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Hamachi isn’t a brand new utility or idea, but I did want to ‘spread the word’ of this excellent program.

Hamachi is a service that runs in the background and connects your computer to any other computer you wish in a particular network. This creates an encrypted VPN (Virtual Private Network) between you and other PCs in your own network.

This becomes ultra convenient when you have a number of PCs that you want to connect to, for example if you have a work PC, home PC, school PC and/or servers. Once Hamachi is installed, the computers are available via IP address for their file shares, or any other service. Lots of people also use to play video games in a multi-player mode regardless of their location.

I like a few things about Hamachi that set it apart from the other VPN software available:

  • Ease of use – Installing the program is a snap!
  • Network Compatibility – Works with many types of networks, uses a variety of methods to get around firewalls (NAT, etc.)
  • Cross-Platform Availability – Clients include the typical Windows and Mac, but also Linux, Mobile Devices, Windows Mobile and more.
  • Security Built In – Communication between Hamachi clients is encrypted.

 

Windows Hamachi Install

Setting up the client is easy on Windows.

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Installing Hamacho On Windows

After installing the client, run it for the first time and “power” it on. It will have you create a network, and include a password so that anyone joining it (if it is a personal network, this would just be you) will need a password.

Hamachi GUI You will then join the network. For now, you will be the only one in this network. On subsequent installations, you can cancel out of the “create” network part. You will just join the network – so supply the password you used while creating the network.

Setting Hamachi up on Linux is a bit more difficult because it is via command line, however it is still easy as long as you are comfortable typing in a few commands.

Linux Install

From the readme for the Linux client:

  • Run ‘make install’ and then ‘tuncfg’ from under the root account
  • Run ‘hamachi-init’ to generate crypto identity (any account).
  • Run ‘hamachi start’ to launch Hamachi daemon.
  • Run ‘hamachi login’ to put the daemon online and to create an account.
  • Run ‘hamachi join ‘ to join the network.
  • Run ‘hamachi go-online ‘ to go online in the network.
  • Run ‘hamachi list’ to list network members and their status.

More or less, this is all you will need to do. Depending on which flavor of linux you are installing this on, there may be some tricks you’ll need to use to get it working properly. Also, don’t forget to add it to your init scripts (or rc.local) to load on startup.

There is also a GTK GUI for the Linux client – see this forum post if you are interested in downloading or knowing more about it.

So now what?

So now that you have your machines set up, what can you do with them?

Here is just a random selection of some useful programs or services that you can use between your Hamachi clients:

    VNC, Remote Desktop, NoMachine, etc. – Remotely access any PC on the VPN. The connection is encrypted, so you feel secure using even unencrypted protocols (like default VNC).

    File Shares – Whether you use Windows file sharing, Samba or other protocols, you can access files on any other Hamachi PC. For Windows shares, just use the IP: \\5.x.x.x\. You can also map these shares to a drive, giving you access to your files like a local drive.

    Music or Video Streaming – Use a streaming media server, such as Jinzora, to stream music from one PC to another.

    Gaming – Play multi-player games with friends even if you’re on different networks.

Really anything you can think of that would be handy via a VPN, P2P network would work really well with Hamachi. Most connections are direct, so bandwidth is limited by your direct internet connection. In some cases a ‘relay’ is used to maintain connectivity, but this is only used in rare cases (Hamachi claims that 95% of connections are direct).

Finally, there are two versions of Hamachi. The free version has a few limitations – namely it will not run as a system service, is limited to the number of networked clients and uses ‘low speed’ relays (when necessary). The paid version takes away these limitations – for a full description see the comparison page.

The only two downsides that I can see to Hamachi is that it is closed-source, and that it depends on mediation servers. Being closed source, it is impossible to audit the code to ensure it is 100% secure and encrypted. The mediation servers have always worked well for me, but this adds in a 3rd party which some people may not like.

Hopefully you will find Hamachi as useful as I have! This program was purchased by LogMeIn a few years back but has retained its free and useful nature. If you have any particular issues with it, their forum is a great resource with lots of knowledgeable users.

Alternatives: OpenVPN is a similar service, but since there is no mediation server – configuration is a good bit more complex.

