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VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

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Newbie
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-10-2020

VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

 

Hi,

Firstly, I will freely admit, I am not tech-savvy enough to understand why this isn't working, but my gosh is it stressing me out.

 

I am an NHS worker, now working from home part of the week. I have been having a catalogue of issues with accessing our work's VPN/soft token that would enable me to access shared drives and our electronic patient database remotely. The problems have been intermittent.

I have gone through our IT department repeatedly, they first suggested I get a new router from my internet provider - which I did, but had to pay P&P (payment in claps not accepted 🙄 😏 ) Now I intermittently have connection to the VPN, but am still not able to access the shared drives or patient database system. Our IT department have walked me through system resets/shutting down the wifi/router, but I am still having these issues. Our IT department have said the problems lies with the ISP(?) blocking traffic (?)

I do not understand the issue myself, so feel like a rabbit in headlights. I went to my in-laws tonight, who have Vodafone, and was able to connect straight away without issues. When I go in to the office (where I've not been able to work from home due to these connection issues), I can connect fine without any issues.

Our trust use Always On VPN (not sure if that is relevant or means anything to anyone)

 

I really need some help please.

9 REPLIES 9
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Community Veteran
Posts: 15,296
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Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Plusnet operates a remote firewall on your connection - like the firewall in your router but it sits at their end on the server that your router connects to.

Helpfully they don't actually mention that.. and years ago when they activated it they didn't mention it to anyone either!

Anyway login to your account at portal.plus.net and then click broadband, then scroll down and look at "Help and Settings" click on the firewall link (heck actually as long as you're logged in, you can click this link: https://www.plus.net/member-centre/broadband/firewall )

Once you're on that page you can turn it off or try the low setting.

As you've got a router (with it's own firewall) you can turn off the PN firewall - I did, it's been off for over a decade!

Hope that helps!

I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
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Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Yep I was going to say basically what @7up has just said.

Disable the PlusNet firewall first and see if it makes any difference. I wouldn't have thought you would need to set up port forwarding though it depends on what kind of VPN client your laptop uses. If you want to post that we can look into it, just remove any personal information from there.

Might be worth keeping a note of your external IP's over the next few days. 

I assume you're not on static, so on dynamic your IP may change. It is worth keeping a quick Excel sheet, or even Word. Easy way is to create an Excel sheet, just go to site like www.whatismyip.com. Create maybe four columns: Date, Time, IP and maybe a comments field. Pass that infomation onto your IT department and they may have server logs which show connection attempts from yourself and a reason why it may be failing.

Update maybe once or a few times a day, then you will have a log of when you have tried to connect but couldn't. This will help out your IT department as they can tally the date and times which whatever logs they have their side. Your VPN client may keep a log file your side.

Also if it is possible, try a friends connection or public Wi-Fi if you can (just remember your face mask!). That will rule out your connection if it still doesn't work. IT should be able to log onto your computer remotely and have a look at the computer as there are ways of doing that provided you have a working internet connection.

Then they can check logs on their servers, and remote into the PC and check any logs which may be stored on there. Well I assume so as I am more a developer than a sysadmin, but I have done a bit of sysadmin the side.

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Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help


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Newbie
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-10-2020

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Thank you for your reply.
I have tried doing as you suggested, but the firewall is already set to off.

I would welcome any other thoughts please of what I can try next.

Best wishes,
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Registered: ‎02-10-2020

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Hello, and thank you for replying.
I have logged into plusnet website via my mobile just now, and the firewall is showing as off.
I will do as suggested RE keeping a log of IP addresses- I have no idea if my IP is static or dynamic (and do not understand what this means/is the difference).
Please can I ask, when you say 'update a few times a day', what do you mean please?
As for trying elsewhere, I took my work laptop to my in-laws last night for this purpose. They are with Vodafone for their internet, and I was able to connect straight away. When I came home, I again had the same issues.
Our work IT department have said previously that they don't get involved with individuals home internet problems. I can understand it. In an NHS trust, they would be drowned quickly if they opened that floodgate. They just ruled out that it wasn't a problem their end, gave me instructions for restarting the laptop/WiFi, and said I would need to work in the office if it wasn't resolved- something I would like to avoid if possible.
Thanks again for taking the time to message me back about my issue.
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Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Static or dynamic is your external IP address your connection shows to the internet.

