VPN Install/Usage Documentation

What is a VPN?

The math department's virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection from a public internet connection to the department's private network. This allows you to surf the web while off-campus as if you were physically connected to the math network in LGRT. All traffic is encrypted, ensuring online privacy and the protection of sensitive data. Benefits to using the VPN include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to academic journals subscribed to by UMass
  • Secure connection to gradebooks and other sensitive online data when connected to an insecure public network
  • Access to online resources only accessible from the math network, such as department printing, access to lab computers (without bouncing in via SSH), and the RCF cluster.

Compatible Clients

  • Windows: OpenVPN
  • macOS: Tunnelblick
  • Linux: OpenVPN3

Requesting a VPN key

To request a VPN key, send an email to rcfsupport@groups.umass.edu.

Note that our VPN server will NOT accept simultaneous connections from two different clients using the same profile. If you need to configure two or more systems to be on the VPN (such as a laptop + a tablet) you will need to request two separate VPN profiles.

Downloading and Installing the Client


  1. Click here to automatically start downloading the VPN client
  2. Click “Save File” when prompted, and run the installer once it has fully downloaded
  3. If you are not on an administrator account, you will need to enter an admin password at this point. Click through the installation and accept all the default options
  4. From the start menu, search for “OpenVPN GUI”, and open it. It may look like nothing has happened, but the client is now running in the background.
  5. In the bottom-right corner of your screen, click on the small upward-facing arrow in the tray to show the hidden icons. Find the icon that looks like the computer with a lock on it. Right-click on this icon and then select “Settings…” from the menu
  6. In the Settings window, check the boxes next to “Launch on Windows startup” and “Silent connection”. Click “OK”
  7. Find the email from root@vpn.math.umass.edu that contains your personal VPN profile. Download the attachment (the file will be named after your math username, and have extension “.ovpn”) and save it somewhere on your computer, such as your Downloads folder
  8. Find where you saved the .ovpn file. Now you have to decide if you would like the VPN configured for ALL USERS on the computer, or JUST YOUR ACCOUNT.
    • If you would like to configure the VPN for ALL USERS, move the .ovpn file to the following folder on your PC:
    • “This PC” > “Local Disk (C:)” > “Program Files” > “OpenVPN” > “config”.

      You will need to admin privileges to save to this location. Click “Continue”. If you are on a standard account, you will need to enter an admin password at this time.

    • If you would like to instead configure the VPN connection for JUST YOUR ACCOUNT: As in step 5, click the small upward-facing arrow in the bottom-right corner of your screen, and right-click on the computer with a lock on it. Select “Import file…”. Find the .ovpn file you saved, and click “Open”. If all goes well, you should see a popup window saying “File imported successfully”.


  1. Download the latest stable version of Tunnelblick here
  2. Launch the downloaded .dmg file, which will cause a window to open. On this window, double-click the Tunnelblick icon.
  3. You might need to allow your Mac to launch the Tunnelblick installer, in which case a window will pop up asking for your permission to open it. Accept it and the window will disappear.
  4. If a "Tunnelblick VPN Configuration Installation" window pops up, then you have OpenVPN configurations that have not been converted to Tunnelblick VPN Configurations. Click on "Convert Configurations", and the window will disappear.
  5. A "Welcome to Tunnelblick" window should appear now. Click "Continue", and enter your administrator password in the next window. When the installation has finished, a notification will be displayed.
  6. When there are no configurations (which is usually the case for a new installation of Tunnelblick), the configuration helper will appear. Click the appropriate button and the configuration helper will guide you through the installation of configurations.
  7. For more details on installing configurations, see Downloading and Installing Configurations.


  1. Instructions on how to install OpenVPN3 pre-built packages on Linux distributions can be found here


  1. Download the "OpenVPN Connect" app from the Apple App Store
  2. Open the application, and tap the orange "+" symbol in the bottom-right corner to go to the "Import Profile" page
  3. From the "Import Profile" page, top the "File" option on the right, and follow the instructions provided in the app for importing a .ovpn file (you can choose between either the iTunes Sync or Mail options)

Connecting/Disconnecting to the VPN


  1. In the bottom-right corner of your screen, click on the small upward-facing arrow in the tray. It should expand to a larger menu. Find the icon that looks like the computer with a lock on it. Right-click on this icon and then select “Connect” from the menu.
  2. When prompted, you will be asked for a password. This is your unique VPN password. If you have not been notified of your password, you should reach out to rcfsupport@groups.umass.edu
  3. If all goes well, you should see a notification in the bottom right corner that you are now connected! The VPN icon in the tray (the “computer with a lock on it”) should turn green, and if you click this link, google should report your public IP address as “”
  4. [OPTIONAL] If you want the VPN to start automatically when you log in, you can take the additional step:
    • Open to the following folder:
    • “This PC” > “Local Disk (C:)” > “Users” > [your account name]
    • From the top menu, click the “View” tab, then check the box next to “Hidden items”. A folder named “AppData” should now appear. Open this folder, then continue to:
    • “Roaming” > “Microsoft” > “Windows” > “Start Menu” > “Programs” > “Startup”
    • Create a new desktop shortcut by right-clicking in this window, selecting “New” from the dropdown menu, and then “Shortcut”. In the bar underneath “Type the location of the item”, enter in the following (quotes included), replacing “username” with your own math username. Note there are TWO “-“s before the word “connect”:
    • “C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\bin\openvpn-gui.exe” --connect “username.ovpn”.
    • Click “Next”. Name the shortcut whatever you’d like. Something like “math vpn profile” is fine.
  5. To disconnect, click on the OpenVPN lock icon and choose "Disconnect".


  1. Click the tunnelblick icon in the menu bar (top right of your screen). If there's no icon, you will need to launch tunnelblick first (from Applications folder).
  2. This will open a drop down menu - select "Connect <profile>". A notification will appear in the top right corner, indicating the connection status. Once connected, if you click this link, google should report your public IP address as “”
  3. To disconnect, repeat the same steps. The "Connect" option should now say "Disconnect <profile>"


  1. Open a terminal window, and enter the following command to start the VPN session:

  2. openvpn3 session-start --config /path/to/your/profile.ovpn
  3. To disconnect, use:

  4. openvpn3 session-manage --config /path/to/your/profile.ovpn --disconnect