Nebula VPN (Virtual Private Network) Service


To use the Nebula VPN, you must:

  1. Be a paid subscriber to the Nebula Managed Desktop service, or to the Nebula VPN service option.
  2. Have the Nebula VPN installed on your computer (this is a standard install on Nebula laptops; if it is not installed, please see the instructions for installing it on  Vista or Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Mac OSX.
  3. Have a broadband connection of some kind. Modem dial-up connectivity will not work.
  4. Run Mac OSX, Windows 8.1, 8, 7, and Vista.

Using the VPN

The method of use depends on your operating system.

Quick Connect

Double click on the Nebula VPN shortcut on your desktop.

Windows 7 and Vista

  1. Steps Actions
  2. Click on the Start button and click "Control Panel".
  3. Click on "Network and Internet". (Skip this step if using "Classic" Control Panel)
  4. Click on "Network and Sharing Center" control panel.
  5. Click on "Connect to a network"
  6. Choose "Nebula VPN"
  7. Click "Connect"

Quick Connect

Click on the Network icon in the tray near the clock. Select "Connect to a Network". Under the Dial-up and VPN section, locate and select Nebula VPN and click connect.

Windows 8 and 8.1

  1. Steps Actions
  2. Open Settings Search panel. ( key + W)
  3. Search for vpn.
  4. Choose Connect to a network.
  5. Select Nebula VPN and click on the connect button.
  6. At the Network Authentication window, enter your UW NetID and password and click Connect.

Quick Connect

Click on the win8-networkicon Network icon in the tray near the clock. Select Nebula VPN and click connect.

What to expect works well

  • You can browse to protected campus locations by entering your UW NetID credentials.
  • You can transfer files using the Nebula Filesystem Web Access tool.
  • Your programs on your desktop will work as expected (but, see the note below about Office applications)

Some cautions

Please be aware of the following when using the Nebula VPN.

  • While you will have H: and I: drives, file movements will likely be very slow due to low bandwidth. (If you do not have your H: and I: files, follow the alternate method, below, for login).
  • Your Office applications may open more slowly, as they are configured to point to your H: drive on the server, and initial start-up time will depend on how quickly the server answers the Office application.

Alternate methods for login

You should only have to do this once for your drives to be remapped; these mappings should then be available the next time you open the VPN from your desktop.

Windows 8.1, 8, 7, and Vista

  • After start-up, click the Switch User button.
  • Near the bottom right-hand side of the screen near the red "Power" button click on the blue "Network Logon" button.
  • This will initiate a VPN session. Log in as usual.

Using the Nebula VPN from non-Nebula systems

The Nebula VPN is not supported for non-Nebula computers. It works well in many situations (connecting to work via RDP or browsing to campus-restricted resources) and you are welcome to try to use it, but:

  • You will not see your H: and I: drive mounts.
  • We can't answer questions on this usage.
  • You must ensure your computer is patched and using a current anti-virus program; see more details on UW policy.

Setting up the Nebula VPN

Vista and Windows 7

  1. Steps Actions
  2. Click on the "Network and Internet" control panel. (Skip this step if using the "Classic" Control Panel)
  3. Open "Network and Sharing Center".
  4. Click on "Set up a connection or Network"
  5. On the next screen, click on "Connect to a workplace" then click "Next".
  6. If prompted to use an existing connection, choose "No, Create a new connection". Click on "Use my Internet connection (VPN)"
  7. Enter the following information:
    • Internet Address:
    • Destination Name: Nebula VPN
    • Check "Don't connect now, just set it up so I can connect later"
  8. Click "Next"
  9. Type your user name and password
    • User name: (UW NetID)
    • Password: (UW NetID password)
    • Domain: NETID
  10. Click "Create"
  11. If desired, click "Connect Now" to test.
  12. If presented with a choice of Public, Home, or Work network, choose the type of network that more closely resembles the physical network you are using. If you are using a network in a coffee shop, choose Public. If you are at home, you can choose the Home network. Public is always the "most secure" choice if you have any doubts.

Windows 8

  1. StepsActions
  2. From the Win 8 Start screen (Metro) open Settings Search panel. (Win Key + W)
  3. Type vpn.
  4. Choose Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection with the following settings:
  5. Internet address:
  6. Destination name: Nebula VPN
  7. Don't use smart card with this connection.
  8. Uncheck Remember my credentials if Allow other people to use this connection is checked.
  9. Click Create

Windows 8.1

  1. StepsActions
  2. From the Win 8.1 Desktop or  Start screen open the Search Settings panel. (Win Key + W)
  3. Type vpn.
  4. Select Manage Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  5. Click Add a VPN Connection
    1. VPN Provider = Microsoft
    2. Connection Name = Nebula VPN
    3. Server Name =
    4. Type of Sign In = User name and password
    5. User name = Your UW NetID
    6. Password = Your  UW NetID Password
  6. Click Save.

Mac OSX (using 10.6 and above)

  1. StepsActions
  2. Go to Apple Menu > System Preference > Network
  3. Click the + to add a new connection
  4. Choose Interface VPN
  5. VPN Type: PPTP
  6. Service Name: Nebula VPN
  7. Click Create
  8. Configuration: Default
  9. Server Address:
  10. Account Name: NetID username
  11. Click Authentication Settings > enter NetID password
  12. Click Advanced, and click on check box to "send all traffic over vpn connection"
  13. Click Advanced, then DNS, and add UW dns servers:
  14. Check Show VPN status in menu bar

Testing the VPN

The VPN assigns you a virtual IP address on the UW campus network, bypassing firewalls and border intrusion prevention devices. Due to this security risk, not all VPN connections are allowed, even from Nebula computers. The Nebula VPN service will check your computer to ensure the integrity of your workstation and your connection before allowing access, as well as whether the required port is open on your network connection. We recommend you run the testing process from any new location before attempting to use the Nebula VPN.

  1. StepsActions
  2. Click on this tester link.
  3. At the "Save or open" window, click Save and save it your Desktop.
  4. Find on your Desktop and right-click, choose to 'extract all' the files.
  5. Click 'extract' to accept the default location. Make sure this box is checked : "show extracted files when complete".
  6. Double-click the vpnverify2 folder to open and display two files: PortQry.exe and vpnverify.cmd.
  7. Double-click vpnverify.cmd and see if the 'basic connectivity test PASSED'.
  8. Hit Enter to close the folder.

If it says FAILED, you may contact your network administrator to see if port 1723 can be enabled.

Even if it says PASSED, we have found that network administrators for some locations enable additional protocols which prevent the VPN from working. There is no current way to test for the existence of these protocols; the VPN will simply fail when you try to use it.

Last modified: April 8, 2014