Set up OpenVPN for Windows

These instructions will show you how to set up OpenVPN on Windows.

You only need to complete steps 1, 2 and 3 once. You will need to complete step 4 each time you connect.

In this article:

  • Step 1. Request access
  • Step 2: Set up your office computer for Remote Desktop Connection
  • Step 3: Download and set up OpenVPN on your home computer
  • Step 4. Connect and start a Remote Desktop Connection
  • Additional: How to access a share and map a network drive
  • Additional: Disconnecting

Step 1. Request access (if you need to)

OpenVPN works on a per-user permission basis. As such, you normally have to request access to resources like your desktop PC or other protected resources not normally accessible from off campus.

However, there are some exceptions listed below which are automatically available to relevant staff that you don’t need to explicitly request and will just work for you. If in doubt about your OpenVPN permissions, please check your OpenVPN Account Details.

For off campus access to Agresso and iTrent

Staff who can access Agresso are automatically given access to:

Staff who have access to iTrent (People Manager etc) are automatically given access to:

For Remote Desktop Connection and access to other resources and services

If you require more than the default access to Agresso and/or iTrent, then you must email the IT Helpdesk at with the following details:

  • your Essex ID
  • your office computer's S number (if you want to use Remote Desktop Connection)
  • details of other resources or services you want to use that can't be accessed via Remote Desktop Connection

Please allow one working day for us to activate OpenVPN on your account - we'll send you a confirmation email once it's done. Once you have been given access continue to the next steps.

Step 2. Set up your office computer for Remote Desktop Connection

Perform the following steps on your office computer if you want to use Remote Desktop Connection.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click Computer.
  3. Click Properties.
  4. Click Remote settings.
  5. Ensure that Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop is selected.
  6. Click Select Users... and ensure that your name is listed as a remote desktop user.
  7. If your name isn't listed, click Add and type in your login name using the format CAMPUS\mylogin. Click OK.

This is all you need to do on your office computer.

Step 3. Download and set up OpenVPN on your home computer
  1. Go to and download either:
    Installer (32-bit), Windows Vista and later - for 32-bit Windows
    Installer (64-bit), Windows Vista and later - for 64-bit Windows

    If you're not sure what version of Windows you have, click Start > right-click Computer > click Properties and look for System type.
  2. Install OpenVPN using the default install options. During installation you may be asked to verify installing a new driver, if so click Continue Anyway/Install.
  3. Once you've installed OpenVPN, download this configuration file and then unzip the file. Right-click on the Essex University.ovpn file and click Copy.
  4. Now go to the OpenVPN config folder by clicking Start All Programs OpenVPN Shortcuts OpenVPN configuration file directory. In the window that appears, right-click somewhere in it and click Paste.
  5. Once you have copied the file over you can close both windows.
  6. Now you must set OpenVPN to run as administrator.

    Windows 7 users: Click StartAll ProgramsOpenVPN → right-click OpenVPN GUIPropertiesCompatibility → tick Run this program as an administrator → click Apply/OK.

    Windows 10 users: Click Start → All Apps → OpenVPN → right-click OpenVPN GUI → Properties → Advanced → tick Run as administrator → click OK

This is all you need to do to set OpenVPN up on your home computer.

Step 4. Connect and start a Remote Desktop Connection
  1. Run OpenVPN. Once the application has started you will see a new icon in the system tray in the bottom-right corner ofthe screen.
  2. Right-click the icon and then click Connect.
  3. Enter your Essex login name and password. Do not use a leading CAMPUS\ or trailing for your login name. Click OK.
  4. You should now be connected to OpenVPN - the icon should turn green and a message bubble will popup.
  5. To start a Remote Desktop Connection, click StartAll ProgramsAccessoriesRemote Desktop Connection.
  6. Enter your office computer S number in the format, eg . Now click Connect.
  7. Click Use another account and enter your Essex ID (in the format and password. Then click OK.
  8. If you are asked to verify an identity you should click Accept or Yes.

You should now be remotely logged in to your office computer - as if you were sitting at your desk.

Additional notes
How to access a share and map a network drive
  1. Once you have connected to OpenVPN, click Start > Computer > Map network drive.
  2. Assign a drive letter, and enter the folder path including the full server name, for example \\\sharename
  3. When you have finished working with the share, remember to right-click and disconnect the mapped network drive before you disconnect from OpenVPN. If you don't, your Windows Explorer may lock up for a while.

Disconnecting from OpenVPN

When you have finished your session, remember to log off from your Remote Desktop Connection and disconnect from OpenVPN.

Still need help?

Submit a support ticket →