By Alexia Petrakos
A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is a technology that allows you to connect to a remote network from wherever you happen to be using the Internet. VPN is encrypted, so it's safe, and once you are connected it's exactly like physically being on the other network.
Typical uses for a VPN are connecting multiple separate business locations together or allowing individual workers to telecommute, so that they can work from home. In this article I will explain how to create a VPN connection from an iPhone to such a network.
Step 1 Make sure you have an Internet connection. 3G does work for this, but Wi-Fi is preferred. Edge is going to be really slow.
Step 2 Go to Settings > General > Network on your iPhone. Here you'll find choices for 3G, Data Roaming, Wifi and VPN. The others have a switch and VPN just says "Not Configured." Tap VPN.
Step 3 Tap "Add VPN Configuration" on the VPN page. VPN is switched off by default.
Step 4 Enter the credentials for the VPN connection on the next screen. If you don't know them you will need to talk to your network administrator or whoever set up the VPN server. Setting up a VPN connection is very specific, so if one little thing is not set right you won't be able to get in.
Step 5 Choose the type of encryption that the connection uses at the top of this screen. Your choices are L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec. This completely depends upon how the server you are connecting to was set up. For this example we are going to choose PPTP.
Step 6 Enter a description. This is just the name of the connection, and can be anything you want.
Step 7 Enter the IP address of the VPN server you are connecting to in the “Server” area. This is normally going to be the Public IP address of the other network on the Internet.
Step 8 Type in your username in the "Account" field and enter your password in the "Password" field. If the network you are connecting to is on a domain, you may need to format the Account field like this: "domainname\username" (without the quotes) to work correctly. If you would prefer for it to ask you for your password each time you connect instead of having it saved in the iPhone, you can just leave the Password field blank. All of the other settings you can just leave as the defaults unless your network administrator specifically says otherwise. When you are done, tap "Save."
Step 9 Set the switch to "On" and it will try to connect. If you didn't save your password in the connection settings, it will ask you for it now.
*Note: Sometimes I've found that I need to try to connect twice before it will successfully connect, so before you start to troubleshoot your settings try to connect a couple of times first.
Step 10 Once you are successfully connected you will see a blue "VPN" up at the top of your iPhone screen, your status will say "Connected" and a timer will start running showing you how long you have been connected.
Step 11 Set the VPN switch back to "Off" to disconnect.
Step 12 So you're connected, now what? Anything that you could have done from the network if you were actually there you can do through the VPN. Connect to a computer remotely, check an interoffice website, check interoffice email; it's up to you