You read correctly. I am posting because all of the sudden the VPN connection to my host computer is working, and I do not know why.
I'll be as brief as possible. I am currently in Beijing, China for work. For the last couple days I have been desperately been trying to setup a VPN using my parent's computer as the host. I was using Remote Desktop to use their Internet connection, but decided to set up a VPN instead. They are running Windows 7 Home Premium; admittedly not the best setup, but it's better than paying for a VPN service in my opinion. Plus, their Internet connection is pretty damn fast.
I setup a new incoming connection on their computer by going to Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings > File > New Incoming Connection. I then set their Linksys WRT54G v5 to forward port 1723 to their computer. I enabled all of the passthroughs (IPSec, PPTP, L2TP) on the router and also gave them a static LAN IP address.
What did I find? The VPN did not connect if I was on my work computer (which uses Windows 7 Ultimate) but it DID connect if I was using a computer at my hostel (Windows XP) or my iPhone.
Frustrated, I tried messing with every setting I could on my work computer to no avail.
I turned to an alternative, and came across OpenVPN. I followed this guide tooth and nail, and installed OpenVPN on both my parent's computer (acting as the server) and my work computer (as a client). I also configured the router to forward the right ports, and also set up an advanced route on the Linksys router. It sort of worked. I could connect to my parent's computer and access LAN resources, but I had no Internet. OpenVPN can also be configured using ethernet bridging, and so I tried that, and that also did not work. At this point I was ready to throw in the towel. I uninstalled OpenVPN on both computers, and was looking into paid VPN services.
Here's the strange part. This morning I came to work and tried to connect to the VPN, and it worked! I have no freakin' idea how it's working, but I did notice something new when I looked at the adapter settings on their computer. I noticed that the "Incoming Connections" icon had a new sub-icon on the bottom right. It looks like this:
I am curious why it is working, and this is what I ask of you all. I can provide information if you need it, but I am desperately trying to figure out what exactly I did to make it work.
I'm assuming when you say it worked, we're talking about PPTP, not OpenVPN.
The problem w/ PPTP is that it needs support for various protocols, like GRE 47 (that's a protocol, not a port), and not all routers support it. For example, I can go to virtually any La Quinta Inn and it works perfectly back to my home. But it NEVER seems to work at MacDonalds (I'll get connected initially, so it's not a port issue, but the connection dies upon the first attempt to use it). I assume there’s a lot of consistency (both positive and negative) because these companies are probably standardized on the same equipment from franchise to franchise.
Of course, there's always the possibility the ISP is blocking the PPTP ports (1723, 500, etc.). And being in China, well..., who knows what they're up to at any given time. I'm sure they're blocking internet access here and there, and so that only complicates matters further.
That's why PPTP is pretty lame imo. I'd say 50% of the time it just doesn't work for various reasons. And since it has many weaknesses anyway, it's probably best to avoid it anyway.
FWIW, I stick w/ either remote desktop from LogMeIn or TeamViewer, or use LogMeIn Hamachi for generic purposes. Both use SSL, so the ports are rarely blocked (again, maybe China is an exception), no ports to open/forward, simple to install and manage, and it’s free. In fact, if you install Hamachi using a Gateway configuration, it’s basically the same as any PPTP VPN (your client gets an IP address on your home network, all your devices are addressable, even those w/o Hamachi, even your router (so you could redirect your internet requests through your homne router if you wanted to). Or even combine Hamachi w/ say a proxy server (e.g., Privoxy). I run everything over it (RDP, HTTP, FTP, VNC, you name it). Hamachi is really an awesome product.
Yes, I meant the PPTP connection started working. I'm sure OpenVPN is a nice solution, but it requires a bit more knowledge about networking than I possess.
I actually did try Hamachi...sort of. Since I am not physically at the host computer (i.e. my parent's house) it makes installing things tricky. When I installed Hamachi on their computer, I did set it up as a Gateway, and it killed the Internet connection immediately. I couldn't get on their computer through Remote Desktop or VNC. I had to have my them uninstall it.
What I'll probably do the next time I'm in the States is buy a cheap HTPC like computer, and set it up as the VPN instead using Linux.