VPN Troubleshooting: Fixing Common VPN Problems

VPN troubleshooting – if this title caught your attention, you're likely among the millions of internet users worldwide who rely on a VPN to maintain online security and privacy. A VPN can protect you from prying eyes, but as reliable as they are, even these digital heroes can stumble occasionally.

More importantly, many of these VPN problems often come with simple solutions. So grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and we'll embark on this troubleshooting journey together. From connection problems to slow speeds, we'll unravel the most common VPN concerns and provide practical solutions to get your VPN back in the groove.

VPN Troubleshooting Cheat Sheet

VPN ProblemTroubleshooting Tips
1. VPN won't connecta. Check your internet connection.
b. Update your VPN software.
c. Reboot your device.
d. Reconfigure your VPN settings.
2. Slow VPN speeda. Switch to a different VPN server.
b. Try a different VPN protocol.
c. Check your internet speed.
d. Disable your firewall.
3. Frequent VPN disconnectionsa. Check your WiFi signal.
b. Update your VPN software.
c. Change your VPN protocol.
d. Reach out to your VPN provider.
4. Cannot access certain websitesa. Clear your browser cache.
b. Disable your browser extensions.
c. Try a different VPN server.
d. Disable VPN and then enable again.
5. Internet not working without VPNa. Restart your device.
b. Reset your network settings.
c. Check your VPN settings.
d. Contact your VPN provider.
6. VPN not hiding IPa. Check for DNS leaks.
b. Switch VPN servers.
7. VPN not working on mobile devicesa. Check your mobile data.
b. Check app permissions.
8. Cannot log in to VPNa. Check your credentials.
b. Reset your password.
9. VPN affecting local network accessa. Check VPN settings for LAN.
b. Use split tunneling.
10. VPN slows down over timea. Check your device's performance
b. Reinstall your VPN client
VPN Troubleshooting isn't always as complex as you might think.
VPN Troubleshooting isn't always as complex as you might think.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 1: VPN Won't Connect

The inability to connect to your VPN can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you need it the most. This issue can stem from several causes, so let's dissect them individually.

Check Your Internet Connection

Before we dive into complex solutions, let's start with the basics. Trust me, this little check can save you a lot of unnecessary trouble. Before blaming your VPN, try to connect to the internet without it. 

If you need help, the real culprit might be your internet connection, not your VPN. Restarting your router or modem can resolve this issue.

Restart Your Device and VPN

When in doubt, turn it off and on again. I can't tell you how often this adage has proven its worth. Often, connection issues stem from minor software hiccups that a simple reboot can resolve. This method resets your network connection and may push your VPN to start working again.

Update Your VPN Client

Keeping your VPN software up-to-date is crucial. Developers continually release updates to patch bugs, enhance performance, and add new features. If you're using an outdated version, it might be the root of your connection problems. So, always keep your VPN application updated to the latest version.

Change VPN Server

The problem might be with something other than your device or VPN software. For example, it could be the specific VPN server you're trying to connect to. VPN servers can get overloaded, or sometimes they go through technical issues. 

Try switching to a different server and see if the connection issue persists. Most VPN providers offer many server options, so try a few to find one that connects successfully.

Also Read: How to Test If Your VPN is Working

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 2: Slow VPN Speeds

A slow VPN connection can feel like returning to the dial-up days, and no one wants to relive those moments. But there's hope! Let's explore a few ways to speed up your VPN connection.

Switch VPN Protocols

VPNs utilize various protocols to secure your data. Some protocols, like OpenVPN, prioritize security over speed. While they provide robust security, there might be better choices if you're after speed. 

On the other hand, protocols like PPTP or IKEv2 offer faster connections but might provide a different level of security. If your VPN speed is sluggish, consider changing your VPN protocol. Remember, it's about finding the right balance between security and speed.

Also Read: How to Choose The Right VPN Protocol

Hop Onto Another VPN Server

As I mentioned before, the server can sometimes be the root of the problem. Your VPN speed might suffer if the server is located far away, overloaded, or having technical difficulties. Try changing to a server that's geographically closer to your location or less crowded. 

As a rule of thumb, servers in major cities or countries are more crowded, so sometimes, choosing a less obvious server can yield better results.

Check Your Network

Before blaming the VPN for slow speeds, it's worth checking if the problem lies with your network. Disconnect the VPN and test your internet speed. 