  1. SEM
    September 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Cool piece of software. I always preferred gaming on private LAN networks, but didn't know about VPN options. I don't have as many friends that want to play multiplayer games these days, but I'll definitely give this a shot at some point.

  2. Cap1ln
    August 22, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Just use leaf networks - leafnetworks.net

  3. crysi
    August 12, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I tried out Teamviewer as it also has a VPN and is for free but I was just able to connect to one remote machine. There is no configuration required at all, just type in ID and password, thats all. It provides a Teamviewer generated IP for the VPN which is static. Here is the download link. teamviewer.com/download/TeamViewer_Setup.exe

    • summoner2100
      November 9, 2009 at 10:22 pm

      Team viewer does only one computer at a time, unlike Hamachi which can have several on the network. Team Viewer also leaves ports open while not in use. The only way to get passed it is to keep uninstalling after you use it. Not that great a program.

  4. Sean M.
    July 31, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I would like to point out one quirk that might be encountered when trying to use Hamachi for gaming. For some games you may need to give the Hamachi connection the highest priority in order for it to work. To do this (in XP) go to Network Connections -> Advanced (Menu at the top) -> Advanced Settings, and then move Hamachi up to the top of the list. I know for a fact this is necessary in Warcraft III and possibly other games as well.

  5. Sean L.
    July 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Thanx Travis, will try that.....

  6. Sean L.
    July 31, 2008 at 10:32 am

    OK, I got it set up between 2 computers, can chat between the two, now how do I access the files on another computer? Or is this just a feature in the paid version?
    As it says above- "Remotely access any PC on the VPN."
    So how do I do stuff besides chat?

    • Travis Quinnelly
      July 31, 2008 at 11:36 am

      Start -> Run. Type "\\yourHamachiIP" (no quotes)
      This should show you all of your sharepoints on that workstation/server. Of course, you need to make sure that your Firewall software is allowing in and outbound connections via Hamachi.

  7. sam
    July 31, 2008 at 6:00 am

    @ Aibek

    Is it possible to use Hamachi for gaming without an internet connection. For example, if all pcs ran Hamachi, is it possible to play on the same network that one PC would set up?

    • Dave
      July 31, 2008 at 6:44 am

      This wouldn't make sense at all.

      First of all, Hamachi wouldn't work, because you need access to remediation servers to create the P2P connection. Hamachi uses a similar method as Skype to punch through firewalls.

      But most importantly, why would you need to use Hamachi? If a handful of PCs are set up on a network using a switch, you have local access to all of their IP addresses and wouldn't need it.

      • Aibek
        July 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

        I second Dave,

        "why would you need to use Hamachi? If a handful of PCs are set up on a network using a switch, you have local access to all of their IP addresses and wouldn’t need it."

        • Craig
          March 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

          For one, if you want to play Left4Dead on a LAN using Hamachi, but not have to slow your connection down by going via the internet... any way to get around this?

  8. Sean L.
    July 31, 2008 at 5:43 am

    What I really want to use this for is to have access to files on another computer, thats why I'm going to give it another shot....

  9. Sean L.
    July 31, 2008 at 5:40 am

    It froze after install, as it was trying to make a network connection, the part that really freaked me out was how Windows wouldnt boot right after....
    I may try installing again today now that I know I can remove it safely....

    • Aibek
      July 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

      I think you should give it more time. I have installed Hamachi several times and in all cases it took several minutes for it to configure Network Connection.

  10. Sean L.
    July 30, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I tried this out, set up OK on my laptop, but when I set it up on my XP Pro desktop, it froze my computer, then it wouldnt boot up right, had to uninstall the program in safe mode before it would boot up right again, anyone else have a similar problem?

    • Aibek
      July 31, 2008 at 5:18 am

      I have been using Hamachi (free version) for about 3 years now, mostly for gaming :-). Easy to use, simple installation, etc. I was a bit skeptical abt it at the beginning and thought that it wont be able to deliver fast gaming experience when playing with friends from other continents. I was wrong.

      @ Sean

      The Hamachi installation process takes some time. At what stage did it freeze?

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