How to install and configure SoftEther VPN on Windows

As we discuss in our gude on how to set up a home SoftEther VPN server in Windows, SoftEther is both a VPN client and an SSL VPN protocol.

To use the SoftEther protocol, you must connect to a SoftEther server using a SoftEther client, but you can also connect to a SoftEther server using the OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec protocols.

The official advice is to use the SoftEther client to take full advantage of a SoftEther server’s performance, but this advice is then immediately contradicted for all platforms except Windows...

Windows

Only the Windows SoftEther client has a proper GUI, and for other reasons discussed below, Windows is the only platform either we or the SoftEther team recommend running the client software on.

  1. Download and install the software from the SoftEther Download Center. What we are looking for is the SoftEther VPN Client for the Windows platform. Intel (x86 and x96) will be auto-selected as the CPU option, as it is the one available for Windows.

    softether download os

    Choose the latest version of the Client and install it as you would any other Windows program. When asked which components to install, select SoftEther VPN Client.

    softether setup wizard

  2. Once installed, double-click on Add VPN Connection. Say Yes to Do you want to create a Virtual Network Adapter and assign the new adapter a name.

    create a virtual adapter

  3. Double-click again on Add VPN Connection to enter the New VPN Connection Properties screen. The exact settings required depend on how the SoftEther server has been configured. At a minimum, you will need to:

    a) Choose a name for the VPN connection.

    b) Enter the Host Name, Port Number and Virtual Hub Name of the VPN server you wish to connect to. The server administrator should be able to supply you with these details.

    c) Enter your username and password.

    configure VPN connection

    The settings shown above are for the simple VPN server we configured in our How to set up a home SoftEther VPN server in Windows tutorial.

    Click OK when you’re done.

  4. Then just double-click the newly created VPN connection to connect. The first time you do this, Windows Defender may require you to Allow Access through its firewall.

    windows defender allow softether access

    You should probably also read through the NAT traversal warning at least once.

    Virtual hub

    And ta-da! You are connected to the SoftEther server.

    you have connected to the softether server

SoftEther for Other platforms

Only the Windows client has a proper GUI - the macOS and Linux apps are command line-only, so even the official SoftEther documentation says “they are very difficult to use because of lack of GUI. We strongly recommend using the built-in L2TP/IPsec VPN client... in order to connect to VPN Server.”

Linux users must not only contend with a lack of a GUI (which might not worry many Linux users!), but TUN must be enabled in the kernel, which may well require re-compiling your kernel from the source. Besides this, all internet connections must be routed manually through the VPN interface using commands such as iprouteadd, iproute default, and so on.

The command-line SoftEther client for macOS shares many of the problems associated with the Linux client.

A couple of ported SoftEther apps exist for Android, but these require your phone to be Rooted. Again, the official advice is to use Android’s built-in L2TP/IPsec VPN client.

There are no SoftEther clients for iOS/iPadOS, but you can configure iDevices to connect to SoftEther servers using the iOS built-in L2TP/IPsec VPN client.

We have full instructions for configuring L2TP/IPsec and OpenVPN in:

Note

If using L2TP/IPsec, Android users should enter Forwarding routes: 0.0.0.0/0 in their L2TP/IPsec configuration page.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

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