VPN’s… stop using them for everything – especially Video Conferencing!

As work-from-home has become more popular, a number of business clients over the years have complained about Skype, Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, WebEx and other Video Conference apps being slow, choppy, with grainy quality and unreliable despite them have a good fibre connection in their homes.

In almost every case, these users have left their company VPN active and the VPN on their PC VPN client is configured to use the default company gateway for routing all internet traffic.

Additionally, these same users usually also complain about a slow, unreliable connection to the office when they use their remote applications. This is because everyone else in their company is using the VPN for relatively high bandwidth video calls and slowing everything down!

Most sensible IT admins set a maximum bandwidth allocated to remote users so they don’t slow down the remote access users. Sensible IT Admins seem to be in short supply, however.

Company training, policy and procedures should be that VPN’s are usually turned off when doing video calls. Most business video calling apps use end-to-end encryption (except Zoom), so there is no reason whatsoever to route your video.

If you’re using the free version of Zoom, note that all your video, your chats are currently unencrypted (1) and probably still routed via servers in China. (2) The company tends to be rather sketchy and unreliable on security issues making numerous “mistakes”.

For best quality video conferencing, simply disable / don’t use the company VPN when making video calls.

If, however, you need remote documents, programs to run while doing video calls, the other alternative is to attempt to configure the VPN connection correctly – always consult your IT administrator before making changes yourself and if you do attempt this, make notes of what you’ve changed.

To set your Windows VPN to send local (your network) traffic to the internet and company traffic to their network, configure the client computers to use the default gateway setting on the local network for Internet traffic and a static route on the remote network for VPN-based traffic. 

Note that some company VPN’s may require this setting enabled for their applications to work, so it’s best just to switch off the VPN rather than fiddle with settings – it’s certainly easier – when making video calls.

If you’re connecting to a Windows Server VPN, to disable the “Use Default Gateway on Remote Network”¬†setting in the VPN dial-up connection item on your computer:

1. Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network Connections.

2. Right-click the VPN connection that you want to change, and then click Properties.

3.Click the Networking tab, click Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in the Components checked are used by this connection list, and then click Properties.

4. Click Advanced, and then click to clear the Use default gateway on remote network check box and Click OK.

References:

1. Zoom CEO: No end-to-end encryption for free users so company can work with law enforcement.

2. Zoom will no longer allow Chinese government requests to impact users outside mainland China

3. ZOOM: Improving Our Policies as We Continue to Enable Global Collaboration

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