Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) help people enjoy a safer internet. They allow users to access their favorite content without restrictions. However, like with any other piece of technology, VPNs don’t always run the way you expect them to.
Whether it’s limited access, frustrating crashes, or slow speeds, it’s doesn’t get much more upsetting than when your VPN malfunctions when you need it most. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks you can use when it comes to troubleshooting your VPN problems.
If you’re currently undergoing issues with your VPN, don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Interested in learning more? If so, then continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about troubleshooting VPN issues.
1. Switch Servers
If your VPN is constantly disconnecting (but not crashing) or being extremely slow, then this is a good method to try. That’s because the issue is most likely related to the server you selected. Many times, servers for VPNs can become too overcrowded with users, and this can lead to compromised performance.
In order to solve this problem, simply try to switch to a different server in the same country. If you have several locations to select from, then pick the one that’s closest to your actual location in order to get the best results.
To make sure that everything is settled, open a few sites and compare their loading times. You can also run a speed test if you’d prefer.
It’s also worth pointing out that some VPN providers include a server load tracker in their applications. You can use this tracker to find a fast server where you won’t need to share your connection with a ton of other users.
If it so happens that your VPN doesn’t have a native client, or you’ve set it up on a VPN router, it’s going to be a bit tougher for you to change servers.
If you still have an interface that you can work with, you’ll have to manually make the switch by typing in the new server name.
The same holds true for VPN routers. Just enter the new address in the router’s control panel and you should be good to go. If you aren’t familiar with these details, then you should check the firmware or router manual.
2. Switch Protocols
Switching protocols is a handy troubleshooting trick when your VPN is providing an unstable connection or is slow. There are two protocols you need to know about – IP and VPN.
Your IP (Internet Protocol) is essentially what makes your connection to the internet possible. A VPN protocol, on the other hand, is the foundation of a VPN service. It’s also the foundation of the software that’s responsible for routing and data encryption.
Both of these protocols work together, but you can end up with problems in either one of them.
For IP protocols, you’re typically going to have the choice between Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). TCP tends to be more reliable while UDP is faster.
The default IP protocol is mainly going to depend on your VPN. Some VPNs prefer TCP while others set UDP. Typically, it should be easy for you to switch between the two protocols in the Settings menu of your VPN app.
While changing your VPN protocol can sometimes lead to better performance, there are some security risks that are worth knowing about.
Many premium VPNs by default use OpenVPN. However, you might have a faster connection with other protocols like PPTP and L2TP/IPsec.
You can attempt to switch to these two if you’re trying to obtain a faster connection. But if privacy is a big concern for you, then it’s probably best to stick with OpenVPN.
3. Switch Port Numbers
If you’re VPN is acting too slow, or it’s not able to access blocked content, then you should try switching port numbers.
In order to make a connection between the VPN server and your computer, a certain networking part is used on your end. While there are a variety of ports for all different kinds of internet traffic, your VPN only uses one port at any given time.
Sometimes, these ports can become overloaded and this can lead to slow speeds. It’s similar to how you can get slowed down from a crowded server. In other situations, ISPs (internet service providers) will purposefully throttle traffic on popular ports, which will end up slowing down your connection.
You can troubleshoot these problems by directing your VPN traffic through a different port. However, you shouldn’t try this method unless you know what you’re doing.
If your VPN connection is set up directly through your computer – and not through an application – then it might involve changing registry files. And that can become risky. People who are new to VPNs will be better off consulting with a cyber security firm.
It should also be pointed out that some VPN services enable port configuration in their native clients. Make sure to see if those are available.
4. Take a Look at Other Security Measures
This is an easy troubleshooting method worth trying if your VPN is slow or keeps disconnecting. However, it only works on desktop devices.
Not every VPN is going to work perfectly with other security software. Since the VPN itself works closely with your internet connection, and it can even modify the connection, it can sometimes be viewed as a threat by your system’s antivirus or firewall program. This is known as a “false positive.”
To check if that’s the issue you’re experiencing, you should start by turning off any external programs that might be interfering with your VPN. Then, if the issue persists, attempt to disable your firewall from the Control Panel.