For general outgoing browsing, and doing anything else you won't need it. You only will should you wish to to have a server at home and host it. I did that, as I could log in from work and set up an A record on my domain, to home.mydomain.com. Good old RDP, I helped the sysadmin by testing the connection from home for certain issues.

If you haven't specifically asked PlusNet for a static IP and paid the fiver, then you'll be on dynamic.

I don't know if the NHS try to block IP's via GeoIP. I've seen a few posts where it is wrong recently. It is about as reliable as a Skoda (the old ones before Volkswagen took them over I mean), or a Fiat 126 BIS my parents had. Which I had to drive, terrible that was.

For example if I browse to www.whatismyip.com

I get:

  • My Public IPv4 is: [Removed]
  • My Public IPv6 is: Not Detected
  • Location: London, ENG GB
  • ISP: Virgin Branson Media Limited

Then with www.ultratools.com/tools/geoIp

  • Continent: Europe
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Country Code: GB
  • Country CF: 99
  • Region: London
  • State: Greater London
  • State Code: 
  • State CF: 80
  • DMA: 
  • MSA: 
  • City: [Removed]
  • Postal Code: [Removed]
  • Timezone: Greenwich Mean Time
  • Area Code: 
  • City CF: [Removed]
  • Latitude: [Removed]
  • Longitude: [Removed]

Removed my personal data of course, the postal code prefix was wrong but not far off mine. Again the city was wrong, but not far off.

It is worth a couple of checks, which won't take you long. Hope it helps.

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Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Hi @Haggs 

I assume it was you that PM'ed me (might not be you as I posted on another big thread where other people are having similar issues).

I've checked out someone's external IP and it all looks fine. Registered in the UK and it says the owner is British Telecommuncations PLC - again I assume that is correct as they own PlusNet.

If I can help out in any way, feel free (hint hint a member of staff) to contact me and I will pass the details on. I will have to keep it to PM's as I don't want to post personal details on here.

I'll do a bit more digging and see if I can find anything else.

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Newbie
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-10-2020

Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Hi Alex,
Apologies for the delayed response, after a mix of working in the office to avoid issues, and annual leave, I am due back to work this week. Our area are now in the 'High' category for restrictions, and as much as possible, I would like to not go into the office.
Helpfully, I have also been given a new laptop from work, so I am confident the issues are neither due to a problem at my works-end (sadly, as are they, and they have no further advice for me), and it is not to do with the computer itself, which brings me back to my internet being the problem.
I have had some success, in that I had 1.5 days without any issues- I was able to log on to the VPN, and stay logged on for 1.5/2 days. On the afternoon of day 2 (today), I had been working fine for about 2 hours, then the connection was lost to the work VPN, "Oxleas always on VPN", and I could not get it back. During this time today, I could still access the internet.
I have in the last few moments, turned the laptop on and off, and have been able to get back into the VPN, and access my work files/system.

Please forgive me, but from your previous messages, I did not understand the technologies to understand/know what you meant.
Is there any likelihood that paying for a static VPN would stop my issues with not being able to connect to the VPN from home?
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Re: VPN not working on NHS laptop - I don't understand, and this is stressing me out. Please help

Yes my London area has also gone up to high yesterday, which is frightening for us all. I still have to go out, still need to eat and tomorrow I have to post a parcel I flogged on eBay. I try and minimise going out where I can.

You could be right that your IP is changing and it is somehow confusing your VPN, hence refusing you access. I would keep a quick Excel sheet of when it works and when it drops out, dates and times and what IP's you have. Their VPN may have some security feature where it will detect what IP you are using and it'll work - then your connection drops that IP for another which is classifed as elsewhere. So if you're in location x and then try and connect to location y which is somewhere else then you couldn't possibly have travelled to in that time, then they could some anti-fraud system in place.

Also go to an external site, such as www.whatismp.com which will tell you. Including the country. I'd keep a log and pass PlusNet as much info as possible.

PlusNet should be able to tally up the times when your disconnections are occuring with their connection logs and whether you have been d/c'ed (disconnected).

Also psss that information onto work sysadmins, who again should be able to tally up their VPN connection logs and see if it is refusing you to logon and why.

Good old GeoIP, sadly people make the false misguided assumption it always works when it doesn't. Seen this on other threads about that on here. Not PlusNet's fault, just how the internet works.

A static IP may help, so you always have the same one and you don't have to stress about it dropping out. Might be worth paying the fiver and just taking the chance it will fix it.