Always On VPN and Interface Metrics

Always On VPN DNS Registration Update Available

In Windows, each network interface identified by the operating system is assigned a metric value. Interface metrics are settings that determine the priority or preference of network interfaces when there are multiple active network connections. The Windows networking stack uses these metrics to determine which network interface should be used for routing traffic when multiple network interfaces are available. Network interface metrics are critical for Always On VPN administrators to understand because they can impact how name resolution requests are processed when an Always On VPN connection is established.

Metric Values

By default, Windows automatically assigns metric values to network interfaces (including VPN interfaces) based on various factors, including the connection speed, link state, and interface type. It tries to select the most suitable interface for general internet connectivity.

Metrics and DNS

Windows will also use the network interface with the lowest metric value as the preferred interface for sending DNS queries by default. This means that DNS queries will be routed through the network interface with the lowest metric value, assuming it is available and connected. When an Always On VPN connection is established, DNS queries may fail or return unexpected results if the network interface metrics are not configured optimally.

Split DNS and Wired Ethernet

Split DNS (sometimes called ‘split brain DNS’) is when the DNS namespace is the same internally and externally. The most common scenario where interface metric settings interfere with DNS operation is when using split DNS and the endpoint is connected to the Internet with a wired Ethernet connection. In this scenario, the Ethernet interface will be assigned the same or lower interface metric value as the Always On VPN interface, which can yield unexpected results.

Viewing Metrics

Always On VPN administrators can view currently assigned interface metric values by running the following PowerShell command.

Get-NetIpInterface

Assigning Metrics

Most Always On VPN administrators will never have to change interface metric settings. However, if your implementation uses split DNS and some of your endpoints connect using wired Ethernet connections, you may need to update the interface metric settings to ensure proper DNS operation. Choose a setting for the interface metric value that is lower than the wired Ethernet interface. I’ve used a value of ‘3’ without issue for many years. Use one of the following methods to update the interface metric for Always On VPN connections.

PowerShell

Updating interface metric settings in Windows can be accomplished by running the Set-NetIpInterface PowerShell command.

Set-NetIpInterface -InterfaceAlias <connection name> -InterfaceMetric 3

Note: Using PowerShell to assign the interface metric is not persistent! While this method is suitable for local validation testing, you should use one of the following methods to implement this change permanently.

Rasphone.pbk

To assign the interface metric permanently, Always On VPN administrators can edit the following settings in the rasphone.pbk configuration file.

IpInterfaceMetric=3

Ipv6InterfaceMetric=3

Administrators can automate updating this setting using the Update-Rasphone.ps1 PowerShell script. In addition, the following scripts can be used with Microsoft Intune remediation.

Detect-DeviceIpv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-DeviceIpv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Detect-DeviceIpv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-DeviceIpv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

Detect-Ipv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-Ipv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Detect-Ipv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-Ipv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

DPC

Organizations using PowerON Platforms’ Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC) to manage Always On VPN client configuration settings with Active Directory and group policy or Microsoft Intune can enable the VPN Tunnel Metric setting.

Additional Information

Get-NetIpInterface PowerShell Command

Set-NetIpInterface PowerShell Command

Managing Always On VPN Client Settings with DPC

Always On VPN DPC with Microsoft Intune

Always On VPN DPC Advanced Features

Always On VPN DPC Video Demonstration

PowerON Platforms Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC)

Always On VPN and Device Sharing

Always On VPN client configuration settings are typically deployed in the user’s context. However, this presents a unique challenge when sharing a single device with multiple users who have an Always On VPN profile assigned to them. By design, Windows designates only a single user profile on a shared device to be “always on”. When multiple users with assigned Always On VPN profiles share the same machine, it could yield unexpected results.

Auto Trigger Profile

When an Always On VPN profile is provisioned to a user, Windows records information about this profile in the registry. Specifically, the Always On VPN profile’s name and GUID are recorded, as well as the user’s Security Identifier (SID) and the path to the rasphone.pbk file that contains the Always On VPN profile.

