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Hamachi – Simple Remote Access VPN

One of the very frequent questions I get is about connecting two or more
machines, or even networks, across the internet. The most common scenario is
when traveling … you’re on the road, and you need to get at that one file
that you left at home or at work, on a different computer.

Enter “VPN”s, or Virtual Private Networks.

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VPNs are exactly what the name implies: a virtual network of one or more
machines on top of a public network like the internet. When two machines join
the same VPN, it’s nearly as if they were next to each other. File and printer
sharing, as well as other applications such as remote desktop, work like they
would on a local area network – except the machines are separated, and
connected only over the internet.

I’ve talked about Hamachi before,
in my podcast. Now, after actively using it for several weeks, I’m recommending
it as a simple, quick, lightweight, and free VPN solution.

It really is that easy.

To use Hamachi, you download and
run a small client application from the Hamachi website. When this client runs,
it implements a virtual network adapter, and you’re given an additional IP
address that identifies you on any virtual network you join. You then create a
virtual a virtual network by name, assigning it a password. Now anyone running
the Hamachi client can join your network by connecting to it by name, and
supplying the password.

It really is that easy.

I now have the Hamachi client automatically starting on several machines, so
that regardless of where in the world I am, if I’m connected to the internet
those machines appear on my virtual local network.

As an example, I frequently print things on a printer at my wife’s business
from home. In the past that’s involved transferring the file to a mutually
accessible location on the internet, then using remote desktop to connect to
the remote computer, downloading the file, firing up the appropriate
application and finally hitting print in that application.

With both machines on the VPN, I simply print directly to the remote printer
at my wife’s business from the computer on my desk at home.

What I’ll call my acid test was a recent trip in my RV. The RV park has free
WiFi, so naturally I connect up and do a fair amount of work when I can. This
time, after booting up my laptop and connecting to the internet, I was
automatically connected to my machines at home and the machine at my
wife’s business. I was able to remote desktop to a machine at home, copy files
from a second machine there, and once again print directly to the business
machine. All transparently.

The VPN connection is encrypted for security. Aside from contacting the
Hamachi server initially, to locate the members of your VPN, all actual network
activity is directly peer-to-peer. In fact, if the Hamachi mediation server
goes down, you remain connected, and can continue to use your VPN without a
problem.

Hamachi works across NAT routers, even if there are NAT routers at both ends
of the connection. In nearly all cases it doesn’t require any reconfiguring of
the routers – no port-forwarding required. All machines running the Hamachi
client are simply and individually visible, even if they are all behind the
same router.

So far I’ve run into one drawback to Hamachi.

It does rely on that mediation server to establish network connections. That
means if the server is down, while existing networks and connections will
continue to work, new clients cannot join a VPN, and new VPNs cannot be
created. For example if you reboot while the mediation server is down, you’ll
not be able to reconnect to your VPN until it comes back up. Fortunately this
happens infrequently, and planned outages are announced in advance.

There are other remote VPN solutions out there; Real VNC is one popular alternative. Similarly, other remote
access solutions, such as GoToMyPC,
are also popular.

But for simple, inexpensive, and basic connectivity, Hamachi is working well for me, and I encourage you to give
it a try. I’ve played with Hamachi exclusively on Windows, but versions for OSX
and Linux are also available.

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43 comments on “Hamachi – Simple Remote Access VPN”

  1. can we not have hamachi running on one machine, and then access to that machine by simply creating a VPN connection to that IP by creating a dialup VPN from any windows 2000/XP system.
    If yes what will be the parameters for the UserID, Password and the Domain.

    This is really important.

    Reply
  2. I too use Hamachi. Its a good software. But I dont understand how you can use it to remote control the client. Also, I don’t understand how you can print to a hamachi client.

    Suppose I install Hamachi on one computer in a Lan, why can’t I access other computers on the same Lan from the internet? I think that is a major drawback with Hamachi.

    Reply
  3. Hamachi needs to be installed on all computers participating in your VPN. Once you do that, you can print directly to any printer shared by one of those machines as if they were on your local network. You can’t remote control using Hamachi itself, that’s not what it does, but with Hamachi running you can then run remote desktop across your VPN and remote control any machine that supports it.

    Reply
  4. I set up Hamachi on two computers and successfully networked them together. However, I can’t seem to do a lot of things you’d expect to do on networked computers. For example my printer doesn’t show up when I search network for printers. Also I thought iTunes would work after I set up song sharing on a network. Any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong? By the way, you mentioned GoToMyPC as an alternative VPN tool. Have you tried LogMeIn. It’s basically the same thing as GoToMyPC, but free.

    Reply
  5. Make sure “Block vulnerable windows services” isn’t checked in preferences. I regularly print remotely over my Hamachi VPN.

    Reply
  6. I, too set up Hamachi as a service on a XP Pro SP2 box. The box is on a domain. Suddenly, my print spooler service quits and I can no longer print from this box. Ideas??

    Jeff

    Reply
  7. Leo,

    RealVNC is great software, but it’s got nothing to do with VPN, except that it can use one and lots of people only use their VPNs for VNC.

