Installing and Running our Client on MS-Windows
The following instructions apply to Windows systems. This includes 32 or 64-bit WinXP and Vista, and all 64-bit versions of Windows7, Win8 and 8.1, or Windows10. (Note that most versions of XP and Vista were 32-bit, and that these are no longer recommended or supported by Microsoft. Windows7 is also past EOL.)
I. Installing the Client Software
First, you need to obtain the latest OpenVPN client built for your
system. This is always obtainable from the OpenVPN project website
As of this writing, the current version is 2.5.0. Versions before 2.4.x may not work with our configuration files.
Select the .msi link (.exe for 2.4.x) which corresponds to your system. In almost all cases, you will want the one marked as "WINDOWS 32-BIT MSI INSTALLER." Save this file onto your local hard disk. You may optionally verify its signature using the corresponding GPG Signature and the procedure described here. (Don't worry about downloading the wrong version; if you get it wrong the installer program simply won't run on your computer.)
Next, you need to run the installer, approving its ability to make changes to your system. By default, this will install your OpenVPN client software in the directory C:\Program Files\OpenVPN. You may of course select some other directory, but for purposes of this guide we will assume that you accepted the default.
Once properly installed, a shortcut icon for OpenVPN will be placed on your desktop. This icon will be marked with the shield symbol, which indicates that the application requires administrator privileges to run. These privileges are required because it will be making changes to your system's network routing tables, which can only be done with admin privileges.
II. Installing the ElanVPN Max Configuration
We deliver a your account credentials to you in the form of a .zip file. This ZIP contains a directory structure supplying VPN configurations and associated files for each supported platform. After unzipping the file, navigate to the .\windows\win64 or .\windows\win32 subdirectory (depending upon your system type). The files there which are important are:
- this is the configuration file for use with our Max network
- the automatic login/authorization script
- a utility invoked by the authorization script
- a library used by curl.exe (win32 distribution only)
- contains your login credentials, along with a text version of the instructions on this page
The file ElanVPN-Max_up.bat also contains your VPN login credentials at the top (the same ones shown in the README.txt file). The curl.exe utility (literally "cURL" or "see a URL") is essentially a tiny text-mode web browser which is used to automatically access the VPN login form on our website and post your login credentials to it, so that you don't have to do this manually using your browser. Curl is widely-used open source utility which comes from here.
To install our ElanVPN configuration and credentials, you will need to copy the files from the windows\win64 directory (or windows\win32 directory for a 32-bit system) to the .\config directory of your OpenVPN client installation. Assuming you installed the client into the default location, you will want to do the following.
On Win32 systems, AND Win8.1 and earlier 64-bit systems, copy
> copy *.* c:"\Program Files"\OpenVPN\config
On Windows 10, do not copy the cURL utility, because native support for cURL exists, and the freeware version we've provided may not work. So use:
> copy E*.* c:"\Program Files"\OpenVPN\config
(Including the README.txt file in the copy is unnecessary, but harmless.)
Import option: in the OpenVPN GUI for 2.5.0, you can also simply import the ElanVPN-Max.ovpn config file. To do so, right-click the OpenVPN icon and select Import from the menu. Using this option makes it unnecessary to copy the file anywhere manually. However, in order to get the automated login script to work, you will need to copy it manually to the same directory where your config file gets imported. This is usually something like: C:\Users\YOURNAME\OpenVPN\config. Copy both ElanVPN-Max_up.bat and curl.exe to this location.
You may do the copying in a command prompt (shell) window, or perform the equivalent operation in a File Explorer or "My Computer" window. You may also be able to unzip the files directly into the target .\config directory from within your zipfile utility (such as 7-Zip), or from within your browser by opening our .zip file.
Regardless of which copy mechanism you utilize, here is the key point: you will need administrator privileges in order to write to the destination, because it's in a system directory. (The exception would be if you use the new "Import file" method.) Usually you can gain admin privileges via starting whichever application you wish to use to copy the files by right-clicking on its icon, and selecting "Run as administrator" from the popup menu. If you cannot do this, you may be running as an unprivileged user. In that case, we suggest that you either install the OpenVPN client into a user directory where you do have write privileges, or else contact your system administrator for advice on how to proceed.