If other devices on your network are also experiencing slow speeds, the issue might be with your internet service provider. In such cases, contacting your ISP or upgrading your internet plan might be the way.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 3: VPN Disconnects Frequently

Having a VPN that disconnects frequently is like being on a rollercoaster ride – it's thrilling, but not when you're trying to get some work done or watch your favorite show in peace. Let's look at how to stabilize that ride.

Check Your Firewall Settings

Firewalls are like the gatekeepers of your device, controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security rules. However, they may be too overzealous and interfere with your VPN connection. 

To resolve this, you may need to adjust your firewall settings to ensure it's not blocking your VPN. If it is, you must create an exception for your VPN software.

Update Your VPN Application

I know I sound like a broken record. But I can't stress enough how important it is to update your VPN software. Outdated versions might have bugs or compatibility issues that could cause frequent disconnections. 

So, if you're dealing with an unstable connection, check for updates. The developers might have already provided a fix in the latest version.

Investigate Your WiFi Connection

Sometimes, the issue is not with the VPN but the WiFi connection. WiFi connections can be unstable, especially if the signal strength is weak or too many devices are connected. Any brief drop in the Wifi connection can cause the VPN to disconnect. 

Try using a wired connection or improving your Wifi signal to see if that resolves the problem.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 4: Can't Access Certain Websites

It can be pretty baffling when you're all set to surf the internet securely with your VPN, but some websites still need to be more stubbornly out of reach. It feels like your trusty tool has turned against you. But fear not! There are a few things you can do.

Check if the Website Blocks VPNs

Here's a fun fact: not all websites are VPN-friendly. Some websites can detect and block VPN traffic, usually to enforce regional restrictions. If you're having trouble accessing a specific site, the site is actively blocking your VPN.

Try a Different VPN Server

If you've been following along, you know by now how changing servers can sometimes work wonders. If a website blocks VPNs, it's usually done based on the IP addresses of known VPN servers. 

Trying a different server might allow you to access the site as the new server's IP might not be on the website's blacklist.

Clear Your Browser Cache

Your browser cache can hold onto location data and other information that might conflict with your VPN. This could reveal your location to the websites, causing them to block access. 

Try clearing your browser cache and cookies to ensure they aren't interfering with your VPN connection.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 5: VPN Blocks Internet

It's ironic, isn't it? A tool designed to enhance your internet experience now stands between you and the internet. But don't despair. Here are a few things you can try to resolve this issue.

Change Your DNS Settings

When you connect to a VPN, the client may change your DNS settings to protect your privacy. However, this can sometimes lead to issues with your internet connection. You can change your DNS settings to automatic or use a different DNS server like Google's public DNS.

Some VPNs like NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN offer private DNS servers that may work better. Check with your VPN provider if they offer such an option.

Disable Your Firewall

Your firewall can sometimes be overprotective and interfere with your VPN, blocking your internet connection. If you suspect this is the case, try disabling your firewall temporarily to see if your internet connection resumes. 

Remember, this should be a temporary measure. Your firewall is crucial to your device's security, so turn it back on as soon as you're done testing.

Check Your VPN's Network Settings

Each VPN client's network settings controls how it interacts with your device's internet connection. If you're experiencing problems, it's worth looking at these settings. 

For example, some VPN clients have a ‘kill switch' feature that blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops. If this feature is enabled, it could be the reason your internet is not working when the VPN disconnects.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 6: VPN is Not Hiding My IP

One of the main attractions of a VPN is its ability to mask your IP address, essentially making you invisible and untraceable online. So, it can be problematic when you discover that your VPN isn't doing what it should. But don't despair! There are a couple of things you can try to solve this issue.

Check for DNS Leaks

Domain Name System (DNS) leaks are a common problem that can expose your IP address, even when connected to a VPN. When you enter a web address, your VPN should direct your query to an anonymous DNS server. However, if you have a DNS leak, these requests may be sent to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) instead, revealing your IP address.

Luckily, you can use online tools to check for DNS leaks. If you discover a DNS leak, contacting your VPN provider and informing them about the issue is best. Most reputable providers will have mechanisms to patch DNS leaks and safeguard your online anonymity.

