You can use Windows to network using many different technologies. In this video, you’ll learn how to use Windows for VPN connections, wireless networks, mobile network links, and more.
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When you’re first connecting to a network inside of Windows, you could choose to perform this connection from the Control Panel under the Network and Sharing Center. There is an option there to setup a new connection or network, and you have the option to connect to the internet, connect to a new network, or connect to a workplace using dial-up or VPN.
This will take you through a step-by-step wizard that gives you all of the questions you need to answer to be able to connect to these many different kinds of network types.
One of the network devices you may connect to is a VPN concentrator. This type of network connection creates an encrypted tunnel between your Windows device and a VPN concentrator that’s somewhere else on the network. Usually, this VPN concentrator will be something at a corporate office or main location, and you’ll be connecting to that device using a portable device or a laptop somewhere else out on the internet.
Normally, your corporate resources are on a private internal network that’s behind a firewall. And if you’re out on the internet at a coffee shop, you would not normally have direct access to any of those resources. But by using a VPN connection, you can create an encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN concentrator. This means if somebody at the coffee shop was able to look at the packets going over the wireless network, they would see that you’re communicating to the VPN concentrator, but all of that information would be encrypted and they would have no idea what information was being sent.
Once, that information arrives at the VPN concentrator the concentrator decrypts that data and sends it into your corporate network. The corporate devices are able to communicate back to you over this tunnel by sending that traffic to the VPN concentrator, which will then encrypt it, send it down to your laptop, and your laptop will then decrypt it and make it available to you.
When you’re configuring this VPN connection in Windows, you can use the built-in VPN client that comes with the operating system. You have options here to add the internet address, the destination name, and then you could choose to use a smart card for authentication. So if your desktop or laptop computer has a slot that you can use to slide in a smart card, you can provide your username your password, and then this multi-factor authentication.
The password would be something you know. The smart card would be something that you have. Some laptops might even include a fingerprint reader, which would be something you are.
Once this VPN configuration has been created, you can then connect to the VPN using the network status icon at the bottom of the screen. Provide your credentials, and now you have an encrypted tunnel to your VPN concentrator.
If you’re a traditional computer user, you’re probably not using a dial-up modem any longer. But if you’re a system administrator, these dial-up connections can be very convenient ways to connect to a remote network when the primary network connection may not be available. The configuration settings for dial-up are relatively straightforward, since this is a point-to-point connection.
You would provide username and password credentials. You would be able to put in the phone number that you would dial, and then you’d be able to connect or disconnect from this dial-up connection using the network status icon at the bottom of the screen.
A common network connection at work and at home is a wireless connection. For this connection, you would provide a network name, which would be the SSID, or Service Set ID name. You would need to provide the security type, which in many cases is WPA-2 or WPA-2 Enterprise, if you’re in a business. And then you need to provide encryption types, such as TKIP or AES.
If this wireless network is at home, you’ll probably provide a security key. This is a pre-shared key that is used across all of the devices that are on your home network. If this is a system at work that’s using WPA-2 Enterprise, then it’s using an authentication method called 802.1X authentication.
This integrates your wireless access point to the same authentication credentials you use for everything else in your network. This way you don’t have a pre-shared key that’s shared with everybody else on the network. Instead, each individual uses their normal username and password to gain access to the wireless network.
It’s also common to have wired network connections using an ethernet connection that plugs directly into your laptop or desktop computer. Usually, you would plug-in and use this ethernet connection, but you might also have simultaneously running, a wireless connection or wireless WAN connection. Windows is smart enough to know which connection is the fastest, and it uses that connection by default.
Windows also provides a way to setup an alternate connection, in case a DHCP server is not available. If you look under the Properties for the IP Version 4 Protocol, you’ll see that the general configuration is set up to obtain an IP address automatically or use the following IP address manually.
You also, in this window, have the Alternate Configuration tab, which normally is setup to provide an automatic private IP address or an APIPA address. Or if a DHCP server is not available, you could tell Windows to configure a manual IP address subnet mask, default gateway and other IP Version 4 configuration details.
If you’re a mobile user who isn’t often near an 802.11 wireless network, you may choose to have connectivity through wireless WAN connectivity. This works in conjunction with a mobile phone provider to provide internet access over the cellular frequencies.
This is usually accomplished by installing a wireless WAN adapter. You can install this into laptops and mobile devices. And there are usually antenna wires that you can connect to that adapter as well.
If your laptop doesn’t have one of these wireless WAN adapters, you may be able to use your mobile phone to provide wireless WAN connectivity. You would commonly connect to your phone over USB 802.11 wireless or Bluetooth to be able to tether or use your phone as a wireless hotspot.
If you’re using a built-in adapter, there may be specialized software that you also have to install to be able to enable that network connection and allow connectivity for all of your applications.