I’m going to go ahead and say it. This the coolest software ever! It just came out on January 15th and look who’s got it for you to download! That’s right, Chad. The free download man and if you have ever wanted to set up a Virtual Private Network (or VPN, as us nerds refer to it), this is your chance!
All kidding aside, Hamachi is a Virtual Private Networking application that is so easy, it almost seems too good to be true. Before I get into that, let’s get everyone up to speed. First of all, a computer network is where you have at least two computers attached to the same router (or other network device) that allows the PCs to share network connections, as well as, data in the form of shared files and folders. This is a watered down definition, but it serves our purpose.
A VPN takes this concept a little further. Wouldn’t it be nice, let’s say, if you could share files with your work PC or even your sister in San Francisco? Since they are in another physical location, this obviously presents a problem. Previously, a solution to this scenario was to either buy third party software or try setting up a VPN using Windows, which all I can say to that is, “Good luck!” The point being, VPNs are great, but they have always been overly complicated to implement for a typical computer user. That is, until now.
Like a ray of hope stabbing through the clouds of despair, a company called Hamachi has brought VPNs to the general public. For the first time ever, an average user can quickly set up a VPN and start sharing data in less than five minutes. There is no opening ports on your firewall and no complicated sequence of events. If something doesn’t go correctly, it won’t take you all night to fix it either. Hamachi has taken everything out of your hands and placed it on their servers. All you have to do is install the client software, join or add a network name and password and you’re ready to VPN!
The program is small (not even 1 MB), so it doesn’t take any time to download or install. Also, there is a complete mini guide tutorial that launches when you initially start up the program. After you go through the tutorial, you will be blown away by its ease of use. You almost feel as though there is more that you should do, but don’t worry, there’s not.
There are a few things you are going to need to do in order to really utilize a network of any type. In particular, you need things that you want to share. Otherwise, what’s the point? So, you are going to have to share the folders on your local machine in order to do that. If you want to share a folder, all you have to do is right click on it and select Sharing from the action menu. From the proceeding page, choose the option to Share the folder on the network and you probably want to check the next box as well that says “Network users to change my files,” if that suits your purposes. Once this is done, you are ready to communicate and share files with anyone you choose to network with.
I’m going to go through the process with you real quick so you will know what to expect when and if you decide to install the Hamachi VPN client.
In the scenario earlier, I mentioned a sister in San Francisco. Well, I’m adding a brother in Atlanta now too. So, let’s say I’m in the electrifying city of Toledo, Ohio. I want to share some vacation pictures with my sister and my brother and I both want to get some .AVI files from her. This is a perfect scenario for the Hamachi VPN. First of all, every PC will need to install the VPN client, which is quick and informative. Once this is done and Hamachi is installed on all the PCs, you can create your virtual network. Someone has to create a network for the other to join. For the sake of argument, I will create the network. This is an easy and almost transparent process with the Hamachi interface. All you have to do is select the Network button and from the choices, choose Create Network. This action will prompt you to create a name and a password for the network. This is the name and password for anyone who wants to connect to the network. For instance, the test server for Hamachi happens to be:
Network Name: test
I’m done! All I need now is for the others (my sister and brother) to connect to the network. This is actually easier than the other process. With the software running on their PCs, all they have to do is select the Network button and in the network name fields, put test and in the password field, put secret and then select the Join button. Once this is done on all three computers, the PCs are networked and from here on, you can share folders along with a few other cool features, such as a message.
I can’t believe that it’s that easy. You are going to love this! The more you use your VPN, the more uses you are sure to find for it. There are also some nice features and tools included with Hamachi, which really adds some flexibility to the whole process. Give it a try. This really is an unbelievable program.
If you’re interested in setting up a Hamachi VPN, you can get the client software right here. You may want to watch when you install it though, because by default, the installation type wants to install the premium trial version and that’s not want you want. Make sure you check the box that says Basic Free Core installation type.
~ Chad Stelnicki