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Connecting machine-to-machine securely, across the 'net.

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A common question I get at Ask Leo! is how to connect to disparate networks across the internet. For example a small business owner might want to connect to his workplace from his home network, or on a business trip one might want to connect to a work or home network as well.

Aside from Remote Desktop, which can be a little tricky to get working between local networks across the internet, the answer has always been a VPN, or virtual private network. In fact, VPNs are the solution of choice for most large corporations whose employees need access to the corporate network from remote locations. VPNs are secure, allow for various types of authentication, and when they work ... well, it's just like being there.

The problem is that VPNs can be difficult to setup - especially for novice or non-technical users.

"Hamachi is a very lightweight VPN client ..."

Now I actually have the same scenarios that I've listed above: I travel occasionally, and I also have a my wife's small business several miles away that I would like to connect to more easily and directly.

Enter Hamachi. Hamachi is a very lightweight VPN client that I've been playing with for the last couple of days. It doesn't provide network-to-network connectivity like a traditional VPN might, but rather you choose which clients machines you want on your VPN by running the client software on them.

When connected using the VPN, it's the equivalent of being connected directly on a local area network. Now while name resolution doesn't seem to be in place yet, you can browse the network shares of the remote computer using its Hamachi assigned IP address, connect via remote desktop if you like, and do pretty much anything you might if the computer were nearby on the same LAN. On-line games, naturally, stress this beta technology the most, and the support forums have many helpful pointers and hints for getting LAN based games to work across the Hamachi VPN.

Hamachi bills itself as a "mediated" - meaning that clients are registered with a Hamachi service so that they can be located and the initial connections established. All data transfer is directly peer-to-peer, secure and private.

Hamachi is in beta, it's free, simple and quick. You'll find it at hamachi.cc.

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Article C2524 - January 19, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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21 Comments
Dan Ullman
January 19, 2006 1:01 PM

The Hamachi.cc link actually links back to this page. Cut and paste is not necessarily your friend (grin)

Leo
January 19, 2006 2:17 PM

Whoopsee. Fixed. Thanks. :-)

Greg Bulmash
January 20, 2006 12:35 PM

How well does Hamachi work if the various computers are all behind NAT firewalls?

- Greg

jalal hanaee
February 2, 2006 6:25 AM

kindly i am one the hotmail users and my inbox capacity is 2 MB. I would to know that how I can increase it to 25 MB or higher.

Best regards,

Hanaee

ROGER
April 9, 2006 11:00 PM

hi leo i think ure forum its a good way to learn about this vpn stuff im just writing cuz i wanna now if theres a place on the net where i can find some ip addresses cuz im interested in share my files with somebody and to play some games but i dont know maybe u can tell me thanks

Paul Gay
September 4, 2006 12:43 PM

After reading your article I found Hamachi to be just what I had been looking for to tighten up my remote desktop security. I am not a techy but found Hamachi simple to set up. I had my VPN up and running in less than 10 minutes

Junior Bodine
September 16, 2006 9:24 PM

I first heard about Hamachi from "the other Leo", Leo Laporte of Call for Help TV show. Found your podcast and you convinced me to try it.

Hamachi is excellent for running VNC remote access and for sharing iTunes audio libraries easily. You just point VNC at your Hamachi IP and it connects you up. No crazy configuring to get it to use the correct adapter, its all automatic. And iTunes is even easier. Just tick the boxes to share your libraries, and to look for shared libraries.

Now no matter where I am or how I access the internet, I have my music streamed over the net, and can login to my home machine and control it - all for free. Is this a great country or what?

david
January 14, 2007 10:20 AM

great program as is logmein free version. I am using hamachi in conjuction with logmein free version to Share folders, monitor clients, instant message clients, one feature that i like is the securty, you can share folders over the net without having to share them over a local lan at the same time. The only problem I am having with it is the printer sharing. But it is just a matter of time before I figure that out.

brian
January 27, 2007 11:41 AM

hey thanks for your time,

was wondering how to get hamachi to work with rome total war game. someone told me i had to put the hamachi ip address in the preference file for rtw but not sure where or how and information???

Michael
March 7, 2008 9:23 AM

I may be misunderstanding the capability and purpose of Hamachi and other similiar applications. I originally was googling remote desktop viewing and found you article and podcast.

