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  • VPN Setup Instructions

    Before I explain how to setup your devices with my VPN server, I want to remind you why it is important to use a VPN.

    Why use a VPN?

    It is becoming very common for public spaces such as coffee shops, airports, and restaurants to offer free Wifi, which is great because wherever you go, you almost always can get Internet access. However, this access to free Wifi also creates some security risk. The biggest risk is that someone can steal your passwords or other sensitive information right out of the air. This short video explains what I mean.

    So how do you stay safe when you are using public Wifi? You use a VPN. When you connect to a VPN, all the information sent from your device to the internet is secured, preventing hackers from getting access to your data.

    When to use a VPN

    It is a good practice to use a VPN whenever you are away from home. Obviously, you do not need to use the VPN if you are at a friends house or someplace that is not public.

    You may even want to use the VPN when you are in a hotel. In my experience, hotels require you to login into their network but do not password protect their Wifi. A network login prevents non-guests from using the Wifi, but it does not protect your data.

    A good rule of thumb is if the Wifi is not secured with a password, use the VPN.

    Setting up my VPN

    With these instructions, you should have received a zip file for every device you want to use with the VPN. The files use an abbreviation of your name and end with the name of a device.

    For example: nwdewitt_phone.zip

    If you have not received these files, please email me before continuing.

    Setting up a Computer

    1. Download and install the software. Download and install the software. If you are using a Mac, please download the Tunnelblick application. If you are on a Windows or Linux machine, please download the OpenVPN application.
    2. Open the ZIP file(s). Open the ZIP file(s). Once you have installed Tunnelblick or OpenVPN, please download and open all the ZIP files I sent you. Once you have opened the ZIP file(s), you should have a folder for each file. Each folder should be named the same as the original ZIP files.
    3. Move the folder(s). If you are like me, you may save files to the Downloads folder or the Desktop. Please move each folder to a different location such as “Documents.” Be careful to move the entire folder, not the individual files.
    4. Open the .ovpn file. On the computer, open the folder that ends in “_comp” and find the file that ends in “.ovpn.” Open this file, and either TunnelBrick or OpenVPN should automatically launch. If neither program launches, please email me.
    5. Follow the instructions. After TunnelBrick or OpenVPN has launched, it should take you through a couple of quick steps to install the configuration file. At this time you might be asked for the password to your computer.
    6. Test the connection. Once you have installed the configuration file, TunnelBrick or OpenVPN should have a connection that has the same name as the folder. Click connect and wait a few seconds while the program secures the connection. If all goes well, you should receive a notification that says “connected.” Once you see this notification, you can disconnect or continue using the VPN. If you do not see this notification or run into problems, please email me. For example: nwdewitt_comp.ovpn will create a connection called “nwdewitt_comp”

    Setting up a Phone or Tablet

    1. Download and install the software. On your phone or tablet download and install the OpenVPN application from the App Store or Google Play store.
    2. Open the ZIP file(s). Open the ZIP file(s). Once you have installed Tunnelblick or OpenVPN, please download and open all the ZIP files I sent you. Once you have opened the ZIP file(s), you should have a folder for each file. Each folder should be named the same as the original ZIP files.
    3. Move the folder(s). If you are like me, you may save files to the Downloads folder or the Desktop. Please move each folder to a different location such as “Documents.” Be careful to move the entire folder, not the individual files.
    4. Connect Device to the computer. At this point, you will need to copy some files onto your device so please connect your phone or tablet to your computer using a USB or other appropriate cord.
    5. Copy the “_phone” folder. Find the folder that ends with “_phone” or “_tablet” and copy it to the device. If you are using an iOS-based device, you need to use iTunes to copy the files. Open iTunes, click on your device, and then select the “Apps” tab. Scroll to the bottom where it says “File Sharing.” Look for “OpenVPN on the list of Apps and click it. Then drag the folder corresponding to your device on the “OpenVPN Documents” panel.
    6. Install Configuration. Go back to your device and open the OpenVPN app. You should see a notification asking you to import a new profile. Hit the green check button, and the new profile will be installed.
    7. Test the connection. Once you have installed the configuration file, click the switch below the “Disconnected” icon. The status should change to “Connecting” and eventually “Connected.” Once OpenVPN has connected, you can press the toggle to disconnect or keep using the VPN.

    Trouble Shooting

    In most cases, the VPN connects within 20 seconds. However, there are a few circumstances where it may take longer. For example, if I am performing maintenance on the server or the wifi connecting is blocking the particular port needed to connect. In either case, the VPN application will automatically try to connect to my backup server. Connecting to the backup server could take up to 1 minute or more so be patient.

    If after 2 minutes you cannot connect to the VPN, you can still use the Wifi, but I would not recommend visiting any site that may store sensitive information. For any other problems, please contract me, once you are back home.

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    I’m a jack of all trades that has done everything from business process design to video production to server administration to film photography. I’ve run, consulted on, and wrote a book about Crowdfunding campaigns. I’ve taught myself everything from Ruby on Rails to narrative story structure.

    What do all these things have in common?

    I’m a skilled problem solver who can tackle complex issues and find solutions that combine art with outcomes.

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