A Guide on Using VPN on Mac

A Guide on Using VPN on Mac

VPN is a useful tool for connecting private networks throughout the Internet. Macs have a built-in option of the VPN connection and here is a detailed step-by-step guide on configuring it. If you want to connect a VPN server, this article may be helpful!


VPN: what is it?

Virtual Private Network is a secure method of connecting to the Internet. Your work server is unlikely to be connected from the web, as it is protected by a firewall. No doubt, firewall is secure, but VPN appears to be even more effective when we talk about security. You may even face such situation on the working place, because many employers care about security and require the high level of the files protection.

Entering CPN is like building your private network, you can access your working machine from home with VPN without security breach. Long story short, it’s like a long physical cable that connects your home Mac and the network from your job.

How can be VPN used?

Connect to your working network remotely

As I’ve said before, you can connect to your working servers through VPN. You’ll be able to access the working file servers using their normal IPs.

Establish a protected secure connection via inaccessible private network.

Web browsing encryption

One of the best VPN’s security features is information encrypting. So, your traffic won’t be monitored, if you are browsing from a café or some other public place. Mac offers you to pass all the information through a VPN connection. This increases the security of your web browsing.

Choosing any place in the world

You can access the website from the place where a VPN server is. Feeling confused? Here is the explanation.

Let’s pretend that you are travelling to London, but need to access a website that is available only in the US (like Hulu, etc.). Such sites inform you that there is no access to them from your location. So, pick up s VPN server situated in the US and the site will open for you like you were in the US indeed. Just be sure that your web connection passes through VPN.

So, as you know now, you can browse the web like being in another country with the help of VPN. You will have another IP and be connected via other network. The certain place depends on a exact VPN server of your choice.

Let’s look at the details of this point in the example below:

There’s a lot of speed tests in the Internet, but the most well-known one if Speedtest.net. So, I open it and start the test. It connects to the nearest server.

After that, I connect the web via VPN and choose a US server. It says that I’m connecting from Miami now, great! It is so, as the VPN server is situated in Miami.

Now we see that the speed test thinks that I am in Miami as well!

But you might noticed that the speed of the connection has significantly dropped. It’s okay for any VPN, as the info passes various servers before being uploaded to your computer.

A tip for you: residents of China and countries where many popular sites are blocked (Facebook, Twitter, etc) can access them via VPN without any problems.


How to setup a VPN connection?

You need to do a few more steps to connect VPN:

The VPN server address
We need an IP for connection the private network. It can be a FQDN (fully qualified domain name) such as vpn.myfirm.com. It depends on the certain configuration.

Username & Password
Every VPN connection has these parameters. They can be set by an administrator.

The type of connection
There exist L2TP and PPTP connections. Both of them are secure and safe. Anyway, people tend to think of L2TP as of a better one. It is because of the fact that sometimes L2TP connection needs a shared secret for connecting the VPN server. It looks like a secret passphrase that provides higher security level.

Let’s connect your Mac through VPN

Pick the following things to connect your Mac to VPN:

  1.       FQDN of a server IP address.
  2.       Username & password.
  3.       The type of connection (L2TP or PPTP)

I’ll show you a tutorial now. By the way, there are different VPN services in the Internet, both free and paid ones, I’ll tell you more about them later.

As for the VPN settings, you can enter them into ‘System Preferences’, below the ‘Network’ pane.

Step #1. Go to ‘System Preferences’, tap on ‘Network’

Step #2.  Click the ‘+’ button, then select a necessary VPN. Choose the type of connection: L2TP or PPTP.

Step #3. Go to ‘Configuration’ and click ‘Add Configuration’. Type the ‘Server 1’ name.

A tip for you: Naming the configuration ‘Server 1’ is optional and you can leave it by default. Renaming is done in case to not being confused, if you have several VPN connections. Mac OS X has the ability to work with multiple VPNs at a time, like you had offices in US and Australia.

Step #4. Add an IP address or FQDN of your VPN. Add a username.

Step #5. Click ‘Authentication Settings’, choose a password. Enter your shared secret here, if you’ve chosen a L2TP connection.

Step #6. Check if the ‘Show VPN status’ line is selected in the menu bar, tap ‘Apply’.

That’s all! A new icon looking like a luggage tag will appear on the menu bar. Click it and see the line ‘Connect VPN’. A timer will start after connecting.

Once you’ve established a private network connection, visit ‘System Preferences’ and see the info on this connection, as your IP, time, etc.


How to send all the traffic through VPN?

Mac passes only part of traffic via VPN by default. It is so, because such connection is slow and Apple doesn't want your work to become too slow and irritating. Anyway, this issue can be solved.

Go to 'System preferences', choose 'Advanced'.

Find an option called 'Send all traffic over VPN connection'. Tap on it and save the changes. After that, your Mac will pass all the Internet traffic through the private network. But I don't recommend doing that, as the connection becomes really very slow. But this is your choice, and that's what you should do next.

Set the service order to pass all the data through VPN. This private network has to be the first service in the whole list. Select a drop-down menu and find 'Set service order'. Drag the devices into the order you need, place your VPN at the top.

A VPN account

Many of readers are likely to have a VPN profile provided by their employer. But in case you want such connection for your personal use, there is a lot of options on the market.

That's what is VPN for and how to establish the VPN connection with your external servers. Share your thoughts on using private networks in comments!

Don’t forget to share the knowledge about VPN with your friends in social media. ;)