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Troubleshooting a VPN that won't connect over ADSL

SearchNetworkingChannel expert Jon Snader offers advice for troubleshooting a VPN that won't connect over ADSL.

My customer is having problems with a VPN over ADSL. There are four offices -- three offices connect to the fourth. There are times when some users are connected and others are not. It can take three or four attempts at connecting to ADSL before a user is successful. It had been running fine for a year, but the problem just started. The configuration has not been changed. I called the ISP, and they said they have nothing to do with it. Can the customer connect to his site without using a VPN?

There is nothing about ADSL that requires the use of a VPN, so you could disable the VPN and rely on some sort of access control, such as a password, to provide rudimentary security. Whether this is a good idea depends on the nature of the traffic between the offices and what security experts call the threat model, the nature of the threats that you are trying to protect against.

A better solution may be to diagnose the cause of the VPN's failure. You don't say what kind of VPN the customer is using, so it's difficult to offer any specific advice, but it is often useful to take a packet capture of the VPN's establishment protocol (using etherpeek, tcpdump, wireshark or a similar tool), and analyze the resulting output. If your sites have dynamic IP addresses, it might be useful to ask your ISP if they have changed their DHCP lease policies lately, as this could be causing a change in one side's IP address that confuses its peer.

Learn how to connect sites with dynamic IP addresses across the Internet.

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