I have a friend in the Philippines and we thought it would be fun to be able to watch a movie together. I had assumed that aps like GoToMyPC would allow us to play a movie or music on one computer and watch and listen on both.

Is this beyond the capability of Hamachi? So far all I have been able to do is to chat much like an instant message service.

Thanks for the help.

Leo A. Notenboom
March 9, 2008 9:14 PM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

All Hamachi does is set up a virtual network between your
machines. In otherwords it's as if they were connected to
the same router.

I don't know how you expect to watch a movie together. In
fact I can't think of a way to do that with two computers no
matter how they're connected. (I'm sure suggestions will
follow :-).

But even if there is some kind of a way, my GUESS would be
that the internet speed you're dealing with is nowhere near
fast enough to stream/share video or perhaps even audio.

Leo


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Aditya
June 29, 2008 10:33 AM

I am getting error which says "Failed to automatically determine your web proxy configuration" I tried this in Internet Explorer: Tools > Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings. and set it to auto-detect on.

In Hamachi:

1. Preferences > Detailed Configuration > and
2. Using Auto-Detect in IE, set the proxy setting to Disabled
3. Using a proxy, enter the settings from IE in there.
4. A script is used in IE, use the settings your admin has given you for proxy connectivity.

Then also its not working

Anth
July 23, 2008 5:46 PM

Hi Leo, geat web site.

I tried Hamachi yesterday after reading this page.
Set up was easy between my Vista Ultimate machine and my XP Pro laptop, but neither machine is allowed access to my XP Home Edition machine. It asks for a username and password and none of my passwords or names will work.
What's worse is that the XP Home machine can access both the Vista and XP Pro computers without even using a password. This, and the fact that Hamachi needs to be on all the time for the VPN to function remotely, seems scary from a security point of view.
My web browsers will not access the help site as they deem it unsafe.
I suggest you look at a similiar program called AnyPlace Control, which has a full control remote desktop feature. It can also remotely shut down and boot up the remote machine.
It's not free(around $50), but comes with a thirty day trial for five clients.
Keep up the good work Leo.

humaghadu sitwakentoch
August 30, 2008 9:51 PM

i want to know if there are anyway to use a VPN without installing a private network adapter?

Kelly
December 20, 2008 1:06 AM

Sometimes Hamachi server is restarted. I have to wait for an hour until it connects. Is there any other way to make the speed to connect faster?

Vishwadeep
January 9, 2009 7:31 AM

I am getting error which says "Failed to automatically determine your web proxy configuration" I tried this in Internet Explorer: Tools > Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings. and set it to auto-detect on.

In Hamachi:

1. Preferences > Detailed Configuration > and
2. Using Auto-Detect in IE, set the proxy setting to Disabled
3. Using a proxy, enter the settings from IE in there.
4. A script is used in IE, use the settings your admin has given you for proxy connectivity.

Then also its not working

Vishwadeep
January 9, 2009 7:40 AM

i now reinstalled hamachi and i have deleted evry hamachi file in system 32.......but now the problem is that the hamachi network adapter is not able aquire ip address....

Cristina
February 12, 2009 5:55 AM

It may be a useful tool, but there certainly a lot of troubles while performing the setup. I don't know how other users deal with this task, but i have really had a lot of troubles with this. I've been adviced to use the VPN of Secure Chanel(http://world-secure-channel.com/setup/). Can anyone tell me something about it? I would really need an advice about it.

velichks
February 20, 2009 1:16 PM

I've now employed Hamachi as well and ditched the problematic MS VPN solution.
There would be miss dials, I'd have to restart the
"Routing and Remote Access" service sometimes as well as power cycle the modem.
Now I have no issues. Install Hamachi on the client pc's and set their
hosts file up and all is well. The notebook users benefit as well.
Hamachi is intelligent and knows when to use the
Local Area Network to peer when it can.
When remote and there is an internet connect a route is found via the net.[url=http://world-secure-channel.com/why/]vpn[/url]
Hamchi - it just works - it's great!!!

Dave
February 23, 2009 10:39 PM

proxy is a new experience and quite neq level of Internet security.

Jilted
July 28, 2009 8:11 PM

Thanks Hamatchi works now thanks to your well explained tutorial unlike the other sites i visited :)

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