Hamachi VPN free software can make you feel right at home, even when you're far from it

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 15 2011 (updated on Dec 30 2012) in
  • HomeServer
  • Mobile
  • Network
  • hamachifamilycloud

    Imagine you're on a Verizon MiFi connection in an airport. Wouldn't you like to get to your home's network, with your laptop automatically being granted a "local" ip address by your home's router?


    This also means everything "just works," just as if you were actually at home, with no tweaking needed. Network shares/drive mappings, networked printers, file restores, all available. There are other network topology designs and other methods of achieving these results, but I have yet to find any this easy to do.

    One interesting, unanticipated side effect:  while iOS itself doesn't have a Hamachi VPN, it can still "Play To" remote systems to other households on my Family Cloud. See example here below, where I'm playing HD video on an iPhone 4, to a remote Mac running iTunes.  Why does this work?  Well, even though the Mac mini is over 100 miles away, it is "on" the home network via the Hamachi VPN software on its OS X Lion, so the iOS device can see via the Hamachi VPN gateway. Makes sense?


    No special router configuration is required, factory defaults should be fine, uPnP can be disabled. Hamachi works over an encrypted SSL VPN connection, using port 443, which is not likely to be blocked by your internet provider. The software runs discretely in your system tray, and has a very small footprint (memory/CPU use are minimal), and exhibits no misbehavior when left running full-time as an auto-re-connecting service.

    The step by step video below has these basic 4 sections:

    1. create a free LogMeIn account
    2. install Hamachi Gateway VPN Service on a system left running 24x7, in my case, a Windows Home Server virtual machine*
    3. install the Hamachi VPN Service on a second system on a remote network, authorizing the network join request
    4. test network throughput, should be as fast as the pipe you're on
      * if you're using a virtual machine for the Hamachi Gateway, perform a slight tweak to the network adapter settings, the video covers this promiscuous mode setting

    Pretty nifty, eh?

    It is your responsibility to look after your network security, and follow the licensing terms of agreement for non-commercial use: if you are at all uncomfortable, then you shouldn't do this!

    It is assumed that all remote family systems are virus scanned and free of spyware, because remember, you are opening your home's network up to those remote systems.

    Special thanks to this post which helped me avoid some of the common pitfalls. More backstory found at TinkerTry.com/homeserverfamilycloud.

    Dec. 17 2012 Update:

    Unfortunately, there's a new business model announced by LogMeIn about running Hamachi as an always-running-automatically service, described in popup message seen below.

    For me, it's worth continuing the service, as I relieve a lot of value. But for many, I realize this means the search is on for a free way to accomplish the same functionality, looking at solutions such as OpenVPN software, or OpenWrt for router firmware.