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4 Common VPN Issues You Should Watch Out For (And Their Solutions)

The threat of cyberattacks and data leaks feels ever-present in this day and age. In an insightful post on women who changed the world of technology, cyber security consultant Chelsea Brown stresses just how mandatory it is for both businesses and families to secure their online environments. But where should you start?

VPNs are one of the best ways to strengthen your online security. Most of the time, they are set-it-and-forget-it tools that reliably protect our web traffic from behind the scenes. Occasionally though, they can run into some issues.

A VPN that is slow, unreliable or simply won't connect can leave you vulnerable to threats. To ensure that you continue to stay safe online, here are some common VPN issues that you should watch out for - as well as some tips on how to fix them.


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1.   VPN Not Connecting

A VPN that simply won't connect is a common issue. Thankfully, it's one of the easiest problems to fix. Here's some things that you can try.

Check Your Account/Login Details

This might seem obvious, but it doesn't hurt to check. Accidentally typing in the wrong username or password is a really easy mistake to make, especially if you practice good password hygiene. Try typing in your credentials again and, if you still can't login to the client, try resetting your password and have another go.

If none of this works, check that you're not trying to sign into an inactive account. Some VPN providers require you to renew your account before you can login - find out how to do this via your provider's web page.

Verify That Your Device and The Server Are Online

If you're completely failing to connect to your VPN, you could just be offline. Close your VPN and open a few web pages in your browser - are they loading correctly (or at all?). If not, your internet connection might be experiencing some issues.

Disconnect and reconnect to your WiFi network and, if that fails, restart your router. If the problem still persists, you'll need to troubleshoot your ISP rather than your VPN provider.

If your web pages do load correctly, check whether your VPN server is online. You can do this via your VPN provider's official website. It might be that you have to connect to a different server while your usual one is down.

Consult Your Firewall

Firewalls are notoriously wary of allowing VPN access. If you suspect that your firewall is preventing you from connecting to the client, temporarily disable your firewall and try to connect again.

If you're able to connect without your firewall, have a look at your outgoing ports to ensure they allow passthrough for VPN. The specific ports you need to open will vary by provider and firewall - check your documentation as opening too many ports can increase your vulnerability.

Consider investing in a firewall with integrated VPN options if problems persist, as they come equipped with powerful VPN choices that suit more complex network and administration requirements.

2.   VPN is Slow

A high-quality VPN shouldn't significantly impact the speed of your internet but, of course, occasional issues can arise. Investing in a service that alerts you when any connectivity issues occur can help you identify and resolve problems as quickly as possible.

Connect To a Different Network

Before diving into complex troubleshooting processes, don't forget to check the quality of your own internet connection. If your internet connection is poor, then your VPN connection is going to suffer along with it.

Test your VPN quality via an alternative network like a public WiFi hotspot. If your VPN works just fine, it's likely that there is an issue with your home or business network.

A simple online speed test can also help you identify whether your internet connection is the problem. Run a speed test with your VPN disconnected - if your connection is slower than it should be, you might need to contact your ISP or consider switching providers.

Change Servers

If you suddenly experience a slow connection or spike in disconnections, it could be that the server you're currently on is experiencing technical or overcrowding issues. This will affect you even more if you're on a server that's far away from your physical location. Connecting to a server that is closer to you and/or isn't as busy should fix the problem.

Change Your VPN Protocols

VPN protocols are a set of rules that determine how packets travel from your device to the server. VPN providers will automatically use the recommended VPN protocol for your network, but this can sometimes trigger speed issues. Your VPN settings should allow you to choose between different protocols depending on your needs.

Change Your IP Protocol

IP protocols are a set of rules that determine how your packets are addressed and routed to their final destination. There are typically two protocols that are used by VPN providers - UDP and TCP. UDP focuses on speed at a detriment to stability, while TCP prioritizes stability and security over speed.


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If your VPN is slow and you're using TCP, manually switching to UDP should speed up your connection.

3.   VPN Keeps Disconnecting

Whether you're using a VPN to encrypt sensitive data, enhance your security on public WiFi, or to simply give yourself a more seamless ecommerce experience without the ads, a frequently disconnecting VPN is not only annoying - it can also be dangerous. 

It exposes your web traffic and leaves you vulnerable to threats, sometimes without you even being aware of it. Here are some things you can do to rectify this.

Consider Changing Your Firewall Settings

It's common for firewalls to struggle with VPN traffic. Heavy loads can slow your internet down so considerably that your VPN disconnects. Try disabling your firewall to see if that fixes your connectivity issues and, if it does, add your VPN software to your firewall's exceptions.

Connect to a different DNS server

Sometimes, disconnection problems lie with the DNS server you're connected to. Most VPN providers will supply you with a private DNS server for increased security, which is great until it begins to mess with your connection. If you suspect that your supplier's DNS server is having issues, try connecting to a different one.

Be aware that the process of manually configuring and altering your DNS server settings varies by provider. Custom DNS servers also leave you more vulnerable to DNS data leaks, so proceed with caution.

Change Your IP Protocol

As explained earlier, changing your IP protocol can fix connectivity issues. If your VPN is constantly disconnecting, make sure that you're using the TCP protocol rather than UDP. While TCP might be slower, its connection is more stable which prevents constant disconnections.

Change Your VPN Provider

Slow services are a problem that often befalls ‘freemium' VPNs, as they tend to be riddled with speed and uptime issues. If your service is poor on a consistent basis, and remains poor after extensive troubleshooting, consider switching to a premium VPN. There are plenty of affordable options and you can even use a VPN speed testing comparison tool to ensure you get the best speeds for your budget.


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4.   VPN Keeps Crashing

Like all software, your VPN might crash from time to time. However, if it's a persistent problem, here are some common fixes.

Restart Your Device

Just in case this wasn't the first thing you tried, here's a friendly reminder that switching your device on and off again can fix crashing issues.

Update Your Software

VPN providers consistently perform exploratory testing and regularly release new updates, which is awesome as they contain patches to tighten your security, improve features, and fix bugs. Usually, you'll be notified when there's a new release, but it's all too easy to click the ‘ask me again later' button and then forget all about it. So, if your VPN keeps crashing, double-check that you're running the most up-to-date version of your client software - an old version can quickly become unusable.

Close Background Apps

It could be that your device is just a little overwhelmed. If your VPN keeps crashing and you've got numerous other apps open, try closing the ones that you aren't using to see if that fixes the problem.

Uninstall Old VPN Software

Maybe you previously shopped around for a VPN before settling on the perfect one - that's a wise move. However, if you still have old VPN software on your device, they might be conflicting with your current software and causing connectivity issues (even if you aren't actually using them).

Scour your device for any old/alternative VPN software and uninstall it ASAP.

Uninstall/Reinstall the VPN Software

Maybe there was an installation error, or your auto-update corrupted. Uninstalling your VPN client and reinstalling the latest version from your VPN provider's website is an easy, low-risk option for fixing crashing issues.

Final Thoughts

While having a working VPN is great, remember: cyber security doesn't stop there. Whether you're an individual or business, take steps to maximize your internet safety practices by using complex, unique passwords, two-factor authentication, antivirus protection software, open source based applications, data- backups, firewalls and, of course, by remaining vigilant online. 



Kate Priestman - Head Of Marketing, Global App Testing

Kate Priestman 

Kate Priestman is the Head of Marketing at Global App Testing, a trusted and leading end-to-end functional testing solution for QA challenges. Kate has over 8 years of experience in the field of marketing, helping brands achieve exceptional growth. She has extensive knowledge on brand development, zawgyi unicode, lead and demand generation, and marketing strategy - driving business impact at its best. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Published Tuesday, December 07, 2021 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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