I recently needed to use the Cisco VPN client software to establish a connection to a secure network as part of one of our recent projects and encountered some problems after the installation. This post documents the issues I encountered which will hopefully help anyone who finds themselves in the same position.
The steps to get started are as follows:
Download the package from the service provider
Unpack it to a folder
Locate and execute ‘Setup.exe’
Walk through the installation wizard accepting the default options
After a restart, run the software and click ‘import’
Select the pcf file (which contains your connection information) and you should be ready to connect
In my case, when the application was started for the first time it displayed the following error message:
"Warning 201: The necessary VPN sub-system is not available. You can not connect to the remote VPN server"
Cisco.com chalk this one up to a firewall problem but in my case the issue was very different. There were in fact two issues which prevented the software from working correctly. Firstly the software installs a virtual device which appears in your network connections as another LAN connection. I checked the device manager and was supprised to find that the device was disabled despite having installed the driver without a problem and following a restart.
The second issue was slightly more concerning. In addition to the graphical interface and virtual device, the package also installs a service which is set to run automatically. This is named ‘Cisco Systems, Inc. VPN Service’ and has no description. Looking at the services snap-in (Available via Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services) I could see that it had not started. I attempted to start the service manually and received the following error:
"Could not start the Cisco Systems, Inc. VPN Service on Local Computer. Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified"
Checking the properties of the service I could see that the ‘Path to executable’ was empty which explained why Windows was unable to start the service. To correct this I needed to do the following:
Open the registry editor (Start > Run > Type ‘regedit’ > Click OK)
Navigate to ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\CVPND’
Right click the ‘CVPND’ folder and select New > Expandable String Value
Name the value ‘ImagePath’
Right click the new value and select ‘Modify’
In the ‘Value Data’ field type the path to cvpnd.exe, which in my case was ‘C:\Program Files\Cisco Systems\VPN Client\cvpnd.exe’
Click OK to save the value and exit the registry editor.
Once this was carried out I was able to start the service and begin using the software as intended. I was unable to find this exact solution on any forums although I did find that some people were having the same problem so I decided to put this post together. Remember that editing the registry can have serious consequences if you are not sure what you are doing but sometimes it is the only way to fix a problem so take care and do so at your own risk.