11 VPN Troubleshooting Tips: Quick & Easy Fixes in 2023

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, provide a secure way to access online content without restrictions. However, like any technology, VPNs can experience issues such as slow speeds, crashes, and limited access. Dealing with VPN problems can be frustrating, but there are several troubleshooting tips and quick fixes that you can try yourself to resolve the issue. If these don’t work, you can always pass on the information to your customer support agent for assistance. In this guide, we will provide a list of common VPN issues and how to fix them.

My VPN has Slow and Unreliable Performance

If you find that your VPN is consistently slow, prone to crashes, or disconnects frequently, you may have a larger issue than a mere hiccup in performance.

Solution: Invest in a High-Quality VPN Service

If your VPN frequently fails to meet your expectations, the overall quality of the service may be subpar. Speed and uptime issues are common with free and low-cost VPN services, which are more likely to suffer from these frustrating limitations.

The good news is that with a little research, you can find many premium VPN services with excellent deals to offer. By choosing a top-tier provider, you can avoid speed and uptime issues and solve them quickly if they do arise.

ExpressVPN is one of our top recommended VPN providers, boasting 3,000 servers, exceptional performance, and regular updates. Its pricing is competitive, and its value is unmatched. Check out our comprehensive review of this VPN to learn more about our test results and see what other users have to say about it.

My VPN Isn’t Able to Unblock Netflix (or Other Streaming Services)

For many VPN users, the ability to unblock popular geoblocked streaming services like US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer is essential. However, not every VPN can successfully bypass the restrictions and provide reliable access to these platforms.

Solution: Switch to a VPN suitable for streaming

If your VPN service is unable to bypass VPN blocks and is consistently detected by advanced measures, it might be time to switch to a better provider. With a premium VPN, you can avoid the annoying Netflix Streaming Error message, “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”

Streaming platforms are well-known for their efforts to restrict VPN and proxy access, making it challenging to bypass strict VPN blocks. However, there are some VPN services that can be trusted to allow you to watch your preferred content without any restrictions.

To find the best VPNs for Netflix, some research is required, as servers may be blacklisted. It’s suggested to contact support for the right server or new additions that haven’t been announced yet.

For streaming purposes, it’s recommended to check out ExpressVPN, which provides some of the fastest speeds, streaming-oriented features, and helpful live chat support. You can even use it to access content on devices that don’t typically support a VPN. For more information and user reviews, check out the ExpressVPN review page.

If you’re encountering streaming problems with your VPN, try reconnecting to the same server for a new IP address, which may fix your VPN block issue. This could be a quick and easy solution, but it won’t work if the server’s whole IP address range is blacklisted.

Tips for Troubleshooting VPN Issues

If you’re experiencing problems with your VPN, even if it’s a reliable service, here are some tips and solutions that may help you resolve your issue. We’ve also included general guidance on when to try a particular fix and the potential risks associated with it, as we understand not all of our readers are VPN experts.

If you’re not confident in your abilities to resolve the issue by yourself, we suggest reaching out to your VPN’s customer service for personalized assistance.

Change Servers

When to try it: VPN is slow or disconnects frequently (but doesn’t crash)

Works on: Desktop and Mobile

Difficulty: Easy

Risk: Low

If your VPN is slow or frequently disconnects, the problem could be related to the server you’re currently connected to. Overcrowded servers can cause performance issues. Try switching to another server in the same country or location, and run a speed test or open a few websites to compare loading times.

If your VPN doesn’t have a native client or you’re using a VPN router, changing servers may be a little more complicated. If you’re using an interface like the OpenVPN client, you’ll need to manually type in the new server name. In the case of a VPN router, enter the new server address in the control panel. Check your router or firmware manual if you’re unsure of these details.

Change VPN Protocols

When to try it: VPN connection is slow or unstable

Works on: Desktop and Mobile

Difficulty: Easy

Risk: Moderate

There are two types of protocols you should be aware of: IP and VPN protocols. The Internet Protocol (IP) is responsible for facilitating your internet connection, while the VPN protocol is responsible for routing data and encryption.

It’s possible to experience issues with either protocol, so it’s worth trying to switch between them if you’re experiencing problems.

IP Protocols

There are two types of IP protocols: User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). UDP is faster, while TCP is more reliable. The default protocol used depends on your VPN provider; some use UDP, while others use TCP. You can usually switch between the two in your VPN app’s settings menu.

