VPN keep disconnecting

It’s not always immediately obvious why your VPN keeps disconnecting. In this troubleshooting guide, we’ll go over the common causes of VPN disconnections. We’ll then take you through troubleshooting steps so you can get connected and stay connected.

If your VPN keeps disconnecting, you are forced to use your ISP’s unencrypted connection. You won’t be able to unblock geo-restricted or government-censored content, and you can’t torrent privately. Worse still, your data will no longer be encrypted, leaving you vulnerable to security threats. This is particularly the case if you’re using unsecure public wifi.

Common VPN disconnection causes

Here are some of the main causes for a VPN disconnecting:

Poor internet connection

One of the primary causes of VPN disconnections is a poor internet connection. A VPN creates a secure tunnel through your existing internet connection. If that internet connection is weak, unstable, or slow, the VPN won’t be able to maintain a connection.

There’s no minimum bandwidth requirement to use a VPN, but VPNs inevitably slow down your connection to some degree.

If the device using the VPN is far from the router or has many obstacles in the way (walls and other large objects), the wifi signal is likely to be weaker. This can impact the VPN connection and cause it to disconnect. Check whether any other devices on your wi-fi network are hogging bandwidth. If you’re on mobile data, ensure you have a decent LTE signal.

VPN blocking

VPN blocking is a significant issue which can lead to VPN disconnects or failure to establish a connection at all. This can be a problem in countries with strict internet censorship. A country’s government can use various methods to prevent the use of VPNs, be it deep packet inspection or URL blocking. ISPs may also block VPNs to comply with government regulations.

However, even in countries that are generally considered to have a high level of internet freedom, VPN blocking can still take place at network level. You may experience this at school or work, for example. There are a number of reasons for this including network security, legal compliance, and content management and productivity.

VPN server issues

The issue may not be on your side. The VPN server may be suffering from heavy load or malfunctioning. Perhaps too many users are connected to the same server, leading to slower speeds and frequent disconnections. This is particularly common with free VPNs that have few servers but attract a lot of users.

The distance between you and the server can also affect the stability of your connection. The greater the distance, the further data has to travel.

Another possible issue is server maintenance. VPN servers require regular maintenance and may go offline or become unstable during this time. While maintenance may be scheduled, it can also take place without warning if an unforeseen technical issue arises. The distance between you and the server can also affect the stability of your connection. The greater the distance, the further data has to travel.

Firewall or antivirus interference

Although firewalls and antivirus programs are essential for protecting your system, they can sometimes conflict with VPNs, preventing them from connecting. A firewall with strict settings might block VPN traffic, particularly if it hasn’t been configured to recognize the VPN connection as safe. It may block a specific network port that’s used by the VPN protocol.

Likewise, an antivirus program may see a VPN as a threat. The real-time scanning from the antivirus can interfere with VPN connectivity when it inspects VPN apps and causes delays or blockages in the transmission of the data.

ISP throttling or blocking

The quality of the ISP you use is an important part of having a stable VPN connection. ISPs sometimes throttle internet traffic in an effort to manage their networks. This is often done at peak usage times or when a user is engaging in bandwidth-heavy activities such as streaming, torrenting, or online gaming.

Throttling can reduce your base internet speed and is particularly common when you exceed your monthly data cap. Of course, this can have a negative impact on your VPN connection, regardless of whether the VPN offers unlimited bandwidth or not.

Outdated VPN software

Like any software, VPNs require regular updates to ensure optimal performance and security. Failing to keep VPN software updated can cause VPN disconnections. For example, outdated VPN software may become incompatible with newer systems. This may result in disconnections or the failure to establish a connection.

When VPN software isn’t updated, it can lead to security vulnerabilities that can be exploited. This could lead to interrupted service or malicious attacks that disrupt your VPN connection. Outdated VPN software can also lack optimizations found in the latest versions, which may result in slower performance as well as frequent disconnections.

Bandwidth limits and data caps

Some internet plans and VPNs impose bandwidth limits and data caps. Exceeding these limits can lead to throttled speeds or disconnection. High bandwidth activities such as streaming consume significant bandwidth and data.

Bandwidth limits can be imposed by your VPN as well as your ISP. Quality VPN providers offer unlimited bandwidth but most free VPNs have a data cap. Once you hit this limit, the VPN is likely to disconnect or, at the very least, throttle your connection.

VPN configuration error

Incorrect settings and misconfigurations within the VPN client can cause errors such as VPN disconnects. For example, if the VPN protocol selected isn’t compatible with a particular operating system or doesn’t match what the server supports, it can lead to connection failures.