    Also, OpenVPN is some pretty nice VPN software, if you have the wits and means to set it up.

    Phil

    Reply
  8. Me and My friend setup Hamachi complete on 2 PC. when I ping, it always request timed out, we can’t browse file share. Please help me, because I do many times so not work well

    Reply
  9. i use hamachi but my friend cant connect to my server.we install the hamachi to but still cant cinnect to my server some of my friends use only lan card easy to connect s router problem from hamachi

    Reply
  10. i install hamachi, too. but i can’t connect to other (who have hamachi,) or he can’t,
    how do ? use hamachi? For example cs 1.6 on lan.
    He says that he dont see anybody on lan area.
    pls help me.!

    Reply
  11. I had a problem with very poor file/print sharing performance plus an intermittent broadband connection when having more than 11 hamachi clients running on the same lan/wlan.
    Goto preferences>>status>>detailed configuration. Change the default values for ‘connecting through nat’. Make each client use different ports.
    The change was amazing. Performance is exaclty how you’d expect it to be.
    I also think this solved my intermittent broadband connection issue as all the clients would have been trying to iopen the same ports on the router maybee.

    Reply
  12. Hey, i am having a problem.

    My friend and i both have hamachi, but we can’t connect to each other. Is this due to the fact that we both have routers.

    Anyway i really need to know

    Reply
  13. i install hamachi, too. but i can’t connect to other (who have hamachi,) or he can’t,
    how do ? use hamachi? For example cs 1.6 on lan.
    He says that he dont see anybody on lan area.
    pls help me.!

    Reply
  14. “It really is that easy.” NO it is not. As you can see from the other cries for help. This POS software only works if you are very lucky. Don’t believe the hype that it works for 95% of people.

    Reply
  15. Obviously, I disagree strongly with your statement. Not only has Hamachi been a great addition to my toolset, it works, and works well, for many, many others. You’ll always hear from the 5% or so that have problems … the other 95% have no need to post, as it’s just working for them.

    Hamachi has a very active support forum, and I encourage everyone who has difficulty with it to visit and post your scenarios there. Hit the “Support” link at http://hamachi.cc

    Reply
  16. At first I couldn’t remote desktop to my PC over the Hamachi adapter over the internet (it’s behind a newish Billion router). After opening the RDP 3389 port on the router and pointing it to the LAN IP of my PC, it worked. While Hamachi is great, the fact that it doesn’t work with my router without opening ports means I can’t have more than one PC behind the router that is open for RDP, unless I hack the registries on the others to change the RDP ports they use.

    Reply
  17. Update: Have just discovered that by setting custom TCP/UDP NAT traversal ports in Hamachi preferences, and opening those ports on the router for the LAN PC, I can remote desktop to the PC over the internet even though I’ve removed the RDP 3389 mapping from router. This means to have multiple PCs behind the router all accessible from the internet with RDP, all they need is their own unique TCP/UDP port in the Hamachi preferences and the respective port mapping on the router.

    Reply
  18. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    I’m not sure what to tell you. If the Hamachi network is established
    correctly, meaning that the machines can see each other in the hamachi
    status window, and they all have green connection indicators, and they
    can ping each other (right click on the machine in hamachi and select
    ping), then I don’t know why any additional configuration would be
    needed. I’ve done this repeatedly, traversing routers at both ends
    without ever touching the router configuration.

    It might be worth your visiting the hamachi support forums.

    Leo
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
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    iD8DBQFF3ejhCMEe9B/8oqERAnT7AJ9mkZkLu1GEw8g8g+TN5T3TwtYyvwCeJIvW
    fg8IJVWkuyUj5ZC0mws8phA=
    =QEC+
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    Reply
  19. i have a hamachi and i dont know to use it. My game is company of heoros and i will it play online and i dont have online players in my hamachi how can add some!!!!!????please help me!!!

    Reply
  20. Hey Leo and Guys..I tried using Hamachi with my brother in South Africa and me in Greece. check this out..both PC’s need a password in order to connect to each other otherwise you’ll get a bunch of errors arising for no reason. this worked for me so try it out. put a password to your account eg: you log in as johnsmith without a password..go to user accounts in control panel and add it.

    Reply
  21. Very helpful programme if your router is the proper one.

    I also want to use remote desktop (not only locally but also from the internet) and like steve and you say no need for port forwarding? What the biep? I have to forward that port otherwise I cannot connect from outside to my machine, also for FTP I have to forward a port to a local machine.

    It’s also no nonsense no config nothing? Why do I then have to have extensive router experience to work with this programme?

    I was hoping that with this programme I didn’t have to open any ports on my router anymore, guess again.

    90, 95, 5 or 10 % ppl not telling they have a problem is not the same as the .5 percent that is telling you!

    Reply
  22. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Depending on how it’s been set up it *could* have all the
    same vulnerabilities as having a stranger’s machine plugged
    into your home network. Recommend you “Block vulnerable
    Windows services” in Hamachi and make sure your Windows
    firewall is on.

