Some users of our VPN service are experiencing stability problems - whilst they establish VPN connections without any problems, their connections will disconnect at random making it difficult to maintain an active connection to the VPN service.

Our VPN service accepts two different VPN protocols, and the problem only affects one of these. Thus it is possible to work around the problem by doing one of the following:
  • Users of Windows Vista or later can work around the problem by making use of the SSTP protocol rather than the PPTP protocol. By default, the Windows VPN client will try to use PPTP before SSTP. However this behaviour can be changed by editing the VPN connection's properties. To do this, right click on the VPN connection and select Properties. Go to the Networking tab and change the Type of VPN from Automatic to Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol (SSTP). Then click OK to save the changes.
  • Windows XP does not support SSTP and, given that it is now reaching end of support, there are no plans to introduce this. Whilst Windows XP users should seriously consider upgrading, we have had reports of a work-around that improves (but doesn't resolve) the situation with PPTP under Windows XP. It seems that the problem only occurs when VPN connections are idle, thus ensuring the connection is never idle will reduce the likelihood of a disconnection. The easiest way to do this is to set up an ongoing ping to a device at Rhodes. To do this, open a Command prompt and type "ping -t" (without the quotes) at the prompt and then press enter. Leave the command prompt window open for as long as you need the VPN connected.

This problem is caused by the University's border firewalls, and is an unfortunate side-effect of our attempts to fix another, more serious issue. We have reported the regression to the firewall vendor, and are awaiting a resolution.