Some VPN protocols such as OpenVPN require specific adapters and drivers to be installed on your device. Make sure those adapters, drivers, and other necessary frameworks are installed and updated. Reinstalling your VPN app will usually take care of this for you.

Solutions and troubleshooting tips for VPN disconnections

Check your internet connection

Checking your internet connection is essential when troubleshooting frequent VPN disconnects. A stable internet connection is essential, so you should start by disconnecting from your VPN and checking it. Your best bet is using a speed test site such as Speedtest.com or Fast.com to check your internet speed. Check whether other devices on the same wi-fi network are hogging bandwidth. If you’re on mobile, ensure you have a stable LTE connection.

Sometimes restarting your router can resolve connectivity issues you might be having. It’s recommended that you unplug your device, wait for a minute, and plug it back in (you may have to wait a minute or two for your device to re-connect to the network. Be sure to check your wifi strength as this can also cause an unstable connection. Moving closer to the router may help, as can using a wired connection which tends to be more stable and faster than wireless.

Switch VPN servers

Arguably the quickest and easiest potential solution is switching VPN servers. This can resolve a number of issues including server overload, server maintenance, geographic restrictions, or simply a poor connection to a VPN server.

When switching, consider the location of the server. If you’re looking for speed and stability, you’ll want to select the VPN server closest to your physical location. Many VPNs display not only the specific city to which you’re connecting, but also the server load. Of course, you’ll want to choose a server with lower usage for the best possible results.

Remember that it sometimes takes a bit of trial and error to find a better server. Be sure to try more than one if you struggle to connect.

Use obfuscated VPN servers

There’s a chance that the VPN disconnect problem you’re experiencing is caused by VPN blocking by your school, workplace, or even your ISP or government. While this might seem impossible to get around, there are ways and means of doing this.

Some VPNs offers specialty obfuscated servers which mask VPN traffic as regular web traffic. This makes the traffic that much harder to detect and block. This is particularly useful if you’re contending with strict internet censorship or very restricted networks. Of course, you’ll want to be careful that you’re not violating any laws or rules or regulations in the process.

Update your VPN software

Updating your VPN software can help fix bugs, ensure continued compatibility with your operating system, and grant you access to all of the latest features, including those all-important security-related ones.

The process of updating your VPN can vary slightly by provider. You can generally find the option to do so by opening the VPN app and looking in the settings or help menu. However, there may be a more obvious prompt within the VPN app if the update is overdue. If you can’t find the option to update your VPN app, it’s worth visiting the VPN provider’s website. You’ll be able to find the latest version of the app there.

Follow the instructions to update the VPN software. You may need to restart the VPN client in order to ensure the update has been properly implemented. Following this, connect to a VPN server and test the connection.

Adjust VPN protocol and settings

It might be possible to resolve your disconnection issues by adjusting the VPN protocol and settings. If you’re currently using a VPN protocol such as L2TP/IPsec, know that it tends to be slower and may be blocked by some firewalls (and therefore the reason your VPN keeps disconnecting). OpenVPN is very widely used by VPNs due to its balance of speed and security. WireGuard is a newer protocol that has gained popularity thanks to its very fast speed.

You can adjust your VPN protocol by opening the VPN app and going to the settings or preferences page. You can usually find the VPN protocol options under the Connection tab, although this varies by provider.

If your VPN is regularly disconnecting, you might want to ensure your VPN kill switch is enabled. This cuts your internet traffic when the VPN connection drops, preventing your information from being leaked. You may be able to improve connectivity by making use of split tunneling, which lets you choose which apps can bypass the VPN.

Configure firewall/antivirus

Although firewalls and antivirus programs are designed to protect your computer, they can mistakenly identify VPN traffic as suspicious and block it. However, proper configuration can prevent these security tools from interfering with your VPN connection.

How to configure your firewall for VPN compatibility:

  1. First, check if your firewall is causing the issue. Disable the firewall and check if the VPN works. If it does, then proceed to the next steps.
  2. Access your firewall settings and add your VPN to the list of allowed applications. This tells the firewall to let the VPN traffic through without blocking it.
  3. Find out which ports your VPN uses (this is usually available in the VPN’s help or support documentation) and configure the firewall to allow traffic through these ports.
  4. If the firewall is still causing issues, you might want to check out the advanced settings such as the Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) which may be the cause of the interference.

How to configure your antivirus for VPN compatibility:

  1. Start by temporarily disabling the antivirus. If the VPN works without the antivirus enabled, you’ll need to adjust your antivirus settings.
  2. Add your VPN as a trusted application within your antivirus settings.
  3. If the antivirus has a real-time scanning feature, see if you can adjust its settings. Specifically, try reducing its aggressiveness.
  4. Make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date. This can sometimes resolve any compatibility issues with other software, VPNs included.