    Leo

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    iD8DBQFH0YlPCMEe9B/8oqERAkHXAJ9TjegKt+QBIO4k8g99PmHn82sBTgCfYBUV
    xEjuC4sw2xiWhJLmEEbIGLw=
    =lG/S
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  23. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Assuming I understand your question, no, I’ve not run into
    what you are describing.

    Two things to note: the “nickname” of a machine in Hamachi
    doesn’t need to be the machine name. Thus if you lose a
    machine’s Hamachi IP address (typically by rebuilding and
    reinstalling Hamachi from scratch) you can simply give it
    another nickname, re-join your network(s) and you’re done.
    This does happen to me from time to time and it’s never
    slowed me down.

    The only time things get interesting is if you lose
    “ownership” of a network. I’m about to run into that
    situation as I rebuild my primary desktop. As I understand
    it in a case like this Hamachi’s customer support can
    transfer ownership to another of your machines – but I’ve
    not yet gone down this path.

    Leo

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    =vbKm
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    Reply
  24. I am trying to connect to two different XP Pro computers from an XP Home computer using Hamachi. I can browse one of the Pro’s, but not the other. The one I can’t browse gives an error message that says something like, “this login type is not allowed”.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    Reply
  25. I’ve tried installing Hamachi several times, and each time I try, I get the same error message that it cannot “connect to the Hamachi server”. In other words, I can’t even boot up the program. I’ve tried disabling my firewall and everything, but nothing seems to be working. I have a DGL-4500 router, but I don’t know if that would be problematic or not. Should I bypass my router by hooking up my broadband connection directly to my computer, or is it something else?

    Reply
  26. im trying to run hamachi so i can link my laptop to my home network. but i want to do it only with one pc running hamachi at home and my laptop. my problem is i got 3 pc at home running ip rang 192.168.2.*** and only one of them running hamachi. and when i connect with my laptop when out of town i can only view that one pc at home running hamachi and not the rest of my network. i want to get this working with only hamachio running on one pc at home. any ideas?

    You need Hamachi running on each machine you want to see.

    – Leo
    04-Jan-2009
    Reply
  27. Hi,
    Read yur article and now Im trying out Hamachi for the first time as me & some friends were trying to come up with the easiest way to file share…Its set up on 3 machines, firewall access granted etc & tested the pings & chat to make sure it works & its fine. However when tryig to browse other machines, a logon prompt appears with ‘the machine name’\guest and the password prompt. (eg. Gail\Guest)and we are unable to connect using NT passwords for machines… I assumed it defaulted to Guest user, but enabling guest account returns a promt saying address is not accessible. We’ve removed all Nt passwords from machines & still no luck. I dont know which password i’m supposed to input. Any help.

    Urgent!!!

    Reply
  28. I am having a bit of trouble with Hamachi and remote desktop. I can remote out from one of my computers but can’r remote in to it. I am sure it is just a setting but not sure how to fix it, please help?

    Reply
  29. I’m wondering if I can do the following with Hamachi.

    I travel a lot. I have access to free WiFi at my travel location. I want to access internet and e-mail remotely and securely through my home PC and see it on my travel Windows XP Home Edition laptop.

    At home I have both a Ubuntu 9.04 PC and a Windows XP (Home Edition) PC running through a router. I know that Hamachi has a Linux version that might run on my Ubuntu machine.

    Can I use Hamachi to run (or view) a secure internet on my laptop through one of the two home machines?

    Even if I have to run the internet remotely at home by using my laptop as a remote “terminal”, I would consider this a success.

    Reply
  30. In my case, actually I can connect to my server but through server IP address not Server name like \\myserver so I can like to exchange server or create map network drive.the Login widows showed and I login as my domain and account name and saved it.I was wondering if could get any reply.
    thanks.
    Bobby

    Reply
  31. hi there, i have a problem that i find hard to solve and people also find it hard to help me, i run a wireless network in my town and its being used now by over 300 people now the problem i have is most games they cant play cuase they cant see each other when joining a game over lan like COd4,5 they can just add a ip in of the host and join any server hosting the game but then u get games like your normal lan games that cant be joint like that and hamachi could work great for that the problem is hamachi needs to be connected to the internet to work and we are not using the internet, how can i get this people connected so that they can play anygame over the wireless connection ?

    Reply
  32. I have hamachi installed and when i try to connect with friend he gets a yellow triagle by my name that say i’m not part of the vpn network.
    We can send messages back and forth(chat) but that’s it. I’m using the free version just so you know annd also Kaspersky 2010 internet security and It says hamachi is a trusted program.

    Reply
  33. could you put hamachi on a public computer and connect to your own? would you still be vulnerable to spyware/keylogger on public pc

    Yes, you could still be vulnerable to malware on that computer, and in fact your own machine could become infected.

    Leo
    07-Dec-2010

    Reply
  34. Alright, Im tryn to play DIRT 2 on my PC
    via Hamachi. But I get [No Season Found]
    every time I try the LAN in the game.

    Everything is setup the way it should be, as far as I know, but i dont know why this keeps happening? Please help.

    Reply
  35. When trying to access my home computer it always asks me for a Network Password, but my home network password does not work. Help. I cant remotely access my home computer

    Reply

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