Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection Reliability

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection ReliabilityA longstanding issue with Windows 10 Always On VPN is that of VPN tunnel connectivity reliability and device tunnel/user tunnel interoperability. Many administrators have reported that Always On VPN connections fail to establish automatically at times, that only one tunnel comes up at a time (user tunnel or device tunnel, but not both), or that VPN tunnels fail to establish when coming out of sleep or hibernate modes. Have a look at the comments on this post and you’ll get a good understanding of the issues with Always On VPN.

Recent Updates

The good news is that most of these issues have been resolved with recent updates to Windows 10 1803 and 1809. Specifically, the February 19, 2019 update for Windows 10 1803 (KB4487029) and the March 1, 2019 update for Windows 10 1809 (KB4482887) include fixes to address these known issues. Administrators are encouraged to deploy Windows 10 1803 with the latest updates applied when implementing Always On VPN. Windows 10 1809 with the latest updates applied is preferred though.

Persistent Issues

Although initial reports are favorable for these updates and based on my experience the effectiveness and reliability of Windows 10 Always On VPN is greatly improved, there have still been some reports of intermittent VPN tunnel establishment failures.

Possible Causes

During my testing, after applying the updates referenced earlier both device tunnel and user tunnel connections are established much more consistently than before the updates were applied. I did encounter some issues, however. Specifically, when coming out of sleep or hibernate, VPN connections would fail to establish. Occasionally VPN connections would fail after a complete restart.

NCSI

After further investigation it was determined that the connectivity failure was caused by the Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) probe failing, causing Windows to report “No Internet access”.

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection Reliability

Cisco Umbrella Roaming Client

In this instance the NCSI probe failure was caused by the Cisco Umbrella Roaming Client installed and running on the device. The Umbrella Roaming Client is security software that provides client protection by monitoring and filtering DNS queries. It operates by configuring a DNS listener on the loopback address. NCSI probes are known to fail when the DNS server is running on a different interface than is being tested.

Resolution

Microsoft released a fix for this issue in Windows 10 1709. The fix involves changing a group policy setting to disable interface binding when perform DNS lookups by the NCSI. You can enable this setting via Active Directory group policy by navigating to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connectivity Status Indicator > Specify global DNS. Select Enabled and check the option to Use global DNS, as shown here.

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection Reliability

For testing purposes this setting can be enabled individual using the following PowerShell command.

New-ItemProperty -Path “HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\NetworkConnectivityStatusIndicator\” -Name UseGlobalDNS -PropertyType DWORD -Value 1 -Force

Third-Party Software

As Always On VPN connectivity can be affected by NCSI, any third-party firewall or antivirus/antimalware solution could potentially introduce VPN connection instability. Observe NCSI operation closely when troubleshooting unreliable connections with Always On VPN.

Additional Information

Windows 10 1803 Update KB4487029

Windows 10 1809 Update KB4482887

Cisco Umbrella Roaming Client Limited Network Connectivity Warning

Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) Operation Explained

DirectAccess Get-NetIPHttpsState Fails on Windows 10 1803

DirectAccess Get-NetIPHttpsState Fails on Windows 10 1803PowerShell is an essential tool for Windows administrators for configuration, task automation, monitoring, reporting, and problem resolution. When troubleshooting DirectAccess connectivity using the IP-HTTPS IPv6 transition technology, the Get-NetIPHttpsConfiguration and Get-NetIPHttpsState PowerShell commands are important for assessing the configuration and current state of the IP-HTTPS connection. When DirectAccess connectivity fails, these are some of the first commands an administrator will use to identify and resolve the issue.

Get-NetIPHttpsState

Get-NetIPHttpsState is especially helpful when IP-HTTPS connectivity fails because it returns an error code and interface status information that can provide clues as to why the connection was not completed successfully.

DirectAccess Get-NetIPHttpsState Fails on Windows 10 1803

No Output in 1803

Beginning with Windows 10 1803, the DirectAccess administrator will notice that Get-NetIPHttpsState returns no data. The output of Get-NetIPHttpsState is blank.

DirectAccess Get-NetIPHttpsState Fails on Windows 10 1803

Changes in 1803

As it turns out, this is a bug first introduced in Windows 10 1803 that is the result of a fundamental change in the way in which the IP-HTTPS interface is implemented in Windows. As of this writing, the bug has not been addressed in Windows 10 1803 or 1809.

Workaround

The good news is that there’s an easy workaround for this. Instead of using Get-NetIPHttpsState, the administrator can retrieve essential information about the IP-HTTPS interface using the following netsh command.

netsh interface httpstunnel show interface

DirectAccess Get-NetIPHttpsState Fails on Windows 10 1803

Additional Information

SSL Certificate Considerations for DirectAccess IP-HTTPS 

Troubleshooting DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Error Code 0x800b0109

Troubleshooting DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Error Code 0x80090326

Troubleshooting DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Error Code 0x90320

Troubleshooting DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Error Code 0x2af9

Troubleshooting DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Error Code 0x800b0101

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