Service Desk

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a VPN?

A. VPN (virtual private network) is a means to connect a computer (or group of computers at a remote site) to the University network in a secure (encrypted) and authenticated (password) manner.

Q. What operating systems are supported?

A. Windows 98,ME,2000,XP and Mac OS X 10.x only. We do not recommend using the software with any verson of windows less than Windows 98 2nd Edition. Most success has been with Windows 2000 and XP.

Q. What about Macintosh OS 7, 8 or 9?

A. Due to design and stability problems, there will never be software made available to support older versions of the MacOS.

Q. What VPN client software is supported?

A. The University is using the Cisco VPN client. Due to limitations in the VPN equipment at the University, no other clients or VPN technologies can be supported at this time. We will endeavour to provide more the options in the future.

Q. Where can I download the software?

A. The software is available for download from the VPN Webpage. You need to have a valid University email username and password to access this section of the web site.

Q. How do I use the VPN software on my PC?

A. Please follow the three phases of installation, configuration and connection, as given on the windows instruction pages. You should only need to perform Phase 1 (Install) and Phase 2 (Configure) only once each, but you need to perform Phase 3 (connect) each and every time you need to connect to internal University resources or Journals. Please note that you must be connected to the Internet through your ISP before starting the software.

Q. What username and password do I use?

A. You use your University email account username and the password. If you have forgotten your password contact the Service Desk in the main libraries. This is also the username and password that you use for proxy access to the Internet, and university email.

Q. It does not accept my password!

A. You use your pop (email) account username and the password. If you are sure you have it correct, or it used to work in the past, your enrolment status at the University may have changed, and your access may have been automatically removed. This can happen between semesters, and especially during January/February during busy periods of re-enrolment. Check your enrolment/employment status with HR/Student Admin. Access should be restored overnight, once you are again a member of the University.

Q. It does not ask me for a password!

A. Ensure you have entered the VPN Group username and password details correctly as given in the PC configuration Step 2.

Q. What IP address will I get when I connect?

A. The system will allocate you an address from the range to This should not cause a problem unless your system administrator has closed access to your servers from subnets outside your building.

Q. Can I still get to other internet sites?

A. Yes the VPN Client software will only encrypt data destined for the Campus Networks, all other traffic will be untouched. It is preferred that you do not connect with the VPN software all the time. Only connect with the VPN software when you need to access an internal resource or journal that requires the secure VPN connection.

Q. I'm having trouble accessing my local computers

A. It is likely that the VPN client will disable access to local nework resource like local computers and printers on your home or business network. This is part of the firewalling built into the software to protect both your computer, and the University from attack by other computers. Once you disconnect from the university VPN, your local access should return.

Q. I have connected successfully, but cannot access my files!

A. The VPN software provides the same level of access as provided by a simple computer sitting on a desk anywhere on campus. If you walk out of your building into another, and use someone elses computer, can you still access your files? If not, you wont be able to with the VPN software either. Sharing your files on the hard disk of your computer so you can access them from home should only be performed after consulting with your local IT support.

Q. How fast is it?

A. This will depend entirely on your internet connection and the connection from your ISP to the university network. Due to the encryption and tunnelling systems there is a small amount of extra information that is sent with all your traffic. The VPN equipment at the University can handle hundreds of VPN users at a time.

Q. Do I need the VPN client if I have a Tas Access (iiNet) University Dial-Up Account?

A. From 1st May 2006 iiNet ceased to offer University dial-up accounts. Consequently there is no longer a preferred Internet Service Provider and off-campus access to resources normally restricted to local network connections will require the use of the VPN client.

Q. Under Mac OS X I receive "The VPN sub-system is busy or has failed" message, how can I fix this.

A. Occasionally the VPN software becomes stuck in an unusual state, this can be fixed in 2 ways. 1. Reboot your machine or 2. Unload and load the kernel module (for advanced users only).

Q. What is the "Tunnel" application by Tony Gray that is available to download?

A. The Mac OS-X software was previously complicated to install, and required a reasonable level of skill, or the ability to follow written instructions exactly. Tony's OS-X application provides a much more friendly graphical interface to installing and operating the VPN software. The download of the "Tunnel" application includes a trimmed version of the Cisco VPN software as well. The most recent versions have bought the OS-X version into line with the Windows version for configuration and operation. The use of the full version or the Tunnel application is entirely your choice. There are more configuration options available with the full version, whereas the Tunnel App comes pre-configured for the majority of users.

Q. Why does my connection drop out after a while?

A. There is a 30 minute "idle" timeout. You must use the connection at least once every thirty minutes, or it will automatically close.

Q. I wish to use the VPN software from a Tasmanian Government location.

A. Sorry. Due to Government policy, it is not possible to use any VPN software from any area of the Tasmanian State Government, that uses "Networking Tasmania" for network access. This includes all departments and agencies, public schools, hospitals, and NT dial-up services. If you require access to internal University resource as part of your daily work from one of these areas, please contact IT Services to discuss your situation.

Q. Do I have to use the software each time I want to access the University?

A1. If you want to have basic access to the University, just like a normal Internet user, the the answer is NO.

A2. If you want to access internal resources like you can from any computer on campus, then the answer is Yes. To do this, you must first establish your Internet connection, be it via a modem or broadband to an ISP, or even using a local area network (LAN) in a company, research organisation or other University. Load up a web page, like to make sure all is working fine. Then you must run the Cisco VPN dialer application, select "connect", and enter your username and password when prompted. Only when you see the small yellow padlock icon in the lower right corner of your screen near the clock (Windows only), do you have a secure connection to the University. You can now access servers, and internal web sites, just as if you were sitting on a computer somewhere on the campus. If you close the dialer application, remain inactive for too long, log off the computer, restart the computer, or reconnect/dial the Internet, you must start the VPN dialer application again. Please re-read the instructions on using the Dialer application for Windows here.

Q. What about Personal Firewalls or Internet Connection Sharing?

A. The software might not be compatible with personal firewalls or Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). You should uninstall or disable these programs before installing the software, and do not install or re-enable them afterwards. The software should warn you if it detects these types of programs during the install process.

iconIMPORTANT NOTE: Recent versions of the Cisco client have become more compatible with personal firewalls, and they in turn more compatible with the Cisco software. It is now feasible to install the Cisco client without disabling your firewall, but be prepared to disable it if you have connections problems, to see if the firewall is causing you problems. If you have Windows XP Service Pack2 (SP2) we recommend leaving the integrated firewall ON at all times.

Q. I have problems sending large email messages.

A. There were several problems with older versions of the software and email programs. Please upgrade to the latest version and try again. If it still fails, please refer to the next question and answer below.

Q. What is MTU?

A. The MTU represents the largest packet size that is sent across the Internet between your computer and the University. As the VPN software must attach extra details to each packet to ensure its safe arrival, it is possible for the packets to grow too large, and exceed the MTU. If this happens, large transfers will seem to fail or perform poorly, and smaller ones are OK. If this appears to be affecting you, then you may need to reduce your MTU value to ensure that there is space to attach the VPN details to the packet and not exceed the maximum MTU of 1500. There may be an option in your ADSL or dial-up software, or you may need to use the MTU adjustment application installed as part of the Cisco VPN install. There are also 3rd party applications you can download to adjust your MTU. Try values of 1452 or less. This is a fairly technical problem, and you may need to seek the help of local IT experts.