A reliable VPN boosts your security and privacy, but only if it works correctly. Just like with any type of software, technical problems may arise. Maybe you can’t connect to a VPN server, or your Web connection is too slow. Or even worse, maybe your VPN is crashing. Don’t worry, we are here to help – so welcome to our VPN troubleshooting guide.
TechNadu’s editorial team has tested and reviewed more than 50 VPNs. Not all of them worked right out of the box, so we know a few things on how to fix your VPN. Here are the most effective techniques for solving VPN-related problems.
25 Best Tips on Fixing Your VPN Connection Issues!
In general, the most common problems with VPNs can be categorized into four groups. We are going to provide helpful and useful tips on fixing all those, so here’s what we’ll be dealing with.
- How to fix a slow VPN connection;
- How to fix a VPN that won’t connect to a remote server;
- How to fix a VPN that disconnects from a remote server;
- How to fix a VPN that keeps crashing.
5 Fixes for Slow VPNs & Improving Your Web Connection Speed
Perhaps the most common VPN problem is throttling. You hope to have a stellar Web connectivity, which doesn’t happen once a VPN takes control of it. We already spoke about how to fix slow VPNs – so we highly recommend you to visit that link first. Now, let’s expand our list of possible solutions.
1. Choose Your VPN Carefully
There are hundreds of VPNs on the market and each of them offers something unique. However, each of those is able to support certain speeds. This means that you should be very careful when choosing a VPN and pay close attention to what kinds of speeds they’re promising. If the company is not able to deliver that, you are free to look elsewhere.
So first and foremost, do your research on what kind of VPN to use. To help you with this, we have a list of the fastest VPNs – tested by our team of reviewers. Also, it is our strong recommendation not to use free-of-charge VPNs as these are known for bringing very limited speeds.
2. Test Your VPN's Server Performance
If your VPN slows down your Web connection, it’s wise to check other servers offered by the chosen provider. Just because one isn’t performing as it should, this doesn’t mean that the entire network is malfunctioning. To help you with this, VPN providers usually have ways to tell you which servers work best for your location.
To give you an example, ExpressVPN provides a useful way to test the speed of its servers, so you can know what to expect even before you connect. Take a look at the image above to see how simple yet effective this tool can be.
3. Try Using a New Networking Port
As you probably know, your Web traffic flows from your computer to your router – and vice versa. However, this is made possible via networking ports on your router. Each stream of your traffic flows through a different port, which helps your router to keep traffic from different sources separated. Please note that we're not talking about physical ports on your router but instead- we're talking about 'software' ports.
You might think that these ports are equal but they are not. Your ISP might be blocking a certain port to prevent certain activities, like P2P file transfer. This is why using a new port can be a solution to creating the perfect environment for your VPN.
To try this, you need to know the exact model of your router. So, check out the model and do an online search on how to access your router’s IP address. Once you open this dashboard (via your Web browser), you’ll get to change currently used ports. In case you have a router supplied by your ISP, you can contact your ISP and ask how to access your router’s dashboard.
4. Switch Between Different IP Protocols
You can also troubleshoot your VPN by using a different IP protocol. Among numerous protocols currently available, VPNs commonly use TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol). Furthermore, most VPNs allow you to easily switch between these two.
What you need to know is that TCP is more commonly used. This one manages to send data even if an error occurs. Even though UDP doesn’t come with this handy feature (if there’s an error, your data won’t be transmitted), it’s noticeably faster. As you can see, there’s a compromise to be made.
Once again, we’ll show you how this is done using ExpressVPN. Upon launching this application, we can open its preferences. From there, we can choose from several protocols where TCP and UDP can both be found.
5. Try Disabling Your Antivirus
We don’t have to tell you that using an antivirus is imperative. However, these can be quite aggressive applications that can slow down your VPN connection. For example, this happens with those antivirus applications that need more time to scan all outbound and inbound packets you send and receive.
Our advice is to disable your antivirus temporarily to see if it slows down your VPN. If this turns out to be true, maybe it’s time to permanently remove your antivirus and check other options as well.
10 Fixes for VPNs That Won’t Connect to a Server
In some situations, a VPN doesn’t want to connect to a server. You either wait for a long time to connect (without any success), or your connection might be refused. Let’s continue with our VPN troubleshooting guide by focusing on this type of problem.
1. Make Sure You Have a Working Connection
Your VPN connection is an ‘extension’ or your ‘naked’ Web connection. Therefore, make sure that your device is online and whether it can access the Web without a VPN. We’re aware that this sounds like a basic solution – but it’s often overlooked one.
In case you can’t connect to the Web, reset your router by unplugging it from the wall outlet. It’s recommended to wait around 30 seconds and then plug it back it. Also, it might take a few minutes for your router to become fully functional.
2. Check If Your VPN’s Servers Are Working
Our previous piece of advice on solving VPN connectivity issues is focused on your computer. However, maybe this is your VPN’s fault. You see, servers are not the easiest thing to manage and they can go offline from time to time. Even though this doesn’t happen frequently, you should still check if everything’s fine on your VPN’s end.