Reinstall VPN software

It may be that your VPN disconnection issue is caused by outdated software, incorrect settings, or even corrupt files. Whatever the case, reinstalling the VPN app can be an effective solution.

Here’s how to reinstall your VPN:

  1. First, you’ll need to uninstall the VPN software, which you can do via the Add or Remove Programs feature in Windows or Applications folder in MacOS.
  2. Once you’ve uninstalled the VPN, restart your device. This should help clear up any temporary files or settings that remain that could affect a new installation.
  3. Visit your VPN provider’s official website to download the latest version of the software.
  4. Run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions to install the VPN. This is usually a very simple process, so should only take a minute.
  5. Log in to the VPN app and connect to a server to test your connection. You can best check it by doing what you’d normally do online, be it browsing, streaming, or gaming.

Monitor VPN usage

As long as you’re using a quality paid VPN service, you shouldn’t have to worry about any data caps. However, if you’re using a free VPN (which we don’t recommend you do), chances are that excessive usage will lead to throttling or disconnectionsMonitoring your usage can help you avoid this.

Even if you’re using a paid VPN with no data cap, you’ll find that some servers are more crowded than others. Keeping track of this and switching to a server with lighter load can make all the difference.

Disable other VPNs/proxy services

Running multiple VPNs and proxy services simultaneously on the same device can lead to unstable connections and frequent disconnects. They’re likely to interfere with each other’s network configurations, causing data routing issues.

Be sure toidentify and close any other VPNs or proxy applications running in the background. Check also for browser extensions functioning as VPNs or proxies and disable them too. You can then reconnect to your primary VPN to see if this has resolved the issue.

Contact your VPN’s support

If you’ve tried all of the above and failed to find a fix, contacting your VPN provider’s customer support service is another solution. VPN support teams have in-depth knowledge of their service and can provide troubleshooting tips that are specific to your situation.

Not only should a VPN’s support be able to guide you through the correct configuration settings, they can provide information on any known issues, be it server downtime, maintenance, or recent updates. If you can provide a clear and concise explanation of the VPN disconnect problem you’re experiencing, then the customer support service can help.

VPN disconnects: FAQs

Do free VPNs disconnect more often?

Yes, free VPNs tend to disconnect more often than paid ones. There are a few reasons for this. In particular, free VPNs often have a limited number of servers that can become overloaded with users. The heavy traffic can lead to server instability and thus frequent disconnections.

Many free VPNs impose bandwidth limits and if you exceed these limits, you may be disconnected from the service (or at the very least experience significantly slower speeds). Free VPNs generally don’t invest as much money in their infrastructure as paid VPNs. This may result in outdated servers and technology. There will also be fewer resources to allocate towards maintenance and technical support. As such, any server issues may take longer to resolve, leading to more frequent disconnections.

Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?

There are a number of possible reasons why your VPN keeps disconnecting. We recommend you go through those listed in this post but, to save you some time, here’s a quick summary:

  • Unstable internet connection
  • VPN server issue
  • Interference from your firewall or antivirus
  • ISP throttling or restrictions
  • Out-of-date VPN software
  • VPN service has a data cap
  • VPN isn’t properly configured
  • VPN is blocked by your government, ISP, workplace, or school

We go into greater detail regarding all of the above possibilities and also provide troubleshooting tips so you can hopefully resolve your VPN disconnect issue.

What should I do if none of the troubleshooting steps work?

If you’ve tried all of the troubleshooting steps we’ve covered in this post but still haven’t been able to fix the problem, there are a few more things you can do. The most obvious would be to get in touch with your VPN’s customer support. Alternatively, check your VPN’s help section and troubleshooting guides or even online forums and communities related to VPNs. Chances are that someone else has had the same issue and already had help to resolve it.

You could also try your VPN on a different device. This would help you determine if the issue is specific to one device or perhaps even the VPN itself. Some VPNs offer free trials and most quality providers have risk-free money-back guarantees, so you can try another VPN provider if needed. That way, you can see if the issue persists across multiple VPNs.

Can running multiple VPNs at once cause issues?

Yes, running more than one VPN at the same time can cause issues such as disconnections. This is because doing so creates network conflicts. Besides, running multiple VPNs simultaneously can result in performance problems. You’re more likely to suffer slow speeds as a result, particularly when engaging in more bandwidth intensive activities such as streaming and online gaming.