Switch VPN Servers

Another possible solution is to switch to a different VPN server. Sometimes, certain VPN servers may not be configured correctly to hide your IP address. Switching to another server may help you regain your online invisibility. Most VPN services offer a wide variety of servers, so you should have no shortage of alternatives.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 7: VPN is Not Working on Mobile Devices

In today's hyper-connected world, our smartphones are almost an extension of ourselves. As such, having a VPN that works seamlessly on mobile devices is critical. But what do you do when your VPN refuses to cooperate? Here are a couple of solutions:

Check Your Mobile Data

Before you go down the troubleshooting rabbit hole, checking if your mobile data is working correctly is a good idea. Try disconnecting from the VPN and browsing the internet as you usually would. 

If you're still experiencing connectivity issues, the problem may lie with your mobile data, not your VPN.

Check App Permissions

Operating systems like Android and iOS require apps to have the proper permissions to function correctly. These permissions allow apps to access certain resources or perform specific tasks on your device. 

Ensure your VPN app has all the permissions it needs to operate correctly. This typically includes permissions to access your network and to run in the background.

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 8: Cannot Log in to VPN

It's a beautiful day, you've got a hot cup of coffee ready, and you're all set to browse the web securely with your VPN. But there's one small problem – you can't log in. Here are a couple of potential fixes:

Check Your Credentials

This might seem obvious, but it's easy to overlook, especially when frustrated. Ensure that you're entering your username and password correctly. Remember, passwords are usually case-sensitive, so make sure your caps lock is turned off. If you're using a password manager, check that it's auto-filling your credentials correctly.

Reset Your Password

It might be time to reset your password if you're confident that you're entering your credentials correctly but still can't log in. There could be an issue with your account that a password reset might resolve. Plus, regularly updating your password is a good security practice.

Also Read: 5 Excellent Password Managers to Try

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 9: VPN is Affecting Local Network Access

You might need help accessing local network resources like printers, local servers, or other devices when connected to a VPN. This can be particularly frustrating when you're trying to get work done. So, how do you fix this? Remember, though, VPN troubleshooting isn't always about the VPN itself.

Check VPN Settings for Local Network Access

Most VPN clients have settings that control whether you can access local network resources while connected to the VPN. These settings can be found in your VPN client's ‘Advanced' or ‘Network' section. 

Ensure that these settings are configured to allow access to your local network resources. If you need help with which settings to tweak, your VPN's support team should be able to guide you through the process.

Use Split Tunneling

Split tunneling is a nifty feature offered by some VPNs that allows you to direct only certain traffic through the VPN, while the rest uses your regular internet connection. This can be extremely useful when accessing local network resources and using your VPN simultaneously. 

By configuring split tunneling correctly, you can have your cake and eat it, too – enjoy the security of a VPN while still having access to your local network.

Also Read: What is VPN Split Tunneling?

VPN Troubleshooting Problem 10: VPN Slows Down Over Time

A VPN is a bit like a car – it needs regular maintenance to perform at its best. If you notice that your VPN starts fast but gets progressively slower over time, it could be due to several reasons. Here's how you can troubleshoot this issue:

Check Your Device's Performance

Just like a car can't go fast if carrying a heavy load, your VPN can't perform well if your device is overloaded with applications. If your device runs many apps, it could use up most of your resources, slowing down your VPN. Try closing unnecessary apps to free up some resources and see if your VPN speeds up.

Reinstall Your VPN Client

If you've tried everything else and your VPN is still slowing down, it might be time to reinstall your VPN client. Sometimes, VPN clients can develop issues that can only be resolved by a fresh install. Remember to back up any critical settings or preferences before uninstalling the client, as you might lose them.

Navigating the VPN Maze with Confidence

Like all applications and services, VPNs are not immune to hiccups and glitches. These problems can range from minor irritations like a slow connection to more severe issues such as the inability to connect. But remember, the solution is often just a few clicks away. 

We've explored several VPN troubleshooting methods for various issues, providing a comprehensive manual. However, you can also try something else: give the VPN some time.

Ignore the frustration and take a few minutes to cool down and grab a drink. Then, come back and give things another go. Remember, the goal is to make your VPN work for you, not against you. 

Timothy Shim

Tim is a former tech journalist turned web technology junkie. He spends his time exploring the best in digital privacy and security tools. Meanwhile, experiments with SEO continue to increase his blood pressure. ( Contact Tim on Linkedin )

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