Multiple Users

When a new user logs on to a shared device and receives their Always On VPN profile, Windows overwrites this existing data in the registry with the current user’s information. Each time this user logs on, their Always On VPN connection will establish automatically. Any other users with Always On VPN profiles configured on the same shared device will no longer connect automatically after this. The most recently deployed Always On VPN profile will be designated the “always on” profile.

Connect Automatically

In the above scenario, any user with an assigned Always On VPN profile on the shared device can take over the “always on” designation by opening the VPN connection properties and checking the “Connect automatically” check box.

When this happens, this user will now own the “always on” profile, and other users on the shared device will no longer connect automatically.

Workarounds

If multiple users share a single device requiring Always On VPN connectivity, you have a few options.

Intune

If you are deploying Always On VPN client configuration settings using Intune, you must use the Custom device configuration profile template. Specifically, as shown here, you must deploy your XML configuration file using the ./Device/Vendor/MSFT/VPNv2/ OMA-DM URI.

Unfortunately, the native Intune VPN template does not support deploying Always On VPN profiles in the “all users” context.

PowerShell

When using PowerShell, either natively or with SCCM or another software deployment tool, administrators can use my Always On VPN deployment PowerShell script with the -AllUserConnection parameter.

PowerON DPC

When using PowerON Platforms’ Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC) to deploy Always On VPN client configuration settings using on-premises Active Directory or via Intune, no changes are required. DPC deploys Always On VPN user profiles in the “all users” context by default.

Additional Information

New-AovpnConnection.ps1 PowerShell Script on GitHub

PowerON Platforms’ Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC)

Always On VPN DPC with PowerON Platforms’ DPC

Always On VPN DPC with Intune

In the past, I’ve written about PowerON Platforms’ Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC), a software solution administrators can use to provision and manage Always On VPN client configuration settings using Active Directory and group policy. In addition to streamlining the deployment and management of Always On VPN client settings, DPC has many advanced features and capabilities to ensure optimal security, performance, and connection reliability.

Optimizations

Many settings required to fine-tune and optimize Always On VPN connections are not exposed in the Intune UI or XML. They must be configured by manipulating configuration files, setting registry keys, and running PowerShell commands. Much of this can be automated using Intune Proactive Remediation, but it is far from ideal. Administrators must configure Always On VPN using one method, then deploy optimizations using another. In addition, Proactive Remediation suffers from timing issues where some settings are not applied immediately, resulting in degraded or inoperable VPN connections until changes take effect.

Always On VPN DPC

Always On VPN DPC allows administrators to configure many advanced settings quickly and conveniently using the familiar Group Policy Management console (gpmc.msc). DPC dramatically reduces the administrative burden associated with Always On VPN client management. In addition, DPC enables many of these options by default, ensuring optimal security and reliable operation. Also, DPC immediately implements all configuration settings, eliminating the need to reboot to apply configuration changes.

Intune and ADMX

Historically, Always On VPN DPC could only be used when managing endpoints exclusively with Active Directory group policy. However, DPC can now be used with Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune thanks to a new feature that allows administrators to import custom ADMX and ADML administrative templates to Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM).

Note: This feature is in public preview at the time of this writing.

DPC and Intune

The combination of DPC and Intune brings with it many advantages. Using DPC with Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune offers administrators simplified deployment and many advanced features provided by Always On VPN DPC. In addition, customers who have deployed DPC on-premises can now migrate seamlessly to Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune management without giving up DPC’s valuable features.

Learn More

Enter your contact details in the form below for more information regarding Always On VPN DPC. Also, visit https://aovpndpc.com/ to register for a free Always On VPN DPC trial.

Additional Information

Always On VPN with Active Directory Group Policy

Introduction to Always On VPN DPC

Always On VPN DPC Advanced Features

Always On VPN DPC Video Demonstrations

What’s New in Always On VPN DPC v3.0

Always On VPN DPC Free Trial