If you paid for a VPN service that doesn't work, it can be quite maddening. Some problems are caused on the server side, which means that you will need to contact your VPN provider to resolve them. The good news is that there are issues you can fix yourself on your Windows computer.
Our troubleshooting tips are primarily intended for Windows 10 users. However, they will work if you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Despite this, we urge you to remember that older versions of Windows no longer receive essential security patches. For this reason, we recommend that you upgrade to Windows 10.
This troubleshooting guide is a general overview that applies to all VPNs. If you're having a specific problem with your Windows VPN, it's always best to seek help from your VPN customer support team. They can provide direct assistance related to your specific VPN application.
Why is my VPN not working on Windows 10?
Before we discuss the fixes for each problem, we must first determine the problem you are facing. Below is a list of the most common issues that Windows users experience when using a VPN:
- The VPN will not connect.
- VPNOnlineFree connections fail.
- The VPN does not change my IP address.
- The VPN is leaking.
- The VPN makes my internet connection extremely slow.
VPN does not connect
This is the most common problem that people face when setting up a VPN. If your VPN does not connect, use the methods below to troubleshoot it. Remember to try to connect to your VPN after trying each method.
Restart your PC and modem
It's the easiest step to take and it's often a quick fix that can get your VPN connection working. Always start by restarting both your computer and your router. To make sure your router is properly reset, unplug it and wait ten seconds before plugging it back in.
Check for VPN software updates
If you're using an outdated VPN app, you may need to update it. Check with your VPN provider to find out if you are using the latest version and update the VPN or uninstall your current version and download a newer client.
Update your router
If you are using an older router, the firmware may be out of date and may cause a conflict with your VPN application. To resolve this issue, do online research regarding your particular router model. If necessary, download and install the latest firmware updates. Then restart the device and try to connect to your VPN network again.
Change the encryption protocol
Generally, we recommend that you use VPNOnlineFree encryption because it is the most secure. However, sometimes settings related to VPNOnlineFree (TAP or TUN driver conflicts) prevent the VPN from connecting.
To find out if your VPN is having connection problems due to the encryption it uses, open your VPN client's settings menu and test the following encryption protocols:
If a VPN connection can be successfully established using a different protocol, you may need to use the VPNOnlineFree troubleshooter that we included later in this guide. You can also contact your vendor to find out why the software is having problems with a particular protocol.
Change the port or open the port manually in your router
Some VPN clients allow you to select the port with which you want to connect to the VPN. Some common ports used by VPN protocols include UDP ports 1194, 8080, 9201 or 53 and TCP ports 443, 110 and 80. Other protocols may use other ports such as 500, 1701 and 4500. If the VPN you allows you to change the port, try another port to see if that solves the problem.
You can also log into your router's admin panel and unblock all ports required by your VPN. To do this, enter the local IP address of the router in your browser, connect and change the port settings if necessary.
Disable your antivirus or firewall
When you install a VPN on your computer, the VPN may conflict with your firewall or antivirus. Normally, the VPN automatically updates your firewall settings when you install it to avoid conflicts (this ensures that the firewall does not block specific ports needed for the VPN).
To ensure that your firewall or antivirus does not conflict with your VPN, disable them one at a time and check if the VPN will connect.
If you find out that your firewall or antivirus is the reason for a failed connection, add the VPN to the list of firewall and antivirus exceptions. This will allow you to use the VPN with your antivirus and firewall still running.
Remember that your firewall and antivirus are important for security reasons, so be sure to re-enable them after testing your VPN connection with them disabled.
Clear the DNS and clear the cache
If your VPN is having trouble establishing a connection, it's worth clearing your VPN cache by clearing your DNS. DNS flushing can sometimes help if Windows is using cached DNS settings rather than VPNs. To do this, follow these simple steps:
- Type cmd in the search area
- Right click on Command Prompt
- Choose the Execute as administrator option
- In the window that opens, enter ipconfig / flushdns and hit enter.
Uninstall network adapters
Sometimes network adapters can conflict and cause a VPN to malfunction. To resolve this issue, uninstall the WAN miniports on your computer and update them.
- Click on Start your search at the bottom left of your Windows taskbar.
- Type Device Manager and click on the first result that appears
- Go to Network adapters and expand the selection
- Right click on the WAN miniport you wish to uninstall and select Uninstall the device.
