VPN won't connect? Here’s how to fix any issues
VPNs have improved tremendously in terms of usability. With a single click, they allow you to protect your online privacy and bypass geo-restrictions. But despite being simple to set up and use, just like any other software, your VPN can run into problems.
Fortunately, most issues are quite easy to fix, and in this guide, we’ll take you through the common problems and their solutions.
We’ll let you know:
- Why a certain problem keeps occurring
- How you can make your VPN more effective
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents:
- Problem 1: Can’t Connect to My VPN
- Problem 2: VPN Keeps Disconnecting
- Problem 3: VPN Is Slow
- Problem 4: VPN Is Not Working With Streaming Platforms (Netflix, BBC iPlayer)
- Problem 5: My VPN Can’t Connect When in China
- Problem 6: My Server Appears to Be In the Wrong Location
- Problem 7: My VPN Doesn’t Work After Configuring Advanced Settings
- Wrap Up
If your application is up and running and you’re still unable to establish a connection, first check whether your internet connection is working. Although often overlooked, this is a common culprit.
Once you confirm everything is okay on the network side, the next step should be to switch servers. Sometimes a server can fail or be taken down for maintenance, making it inaccessible despite it still being on the list of servers.
That’s one of the reasons why the best VPNs have numerous servers within the same countries.
More than just being frustrating, a VPN that keeps disconnecting can expose your IP and browsing activities. In this case, the easiest and quickest solution is to switch to a different and more stable server.
If that doesn’t fix the issue, the problem is likely with your device firewall. That doesn’t mean you have to turn off your firewall and allow all manner of traffic into your computer. Simply add your VPN to the list of allowed apps and features.
The process is straightforward but differs based on your operating system. Here are the steps for Windows and Mac computers:
To allow your VPN through your Windows firewall:
- Go to Settings>Update & Security>Windows Security or type Firewall on the search bar and click “Firewall & network protection.”
- Click “Allow an app through firewall.”
- On the next window, click “Change settings” and then click “Allow another app.”
- Finally, navigate to your VPN app and click “Add.”
On your Macbook, follow the quick steps below:
- Select System Preferences and go to Security & Privacy.
- Next, open the Firewall tab and click the Firewall Options button.
- Now, press the plus (+) button and add your VPN.
Generally, VPNs will impact your internet speed. That said, the top VPNs can keep the change to a minimum. On average, you can expect a reduction in speed of about 30-40%, although this can do down to 10% with the fastest VPNs. If your VPN is not fast enough, this cause a video that was streaming smoothly to buffer when the VPN is connected.
Below we’ve outlined Netflix’s recommended speeds for streaming and alongside our recommended network speeds when using a VPN:
Recommended Speed (Netflix)
Standard Network Speed
Standard Definition (SD)
High Definition (HD)
4K/Ultra HD (UHD)
If you have high-speed internet and are still getting slow and unstable connections, you may need to upgrade to a premium service. But before you take any drastic measures, here are some solutions worth trying:
- Switch servers
Servers may slow down when faced with an overflow of traffic – as such, connecting to a less-loaded server can do the trick.
Also, unless you’re trying to access foreign content, it is advisable to connect to nearby servers for faster speeds and low latency.
- Adjust your encryption level
The VPN encryption you use can significantly affect your connection speeds. While AES 256-bit is very strong, it doesn’t quite match AES 128-bit in terms of speed.
Additionally, you can try using a wired connection. Wi-Fi is quite convenient, but sometimes it can cost you speed. Switching to a wired connection can help get faster connections.
Due to copyright and content licensing, streaming platforms and VPNs don’t see eye to eye. Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer block VPNs, and very few can blast through the filters. And even those that work may not work with all the platforms.
If you’re looking to unblock foreign streaming catalogs, we recommend NordVPN. Surfshark and ExpressVPN also work reliably.
If you’re using a VPN that can access your streaming site but are still having trouble, try the following:
- Switch to a Different Server
Most streaming services maintain a database of VPN IPs. To go around the blocklist, some providers have specialized servers for Netflix that they continually update with new IPs. Try using a different server. You can also reach out to customer support and ask which server to use.
- Clear Your Browser’s Cache
Your browser keeps a record of the websites you visit alongside your IP address. That means even when connected to the VPN, Netflix will be able to see the two conflicting IPs. Clear your browser cache and cookies to erase your actual location and avoid proxy errors.
- Flush your DNS
If you’re using a streaming app on your computer, the blame may lie with your computer’s DNS cache. The database contains records of all the sites you’ve visited recently. For instance, if you had opened Netflix earlier and are now trying to access the American version using a VPN, you may encounter the proxy error message.
To flush your DNS cache, first close the streaming app and follow the steps below on your Windows PC:
- Open the command prompt with administrator privileges.
- Type and enter the following commands, each after the other:
netsh winsock reset
- Exit the command prompt and restart your computer.
Another thing you should pay attention to is the kill switch. If you are getting the error message in the middle of a stream, it could be due to an IP leak. Ensure the kill switch is enabled at all times for an uninterrupted streaming experience.
China has some of the toughest internet restrictions in the world. But unlike most other countries where just about any VPN would do, it takes an equally tough VPN to bypass the Great Firewall.
China uses several advanced technologies, including DNS tampering, IP blocking, and deep packet inspection (DPI), to block VPN traffic. So, the key here is first to make sure your VPN can actually work in China.
If not, you will need to get one that does, and luckily there are a few that do. But given that most providers’ websites are blocked in China, you’ll need to download and set up the service before traveling into the country.
If you’re already in China, many VPNs have mirror sites designed to work in China.
If your server appears to be in the wrong location, it means that you’re connected to a virtual server. Some providers use a combination of physical and virtual servers to lower maintenance costs or avoid setting shop in restrictive jurisdictions.
Despite being located in a different country, virtual servers work as if they are in the location you choose. That means they still can fool geo-blocks, although some IP address lookup services can tell where the servers are physically located.
Generally, virtual servers are safe to use, and many providers denote them on their server list.
This will depend on your provider. Some VPN apps come with a button that allows you to revert to default settings with a single click.
If your VPN lacks this feature, you can still fix the issues in a matter of minutes. Just follow the steps below:
- From the Settings page, locate the VPN location option and set it to OpenVPN TCP. Most VPNs use this as the default or recommended protocol.
- Next, see if you’ve enabled a custom DNS feature. Disable it.
- If still, the VPN doesn’t work, deactivate the kill switch and DNS leak prevention features if present.
Once the VPN is back up and running, you can enable the kill switch again. After trying all the above solutions, the VPN is still not working; uninstall and reinstall the app.
The above solutions should help get your VPN working smoothly again. If you’re still having trouble, we recommend contacting customer support directly. They can provide personalized solutions tailored specifically to your device.