What’s New in Always On VPN DPC v3.0

Recently I wrote about a compelling solution from PowerON Platforms for managing Always On VPN client configuration setting using Active Directory group policy. Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC) addresses a very specific need for managing Always On VPN for organizations that have not yet migrated to Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune. Recently, PowerON Platforms released an important update to DPC that includes many new features and capabilities.

New Features

Always On VPN DPC version 3.0 includes the following new functionality Always On VPN administrators are sure to find useful.

  • Traffic filters – Support for enabling traffic filters for both device tunnel and user tunnel are now supported in DPC, greatly simplifying the task of creating access control lists to enforce zero-trust network access (ZTNA) policies.
  • Enhanced security – The option to disconnect the VPN connection if the VPN server does not present a cryptobinding TLV is now enabled by default. This often-overlooked security setting ensures VPN client connections are not intercepted by detecting man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Device tunnel enhancements – Administrators can now display the device tunnel connection and status in the Windows UI.
  • Backup connection – Always On VPN DPC now supports the configuration and deployment of a backup VPN connection, which is helpful when Always On VPN connectivity is disrupted.
  • Hostname routing – Administrators can now define hostnames in the routing table. Hostnames are resolved on the endpoint and converted to IP addresses for including in the routing table.
  • Smart card authentication – Always On VPN DPC now supports smart card authentication as an authentication option in addition to client authentication certificates.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about Always On VPN DPC? Fill out the form below and I’ll provide you with additional information or visit aovpndpc.com to sign up for a free trial.

Additional Information

Always On VPN with Active Directory Group Policy

Always On VPN Video Demonstration

Always On VPN DPC Advanced Features

Always On VPN DPC on YouTube

Inbox Accounting Database Management

The Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) role in Windows Server is a popular VPN server choice for administrators deploying Windows Always On VPN. It is easy to configure, scales well, and is cost-effective. After installing RRAS, administrators can optionally enable inbox accounting to log historical data and generate user access and activity reports as described in Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting.

Inbox Accounting Database

A Windows Internal Database (WID) is automatically installed and configured for data storage when inbox accounting is enabled.

WID is nothing more than a basic instance of Microsoft SQL Server. As such, the database will require periodic maintenance to perform optimally.

Inbox Accounting Database Management Scripts

I have created a series of PowerShell scripts to address the inbox accounting database management requirements for organizations using Windows Server RRAS. Scripts are available to perform the following inbox accounting database management tasks.

  • Optimize the inbox accounting database.
  • View the size of the inbox accounting database files.
  • Compress the size of the inbox accounting database.
  • Back up the inbox accounting database to a file on disk.
  • Restore the inbox accounting database from a backup file.
  • Move the inbox accounting database file to a different location.
  • Remove the inbox accounting database.

Optimize Database

A known issue with the inbox accounting database can result in high CPU and memory utilization for very busy RRAS VPN servers. Specifically, a crucial index is missing from one of the tables in the logging database. This issue persists in Windows Server 2022. To correct this issue, download and run the following PowerShell script on each RRAS VPN server in the organization.

Optimize-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

View Database Size

The database can grow rapidly depending on how busy the RRAS server is. Administrators can view the current database file sizes by downloading and running the following PowerShell script on the RRAS server.

Get-InboxAccountingDatabaseSize.ps1

Compress Database

Over time, the database can become fragmented, decreasing performance. Compressing the database can improve performance and result in significant recovery of disk space. To compress the inbox accounting database, download and run the following PowerShell script on each RRAS server in the organization.

Compress-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

In this example, compressing the database reduced its size by more than 8MB, resulting in a nearly 70% reduction in disk space usage.

Backup Database

Administrators may wish to back up the inbox accounting database before purging older records from the inbox accounting database. Also, backing up the database preservers access records when migrating to a new server. To back up the inbox accounting database, download and run the following PowerShell script on each RRAS server in the organization.

Backup-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

Restore Database

Naturally, to restore the inbox accounting database from a previous backup, administrators can download and run the following PowerShell script.

Restore-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

Restoring a database from backup will erase all records in the current database. It does not append. Proceed with caution!

Move Database Files

Inbox accounting database and log files are located in C:\Windows\DirectAccess\Db by default.

However, storing database and log files on the system drive is not ideal. A better alternative is to place the inbox accounting database and log files on a separate disk for optimum performance. To move the inbox accounting database, download and run the following PowerShell script on each VPN server in the organization.

Move-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

Moving inbox accounting files may not be formally supported by Microsoft. Use caution when making this change.

Remove Database

Occasionally an inbox accounting database becomes corrupt and can no longer be managed. If this happens, completely removing the database is required. It is essential to know that simply disabling and re-enabling inbox accounting on the VPN server does not delete the database. To delete the database completely, download and run the following PowerShell script.

Remove-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

PowerShell Module

To simplify things, the PowerShell scripts described in this article are available in a PowerShell module that can be installed from the PowerShell gallery using the following command.

Install-Module InboxAccountingDatabaseManagement

Additional Information

Windows Always On VPN RRAS Inbox Accounting Database Management PowerShell Module

Windows Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Windows Always On VPN PowerShell Scripts on GitHub

Always On VPN with Active Directory Group Policy

Windows Always On VPN is a workload explicitly designed to be implemented and managed using Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune. While this is the best way to deploy and manage Always On VPN client configuration settings, it is not the only way. Administrators can also use System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) by deploying a PowerShell script and XML configuration file to configure Always On VPN. Of course, it’s always possible to run the PowerShell script on individual machines.

Group Policy

Until now, there have been few options for deploying and managing Windows Always On VPN using Active Directory and group policy. This presents a challenge for administrators who still rely on group policy to manage their endpoints. It is possible to deploy the PowerShell script and XML configuration file using a group policy startup script. However, there are many limitations to this approach. Administrators must learn to properly configure the XML file and manage any configuration updates post-implementation.

Always On VPN DPC

The folks at PowerON Platforms have developed the Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC) to address these shortcomings. Always On VPN DPC allows administrators to deploy and manage Always On VPN client configuration settings using Active Directory and group policy. Their software comes with Active Directory group policy templates that include all the necessary settings and client software that manages the configuration on the endpoint.

Advanced Features

Always On VPN DPC includes advanced features not included in Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune or XML. Here’s a sample of helpful custom settings that can be configured using Always On VPN DPC.

  • VpnStrategy
  • Interface metrics
  • Route metrics
  • Dynamically updated Office 365 exclusion route list
  • IKE mobility settings
  • IPv6 routes
  • And more…

Videos

I’ve created a brief introduction video for PowerOn Platforms Always On VPN DPC on YouTube. Soon I’ll be releasing additional videos that cover the installation and configuration of Always On VPN DPC and some of its advanced features, so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Learn More

Are you interested in learning more about PowerON Platforms Always On VPN DPC? Fill out the form below, and I’ll contact you with more information. In addition, you can visit aovpndpc.com to register for an evaluation license.

Special Thanks

I want to extend a special thank you to Leo D’Arcy and the entire team at PowerON Platforms for allowing me to preview this software before its wide release. Also, I’m honored that you have graciously accepted my input and feedback for this solution. I’m consistently amazed at how rapidly you’ve corrected issues and implemented new features at my behest. You are all amazing. Thanks again! 😁

Additional Information

AovpnDPC.com

Introducing PowerON Platforms Always On VPN DPC on YouTube.com

%d bloggers like this: