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How to Fix a VPN That’s Not Connecting

Quickly set up and run your VPN service

For the most part, VPN services run smoothly. So, it can be confusing or frustrating if you suddenly have trouble connecting to your VPN. When your VPN is acting a little frustrated and refusing to connect, this step-by-step troubleshooting guide can get you back up and running.

Causes of VPN connection problems

VPN connection issues are usually software or browser related, so fixing a malfunctioning VPN issue is often a process of elimination. Your VPN may be working because of:

  • An overloaded VPN server
  • Running legacy VPN software
  • Using the Wrong VPN Protocol

D3Damon / Getty Images

Troubleshooting Steps to Reconnect Your VPN

If your VPN is not connecting, try these solutions:

Check your internet connection. It may seem obvious, but make sure your network connection is working. If you cannot connect to the Internet, make sure your device is connected to the correct access point.

Check your login credentials. Not having correct or up-to-date login credentials is another obvious but often overlooked detail. If you are using a free VPN service, check the website to see if the credentials provided by the VPN service have changed or if your password needs to be updated.

Change VPN server connection. VPNs usually offer a variety of servers you can connect to. But sometimes the server you are trying to connect to is having problems and you will get one of several common VPN error codes. Try a different server and see if the issue is resolved.

Restart the VPN software or browser add-on. If changing the VPN server doesn’t work, restart your VPN software or browser add-ons. Do not disconnect from the VPN server; exit and restart the software. In the case of browser add-ons, close the browser completely and reopen it. It may be necessary to clear the browser cache for the add-on to work again.

Make sure your VPN software is up to date. VPN software is updated frequently. Make sure you are running the latest software available to eliminate the possibility of errors and maximize performance. In most cases, you can check for updates from the VPN menu to get the latest update. You can also configure your VPN to update automatically in your VPN settings.

Make sure your browser is up to date. Use a supported browser approved by your VPN provider to eliminate common browser-based issues. Also, make sure you have the latest browser updates installed.

How to update Chrome to the latest version?

How to Update Safari on Your Mac

How to update to the latest version of Firefox

How to update Microsoft Edge

Reinstall the latest VPN software package. If nothing else has worked up to this point, reinstall the VPN software. To get the latest package, go to the VPN provider’s website to find and reinstall the latest software package for your operating system or device. You may want to remove all old packages first to make sure you’re starting from scratch.

Change VPN Tunneling Protocol. If you’re still having trouble connecting, the problem may be with the VPN’s point-to-point tunneling protocol. Go to VPN or network settings and try using different protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec or IKeV2/IPSec for example.

The location of these settings varies by VPN product, device, or operating system. If you have questions, contact your VPN provider. Avoid using the PPTP protocol whenever possible, as it is not considered secure.

Change connection port. Some ISPs and networks block traffic on certain ports. Check the VPN documentation to see if it recommends using a particular port number. In this case, using a different port may fix the problem.

Check your router settings. Some routers do not support VPN pass-through (a feature in the router that allows traffic to pass freely to the Internet). On your home network, check your router and personal firewall settings for these options. You may need to log in to the router as an administrator to make changes.

  • VPN passthrough: There may be an option in the security settings to enable IPSec or PPTP pass-through (two common types of VPN protocols). Note that not all routers have this setting.
  • Forwarding ports and protocols: Your firewall on the router and all installed firewall programs may need certain ports forwarded and protocols open. Specifically, IPSec VPNs need UDP port 500 (IKE) forwarded and protocols 50 (ESP) and 51 (AH) open.

Check your router manual or website documentation for anything that has been said. VPN, and you should be able to find the information you need. If in doubt, contact your VPN provider.

talk to VPN provider. If the VPN still does not connect, contact your VPN provider. A technician may ask what workarounds you have tried and what type of setup you have, including your router type, internet connection, and operating system, as well as any error messages you get. As a VPN expert, the provider can help you.


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How to Fix a VPN That’s Not Connecting

Get your VPN service up and running in no time

Most of the time, VPN services work without a hitch. So, it can be confusing or frustrating if you suddenly have trouble connecting to your VPN. When your VPN is acting a little cranky and refusing to connect, this step-by-step troubleshooting guide can help you get up and running again.

Causes of VPN Connection Problems

VPN connection issues are often software or browser-related, so solving the problem of a misbehaving VPN is usually a process of elimination. Your VPN might be acting up due to:

An overloaded VPN server
Running out-of-date VPN software
Using the wrong VPN protocol

D3Damon / Getty Images Troubleshooting Steps to Reconnect Your VPN

When your VPN won’t connect, try these solutions:

Check your internet connection. It may seem obvious, but make sure your network connection is working. If you can’t connect to the internet, check whether your device is connected to the correct access point.

Check your login credentials. Not having the correct or up-to-date login credentials is another obvious but often overlooked detail. If you use a free VPN service, check the website to see if the credentials supplied by the VPN service have changed or your password needs to be updated.

Change the VPN server connection. VPNs generally offer a selection of servers you can connect to. However, sometimes the server you’re trying to connect to is having issues and you’ll receive one of several common VPN error codes. Try a different server and see if that resolves the problem.

Restart the VPN software or browser plug-in. If changing the VPN server doesn’t work, restart the VPN software or browser plugins. Don’t just disconnect from the VPN server; quit and restart the software. In the case of browser plugins, fully close down and reopen the browser. You may need to clear your browser cache to get the plug-in working again.

Check that your VPN software is up-to-date. VPN software is frequently updated. To eliminate the possibility of bugs and to maximize performance, be sure you’re running the latest software available. In most cases, you can check for updates under the VPN menu to get the latest update. You can also set your VPN to update automatically in the VPN settings.

Check that your browser is up-to-date. To eliminate common browser-based issues, use a browser that’s supported and endorsed by your VPN provider. Also, make sure that you have the latest browser updates installed.

How to Update Chrome to the Latest Version
How to Update Safari on Your Mac
How to Update to the Latest Version of Firefox
How to Update Microsoft Edge

Reinstall the latest VPN software package. If nothing else has worked to this point, reinstall the VPN software. To get the latest package, go to the VPN provider’s site to find and reinstall the latest software package for your operating system or device. You may want to uninstall any old packages first to make sure you start with a clean slate.

Change the VPN tunneling protocol. If you’re still struggling to connect, the problem could with the VPN point-to-point tunneling protocol. Go into the VPN or network settings and try using different protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, or IKeV2/IPSec, for example.

The location of these settings varies by the VPN product, device, or operating system. If you have questions, contact your VPN provider. Whenever possible, avoid using the PPTP protocol, as it’s not considered secure.

Change the connection port. Some ISPs and networks block traffic on specific ports. Check the VPN’s documentation to see if it recommends using a particular port number. If so, using a different port may solve the problem.

Check your router settings. Some routers don’t support VPN passthrough (a feature on a router that allows traffic to pass freely to the internet). On your home network, check your router and personal firewall settings for these options. You may need to connect to the router as an administrator to make any changes.

VPN Passthrough: There may be an option in the security settings to enable IPSec or PPTP (two common types of VPN protocols) Passthrough. Note that not all routers have this setting.
Port Forwarding & Protocols: Your firewall in the router and any installed firewall programs may need to have specific ports forwarded and protocols opened. In particular, IPSec VPNs need to have UDP port 500 (IKE) forwarded and protocols 50 (ESP) and 51 (AH) opened.
Check your router’s manual or website documentation for anything that says VPN, and you should be able to find the information you need. If in doubt, contact your VPN provider.

Talk to the VPN provider. If the VPN is still not connecting, contact your VPN provider. A technician may ask you which workarounds you tried and the kind of setup you have, including your type of router, internet connection, and operating system, and any error messages you received. As a VPN expert, the provider should be able to help you out.

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