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VPN Keeps Disconnecting? Here’s Why & How to Fix It in 2023

Like any software, VPNs sometimes have technical difficulties. To save you time scouring the web trying to pinpoint the problem, I've compiled a guide on the most common VPN connection issues and how to fix them. Whether your VPN won’t connect, unexpectedly disconnects, or just gives you a slow, unstable connection, you’ll find some actionable solutions that aren’t complicated in this guide.

Of course, the most important thing is that you're using a reliable VPN with solid connections (ExpressVPN is my favorite). ExpressVPN has a global server network and world-class security features that reduce the likelihood of connection issues. It’s also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can test all of ExpressVPN’s features risk-free. You can claim a refund within the 30-day period if you don’t like it.

Try ExpressVPN Now

Short on Time: Here Are 4 Common VPN Connection Issues and How to Solve Them

  1. Disconnection Issues — If your VPN can connect, but keeps on disconnecting, the easiest way to fix this issue is to use a different WiFi network or change your DNS server.
  2. VPN Doesn't Connect — Try disabling your firewall or antivirus if you’re using one, or reconfirm your login details.
  3. Slow and laggy connection — If your VPN consistently produces a choppy, slow connection, consider trying a different server or switching to a faster VPN.
  4. Software Issues — You can update your VPN software or operating system to solve VPN software problems that can cause connection issues.

Plus More Solutions for Other VPN Issues

How to Fix a VPN That Disconnects Frequently

  • Change your WiFi settings — If your internet connection keeps dropping without having a VPN connected, it may be an issue with your WiFi network. If so, you can try using a different WiFi network like a neighbor's, or use your laptop or smartphone as a hotspot. But if the problem persists, then you’ll need to contact or change your ISP.
  • Change your DNS server — A DNS server connects you to the website you’re visiting by translating IP addresses into domain names. Some VPNs like Private Internet Access let you customize your DNS servers through its security settings. This can increase the risk of DNS leaks and potentially cause connection issues, so I’d only recommend this method if you have technical knowledge.
  • Use a different protocol — VPN protocols determine how your device connects to your VPN server and sends data. You may be using an outdated protocol like IKEv2 or LT2P/IPSec, so I suggest using a new one like OpenVPN or WireGuard. ExpressVPN has its own proprietary Lightway protocol, which is designed for easy, fast connections.
  • Change the encryption level — AES-256 bit encryption is the standard for most VPNs, but some let you use AES-128. Even though it’s a tad less secure, it’s significantly faster, which could stop constant disconnections.
  • Use a different port — A port is the start and endpoint of your VPN connection. Only 1 port can be used at a time, which can become overcrowded and cause disconnections. If this occurs, you can manually change your port and reroute your traffic through it. But it can put your data at risk by altering registry files, so only attempt this if you know what you’re doing. The safest way is to use a VPN that lets you change ports in the app (Like Private Internet Access).

Try ExpressVPN Now

How to Fix a VPN That Won’t Connect

Sometimes VPNs won’t connect because there’s a conflict between them and another app or firewall. Here are some things you can try:

  • Disable your firewall and antivirus — Sometimes your VPN might stop working when other software runs simultaneously, such as your firewall and antivirus. You can try pausing your firewall or antivirus or adding your VPN to the safe app list for each one. If you pause your antivirus, just don't forget to turn it back on to stay protected from malicious attacks.
  • Update your network drivers — A VPN’s TAP adapter is a network driver that enables server connections. Therefore, it’s only normal for the TAP adapter to cause connectivity issues if it needs updating. You can update the TAP driver by opening Device Manager, network adapters, and then right-click on the TAP driver and select “Update Driver.”
  • Confirm your login details — You could have quite easily misspelled your password or username, so either double-check or reset both of those. Additionally, you can use a VPN like CyberGhost that offers an optional password manager as an extra, which is called PassCamp.
  • Contact customer support — Top-tier VPNs provide 24/7 assistance when you need help, which can be accessed through live chat. There are other support channels like email support, phone, and FAQ/troubleshooting pages if there’s no live chat. Sometimes, a connectivity issue might be a problem with the VPN’s server network that’s being attended to.
  • Disable the battery saver — Optimized battery-saving features may negatively affect an app’s performance, and a VPN is no exception. This is especially the case with connectivity. The way to disable your battery-saving features is to access your device’s battery settings. If you’re struggling to find them, then try checking advanced settings.