If you see an improvement in stability and speed, then that means you successfully located the problem. However, turning off your firewall is not a permanent solution. While issues between your firewall and VPN aren’t very rare, turning off your built-in defense for long periods of time is a very risky move.
That’s because you’re making your computer more vulnerable. A good rule of thumb is to have your VPN work with your firewall, instead of having to choose between one or the other.
If you continue to run into this issue with your firewall turned on, then your next move should be to reach out to your VPN’s support and ask them for help. And if that doesn’t work, you might want to cancel your VPN subscription and choose a different one.
5. Try a Different Network
If you’ve tried the solutions listed above but you’re still experiencing problems with connectivity, then you should try a different network. Oftentimes, people can get so bogged down in the troubleshooting process that they sometimes forget about the most obvious causes. For example, your own network might just be performing poorly.
Take your laptop or phone and test your VPN out at a new location. Just launch it up on a public network or a friend’s place. For a more accurate comparison, it’s best to do it on a network that’s similar to yours.
Smooth loading times and a stable connection will mean that there is likely nothing wrong with your VPN. Instead, you should have a chat with your ISP. However, if the same problems persist, then you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.
If your own network gives you problems regularly, then trying a different network should be one of your first troubleshooting attempts. Even if everything appears fine with your connection when not using a VPN, it doesn’t hurt to try a different network anyway.
6. Check If Your VPN Works with Local Servers
Is your VPN refusing to connect to the internet while you’re in a foreign country? Unfortunately, there are a few countries in the world where one’s right to privacy is not much of a concern. And this makes it tough to bypass censorship.
When you’re going to a restrictive country (such as the UAE, Russia, and China), you might run into connection issues with your VPN. Many users who intend on traveling to these countries make certain preparations beforehand. But if you forgot to do that, you might end up with a VPN that doesn’t seem to work at all in your current area.
The causes for this range from blacklisted VPN sites and strict VPN blocks, to providers turning off servers because they don’t have the ability to work around invasive data retention law. For the user, this, unfortunately, means that if you visit a country where VPN use is restricted, you might not be able to solve the issue after it happens.
The only real fix is to make sure that you’ve configured and installed the right VPN for your destination before you actually arrive there. It’s probably not the safest move to start looking for VPNs in a country that actively monitors activity online.
7. Check Your VPN Software Version
If you’re using a high-quality VPN service, then you’re probably aware that VPN clients are constantly being updated. And although most clients come with auto-update settings, it can be easy to forget about a new version after you decide to install it later.
What you might not be aware of, though, is that this new version might solve the stability issue that you seem to be constantly running into.
A typically perfect VPN client can soon enough because impossible to use, so it’s important that you make sure it’s up-to-date. Most applications will give you an overview of their current version, and if you can update to the latest one.
In some instances, you might actually have to switch back to an older client version. To do this, you should contact customer support for help.
8. Uninstall Old VPN Software
This is an easy and low-risk method for solving a VPN that keeps crashing.
If you’re a cautious consumer, then you’ve likely tried at least a few different VPN services before you landed on your current one. While it’s smart to try out different VPNs, you should also know that using too many VPNs can mess up your connection sometimes.
Because of this, it’s recommended that you keep a clean inventory when it comes to VPNs. So if you keep experiencing VPN crashes, make sure to get rid of any old VPN software that you’re not making use of.
Keep in mind that you can’t just delete the old VPN. You have to actually uninstall the program from your computer’s control panel.
9. Reinstall Your Current VPN
So you removed your old software but your VPN is still crashing? If all else fails, then you should consider seeing if your VPN problem is hiding somewhere within the installation process. While you might usually get an error message, there is a chance that your VPN client is able to boot up but it is unable to stay on because of improper installation.
To solve this problem, uninstall your VPN software and then reinstall it. You should download the client again too, just in case you ended up with a corrupt download and were missing some key files.
Using These Tips And Tricks To Help With Troubleshooting Your VPN Issues
VPNs are great as they allow you to have more secure access to the internet and browse without worry. Unfortunately, they don’t always work the way they’re supposed to. But hopefully, after following the many tips above, you shouldn’t have a problem when it comes to troubleshooting your VPN issues.
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