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I am looking for a VPN router to access my home network when i'm away. Anything in particular i should look for? Don't want to spend a ton, but willing to spend a bit if it has features i could use. Any advice? Also, I have an existing Linksys wireless router i want to continue using.


Update: I've received several great responses on this post and just want to summarize.

LogMeIn: Service that allows remote access, but not ideal as cannot use with RDP
Hamachi: Looks like a good option, but concerned about lack of configurability
Draytek: at $170+ this is too expensive for my budget
Netgear fvs114: price is right at $80, but does not support gigabit throughput
OpenVPN/dd-wrt: I like these options as they can be configured to work with any router, either directly in router via firmware flash or have router pass through to computer on network that has openvpn/dd-wrt installed.

Initially I wasn't considering gigabit throughput support, but after further reading my home network can really benefit from it so that is now a requirement for the new router/switch. I'm looking at the Netgear GS108, at ~$70 with gigabit support, and with OpenVPN/dd-wrt for VPN this is looking like my best option.

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migrated from serverfault.com Jan 16 '12 at 3:43

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

    
The GS108 is a switch, not a router. –  Howiecamp Jun 9 '12 at 0:44

7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Are you just wanting to add VPN capability, so you can access your home network remotely (via the VPN)?

If that's the case you should really look into OpenVPN. It's software that you can run on your own computer to provide VPN access. It supports Windows and Linux (for both client-side and server-side), and it's completely free and open source. It's also one of the easier to use VPN options available.

Also, depending on your Linksys router type, and you comfort level with it, you may be able to flash it with an alternate firmware (like dd-wrt and OpenWRT. These firmware options can include support for OpenVPN right in your router, making it even easier.

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+1 for DD-WRT, but OpenVPN setup on it is not trivial for novice. Otherwise, if you have existing OpenVPN config+keys it's very easy. –  SaveTheRbtz Jul 9 '09 at 11:41
    
I need to replace my current linksys wireless router anyway, so is there any advantage to getting a router with vpn built in vs getting one without and installing openvpn or dd-wrt? –  Tone Jul 9 '09 at 11:52
    
It's true that OpenVPN isn't trivial to setup, but it easier than most of the alternatives out there (while still doing an excellent job of being secure). As for what to do if you're replacing your router, it's really up to you. I'd go with a mid-to-lower end router and either run dd-wrt or just setup the router to pass through a port to a machine on my netowrk and run OpenVPN on that machine. –  Christopher Cashell Jul 9 '09 at 18:33

If you're just looking for remote access to Windows machines I would recommend putting an old computer to new use by making a Windows Home Server. Remote access to your files, or a web remote desktop, and you get an automated backup solution for windows boxen with it as well.

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If ease of use and VPN throuhput are a concern, it might be worth checking out CheckPoint's safe@home appliance.

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If you have a spare computer laying around you can use one of them as a pfSense router.

pfSense offers three options for VPN connectivity, IPsec, OpenVPN, and PPTP.

  • IPsec

    IPsec allows connectivity with any device supporting standard IPsec. This is most commonly used for site to site connectivity to other pfSense installations, other open source firewalls (m0n0wall, etc.), and most all commercial firewall solutions (Cisco, Juniper, etc.). It can also be used for mobile client connectivity.

  • OpenVPN

    OpenVPN is a flexible, powerful SSL VPN solution supporting a wide range of client operating systems. See the OpenVPN website for details on its abilities.

  • PPTP Server

    PPTP is a popular VPN option because nearly every OS has a built in PPTP client, including every Windows release since Windows 95 OSR2. See this Wikipedia article for more information on the PPTP protocol.

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I strongly recommend the Draytek Vigor 2820 (ADSL) or 2910 (Ethernet) routers. We have over 200 of these in the field and they work very well. You can configure LAN to LAN VPNs or dialin PPTP VPNs. Windows has support for PPTP dialin VPNs included a standard so no extra software is needed.

Re the comments about running VPN software on the server, I would always do VPNs in hardware if I can. It keeps things simple and makes faults easier to debug. The only downside of doing the VPN in hardware is that you can't use the Active Directory user accounts (at least not on the Drayteks). You need to configure a separate username and password on the router. Mind you, this is not necessarily a negative!

The Drayteks would replace the Linksys, but you could continue to use the Linksys just as a wireless access point.

JR

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Considering that the original poster is replacing a Linksys router for his home network, almost any router appliance that supports VPN is going to be more expensive. A quick google search suggests that the Draytek Vigor 2910 will run around $200, way above a replacement Linksys. Also, having dealt with multiple software VPN's (IPSec, SSL, and "other") on Windows, Linux, and OS X, and hardware VPN appliances from Ciscto, Juniper, and others, I would definitely not say that a hardware solution is necessarily simpler or easier to debug. It depends on the device and what you're trying to do. –  Christopher Cashell Jul 9 '09 at 18:43

The LogMeIn free option mentioned by Kevin Kuphal is a good option.

You might also consider Hamachi. Dead simple to use.

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i've used logmein and it's good, but i'm looking for vpn so i can use RDP –  Tone Jul 9 '09 at 12:30
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Then you'll really like Hamachi. I use it for exactly same reason (RDP/VNC) on Windows and *nix machines. –  Chris_K Jul 9 '09 at 13:22

You can find good, inexpensive VPN routers like the Netgear FVS-114 for about $80. You basically need something that gets you into the network and a product like that will do just fine.

Another option is remote control applications like LogMeIn Free which will allow you to take over your home PC from anywhere without a VPN.

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The Netgear fvs114 is indeed a cheaper hardware vpn option, but it does not support gigabit, which after more research i have included in my requirements for the new router. –  Tone Jul 20 '09 at 12:34

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