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A Quick Guide to Troubleshooting Your VPN When It Is Not Working

26 April 2022

Digital Transformation has led to concerns about online privacy and security. For instance, over half of the people in the UK are more concerned about online privacy now than they were a year ago. As a result, the use of VPN is increasing. In fact, 41% of people now use a personal or business VPN

VPNs hide your online identity, so it’s harder for people to steal your data and track your activity. This makes them especially attractive to businesses looking to secure their network.

Let's take a look at top 10 reasons people use a VPN according to the latest report:

But there are many technical issues a VPN user can encounter. We’ll look at  yop 4 common VPN issues and what you can do about them

1. Unable to connect to the internet

Many communication tools for business rely on the internet, so a VPN is a great way to ensure privacy. Sometimes, though, your VPN can’t connect to the internet. There are many reasons this can happen, such as:

No internet access

The simplest explanation is that you don't have internet access. So try these steps first:

  1. Check your device has internet access.
  2. Try loading some pages without your VPN to see if they work.
  3. Try disconnecting and reconnecting to your network. If that doesn’t work, reset your router.
  4. Ensure your router’s Ethernet cable is connected.
  5. If your connection is still down, you may have to contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

VPN software issues

VPN software can crash or experience glitches, especially if it's outdated. So make sure you're using the latest version of your VPN app for business. Misconfigured VPN settings are another software issue. In this case, try restoring the VPN to its default settings.

An issue with your router

Sometimes, your VPN can't connect because of your router’s Passthrough feature. IP Passthrough is when the router bridges all traffic through to a routing device. If Passthrough isn't enabled for VPN protocols, VPN traffic won’t be able to go through your router.

You need to log into your router’s admin account and check the Passthrough settings. Also, you need to ensure you forwarded and opened the right ports so your VPN connections can run. But bear in mind not all routers have this feature.

Incorrect credentials

You can run VPN software directly on your router. To do this, you have to enter your router’s credentials (username and password) during setup. If these are incorrect, you can’t connect to a VPN server. So check you entered the right credentials.

VPN ports are blocked

Ports are virtual locations that internet traffic has to pass through. Each port handles a specific type of traffic, such as emails or web pages. VPNs usually work with port 1194 TCP/UDP and port 443 TCP. But, sometimes, your ISP blocks traffic on the ports you need for your VPN.

You could try changing your default port settings to one of the common VPN ports. But it’s usually best to contact your ISP or VPN provider to see if they can fix the issue.

A firewall/antiviruss is blocking the VPN

Often, connection problems are caused by your firewall blocking the VPN. Try opening your firewall’s settings and adding the VPN to the list of allowed apps (read howto) Then see if your VPN can connect.

2. Slow VPN connection

Businesses can use VPNs to improve network efficiency and so improve customer experience. But this relies on a fast VPN connection. Free VPNs are particularly prone to slow speeds as they have fewer servers and lower data limits. In fact, two out of three free VPN users report technical issues, and slow internet speed is the top issue.

Even high-quality VPNs can experience slow connection speeds, though (compare Paid VPN vs. Free VPN). There are many causes of slow VPN speeds, including:

Busy server

If too many people use the same server, it results in server congestion. Server congestion is particularly common at peak times and with free VPNs. Try connecting to different servers to see if one has less traffic and a higher speed.

Distance to server

The further you are from a server, the longer it takes data packets to travel between the server and your device. So it’s best to choose a local server. Of course, if you’re using your VPN to access content in a different country, this isn't possible. In that case, it’s crucial to find a server without much traffic.

Wrong network protocol

There are two types of data transfer protocol:

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol)

TCP:

UDP:

The speed of your VPN connection depends on which network protocol you’re using. If your VPN is slow, you could try using a UDP protocol like Wireguard (it's the fastest VPN protocol) or IKEv2. You can usually change protocols by following the manuals. But bear in mind not all VPNs offer the same protocols.

Slow internet connection

Slow internet speed is a common problem. In fact, it's affected 86% of remote workers. So, you should run a VPN speed test to see if the problem is your VPN or your internet connection. If it’s your internet connection, there are several ways you can resolve it:

Reduce your internet load

57% of remote workers say their internet is slower due to other people using the network at the same time. If you’re watching mobile app testing tutorials while your kids are on Netflix, your speed is bound to suffer. So, try reducing your internet load by:

Reboot your router

Sometimes, your router can malfunction and slow down your data transfer. Rebooting your router should solve this issue.

Use a different DNS server

Your ISP’s DNS (Domain Name System) servers might be congested or experiencing issues. You can solve this by using a different DNS server, but how easy it is to change servers depends on your VPN provider. Some providers also route your DNS translation requests through their own servers. Keep in mind that the best VPN services have their own DNS servers

Contact your ISP

If all else fails, you should contact your ISP. After all, the problem could be on their end.

3. Emails won’t send

Emails are a vital part of a company's marketing strategy. But some VPN users find they’re unable to send or receive emails. There are two main causes for this:

Your email service is blocking the VPN

Sometimes, your email provider blocks a VPN’s IP address for security reasons. After all, an unknown IP address could be a hacker trying to steal your information. Some email services also block known VPN servers.

One solution is to switch to a different VPN server. Another is to get a dedicated IP address with your VPN provider or contact support

The VPN is blocking your email service

The problem may be that your VPN is blocking your email service’s port. Some VPN providers block insecure ports like TCP port 25 to protect you from spam. If your provider is blocking your emails, try contacting them or switching to a more secure port like 587 or 465.

As a last resort, you may need to use split tunneling. This lets you choose which apps are protected by VPN encryption and which aren’t. Exempting your email service will allow you to use it, although your connection will be less safe.

4. Streaming doesn't work while connected

Many VPNs either don’t work or don't work well with streaming services. If you encounter streaming issues, you could try the following:

Check your VPN service site

Many streaming services block VPNs, although there are VPNs for online streaming. So you should first check that your VPN service actually works with the site you’re trying to stream from.

Check your internet connection

Videos use lots of bandwidth, so any reduction in bandwidth affects streaming performance. You should check streaming security and performance with and without your VPN. If you have slow speeds without the VPN, the problem is your internet. If you only have slow speeds with your VPN, try reducing the number of apps you’re running or contact your VPN provider.

Change servers

Streaming services are constantly blocking VPN servers. If you’re having trouble streaming, you could try changing to a different server. Your VPN provider might be able to recommend a server that isn’t blocked, or you could look online.

What if I have a different VPN issue?

We covered the most common VPN issues people encounter. But you may encounter a different technical problem that doesn’t fit into any of the categories. If that happens, your best bet is reading official Faq or contacting your VPN provider’s customer service team. They’ll be happy to help.

Author Bio:

Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level with small business phones—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Here is her LinkedIn

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