as how to set up your VPN on your chosen device…
What do I need to move my team to remote work?
Before we begin, let’s quickly review what you’ll need to get your team working from home:
A VPN Gateway connected your internal network
Each employee uses their own Internet Connection
The employee connects via a VPN Client such as VPN Tracker 365 running on their Mac
What to look for in a VPN gateway for remote work
While there is no “one size fits all” solution, here are some key factors to think about when weighing up your options:
You can typically find two types of VPN gateways: All-in-one routers with VPN support, or dedicatedVPNfirewalls.
Dedicated VPN Firewalls typically offer more advanced security features and are designed for larger offices. For a smaller office, an all-in-one router with VPN support is easier to configure but will mean replacing your existing equiment.
Action: Decide whether a router or firewall is better suited to your current network setup.
Business vs. Consumer
VPN gateways tend to vary between business- and consumer-level and offer different features respectively. If you’re a small team with 1-3 people connecting, a consumer-level router with VPN support may be enough for your needs. For larger teams, you’ll want to look for a business-level product that has more processing power to support more VPN users simultaneously.
Action: Weigh up your business’ needs and determine which type of VPN device you are going to search for.
How many users are supported?
Many businesses will have to configure more than one VPN connection to suit different users and their specific use-cases. If this is the case for your business, it is important that you check whether the VPN gateway offers support for multiple connections.
Action: If it is likely that you will be setting up more than one VPN connection, make sure to look exclusively at VPN devices which support multiple connections.
VPN gateways differ massively in terms of their technical specification. Depending on the size and nature of your business, many of the more advanced features offered may not even be relevant.
Action: List the features which are most important for your company and cross-reference these with the gateways’s spec.
As well as multiple connection support, some other important features to look out for may include:
Supported VPN protocols: E.g. IPSec, OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, etc.
VPN throughput: The higher the throughput, the faster and better the connection will be.
Processor: The faster your VPN gateway’s processor, the better. A fast processer will make sure your device can handle the demand and allow remote workers to make full use of their internet connection speeds.
VPN gateways vary in price, costing anything from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on how many users they support, their performance and other features.
Action: Be sure to shop around and compare prices of multiple retailers.
Finally, your VPN gateway is a crucial part of your company’s network infrastructure. Should you encounter any issues, it’s important that you are able to quickly get the guidance you need from the manufacturer so you can get things up and running again.
Action: Check the support options on the manufacturer’s website and try to research customer reviews before making your final decision.
Which options are out there?
When it comes to finding the best VPN gateway for remote work, there are many options to choose from. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular choices among our customers, but of course it’s down to you to find the gateway which is right for your business.
The Juniper SRX550 is a high end, business-level gateway aimed at mid to large branch locations. The impressive spec of this model means it doesn’t come cheap, but there are other lower-spec models available in the SRX series.
How to configure a VPN connection for your VPN gateway
Now you’ve chosen your VPN gateway, it’s time for you to configure your VPN connection. With step-by-step configuration guides for 300+ VPN routers, VPN Tracker makes this easy. You can find configuration guides for all leading gateway manufacturers here.
We’re continuing to work on improving VPN Tracker 365 and will be shipping an update in the next few weeks with improved logs and troubleshooting tips for common connection issues we’ve seen over the last few weeks.
Getting Started with Work from Home
We’ve written some posts to highlight VPN Tracker 365 features that help improve work from home productivity:
The Coronavirus has you working from home? For many people, this change will take some getting used to. Especially when using complex tools like a VPN for the first time, learning how to work from home productively can be a challenge at first.
Try these simple tips in VPN Tracker 365 to improve your productivity while working from home…
The current COVID 19 crisis has more and more professionals working from home with VPN. For many of you working remotely and using VPN for the first time, it may take a few days to adjust to this new workflow.
To help you get started and work more productively, here are our solutions for a few common working from home FAQs…
How-to Guide: Connect your Mac to your office network via VPN
Whilst working in the office, secure access to important data is taken for granted. However, with more and more of us now working from home, the need to externally access the office network is greater than ever before. When it comes to accessing sensitive company data from outside of the office, it’s important to know you are going about it the right way.
Here are 5 of our tried & tested, essential tips for remote work…
The term “home office” is one which almost all of us are familiar with today. Remote work is becoming an essential part of the way modern businesses operate and many large companies now consist entirely of remote teams spread out across the world. However, for many people trying remote work for the first time, it can be difficult to adjust.
Here are five easy to implement tips which we find super useful whenever we are working from home…
If you own one of Synology’s NAS systems, you can also set it up to act as a VPN server, offering a convenient way to securely access the files stored on your Synology, as well as other devices on your network.
Once you’ve got everything set up, you’ll need to get off your WiFi network to test it out (you can’t “VPN in” if you’re already “in”). One quick way is to use your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature, or treat yourself to a coffee and hop on your local coffee shop’s free wifi.
Once your VPN is connected, try accessing your Synology or any other devices on your network. Note that they won’t show up automatically in the Finder’s sidebar, so you’ll need to use the “Go → Connect to Server” feature in the Finder.
Once you’ve created and configured your PPTP VPN connection, you can test it out with our free demo. Once you’re sure it’s working correctly, head over to the VPN Tracker 365 store to purchase your plan.