Microsoft Surface RT – Setting Up a VPN Connection
The portability of the Microsoft Surface RT, combined with its computer skills, make it something I want to (and can) use when I’m out on the road. But the lack of wireless broadband means I’ll be using public Wi-Fi hotspots. To do this securely I’ll want to use VPN.
Windows RT has built in VPN clients for the following VPN types:
- Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
- Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with IPSec (L2TP/IPSec)
- Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
Because its Windows RT, adding third party VPN clients isn’t an option (unless they start showing up in the Windows Store) so of these choices PPTP was my only option. PPTP isn’t a great security choice but I’ll use a strong password and I think this should be fine for my personal use.
If you’re setting this up for home use you’ll first need:
- A VPN Server. I use a Synology NAS with the PPTP package installed.
- A Dynamic DNS service, unless you have a fixed IP address from your ISP. Again, I use the DDNS service provided by the Synology NAS.
- Open port 1723 in your router and forward it to your VPN server (if necessary). Other VPN services may use a different port.
So once you have a VPN server it’s time to set up the VPN connection on the Microsoft Surface RT.
- Display the Search Charm by swiping or the WIN+F key combination. Type VPN as the search term and limit the search to settings.
- Select the “Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection”. You’ll be switched to desktop mode and the connection dialog will be displayed. In the “Internet Address” field type in your public address such as the Synology DDNS address. Type a description in the “Destination Name” field. This description is what you will see as the connection name.
Click “Create” to set up the connection.
- This should be all you need to do as Window RT will auto detect the VPN type. So it’s on to testing. Depending on your network and router configuration you may not be able to test VPN on your local home network. I tested by tethering to my iPhone and using the cell network so I come in over the Internet.
- From the Start screen swipe from the right and select Settings, then click the networks icon. This icon is probably named for the wireless connection you are using. You’ll see your new VPN connection near the top.
- Tap “Connect” for the VPN connection and you should get a connection. It may take some time to negotiate the connection.
Troubleshooting the VPN server and router setup is beyond the scope of this article. But if other devices are working and the Microsoft Surface RT is not here are some tips.
- Right-click, or tap and hold, the VPN connection selection (the “Home VPN Connection” in the above screenshot) to display the context menu. Select “View Connection Properties” from the context menu. You’ll be switched to the desktop side and the connection properties will be displayed.
- I dislike auto-negotiation so I setup the VPN connection to match my Synology NAS PPTP VPN server settings. This is what I use:
For you fellow Synology NAS owners, this is the PPTP setup screen that matches the client:
by Ray Newbery aka OSQuest