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What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a way to create a "virtual" tunnel that will securely connect a computer/laptop that is not physically connected to the SOM network (as in plugged into a wall jack or connected wirelessly).

Why do I need to use VPN software?

File and database servers on the SOM network sit behind a firewall. In order to reach those files or databases when not connected to the SOM network by a wire or wireless connection, you need to establish a VPN connection.

How do I get VPN software?

VPN software is free and available by contacting the SOM help desk at either or 6-3998.

I'm not an employee of the SOM but I need to access a SOM application or file server, can I still get the VPN software?

If you have an affiliated relationship with the SOM, you can receive the VPN software. Contact the department administrator or grant administrator of the department of your affiliation. He or she will need to sponsor your request by filling out the new account request form and submitting it to the SOM Help Desk. A photo copy of your driver's license must be included with the request. The network account created for VPN access for an affiliate is renewable on an annual basis.

I want to read and write files to a server or my computer on the SOM domain. How can I do that with the VPN?

To access files on a server, you first need permission to access that folder on the desired server. To access files on your office/lab computer, you must give yourself permission to the folder(s) containing those files. Once permissions are correctly set, map a drive on the remote computer to the desired folder. Contact the server administrator or the SOM Help Desk for help.

I want to run an application that’s located on my office/lab computer. Can I do that with just the VPN?

No. You also need remote control software to run applications remotely on your office/lab computer. Some products and services that allow you to do that are Microsoft Remote Desktop (PC or MAC) or PCAnywhere. Contact the SOM Help Desk for more information.

I tried to install the VPN client software from the CD but there was an error.

Note the error message and call the SOM Help Desk (6-3998).

I installed the VPN software apparently successfully. Now what do I do?

Connect to Internet through an ISP the way you normally do. Double-click on the VPN icon to start the VPN client and log into the SOM domain.

I can’t log on. What’s wrong?

First, make sure you can browse the Internet from the remote computer. You should be able to reach the School of Medicine website ( If you can reach SOM’s website but still can’t login, call the SOM Help Desk for assistance.

The instructions say to enter my SOM credentials as the VPN logon ID and password. I never log on to the SOM network. What do I use?

If you don’t have a SOM account, we can create a VPN account for you. Contact the SOM Help Desk to obtain your VPN logon ID and password.

After logging on, there’s nothing different on my computer screen. How can I reach the files on my office/lab computer?

When you shared a directory on your office/lab PC, you can map a drive to it on a remote computer. If you need to run an application on your office/lab PC, you need to run remote control software (e.g., Terminal Services, PCAnywhere, Timbuktu, etc.) to use it.

What if I need to access several different networks securely?

The Cisco VPN client can provide access to different domains and networks. Contact your local Help Desk for help in adding and configuring such access. VPN clients from different vendors often interfere with each other. We do not recommend installing the Cisco VPN client if other VPN software is present on your computer.