Alternatives to Connecting to Cisco 3000 VPN

Filed under Utilities

image The Cisco VPN client has issues, let’s face it.

I’ve blogged about Cisco before (and here). When it works, it works just fine.

The problem is, quite often, it doesn’t work. And it’s really compounded if you’re using any app that creates and destroys network interfaces (VMWare is one such app, but there are many others). What happens, from what I’ve discerned online, is that the Cisco VPN Client doesn’t deal with network interfaces moving around and being changed. So it just fails to connect. And once it’s failed, it’s virtually impossible to get it to connect again without a reboot.

And, at least for me, anyway, often, rebooting once isn’t enough. It’ll take two reboots before the Cisco client is happy again. Now, all this is using the Cisco 3000 VPN appliance, which is believe isn’t exactly the newest VPN solution on the block. Maybe there are newer ones out, but that’s the one that the company I’m with is using.

So… I’ve been hobbling along like this for months. I’d tried the VPNC client some time ago but could never get it to connect. VPNCFE is better, usability wise, but I couldn’t get it to connect either.

I decided yesterday to take another look at the problem, and I stumbled across the Shrew Soft VPN client. image

At first, I downloaded the latest “stable” release. But, since it didn’t import the Cisco *.pcf file (the configuration file for a particular connection), I couldn’t figure out which parts of the Cisco config to put where in the Shrew Soft config screens, so I never got it to work.

I’d almost given up when I came across a post that mentioned being able to import PCF files was added in the latest RC build.

Sure enough, back to the Shrew Soft download page and there’s a 2.1.5 RC2 download link. An uninstall and reinstall later, and I could successfully import my Cisco PCF file.

And the connection worked instantly!

So far, no problems at all. Everything works just as well as it did with the Cisco client (that is, when the Cisco Client would connect!).

The other benefit to the Shrew Soft client is that it works under 64 bit OS’s (including the upcoming Windows 7, from what I can tell). That’s something Cisco still isn’t supporting.

And best of all, it’s free!

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