VPN Protocols

VPN protocols, on the other hand, refer to the type of encryption your VPN service uses. Some popular VPN protocols include OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2/IPSec. If you’re experiencing connection issues, try switching to a different VPN protocol. You can usually find this option in your VPN app’s settings menu as well.

Note that changing your VPN protocol may affect your security and privacy, so it’s important to research which protocol is best suited for your needs before making any changes.

Switch Port Numbers

When to try it: Your VPN is slow or fails to access blocked content

Works on: Desktop

Difficulty: Moderate

Risk: High

To establish a connection between your computer and the VPN server, a specific networking port on your end is used. Your VPN uses only one port at any given time. Sometimes, these ports can become overloaded, leading to poor speeds, much like a crowded server slows you down. In other cases, internet service providers (ISPs) intentionally throttle traffic on popular ports, limiting your connection.

You can solve these issues by routing your VPN traffic through a different port. However, we don’t recommend attempting this unless you know what you’re doing. If your VPN connection is set up directly via your computer and not through an app, changing registry files may be required, which is always risky. Newcomers to VPNs should consult a customer support expert.

Pro tip: Some VPN services offer port configuration in their native clients, along with useful information on supported port numbers in their FAQ or member areas. Check those out if they are available.

Try Other Security Measures When Your VPN is Slow or Keeps Disconnecting

Sometimes, VPNs may conflict with other security software on your computer, leading to slower speeds or frequent disconnections. Here are some steps you can take to resolve the issue.

Compatibility Issues

Not all VPNs work well with other security software installed on your computer. Since the VPN modifies your internet connection, it may be detected as a threat by your system’s firewall or antivirus program, resulting in false positives.

To check if this is the case, start by disabling any external programs that could interfere with the VPN. If the issue persists, try turning off your firewall from the Control Panel. This could lead to an improvement in speed and stability, indicating that your firewall was causing the problem.

However, it is not advisable to permanently disable your firewall. While conflicts between your VPN and firewall are not uncommon, it is important to maintain your built-in defense for extended periods as it provides extra protection. Ideally, you want your VPN to work together with your firewall instead of having to choose one or the other.

Contact Your VPN Support

If you keep encountering problems even with the firewall disabled, you should contact your VPN’s customer support for assistance. They may suggest other solutions or steps you can take to resolve the issue.

Switch to a Premium VPN Service

If the issue persists, it may be time to switch to a faster and more reliable VPN service. Consider opting for a premium VPN like ExpressVPN or PrivateVPN that is less likely to conflict with your system’s security software.

Switch to a Different Network to Improve VPN Performance

  • Recommended when experiencing slow VPN speeds or connectivity issues
  • Works on both desktop and mobile devices
  • Easy to do with low risk

If you’ve tried several troubleshooting methods without success, it’s possible that the issue may lie with your own network. In such cases, trying a different network can help identify whether the problem is with your ISP or your VPN.

To do this, simply test your VPN on a friend’s network or a public network that’s similar to yours. If you experience stable connections and fast loading times, then it’s likely that your own network is the problem. On the other hand, if the same issues persist, it’s time to continue troubleshooting.

Trying a different network should be your first step if you’re experiencing regular problems with your own network. Even if you’ve already checked your connection without a VPN and everything seems fine, it’s worth completing this step to rule out any possible network issues.

Verify VPN Compatibility with Local Servers

When to try it: Unable to connect VPN when in a different country

Works on: Desktop & Mobile

Difficulty: Moderate (if checking from a country that blocks VPN sites)

Risk: Moderate (if checking from a country that isn’t privacy-friendly)

In certain parts of the world, privacy is frequently ignored, and evading censorship is a daily struggle. If you’re traveling to such countries, such as Russia, China, and the UAE, you may have issues connecting to your normally reliable VPN. Most travelers to these countries prepare accordingly, but if you haven’t, you may find yourself with a VPN that isn’t working in your current location.

This problem may be due to a variety of factors, including strict VPN restrictions, blacklisted VPN websites, and service providers shutting down servers due to invasive data retention laws. Unfortunately, if you arrive in a country where VPN usage is restricted, you may not be able to solve this issue after the fact.

The best course of action is to ensure that you have the appropriate VPN installed and configured for your destination BEFORE you arrive. We strongly advise against searching for VPNs or solutions while in a country that actively monitors online activity with severe consequences.