There are two ways to check if everything’s okay with your VPN. You can contact support, or you can log in to your account on the VPN’s website. From there, find the server status page (many providers offer this functionality).
3. Double-Check Your User Credentials
Once again, we have yet another simple solution. Depending on the VPN you’re using, you might or might not be asked for a password - once you change it. So, log out and sign in using your credentials. Double-check if you perhaps used your email address instead of your username, and vice versa.
If you can’t even log in to your account, it’s best to contact the support team of your VPN. So, check how to send an email, open a ticket, or start a live chat.
4. Make Sure You're Not Above Your VPN Limit
Different VPNs bring different limits of parallel connections. This can range from 3, or maybe 5 or even 10, and there are some offering unlimited connections. So, don’t confuse this with the number of devices onto which you can install a VPN. Even though you can install them on any device you might have, you can’t use your VPN actively on all those devices (if that crosses the predefined limit).
Try to remember if you have your VPN turned on some other device. Or log in to your account on the VPN’s website and review currently connected devices.
5. Try Using a Different Wi-Fi Network
In case you’re connected to the Web via Wi-Fi, try using some other network. This would mean using a different router to connect, which forces your VPN to use that new router. In case this works, this is a clear indication that your router is blocking your VPN. So, maybe it's time to pick a new router and explore your options.
6. Enable Routing & Remote Services on Windows
To be able to send and receive data, as well as make sense of different Internet protocols, your Windows PC runs numerous services in the background. These are called ‘Routing and Remote Access Services’ and they come enabled by default. However, you need to check whether this function works properly to resolve VPN problems and enable it if it’s not working.
- Use the Windows Key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run prompt;
- Now, type in ‘services.msc’ and press Enter;
- You will get to see all of the services powering your operating system. You need to locate ‘Routing and Remote Access’;
- Double click on this item and a new window will appear;
- In the General tab, you can enable this option, so you can pick ‘Automatic’;
- Click on ‘OK’ to finalize the process.
- Restart your Windows PC to make sure to apply the new change.
7. Renew Your IP via Command Prompt
Next, we have another helpful tip on fixing VPNs that won't connect. We recommend you to renew your IP address to make sure you can access your router. Here’s how you can do this.
- Launch the Start Menu and type in ‘Command Prompt’;
- You should see a list of results, with the Command Prompt at the top;
- Right-click on this icon and select ‘Run as Administrator’;
- Windows will ask you to confirm your decision, so make sure to do that;
- A black screen should appear, like in the old DOS days. Type in ‘ipconfig/release’ and hit Enter, and then type in ‘ipconfig/renew’ and hit Enter once again;
- It might take a few moments until you regain your Web connection. Once that happens, try connecting to your VPN once again.
8. Check If Your DNS Settings Are Working
One of the ways to see if your ‘naked’ Web connection is working is by pinging an external IP address. This means that you’ll send a few data packets to that address and receive them back as well. If this process can’t be executed on your computer, the problem is in your router.
- Open the Start Menu and search for ‘Command Prompt’;
- Once it opens, type in ‘ping 184.108.40.206’ and hit the Enter key. We will be pinging Google’s servers;
- It should take a few moments until the test is done. You’ll be able to see how many packs you’ve sent, and how many of those have been received. In case some or none were received by the server, you’ll have to check if your DNS settings are valid.
In case all your data packets have been sent and received by Google, this means that you need to look for some other solution to your VPN problem. If that’s not the case, let’s see how to check your DNS settings and fix this issue.
- Open the Control Panel on your Windows PC;
- Now click on ‘View Network Status and Tasks’. If you can’t see this option, make to select ‘View By: Category’ in the top-right portion of the screen;
- On the left side, select ‘Change Adapter Settings’;
- Right-click on your Web connection and pick ‘Properties’;
- Select ‘Internet Protocol Version 4’ and click on ‘Properties’ once again;
- Ensure that the following options are enabled: Obtain IP Address Automatically, and Obtain DNS Server Automatically.
- Click ‘OK’ to exit.
9. Flush Your DNS Cache
Finally, it’s worth noting that flushing DNS cache is helpful for eliminating entries saved by your ISP. We are going to delete those entries and allow your computer to access your VPN’s DNS.
- Open the Start Menu and type in ‘Command Prompt’;
- Right-click on the icon of Command Prompt and select ‘Run as Administrator’;
- Once the black window appears, type in ‘ipconfig/flushdns’ and hit Enter;
- After a few moments, you’ll get a notification saying that Windows has successfully flushed the DNS resolver cache.
10. Check Your Ethernet Adapter Settings
In case you’re connected to the Web via Ethernet (wired connection), you can make sure it’s working by checking the adapter’s settings. In many cases, this can improve the speed of your connection which is why we had to place this method in our VPN troubleshooting guide.
- Right-click on the Start Menu and select ‘Network Connections’;
- On the left side of the screen, select ‘Ethernet’;
- Now, click on ‘Change Adapter Options’;
- You need to right-click on the network connection you’re using and select ‘Properties’;
- Click on ‘Internet Protocol Version 4’ and click on ‘Properties’ once again;
- Make sure that the ‘Use the following DNS server addresses’ option is active. Type in OpenDNS’ address in these fields - 220.127.116.11 for the preferred DNS, and 18.104.22.168 for the alternative DNS;
- Finally, close all open windows.