Check with your VPN if you are unsure which ones to remove. However, most people who have this problem find that they can solve it by uninstalling: WAN Miniport (IP), WAN Miniport (IPv6) and WAN Miniport (PPTP) and WAN Miniport (SSTP).
- Once you have uninstalled the WAN miniports, click on action > Check for hardware changes
- The WAN miniports you need should now return to the menu.
Try connecting to your VPN to see if it has resolved your connection issues.
VPNOnlineFree connections fail
If your VPN specifically fails to connect using VPNOnlineFree encryption, conflicting TAP or TUN drivers may be installed. People who use many different VPN services – and fail to uninstall VPN clients as they go along – often end up with conflicting drivers on their machine. To resolve this problem:
- Open Control panel
- To select Uninstall a program
- One by one, select all the old VPN clients that you have always installed and uninstall them
- Then uninstall your current VPN (the one you want to work on)
- Now look for the TAP-Windows drivers in the list of installed programs and uninstall them as well.
- Now reinstall your existing VPN client. This will install the VPN and the correct TAP drivers
- Connect and connect to your VPN
My VPN does not change my IP address
The first thing to do is to verify that you are properly connected to the VPN. Then check if your IP address is changed using our IP test tool.
If the VPN is connected and it does not change your IP address when you connect, the VPN does not work. It could be that your VPN provider is garbage, in which we recommend that you subscribe to a better service.
If your VPN is reputable, you will need to speak to VPN customer service to find out why it is not working. In case they can't help you, ask for your money and subscribe to a service that works.
My VPN is leaking
A VPN is supposed to ensure confidentiality by hiding your data in an encrypted tunnel. This prevents your ISP, local network administrators, and the government from being able to track your online browsing habits. If your VPN is leaking, you will need to resolve the issue or get a new VPN. (If you don't know how to check for leaks, don't worry, you can use our VPN leak test tool.)
Many VPNs are not yet configured to work on IPv6, which may cause your real IP address to leak to the VPN. To resolve this issue, disable IPv6 connections from Windows to revert to IPv4 by default.
- Open Network and Internet settings
- Click on the option Change adapter options
- Right click on your active local area connection and navigate to Properties.
- Scroll down and uncheck the option Internet Protocol version 6
- Click on Okay to save changes
If you suffer from WebRTC leaks, try disabling WebRTC in your browser or using a WebRTC blocking extension such as Easy WebRTC Block to resolve the problem. Once the extension is installed, you should no longer suffer from browser-based WebRTC leaks.
My VPN slows down my Internet connection
Not all VPNs are created the same. Some VPN providers use poor networks built with slow or congested VPN servers. If your VPN is slow, the first thing to do is try to connect to another server. Some servers may be faster than others. Also, it's worth connecting to a server closer to you, as that should provide faster speeds.
If after trying several different servers, the VPN is still slow, test a different encryption protocol. VPNOnlineFree UDP and IKEv2 are secure VPN protocols that are considered fast, so give them a try. If your VPN is still slowing traffic considerably, you are currently subscribed to a slow VPN service and need to switch providers in favor of a fast VPN.
How to test a VPN works on Windows
The most important test you should run on your VPN is a leak test. You can use our handy VPN leak test tool to find out if your VPN is working properly. In addition, you need to check if your VPN contains malware.
Testing a VPN for malware
A study published in 2016 by CSIRO revealed that a large number of VPNs (in particular free VPNs) contain malware. Among the VPN clients involved, all kinds of unwanted spyware, tracking libraries, and other unwanted malware were found buried in the applications.
We strongly recommend that you check the software for malware before installing it, especially for those who download a relatively unknown VPN. CSIRO relied on the free online tool VirusTotal to find VPN applications for malware, and we recommend that you do the same. To do this, simply go to the website, select the VPN file you want to check and perform the analysis.
Remember that even if antivirus protection like Malwarebytes is good (and will scan your entire system); VirusTotal scans a bunch of online antivirus services. In fact, VirusTotal is better at scanning individual files for problematic code.
Finally, remember that free VPNs are an easy way to open yourself up to serious security issues. The vast majority have very serious flaws, terrible privacy policies, outdated (or none) encryption, and may contain tracking libraries, spyware, and malware. It is essential that you stick to only one of our recommended services if you are using a free VPN.