Tip: If you’re well-prepared but still experiencing connectivity issues, be sure to check out specialized VPN settings. For example, PrivateVPN provides a Stealth mode, designed specifically for countries with heavy censorship and VPN restrictions.

Make Sure Your VPN Software is Updated

This fix is suitable when your VPN is crashing or experiencing connectivity problems.

Works on: Desktop & Mobile

Difficulty: Easy (Moderate if you have a rare issue where you’ll need an older version)

Risk: Low

High-quality VPN services frequently update their VPN clients to improve their performance. However, if you’re experiencing connectivity issues or your VPN keeps crashing, you may have forgotten to update your VPN software.

Many VPN clients have an auto-update feature, but it’s easy to overlook updates and continue using an outdated version. An outdated VPN client can cause instability, leading to connectivity issues.

To ensure that your VPN is up-to-date, check the client version in the settings or preferences section of the app. The app will indicate whether you need to update it.

In some rare cases, you may need to revert to an older version of the client. If you encounter this problem, contact customer support for guidance and ask them about any potential security risks. You want your VPN to function properly, but you also want to be safe from backdoors or compromised software.

Remove old VPN software to improve connectivity

When to try it: You’re experiencing poor connectivity or constant VPN crashes

Works on: Desktop & Mobile

Difficulty: Easy

Risk: Low

If you’re a savvy consumer, you’ve probably tested out a few VPN services before settling on your current one. However, having too many VPNs installed on your device, even if you’re only using one, can cause connection issues.

To improve your VPN’s performance, it’s a good idea to keep your device’s VPN inventory clean. To do this, you should uninstall any old VPN software that you’re not currently using. Keep in mind that simply deleting the files won’t be enough; you’ll need to fully uninstall the programs from your device’s control panel.

Reinstall Your Current VPN

When to try it: If you experience VPN crashes and connectivity issues, and have already removed old software

Works on: Desktop and Mobile

Difficulty: Easy

Risk: Low

In case of persistent VPN problems, it is possible that an incorrect installation may be the cause. Even if you do not receive an error message, your VPN software may fail to stay connected due to an installation issue. To fix this problem, uninstall the VPN client from your device’s control panel and then reinstall it. It is recommended to download the client again, in case the previous download was corrupted and some essential files are missing.

Note that this solution only applies to VPNs with native clients. If you set up your VPN manually, there is no need to start over. Instead, verify that all the details have been correctly entered.

Use the Help Feature!

When to try it: You’ve exhausted all other options, or you don’t want to troubleshoot

Works on: Desktop & Mobile

Difficulty: Easy (depending on the quality of the support)

Risk: None

Customer support is a crucial component of any reputable VPN provider. When you’re experiencing issues with your VPN, it’s unlikely to be your fault, unless you’ve been tinkering with advanced settings.

While no VPN is perfect, you can always seek assistance for your current issue. Whether you’ve tried everything on our list or you’d rather not spend time investigating the problem yourself, reaching out to support is a viable and sensible solution.

If your VPN provider offers it, live chat support is the best option for getting immediate help. Alternatively, if you’re able to provide a detailed account of the problem, you may prefer to submit a detailed ticket.

Most VPN clients come with a “help” button that you can easily access. Simply click on it, or head to your VPN provider’s website to request assistance from customer support. Best of luck!

Conclusion: Don’t Overlook the Basics

We understand that you may be tired of hearing the same old troubleshooting advice. Nevertheless, it’s crucial not to neglect the following points:

Ensure that you have an active internet connection. Even if everything appears to be working properly on your screen, your VPN may be malfunctioning because your internet is down. Close your VPN and double-check your internet connection. If the issue persists, you can try the traditional “unplug and plug in again” method on your cable and/or router.

Make sure that you have entered your login credentials accurately. If you prefer to type in your username and password each time you open your VPN, there may be a chance that you made a typo. Fortunately, most VPN clients will notify you if you have entered your login information incorrectly, enabling you to know right away if that is the reason why you cannot connect to your VPN.

Verify that the VPN server you have selected is operational. VPN servers may go down for routine maintenance; however, this may not always be visible in the client. If you’re unsure why a specific server is giving you trouble, visit your VPN provider’s website for a maintenance update on their blog or a list of offline servers.

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