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Security How To

5) Generate the OpenVPN config file
OpenVPN clients won't do anything without a config file. You can find sample files in the "[program files path]\OpenVPN\sample-config folder on the system you installed the client on, where [program files path] is the path to the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folders for 64 bit and 32 bit apps, respectively.

The sample client.opvn and sample.ovpn files are well commented and useful for advanced users. But it's much easier to click the For Windows button on the VPN Service page to generate and save a config that should get you up and running quickly.

Before you click the button, scroll down and check the Advanced Configurations section of the page shown below. There isn't a lot to choose from compared to the settings ASUS routers provide.

Advanced Configuration

Advanced Configuration

NETGEAR's default configuration uses a TAP vs. TUN connection type. This means that it sets up a bridged, not a routed connection between the VPN server and client. This can cause problems when setting up a tunnel between two routers that each have their own DHCP server. NETGEAR's choice of TAP indicates they don't really support router-to-router OpenVPN at this point.

The defaults work and, due to the TAP connection, enable you to reach the router's shared storage and shares on devices connected to the router LAN. They even allow network browsing from the remote client and internet access through the OpenVPN tunnel.

Note that NETGEAR's OpenVPN implementation doesn't provide user level authentication. So there are no user accounts to set up.

With all that done, click the For Windows button to generate the config file and you'll get one more nag if you are not using dynamic DNS.

NETGEAR VPN warning

NETGEAR VPN warning

Clicking past this downloads a windows.zip file. Save or move it to the system where you installed the OpenVPN client.

6) Install the config file
Unzip the windows.zip file generated in Step 5 and you'll find the four files shown below.

NETGEAR OpenVPN config files

NETGEAR OpenVPN config files

Unlike ASUS, NETGEAR's config stores the certificates and keys in separate files and references them vs. putting them right in the .ovpn config file.

NETGEAR and ASUS .opvn files compared

NETGEAR and ASUS .opvn files compared

Copy / move the four files to the "[program files path]\OpenVPN\config folder, where [program file path] is the path to the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folders for 64 bit and 32 bit apps, respectively.

If your client needs to connect to more than one VPN server, you'll need to generate a config file for each one and give them different names. This can be tricky with the NETGEAR method of storing the certificates and keys in separate files. But you can rename the files for each configuration and edit the .ovpn file to point to the renamed files for the ca, cert and key entries.

7) Start the OpenVPN client
Before you start the OpenVPN client, you need to rename the connection name of the TAP network device. This is illustrated by a screenshot included in the VPN Service configuration page. If you need a step-by-step for this, start at Step 17 in this NETGEAR How do I use the VPN service on my Nighthawk router with my Windows client? knowledgebase article.

Rename Connection

Rename Connection

Now find the OpenVPN client shortcut created by the installer. Right click on it and select Run as administrator. At this point, this How to connect to a VPN Server with the Desktop Client FAQ screwed me up for awhile. I kept expecting to see the window below shown in the FAQ.

OpenVPN client window you won't see

OpenVPN client window you won't see

The only thing you should see is the OpenVPN client icon in the System Notification Area (tray).

OpenVPN client running

OpenVPN client running

8) Connect
Right-clicking on the OpenVPN icon pops up the submenu shown below. Select Connect.

OpenVPN client right-clicked

OpenVPN client right-clicked

The connection window will pop up so that you can see the connection log.

OpenVPN client - connecting

OpenVPN client - connecting

When the connection is complete, the Connection window will close and the OpenVPN tray icon will turn green. Unlike the ASUS TUN connection, you won't get a balloon notification when the connection is complete.

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