Get Started With CyberGhost

How to Fix Speed Issues in a VPN

Speed issues with VPNs are quite common, as many of them won’t provide superfast connections by default. However, there are some things you can do:

  • Try a different server — If you encounter slow speeds while using a quality VPN, then you can try another server that’s closer to you. This can increase your speeds because your internet traffic will travel a shorter distance. The key is to choose a VPN with a global server network, like ExpressVPN. It has servers all around the world, so you’ll have no problems finding reliable locations near you.
  • Upgrade to a faster VPN — Sometimes, the VPN you’re using causes a significant reduction in your speeds, even if you keep changing servers. This often happens with free and cheap VPNs because they usually have small server networks with overcrowded servers. A VPN like ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, which means there’s hardly any chance of finding an overcrowded server. Plus, it has unlimited bandwidth and prevents ISP throttling.
  • Check your internet connection — If your speed test results indicate slower speeds than normal, you can either reset your router or contact your ISP to solve the issue. Alternatively, connecting an ethernet cable from your laptop to your router can provide more stability to your internet connection.
  • Change your packets and MTU settings — Whenever you use the internet, your device sends data packets to your destination server, which lets you view sites. The largest packet that you can send in one go is called an MTU, which should be able to send as much data as possible without causing congestion. If your network is slow, then your MTU can hold up other data packets and slow your connection.
Graphic showing CyberGhost MTU settingsCyberGhost lets you change the size of your MTU packets

Try CyberGhost Today

How to Fix a VPN With Software Problems

  • Update your VPN software — Using the latest version of your VPN reduces the likelihood of connection issues and crashes, so always update it when prompted. Another benefit is that it fixes security patches to protect your data.
  • Reinstall your VPN — An installation error can affect your VPN’s performance. Just uninstall the VPN from your device and reinstall it from the website with your existing credentials.
  • Delete old VPN software — Having multiple VPNs installed on your device can cause connectivity issues due to conflict. Be sure to fully uninstall any old VPNs from your device, as simply deleting the files won't work.
  • Update your OS or change your device — Make sure you update your device software frequently. In addition, make sure your VPN keeps up to date with your operating system's software updates to ensure you're not stuck running an outdated app. ExpressVPN is compatible with all major operating systems and frequently updates its software to keep up with these OS's.

Get Started With ExpressVPN

The Best VPNs for Reliable Connections in 2023

1. ExpressVPN — Ultra-Fast Speeds That Reduce Your Chances of Disconnecting

  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • AES-256 bit encryption and no-logs policy
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN Offer January 2023: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs available, making it ideal for streaming and reliable connections. When I tested 3 US and 3 UK servers while watching Netflix, I recorded an average download speed of 49.8 Mbps, and 48.4 Mbps, respectively. Not once did my connection drop and my stream was in UltraHD. Therefore, you can enjoy watching shows without any lag and download large files quickly.

Screenshot of Netflix player unblocked with ExpressVPNExpressVPN easily unblocked Netflix US and allowed me to watch without interruptions

Thanks to ExpressVPN’s server network of 3,000 servers in 94 countries, you can reliably bypass geoblocks. More servers give you more chances to access geo-restricted sites from anywhere. By simply connecting to a US or UK server with one click, I unblocked Netflix, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer without any delays or issues.

When it comes to security, ExpressVPN uses military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. In addition to protecting your data, these features can reduce the likelihood of VPN disconnection issues by making your connection more secure and impenetrable. When I tested its US servers on, no DNS/IP leaks were detected.

