Set up OpenVPN for Windows

In this article:

Step 1. Request access

By default, this service is disabled for all users, so you’ll need to request access first. Please check your OpenVPN profile before you request access just in case you already have access.

To request access, email with the following information:

  • Your Essex ID
  • The S number of your work computer – look for a sticker on the side or front of your computer
  • Details on what you want to access

Please allow one working day for the IT Helpdesk to enable the service. We’ll send you a confirmation email when it’s done.

Once you have confirmation proceed to step 2.

Step 2. Check the settings on your work computer

This step will check that you’re listed as a Remote Desktop User on your work computer. If you don’t plan on using Remote Desktop, you can skip this step.

On your work Windows computer:

  • Click Start or Search
  • Type Remote settings
  • Choose Allow remote access to your computer from the search results.
  • Click Select Users…
  • Check that your Essex username is listed:
    • If it's listed you don’t need to do anything.
    • If it is not listed, click Add…, type in your Essex username and then select Check Names. Your username should underline.
  • Select OK on all of the open windows.

This is all your need to do on your work computer.

Step 3. Set up OpenVPN on your home computer

On your Windows home computer:

  • Go to the OpenVPN website and download the latest version. We recommend you download the Windows Installer (NSIS) version.
  • Install OpenVPN using the default options.
  • Download the Essex University v2.ovpn configuration file. This file contains the necessary settings your computer or device needs to be able to connect to the University network remotely.
  • Open OpenVPN GUI if you haven't done so already.
  • Right-click on the OpenVPN icon in the system tray (bottom right of your screen) and select Import file…
  • Browse to where you saved the Essex University v2.ovpn file and import it.
  • Right-click on the OpenVPN again and select Connect. If you have more than one configuration file to choose from, choose Essex University v2 and then Connect.
  • Enter your Essex username and password and select OK.

The OpenVPN icon will turn green to show you’re connected.

If you can’t connect see help and troubleshooting.

Step 4. Connect to Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop lets you log in to your work computer as if you were at your desk.

  • Click Start or Search.
  • In the search box, type Remote Desktop Connection, and then in the list of results click Remote Desktop Connection.
  • Enter your work computer’s five digit S number followed by, for example
  • Click Connect.
  • Enter your Essex username (with after it) and password, and then click OK.
  • If you’re asked to verify your identity, click Yes.

You should now be remotely logged in to your work computer.

To disconnect from Remote Desktop, click the cross on the blue bar at the top of your screen.

Remote access to other resources and systems (People Manager, Unit 4, file shares)

If you use Agresso or iTrent then you are automatically given remote access to these. However, you must still connect to OpenVPN first.

Unit 4 (Agresso)
People Manager (iTrent)
File shares

The easiest way to access file shares is to connect using Remote Desktop Connection.

Help and troubleshooting

Can't connect? Please try the following before you contact the IT Helpdesk:

Set OpenVPN to run as administrator
  1. On your home computer, click Start or Search
  2. Type OpenVPN.
  3. Right-click on OpenVPN GUI from the list of search results and choose Run as administrator.
  4. Now try to connect.
Check if your password has expired

You won't be able to connect to OpenVPN if your password has expired. Check if you can sign in to another service, for example Webmail

  • If you can sign in to Webmail then your password has not expired.
  • It you can't sign in to Webmail then your password may have expired in which case you'll need to change your password.

Still need help?

Submit a support ticket →