Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gosh, I Hate Cisco VPN!

Hey all! I am on a roll this week for fixing my own computer problems! You would think that a PerceptIS tech would have his computers running in tip-top, perfect condition at all times. Heh, I thought so too. But, I think I finally have everything in order.

So, here's the background on this one. Last year, I used Remote Desktop on my PC pretty often. Since we have such an insanely fast gigabit LAN here at Case, it is trivial to go to a computer lab on campus, RDC to my PC in my room, and use it as if I were connected locally. This is nice because I now have all of my settings, programs, bookmarks, and so on available to me wherever I go. I also don't leave a trail of websites I visit on the public machine I'm logged in to. In general, it's a Good Thing (TM).

Over the summer, I was on a cable modem at home with a dynamic IP address, so I didn't use RDC at all. When I got back to Case this fall, I tried to use RDC and it wouldn't work. Strange, but surely I could fix it easily. Well, it gets weirder. From the PC, I can connect to any Internet resource that I want, be it web sites, file transfers, our local DC hub, and so on. But -- I can't connect to my PC on any port remotely. No ping, no response to port scanning, no WinShares... you get the picture. And the best part is that it was still "invisible" even when the WinXP firewall was turned completely off. I tried all the usual (and unusual) tricks to get it working again, including rebuilding the TCP/IP stack, reinstalling all the network software components, changing hardware NICs, repair-install of Windows, and about 10 other things that the other techs and I thought up. Nadda.

I eventually lugged my box in to the local PerceptIS walk-in-center to see if a bunch of us nerds could all poke at it together to get it fixed. Two hours later, we decided that it would have to be formatted, because there was no hope. We verified that it was a software problem since booting from XPE allowed the machine to be pinged. But was there no other option?

On a whim, the next evening, I uninstalled VPN, which I had installed over the summer to connect to the Case network remotely. Viola! It was working. So, yeah. Cisco VPN is not my friend. Apparently, a lot of people have incredibly strange problems with it. I just wish I'd tried uninstalling it a month ago!

No comments: