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Jack Tripper asked on

VPN connections disappear, RASDIAL makes them reappear

Here's a screenshot of the Connect to a Network dialog. Notice my VPN connection doesn't show. Nothing shows:


In order to get the dialog to regain its senses, i simply drop to an elevated command prompt, and run

rasdial [Name of the VPN connection]
You don't need the credentials. You don't need it to sucessfully connect; you just need to poke rasdial with a stick:


Now the Connect to a Network dialog works:


You are seeing screenshots from Windows Vista. i have also seen this bug on Windows XP.

My question is: How do i make Microsoft fix it?
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Matt H - replied on


Hi Jack,

Well,,,Gack! If this is only happening every few weeks to months, it is going to be very fun in the not so fun kind of way to track down.

Here's my take.

First, on a side note, I would never, ever run Windows without an antivirus package, if you go to the internet at all, which you appear to do.

"Common sense" worked well before the age of drive by viruses. Just going to a page (even a supposedly known good one) can give you an infection. I'm not saying it is likely, just easily possible.

I would strongly recommend that you run some virus scans (These forums have many good suggestions) just to be sure, but it does not sound like you have a virus to me.

Okay, I'll get off my soap box now. :-)

Next, rebooting is a standard "fix". If that fixes the issue, then practically every support guy in the world will tell you, "There is the fix, have a nice day." I won't argue your point though, it is kind of valid. Just please realize that there are literally billions of possible hardware and software combinations. There is no way all of them could possibly work together without an issue. I'll just tell you that it is a workaround and you should use if it works.

Lastly, if you want to keep looking for a better solution, I'm with you on that. Solutions help all of us.


So, here is what you can do next.

When it happens next time, mark the time.

Then go into Event Viewer and start tracking down all of the errors around the time it happened as well as any warnings and any events that happened just before the problem started. We don't need (or want) the full thing, just the header with Event ID, source, level and log name.


We need to know what if anything started, stopped or tried to launch or tried to stop.

Any service that does the above.


Also, I would research over at Technet.


Since you said that you are working, then for now, I'd mark this thread as closed and start a new one when and if the problem happens again.


I sure hope this helps!

Matt Hudson
Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.
Matt Hudson
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Matt H - replied on

Hi Jack,


Thank you for using the Community Forum for Vista.

Is this how it works from the start or does it work for a while and then act up?


Also, what are you using for Firewall, Antivirus and AntiSpyware?

Matt Hudson
Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.
Matt Hudson
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Jack Tripper replied on


It happens infrequently - every few weeks or months. In the 2 years that i've had Vista its happened maybe 6 times. It did not happen initially when i setup the connection, but sometime later.

A co-worker commented one day, a couple of months ago, that his Windows XP SP2 VPN connections were missing. i rolled over to his desk and gave him the workaround that i'd discovered, which solved it.

i never saw it happen on Windows XP on my home computer (2001-2007). So when it first happened shortly after getting Vista, i thought it was a Vista bug. Since it happened recently to a Windows XP SP2 user, perhaps it was a recently introduced regression.

For a firewall i use Window's standard Windows Firewall; as well as being behind a NAT router. My anti-spyware is the standard Windows Defender. And i have no anti-virus software - aside from running as a standard user and having good sense.

i'd had it happen enough that i finally decided to take screenshots as proof, and tell someone about it - rather than letting it go unfixed.
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Ken - Former Support Engineer replied on


Hi Jack Tripper

What VPN Software are you using and have you contacted their Tech Support?
If you're using Cisco's VPN Client, ask your IT department to issue you new .pcf files.

Using Third Party Software, including hardware drivers can cause serious problems that may prevent your computer from booting properly. Microsoft cannot guarantee that any problems resulting from the use of Third Party Software can be solved. Using Third Party Software is at your own risk.
Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.
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Jack Tripper replied on


What VPN Software are you using and have you contacted their Tech Support?
Start -> Control Panel -> Search for "VPN" -> Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection

And yes, i've contacted their Tech Support. i'm talking to Ken, a support engineer right now :P

If it wasn't a Microsoft thing i wouldn't have posted in a Microsoft support forum.
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Joseph - Support Engineer replied on


Hello Jack Tripper,

It’s possible that you have a corrupted file. To resolve this issue, use the System File Checker tool (SFC.exe).  To do this, follow these steps:

1.       Open an elevated command prompt. To do this, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.

2.       Type the following command, and then press ENTER:

sfc /scannow

The sfc /scannow command scans all protected system files and replaces incorrect versions with correct Microsoft versions.

Thanks for using the Answers Forum. Please let us know how this works out.

Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.
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Jack Tripper replied on


Hello Jack Tripper,

It’s possible that you have a corrupted file. To resolve this issue, use the System File Checker tool (SFC.exe). 

Swing and a...


Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6001] Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.

C:\Windows\system32>sfc /scannow

Beginning system scan.  This process will take some time.

Beginning verification phase of system scan.
Verification 100% complete.

Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.


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Kevin-- replied on


Hi Jack Tripper,

Is this computer on a domain network? or is it just a home computer?

First, perform a Clean Boot and see the program still continue crashing in a Clean Boot normal environment.

How-to run Windows in Selective Startup (Clean Boot)…

1.     Click Start, click Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, click Administrative Tools, and then double-click System Configuration.

2.     Click Continue, or provide Administrator credentials if prompted.

3.     Click the General tab, and click Selective startup.

4.     Under Selective startup uncheck Load startup items.

5.     Click the Services tab, check the Hide all Microsoft services box, and then click Disable all.

6.     Click the Apply, then OK, and then Restart.

Check and see if your VPN connection show up, if not process to second step

How to boot your system into Safe Mode

1.     Restart your computer if it is powered on.

2.     Tap the F8 key after your computer initially powers on.

3.     Once you see the Advanced Boot Options menu you can stop tapping.

4.     Use the up/down arrow keys to highlight your selection.

5.     Select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter.

6.     You should see drivers loading, and then Please wait.

7.     You should then be at the Welcome Screen.

8.     Logon to your computer using an account with Administrator privileges.

Again, check for your VPN connect in Safe Mode with Networking

Third, try System Restore but I doubt you have restore point back to that far.  Check it anyway.

Running the System Restore utility…

1.     Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, and then click System Restore.

2.     Click Continue or provide Administrator credentials if necessary.

3.     Click Choose a different restore point, and then click Next.

4.     Select a Date and Time prior to first sign of the issue you’ve described.

5.     If the date you need is in excess of (5) days click the Show restore points older than 5 days check box.


Important Notice: That System Restore affects Windows system files, programs, and registry settings. It can also make changes to scripts, batch files, and other types of executable files on your computer. Thus, any recently installed programs, updates, or changes to configuration will be lost if you use System Restore. However, make note that System Restore does not affect personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos, so it cannot help you restore a deleted file.

Last, try a Startup Repair if you have Vista installation CD/DVD

If you have a Windows Vista installation disc, you need to restart (boot) your computer using the installation disc. If you do not restart your computer from the disc, the option to repair your computer will not appear.

If you have a Windows Vista installation disc:

 1.  Insert the installation disc.

 2.  Restart your computer.

Click the Start button, click the arrow next to the Lock button , and then click Restart.

 3.  If prompted, press any key to start Windows from the installation disc.

Note: If your computer is not configured to start from a CD or DVD, check the information that came with your computer. You may need to change your computer's BIOS settings. For more information, see BIOS: frequently asked questions.

 4.  Choose your language settings, and then click Next.

 5.  Click Repair your computer.

 6.  Select the operating system you want to repair, and then click Next.

 7.  On the System Recovery Options menu, click Startup Repair. Startup Repair might prompt you to make choices as it tries to fix the problem, and if necessary, it might restart your computer as it makes repairs.

Let us know if this helps,

Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.
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Jack Tripper replied on


Not on a domain.

Hang on.

These generic fix options that you're throwing at me. You do realize that i'm not experiencing any problems right now, right? You do realize that i can fix the problem by using RASDIAL, right? i mentioned in the original post, and gave screenshots, that it's fixed - until it next happens. i've never even tried doing a reboot to see if that also fixes it. Because just rebooting isn't diagnosing the problem, it's just covering it up.

i'm sure a reboot would also fix the problem, so too would a clean boot, since it's a form of reboot. But without the problem happening i cannot say if a Reboot/Clean Boot fixed it. That is because, as i mentioned, i'm not experiencing the problem right now - and RASDIAL fixes it.

Using system restore makes no sense. The computer is running fine right now. (Remember, the problem is fixed by running RASDIAL). If i wanted to go back to a point in time where i never saw the problem, it would have to be a few years ago (since i've seen the problem on Windows XP and Vista). And even if i seriously wanted to use System Restore, i first saw the problem years ago. Even if there was System Restore data that far back, i wouldn't do it, when i'm not experiencing a problem. Remember: i'm not experiencing the problem right now, since using RASDIAL fixes it.

Finally, perhaps my OP didn't make it clear: i'm not having the problem right now. Right now i can use VPN fine.

You're giving me solutions that are equivalent to "reinstall", when i'm not experiencing any problems right now.
 - sfc
 - clean boot
 - system restore
 - repair install

Lets say i re-install, and right away i see a VPN connections i create - then nothing has changed. i can see VPN connection right now i create. i've not diagnosed anything. And since i've seen the same problem on two different computers: Windows XP and Windows Vista - it's not just my computer. It's only localized to people who create and use VPN connections.

Put it another way: It's an intermittent problem, that cannot be diagnosed by iterative trying of things on my end. Any proposed solution will have to wait months until i experience the problem again.

What i really need to go is wait unti i'm having the problem again, run a 4GB memory dump, and have someone connect to WinDbg remotely. It's not a serious bug in Windows XP/Vista, but it is a bug, and i only created this post so Microsoft could be given the chance to fix it.

There is no situation where van.dll should not be showing me available VPN connections, when they exist. i would try to debug it by launching

    C:\Windows\system32\rundll32.exe C:\Windows\system32\van.dll,RunVAN

myself from WinDbg, but i'm not good at command line debuggers. i'd even try to use my other favorite graphical debuggers. But in the end, no matter what i find, it doesn't do anyone any good unless it goes into a fix in Windows itself.

Which was why i posted. Not to share some ad-hoc solutions such as
 - rasdial
 - sfc
 - clean boot
 - repair reinstall

But to help try to come up with an actual solution.

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DaGreenOne replied on


Jack - you would be suprised how many people Post stuff on here that has nothing to do with Vista and since this Forum does not support 3rd Party Applications, that is probably why Ken - Support Engineer asked that question and Posted what he did.

You are right though, looks like all of the support engineers mis-understood that this is a intermittent issue :P

Good luck....
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Jack Tripper replied on


Jack - you would be suprised how many people Post stuff on here that has nothing to do with Vista
i thought about that.

But then i cannot imagine any situation where the VPN gui would not show available connections, when they do exist on the system.

The only thing i can imagine is if it is internally being denied read access to wherever the VPN connections list are being stored.

And even if some root kit, anti-virus product were doing that, the GUI should indicate that there was an error - rather than pretending there are no connections.
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