The main downside of ExpressVPN is its price, which is expensive compared to other VPNs. The cheapest plans start at $6.67/month. But if you go to its website, you can take advantage of a deal and save money. When I signed up, I got my first 2 months for free.

If you’re undecided, then you can test all of ExpressVPN’s features risk-free since it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. To test this policy, I asked them to cancel my subscription over 24/7 live chat. After telling them my reason for canceling, they went ahead with my request and I got all my money back after 4 business days.

Try ExpressVPN Now

2. CyberGhost — Easy to Use App That Provides Reliable Connections

  • Superfast speeds
  • 9,758 servers in 91 countries, including streaming-optimized servers
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
January 2023 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost has an intuitive app for all major devices that’s easy to install and use. It only took me just under 20 seconds to download and install it on my MacBook Pro, while doing the same on my Smartphone was closer to 10 seconds. Finding and connecting to a server I wanted only took 2 clicks, too. Therefore, you can easily secure your devices without technical knowledge.

Its server network of 9,758 servers in 91 countries is large, and even includes optimized servers for streaming and downloading. The streaming servers are for specific sites like Netflix and Hulu and are designed to provide easy access from anywhere. When I tested its Netflix US and BBC iPlayer servers, I unblocked both sites in under 10 seconds each time.

Screenshot of Netflix player streaming Human Resources unblocked with CyberGhostI had instant access to Netflix's US library with CyberGhost

To protect your data and identity, CyberGhost adheres to a strict no-logs policy and uses AES-256 bit encryption. These features make your data unreadable and hide your online activity, so no one can see what you do. Plus, it’s located in Romania, a privacy-friendly country that’s free of data retention laws. With this level of protection, your VPN connection will be more secure and reliable.

A minor con of CyberGhost is its expensive short-term plans, which come with a reduced money-back guarantee (14 days vs 45 days). However, a long-term plan is super affordable, as you can get a subscription for $2.19/month.

Also, you can use its money-back guarantee to get a full refund on your subscription if CyberGhost doesn’t work out. I wanted to see if it was legitimate, so I asked them to cancel my subscription through its 24/7 live chat. After they asked me a question about my experience, I was fully refunded after 4 business days.

Try CyberGhost Now

3. Private Internet Access — Advanced Security Features That Prevent Disconnection Issues

  • AES-128 or 256-bit encryption and advanced protocols
  • 29,650 servers in 84 countries
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
January 2023 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 83% off!

Private Internet Access (PIA) has a number of customizable security features that make data transmission more secure and reliable. For example, you can change your DNS servers, use a different port, and switch protocols on its desktop apps. It also has basic features like a kill switch and military-grade encryption. Therefore, it significantly decreases your chances of disconnection issues.

Graphic showing PIA security settingsPrivate Internet Access is well-suited for reliable connections

PIA provides fast and reliable connections through its Next Generation Network, which is built for speed. I tested 4 US servers during my speed tests, which produced an average download speed of 45.3 Mbps while watching ESPN. Since you only need 25 Mbps to watch content in Ultra HD, you won’t stare at frozen loading screens.

What concerned me with PIA is its US home base since it makes it within the realm of the 14 Eyes Alliance. However, it adheres to a strict no-logs policy that’s been independently audited, meaning it doesn’t collect user data. Therefore, your privacy is safe.

When I checked out its plan, I found its long-term plan to be the most economical at $2.19/month. Short-term plans with the same features are also available, but you’ll save more over the long run with a long-term plan.

And since it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try PIA completely free. After I was done testing, I asked a customer service representative to cancel my subscription over live chat. She immediately proceeded with my request after I gave my cancelation reason, and my money was in my bank account after 3 business days.

Try PIA Now

4. IPVanish — Unlimited Device Connections Under 1 Subscription

  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Reliable speeds
  • Strict no-logs policy and DNS/IP leak protection
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
IPVanish January 2023 Deal: It's hard to find active IPVanish offers so I was really surprised to find this one! Click here to get 66% off your IPVanish subscription today! Discount automatically applied (no code required).