III. Connecting to the VPN
First, start up the OpenVPN client by double-clicking its icon on the desktop. You may need to approve its assumption of administrative privileges. Once it is running, you will see a small padlock icon appear in your system tray, usually at the lower right corner of your screen.
If ours is the only VPN whose credentials you have installed in your .\config directory, then you can connect simply by right-clicking on the systray icon and selecting "Connect." If you have multiple VPN configs installed, you will first need to select "ElanVPN-Max" from the flying menu, and then "Connect." You may find the screenshots on this page to be helpful.
Once you have initiated the connection process, you will see a log window pop up. This window shows you what's happening as your connection to the VPN passes through several stages. (You can always bring it up again with right-click "View Log.")
Once the VPN has established a connection, two things will occur. First, the automatic authentication script will be invoked. Second, on 64-bit Windows versions such as 8.1, your default browser will also be opened to a page representing the start of a manual login process. Both of these things occur automatically; you do not need to do anything to make them happen.
The automated script will run in the background. After 30 seconds, you will see a small popup window indicating a timeout after 30 seconds. Dismiss this; it always pops up even when the auto-login script worked. (This happens because the OpenVPN client cannot determine the return status of the connect script.)
If the connection succeeded within that 30 seconds, you will next see a small popup in your system tray above the OpenVPN GUI icon, saying that ElanVPN-Max is now connected, and showing the IP address that was assigned.
If you see this, the auto-authentication step worked, and you are good to go! You should not need to bother with any manual login page shown in your browser, because you are already logged in, so you can close that browser tab as well.
If on the other hand there was an error reported with the auto login procedure, you will see some indication of this in the text window. In that case, close the window, open your browser, and follow the instructions in the manual login tab that was opened. You will need to log in using the Max Id and Password which are shown at the top of your README.txt file. (See manual login details on this page).
Failure of the automatic login process is usually due to your subscription being expired. However it may also fail due to timeouts, or a temporary inability to access our website's login functionality. For timeouts and the like, it may work to disconnect and attempt to connect again.
To disconnect from the VPN, simply right-click the OpenVPN client systray icon and select "Disconnect" from the menu. You may also Exit the client entirely.
IV. Troubleshooting Connections
If you cannot get a connection to ElanVPN, the reason should be found at the bottom of your client log file. You can open this log by right-clicking on the OpenVPN client icon in the systray and selecting "View Log" from the menu.
To increase the level of detail reported in this log, you may edit the file c:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config\ElanVPN-Max.ovpn with your favorite text editor (such as Notepad), run with administrator privileges. Change the line "verb 1" (near the top) to "verb 3". (We ask that you do not edit or comment out any other settings in the file, as these are set very precisely as they need to be for maximum security.)
If the auto-login procedure fails, you should see some indication of this in the logfile. Another symptom is that all surfing fails after you connect to the VPN. This can happen if, for example, your subscription has expired or you have exhausted your monthly bandwidth allotment. For a description of how to proceed with a manual login to the VPN, please see this page.
If your Windows computer does not have the runtime support libraries for Microsoft Visual C++, you will see an error displayed in a popup window saying something like this:
curl.exe - System Error
The program can't start because MSVCR100.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem.
This issue is easily resolved by downloading the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable from microsoft.com and installing it on your computer. For instructions on how to do this, see this FAQ link. Reboot your computer after the installation. Note that this problem only prevents automatic login; you should still be able to login manually in any case.
** Special note for Windows XP users **
On WinXP, the TUN-TAP driver places a separate icon into your system tray. When the VPN is not connected, if you hover over this icon it will tell you that "a cable is unplugged." This language is misleading, since the TUN-TAP interface is software-only. In fact, no cable is unplugged. This message means only that the VPN is not presently connected.