VPN Server

A home server can be put to good use even when away from home, setting up a VPN can help create safer connection and access files when on the move.

Why a VPN?

When away from home it can be used as personal tunnel into the home network, giving whatever device connecting through it the impression that its connected to the network as it would when at home. Dependant on the internet connection this can allow easy access to all media capabilities of the server as well as the ability to access all files, and configure servers via a more secure RDP connection.

A VPN connection can also be used as an extra layer of protection for the more security conscious who are wary of public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN gateways allows a user to route all traffic through their home network via the internet connection when connected to a public hot spot, this extra hop is encrypted and will provide a layer of security that is lacking when connecting to an unprotected public network.

There are many companies offering this service for a fee so if you're looking for a service such as this with the ability to connect to the home network the home server can be put to good use and for free.

Like most services there are a few different versions of VPN that can be used, with all providing the same service:

PPTP: Point to Point Tunnel Protocol is the most common method and the most widely used. This technology uses a similar method to how the internet works but adding specific termination points (the server). Therefore this is the easiest and simplest to set up and use and will be suitable for most, but the lack of data encryption may put some off.

L2TP: Layer To Tunnelling Protocol is loosely based on PPTP but adds encryption and integrity checks to ensure data is transferred correctly and securely. Due to these additions is cannot be as fast as PPTP but it's a trade off between speed and secure.

IPSEC: IP Security was touted as the most secure form of VPN at its release, catering to corporations with a need to keep their work away from prying eyes. Time has shown that it is not as secure as first thought but can still be a viable option. More configuration is required with IPSec that could put it at a disadvantage to some.


The internet requirements for a VPN server are more or less the same as running a web server, with the most imperative being to make sure the service provider is not blocking ports or trying to physically stop a VPN taking place. For VPN ports 1723, 500 and 1701 are needed depending on the type of VPN used.

Also important the speed of the upstream connection, as when accessing files or using the connection as a gateway data is sent up from the server to the internet. It will not be as important as a web server where a public service is hosted, the speed will determine if streaming is a viable option, or if the service will need to be limited to simple file access and routing.

Finally, opening up a VPN service to the internet means it has the ability to be accessed by everyone on it, so security is important. Make sure only certain users are granted access to use VPN and of them ensure strong passwords are used to thwart automated attacks. Hopefully the home server will be in a corner of the internet where VPN is seldom used and so hopefully not is the scope for attackers, but don't rest on this assumption as many attacks are performed by bots and automated software that works their way throughout the whole internet.