OS X Server's VPN, what does it do?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Luba, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. Luba macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    With OS X Server's VPN feature, can I go to say, Starbucks, and in effect use their non-secure WiFi securely by using OS X Server's VPN?

    What would happen? I would, in effect, being using my home internet connection at Starbucks?

    I thought about buying a VPN service for like $5-$10 a month so I can use public WiFi safely, but OS X Server is only $19. Would OS X Server's VPN work like purchasing a VPN service? What would be the difference?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. sjinsjca, Nov 21, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014

    sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    Yes, I do this all the time.

    It means, of course, that you must have a machine running Server back at your home or office. You can't just load Server on your laptop and carry it to Starbucks if you want a VPN.

    If you want a decent VPN for cheap and don't want to devote a Mac to the purpose, you can do it with a $35 Raspberry Pi per the instructions at http://unvexed.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-set-up-real-encrypted-vpn.html ...I've got one of those too (two, actually), in addition to the Mac I have dedicated to various Server services, so that gives me duplicative VPN capability that has been very handy.

    Don't expect an "It just works" experience from OS X Server. Server is just a thin user-interface veneer on top of standard Unix networking services. Running a server is geektastic, no way around it.

    One more thing: Some locations (and countries) block known commercial VPN services, but running your own will usually work in those circumstances. Just resist the temptation to use the various "What is my IP address" sites that exist on the Internet, as some of these are known to feed the databases of known VPNs. And in general it's a good idea to keep your VPN-ing to yourself and not broadcast around how smart you are for using one... when local network managers get wind of that, they'll add your VPN to the block-list. Also note that in some circumstances, using a VPN may imperil you in some way or another: they're illegal in a few countries, and some employers may take a dim view of using their network and computers to access your own VPN for whatever purpose. So VPN with your eyes open.
  3. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    When doing this, you may also want to a Dynamic DNS service (such as through dyn.com or similar) so you can reach your home even if your home dynamic IP address changes. Also the quality of your Internet access is important -- your VPN traffic will be going bidirectionally. If you have something like 20Mbps down and 5Mbps up your speed via VPN will appear somewhat less than 5Mbps down. You want symmetrical service, if available.

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