Virtual Private Network: Choose a Program or Native Configuration

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides extra privacy and security on the internet. You can use the University of Minnesota's VPN service while off campus or on WiFi to get the benefits of a VPN.

To use a VPN, you'll need to either download a program or set up software that is pre-loaded on your computer. Cisco AnyConnect is the OIT preferred program, but you can use the program that works best for you.

If you would like assistance choosing the right VPN for you, please Contact 1-Help.

When to use a VPN

A few common cases when you should use VPN:

  • You're on a public network and want extra security.
  • You want to access a network drive while off campus.

Cisco AnyConnect

Cisco AnyConnect is the OIT-preferred program. It will meet the VPN needs of most users.

For instructions on downloading and installing Cisco AnyConnect, visit our Downloads & Guides page.


  • If OIT supports your unit, Cisco AnyConnect is part of the default software of your computer.
  • Updates are available through Software Center or Self Service.
  • Cisco AnyConnect is available for personal computers.
  • Cisco AnyConnect supports:
    • All major operating systems.
    • 64-bit programs.

Native VPN options

Native VPNs are built in to the operating system. Read the section based on your operating system.

Microsoft Windows Native VPN

You can connect via VPN using Windows L2TP Native VPN without installing another program. To connect to University systems, you should use the L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) over IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) settings.

OIT provides instructions to configure these settings:


  • Windows Native VPN is already installed on Windows 7, 8, and 10.
  • Note for information technology professionals, Windows Native VPN can share information with:
    • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).
    • Active Directory.

Apple Mac Native VPN

Apple Mac Native VPN using IPSec allows Mac users to connect to VPN without a separate program.

OIT provides instructions on how to Configure Mac IPSec Native VPN.


  • Mac Native VPN is already installed on Mac OS Snow Leopard (10.6) and newer.

Additional information

This list does not contain every VPN program that will work with our systems. If the program meets IETF standards, and it meets your needs, then OIT is agnostic on which program you use.