5 Fixes for VPNs That Drop Their Connections
There’s a wide range of issues resulting in VPNs not being able to maintain a secure connection. So, you’ll find five solutions in our VPN troubleshooting guide about this type of problem.
1. Try Disabling Your Firewall
Your computer’s firewall is a reliable protection method against unauthorized access. However, this measure can take things too far sometimes and even block your VPN. Once this happens, your VPN might be able to connect but it will have a hard time keeping the connection alive.
The solution to this problem is to disable your firewall, at least temporarily. Here’s how this can be done on Windows and MacOS.
- Disabling Firewall on Windows: Open the Control Panel and then go to ‘System and Security’. This option is visible if you click on ‘Category’ next to ‘View By’ in the top-right corner of your screen. Next, select ‘Windows Defender Firewall’ and finally click on ‘Turn Windows Firewall On or Off’ on the left side of the screen.
- Disabling Firewall on MacOS: Go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences. Then, click on ‘Security & Privacy’ and select ‘Firewall’ from the available tabs. This is where you can enable or disable your Mac’s firewall protection.
2. Pick a Nearby Server
In general, you’ll get a much faster and more reliable VPN connection if you connect to a nearby server. This means using a server in your country or a neighboring country. Don’t worry, this will allow you to keep your connection encrypted and be perfectly safe on the Web. And of course, this isn’t an option if you want to unblock a website only available in a certain country (like media streaming websites from the USA).
Speaking of choosing an optimal location to content to, we have a helpful article on choosing the best country to make a VPN connection from.
3. Switch to Another VPN Protocol
As noted in our article on the currently used VPN protocols, each of these has its upsides and downsides. In general, the most optimal protocol for average users is OpenVPN. However, this depends on the type and strength of your Web connection. Feel free to try L2TP/IPSec, which is also a reliable and speedy method of keeping your connection secure. There’s also PPTP, even though it’s not generally recommended as it’s an outdated protocol with potential security loopholes. Still, this could be a good pick if you simply want to unblock websites, without having the strongest possible encryption.
4. Make a Direct Ethernet Connection
If you want to get the most out of your Web connection, you should try using a wired connection. This means connecting your desktop computer or your laptop via Ethernet to your router. This action allows your device to make a direct connection to your router, without any interference. As such, it could resolve problems for those who have more than one router in their home.
5. Use Your VPN’s DNS Server
To protect you from possible leaks, VPNs use their own DNS (Domain Name System) servers. This means that your VPN’s DNS settings might interfere with native settings on your device. In case you didn’t know, you are free to select a DNS server on your Windows or Mac computer.
To resolve this issue, you’ll need to check whether your VPN offers a way to fine-tune its DNS server. This means accessing your VPN’s settings and checking for any DNS-related options. If possible, you can disable this option. Even though this action might weaken your security, it can also resolve connectivity problems.
5 Fixes for VPNs That Keep Crashing
As we said in the introduction to our VPN troubleshooting guide, VPNs share problems with other applications. This means that they can sometimes crash, without any reason. Here’s how to fix VPN software crashes.
1. Update Your VPN Application
In certain cases, there might be a bug preventing your VPN from working. Depending on how lucky you are, you might be in a very small group that experiences a certain bug. This is why it’s important to make sure that your VPN is updated at all times.
The easiest way to update your VPN application is by downloading the latest version from the official website. Simply reinstall the application on your computer and it should update the software. This means leaving all your custom settings intact. Also, see if there’s an automatic update option in your VPN’s settings.
2. Manage Your Computer’s Resources
VPNs range from lightweight applications to pretty complex and resource-hungry options. In case you don’t have an ultra-powerful computer, you should make sure that your VPN has the requires resources to operate.
You can resolve potential problems by going through the list of installed applications. Remove those that you don’t use anymore. Also, make sure not to keep numerous applications open at the same time. Quit them and see if this improved your PC’s performance.
3. Restart Your Computer
While some computer users never turn off or restart their computers, others do this every time one their session is over. Both Windows and Macs are known for storing logs and diagnostic information and these are deleted upon startup. So, simply restart your computer to get rid of those files.
Another useful tool that can be used to remove junk files and make sure your computer is running at its best is CCleaner. It comes free-of-charge and you can use it to maintain your Windows or Mac computer.
4. Reinstall Your VPN Client
We already recommended you to update your VPN client. However, it’s also worth noting that completely removing the application might also fix numerous problems. This means not updating the application but removing it first. You also need to make sure that you’ve removed user files as well, usually located in Program Files on your Windows machine.
5. If Nothing Helps – Contact Your VPN’s Support Team
Finally, you can contact your VPN’s support if nothing else helps. A good thing about using a premium VPN is that you have a reliable support team watching your back. The best-case scenario includes using a live chat to quickly resolve your problem. You might be even asked to allow remote connection to your computer, which should resolve any issues you might be having.
Dear readers, this is where we conclude our VPN troubleshooting guide. We sincerely hope that our bits of advice managed to help you solve problems with your VPN. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below.