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Why is my VPN not working & what can I do about it?

VPN not working

We’ve put together a list of potential reasons for why your VPN isn’t working, along with some solutions that you can try to get it up and running again.

Have you noticed that your VPN has not been working well lately? Struggling to get a Virtual Private Network to connect can be frustrating. Even when your VPN seems to connect to the internet, it can sometimes malfunction. In this article, we’ll explain some reasons why your VPN is not working and offer a few suggestions.

Some nations have restrictions that prevent foreign visitors from accessing certain sites

Understanding why VPNs can suffer from connection problems

Although high-quality VPNs try to keep service problems to a minimum, even the best maintained providers sometimes struggle to keep their speeds as high as possible. At the same time, servers can go offline, or simply become inaccessible, leading to frustration for service users.

At the customer end, this can seem pretty mysterious. All you see is that your VPN client is not connecting. But underneath the surface, there are plenty of reasons why this could be the case.

  1. Firewall conflicts
    If you have a firewall installed on your network, there’s a good chance that it’s in conflict with your VPN. You may need to set some exceptions to the port settings to use both security tools at once.
  2. Router issues
    If you are running a VPN through a home wireless router, there’s a chance that it simply can’t deal with PPTP passthrough VPNs. If so, you may need to upgrade your hardware.
  3. Server outages
    In some cases, the server you are trying to reach will be out of action, either due to routine maintenance, unforeseen capacity errors, or cyber attacks. Send a ping to servers that seem to be performing poorly to check whether this is the case.
  4. Country-specific issues
    In some countries, VPNs are suppressed, and ISPs tend to create problems for clients. So if you’re in the UAE or China, this could be the issue. In that case, upgrading to a better VPN could sort out the problem.
  5. Time mismatches
    Weirdly, if your computer’s time and date settings are incorrect, this can cause serious connection problems with your VPN.
  6. Password problems
    If you’ve added the VPN to a new device, your problems could be as simple as mistyping your user ID and password. So the first thing to do is double check your login information.
  7. Hitting bandwidth limits
    Some VPNs operate bandwidth and traffic limits for customers. If you’ve signed up for these services, your connection problems could be due to having hit your monthly limits.
  8. Connecting too many devices
    Similarly, many VPNs limit the number of devices customers can connect at any one time. And when you add one too many, you won’t be able to connect.
  9. DNS snafus
    If your VPN connects, but you can’t view websites, the culprit could lie in your DNS settings.

Here are some more reasons why a VPN may not work. One explanation is that your attempt at connectivity may be blocked by the server you are trying to connect to.

The VPN’s servers are down

One of the VPN issues why your VPN is not working could be that its servers are down. You can test this by trying to load a website without the VPN. If it works, then the problem is the VPN itself, rather than your connection. You can verify this by checking the VPN’s website.

DNS configuration plays a key role

The Domain Name System, or DNS, configuration could also be the reason why your VPN is not working the way you want it to. This configuration issue can be on your device, or it could be a VPN issue with the default gateway of the remote network your VPN is trying to connect to.

This sounds complicated, and it leads people to wonder how this setting was changed in the first place. Basically, this happens as a result of the aforementioned setting overriding the default gateway settings, which are indicated in the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and IP (Internet Protocol) settings.

VPN troubleshooting: test your VPN by pinging another address

In these instances, you need to find out if VPN problems are related to the DNS settings by pinging an external IP address. This will provide confirmation of whether your connection to the internet is working or not. That way, you will be able to assess whether you can reach the server.

Check your reply indicators

To do this, you should click the Start button and then locate the command prompt. Select ‘VPN connected but not working’. Type the address you want to ping. Next, press the Enter key. Replies via the ping mean that your connection is working and that the problem is the DNS.

Other issues with the DNS configurations

Another reason that the VPN is not working could be that something is blocking the connection of your VPN.

This is clearly indicated when you do not get a reply message back from your ping. It means that you will need to reset the DNS settings.

Another factor that could contribute to your VPN not working is when the VPN client crashes. Furthermore, you should take into consideration that the VPN may not function properly when the crash renders the DNS configuration no longer usable for various servers.

Your VPN isn’t giving you access to restricted sites

You may discover that your VPN is not working as well as it should when you are not able to visit certain sites, even though you have a working internet connection. This means that there is a malfunction associated with the DNS settings.

Set your VPN to an OpenDNS address

If after resetting the DNS settings the issue is still not resolved, then it is likely necessary for you to set your VPN to an OpenDNS address in order to resolve your DNS problems. When you configure OpenDNS servers, your DNS requests are directed via the implementation of OpenDNS.

Implementing this process ensures that DNS traffic can be directed from your network over to OpenDNS, which is a global network. This is accomplished by providing access to network settings and shutting down the automatic DNS configuration that is implemented by your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

Flush out the DNS cache

Did you know that in some countries, the DNS entries which have been saved on your computer are rendered incorrect on purpose, which is another way to block websites that you want to visit? This means that it is a good idea to flush out your DNS cache.

Flushing out your DNS cache allows your computer to instantly have access to the DNS of your VPN. This provides the correct entries that will work, avoiding blocks. Then your VPN should work optimally without any more glitches.

In summary

It is understandable that you can get frustrated when your VPN is not working, as you rely on your VPN for good speed, quality connectivity and trustworthy protection for your data. However, when you apply the tips that have been provided here, your VPN should start to work again.

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  1. Jeph Kine May 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Server outage is common with several VPN’s and it is understandably due to the fact that most VPN’s try to deliver much more than their financial capacity. So if you use a free VPN, you will likely experience server outage.

  2. Rebecca2365 April 16, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Having a VPN that is not working can be frustrating. It slows the speed of your internet, exposes your data and activities. It could possibly land you in some copyright problems.

  3. Chris March 1, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    “Did you know that in some countries, the DNS entries which have been saved on your computer are rendered incorrect on purpose?” what? Why would anyone do this and who actually does this and why? I think this might be the case for me right now so any explanation would be helpful. Also, is there a video or article on how I could flush out the DNS cache?

    1. avatar
      Mikaela Bray Author March 4, 2019 at 11:55 am

      Hi Chris,

      This is done for censorship purposes usually. Here’s an article on how to flush the DNS cache. With that said, if your ISP DNS is giving you incorrect addresses, then flushing your DNS won’t help. You will have to use other DNS servers, such as by using a VPN or SmartDNS proxy.

  4. Vicki Kennedy February 5, 2019 at 4:28 am

    I was so lost on fixing my VPN. This is harder than I thought it would be. Lucky for me you just helped a ton.

  5. avatar
    Mikaela Bray Author December 13, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for reading! If you want to get more info on VPNs in general, you should check out our VPN Basics section.

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