University faculty and students who make a standard upgrade from a 32-bit to 64-bit version of Windows may find themselves unable to connect to their school networks off-campus, with even a simple task such as trying to check school eMail from home yielding an error message.
The culprit: schools may be using a remote access system that is incompatible with many university members’ new computers.
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Most schools provide their members with remote access to school technology through a virtual private network (VPN).
While there are security measures built into on-campus networks, a VPN encrypts data before it is sent across a connection, allowing users to maintain security when they access school resources from off-campus.
In an educational environment, data security is particularly important because staff may upload sensitive information such as student grades, records, and exams from home.
When users upgrade their computers, they may migrate from a 32-bit version of Windows, such as Windows XP, to a 64-bit version such as Windows Vista or Windows 7.
A 64-bit system can handle large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more efficiently than a 32-bit system. However, 64-bit systems are not compatible with most schools’ existing VPN clients.
In particular, many universities found that the popular Cisco Systems IPSEC VPN Client was no longer sufficient, unleashing a barrage of complaints.