Use Hotspot Shield in Vista 64-bit (no software required)
[Link available to registered users only. Click here to register.]
Hotspot Shield is software that encrypts your internet traffic between your PC and their servers, purportedly to avoid snooping at open WiFi hotspots (a purpose for which it works great). My main use of it (being outside the US) is to access the multitude of US only sites and services (Hulu, Lala and Pandora to name only a few).
Unfortunately it comes bundled with a TUN/TAP driver that is not 64-bit compatible - it doesn't even fail gracefully during installation, rather you end up with this error:
An error occured installing the TAP VPN driver.
The application continues to install and even prompts to run at the end, but then immediately dies.
But there's another way. Hotspot Shield offers a service for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) which uses L2TP to create the VPN connection. You can use the same connection within Windows Vista (and any other operating system which supports L2TP) to use the same service. Here's how I did it:
* Create a new VPN connection (Start > Network > Network and Sharing Center > Set up a connection or network > Connect to a workplace > Use my Internet Connection (VPN)).
* Now visit [Link available to registered users only. Click here to register.] - this is where you will get the required connection information.
* Click the giant Get Account ID button.
* The instructions given are obviously for the iPhone, but there's some important information we need:
Account: abc123 (I'm pretending abc123 is mine - yours will be unique)
Password: abc123 (ditto as above)
* Enter 126.96.36.199 for the Internet Address. For Destination Name, put whatever you want. I put HotspotShield. Be sure that Don't connect now; just set it up so I can connect later is ticked, because we need to change some advanced settings later.
* For username and password, enter what you were given by the Hotspot Shield website. Tick Remember this password. You don't need anything for Domain. Close the window when you finish.
* Now go to Start > Connect To. Right click on the connection you created and choose Properties.
* On the security tab(SECURITY) , change Type of VPN to L2TP IPsec VPN and then click IPsec Settings.
* Choose the Use preshared key for authentication option and type in password for the Key (this is what the iPhone calls Secret).
That's it! You can now connect to HotSpot Shield through the Connect To option on the Start menu - that's even easier than using the software from my point of view. I guess it would be possible to install a 64-bit TUN/TAP driver but I haven't investigated whether one exists for Vista because this way just seems so clean.
Just remember to disconnect after you're finished!