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Verizon MIFI 2200 vs the VPN

Posted on | May 24, 2011 | Comments Off on Verizon MIFI 2200 vs the VPN

Recently I was troubleshooting what I initially felt was a SonicWall VPN problem.

The client/user tunnels to the VPN endpoint through a wireless connection with a Verizon MIFI 2200. The tunnel comes up just fine but after a few minutes his Remote Desktop Connection to a box on the other end of the VPN drops.

The time between drops varies a bit but hovers around the 5-8 minute mark. He is still able to browse the internet, check email, etc. using local tools with out any undue troubles. The VPN client tool shows that it is connected but sadly no traffic moves across the tunnel after the MIFI becomes ‘dormant’. Can not ping the other side of the tunnel or run a tracert. The computer is a relatively new laptop computer running Windows 7 that otherwise seems happy and well adjusted.

Using the laptop’s ethernet adaptor to  attach to a LAN at a different location connecting to the internet through a dedicated line has no issues with the VPN dropping connection.

Using  wireless through a d-link router connecting to the internet through a cable modem showed no tendency to drop the VPN connection.

I tested the MIFI using a different notebook with a fresh windows 7 professional installation. Loaded SonicWall’s 32bit Global VPN Client and configured the connection.

  • – Attaching the computer through its ethernet adaptor to dslmodem-internet –  the VPN was solid with no drops.
  • – Tethered to the MIFI 2200 with a USB cable the VPN also was solid with no drops.
  • – Connecting to the MIFI 2200 wirelessly, the VPN would build a tunnel and work fine for awhile – the time varied but within 5 minutes or less the VPN connection would drop. Could not print to the remote printer or use any other network devices across the VPN – connection to the internet (browsing, email, twitter)  was still ok.

I checked the firmware and it was pretty old – early 2009 v125.008 so I upgraded the latest from Verizon, v167.029 dated october 2010 and thought that certainly the problem would be fixed.

Sadly this did not resolve the issue and still after a few minutes (or less) the connection would remain dormant long enough that the VPN would fail – though it still shows connected in the VPN client tool.  Browsing and other TCP services worked fine.  I ran a ping process to see if that would prevent the dropping of the VPN connection but the tunnel collapsed all around me anyway.

The tunnel can be disconnected and reconnected using the VPN client but terminal services, etc must be reinitiated. Bad.

Poked around in the interwebs and discovered that many people were having the same type of problem – inability to hold a reliable connection when attaching to the MIFI 2200 over wireless.

At this point in time it seems there is no real fix outside of using the MIFI in tethered mode. (May 2011)



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