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I am looking for a cheap or free solution to be able to connect multiple people via VPN to a host computer. Each person should not be able to see what the others are doing while logged in. Is this possible and if so where do I start my hunt?

Update: I was not sure what server, was just thinking of doing it on say a win7 desktop. Just looking into having 2-3 users have access to a program without each seeing each other.

Basically, I know nothing and want to know if this is a possibility for me.

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migrated from serverfault.com Nov 12 '09 at 1:23

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

5 Answers 5

You have 2 issues:

Issue 1. You need to get ACCESS to the Win7 machine. For this I suggest OpenVPN. There is a COMPLETELY free version available. It is a bit of a pain to set up (requiring some command line tools to be run and questions answered, there is help available, TAKE THE TIME TO READ IT!)

To set up OpenVPN you will need to create the magical key files for each user. This file is what identifies the user (not a user name), so control those very carefully and make sure to NEVER give the some file out to more than one user.

Why not windows built in remote access (vpn)? Well because NORMALLY for desktop versions of windows these are crippled to permit only a single remote connection at a time. If thats all you expect then you can go this way instead of OpenVPN.

It is also possible to use both and have some users come in through microsoft remote access services and some through OpenVPN.

Issue 2. You need to run the app. On a plain Win7 box (well, depending on version) you can use Remote Desktop, just watch out because on non-server versions of windows you can only have a single user logged in via remote desktop at a time. You will be able to make the connection and log in but if any other user is already logged in they will get booted off (disconnected).


For SIMPLE access to a GUI program on a remote machine this approach works extremely well. I use this combination regularly.

If you want several users to run that GUI application AT THE SAME TIME you won't be able to use Win7, you will need a server OS with terminal services, such as windows server 2003 or 2008. This will cost more.

If on the other hand it was a web app and the win7 box is acting as web server, then the VPN / remote access should be all you need.

(You may also need to set up port forwarding for the remote access port or the openVPN port on any router you may have).

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+1 IMHO, OpenVPN is the way to go here. It's free, stable, and good setup tutorials are available. –  speakr Aug 15 '12 at 9:09

Every server OS that I know of has a VPN server built in, or a port of one freely avaliable. For Windows its Routing & Remote Access (RRS). For Linux it's often Open VPN (which is not compatible with the default Windows VPN Client).

What OS are you running?

Update: Based on what you have updated your question with, and that you're looking share a Windows 7 application, the first place for you to start is over at SuperUser.

Don't worry about re-posting your question over there, I have flagged it to be moved and after a few more people flag it your question will be migrated automatically.

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I use openvpn and it works well, and it's available on windows. Having said that, I've never used the server on windows (though I have windows VPN clients on it) so I can't tell you anything about how easy or otherwise it is to set up

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I use OpenVPN on a Linux server and it seems to work great and is rather cheap and I have found it to be very secure and also powerful. Check out openvpn.net. If you need more than two users it is $5 per concurrent user, I have 12 licenses and have never gone over that with about 20 users on the server.

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Please note that sharing a GUI app (as through Remote Desktop) may not be possible on every flavor of Win 7; you need a server version for this. This also may be precluded by software license ore require additional licenses.

No problem with web apps, of course.

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