You can connect any number of devices simultaneously when using IPVanish. To test this, I connected my MacBook Pro, Windows laptop, smartphone, and tablet while streaming Netflix and downloading torrents. Compared to having 1 device connected, there wasn’t any difference in my user experience.

Screenshot of Netflix player streaming Human Resources unblocked with IPVanish VPNIPVanishVPN gave me instant access to Netflix US

When it comes to security, IPVanish lets you choose from several advanced protocols and has a kill switch. The protocols include OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and L2TP/IPSec, which provide different balances of speed and security. I’d recommend OpenVPN as it's newer and more secure, meaning there are fewer chances of connectivity issues.

What disappointed me with IPVanish was that it doesn’t accept cryptocurrency payments. However, it let me pay via credit card, online gift card, or PayPal. It offers long-term plans for as low as $3.99/month, which is decent value. Additionally, you can add cloud storage for an extra cost.

If you’re undecided, then you can try IPVanish for free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. There wasn't any need to contact customer service to cancel my account, as I simply logged into it and did everything from the portal. After 2 clicks and 4 business days, I was fully refunded.

Try IPVanish Now

5. PrivateVPN — StealthVPN Protocol Bypasses Geoblocks and Firewalls

  • Stealth VPN protocol
  • 200 servers in 63 countries
  • DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

PrivateVPN’s StealthVPN protocol is designed to bypass firewalls in restrictive networks and countries. It scrambles your data to hide the fact you’re using a VPN, making it seem like a regular connection. Plus, it can be used to bypass geoblocks. By enabling StealthVPN and connecting to a US server, I easily accessed Netflix and HBO Max.

Its app is also user-friendly as its main interface is very minimalistic. All it contains is a connect button and a drop-down box that shows the list of servers. Plus, it even offers a ‘simple’ version, which doesn’t display many advanced features. Installing it on my MacBook Pro took me around 30 seconds while connecting to a server took no more than 10.

Graphic showing StealthVPNPrivateVPN can easily get past firewalls and geoblocks

A minor con of PrivateVPN is that its server network is relatively small when compared to other VPNs. However, the servers I tested all produced fast speeds with reliable connections.

Upon looking at its pricing plans, I found its yearly plans to provide the best value for money at $2/month. Feature-wise, they’re no different from the monthly plans and are cheaper over a long period of time.

And thanks to its money-back guarantee, you can try all of PrivateVPN’s features for free. To cancel my subscription, I contacted its support team via live chat and asked for a refund. They gladly accepted my request without asking any questions, and my money was in my account after 5 business days.

Try PrivateVPN Now

Other VPN Connection Issues (and How to Fix Them)

My VPN can’t access streaming sites like Netflix

A lot of VPNs claim to unblock popular streaming sites, but most of them can’t. And even amongst the ones that can, there can be instances where they don’t work. If you’re in this situation, then it’s best to keep trying different servers or ask your VPN provider for a list of working servers. I recommend going for the latter option, especially if you are concerned about time.

My VPN won’t work in restrictive countries like China

Some countries such as China and Russia impose firewalls to block access to certain websites. Blocked websites include social media sites, news sites, and even VPN sites. Therefore, your best option is to install your VPN before arriving in the country.

Make sure you familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations for the country you’re going to, so you don’t land into trouble.

My VPN server is in the wrong location

A VPN will usually have physical servers that are located in the designated country. But it may use virtual servers for dangerous or expensive regions. Virtual servers are located in a different country from your chosen location, so they configure your traffic to make it seem like you’re in your chosen country. The problem is that some IP checking services can’t tell the difference and will therefore block you from accessing specific sites.

If you’re concerned about virtual servers, you can find out which servers are virtual from your VPN and avoid them. Virtual servers are usually only a tiny percentage of the entire server network, so the risk is low.

I can’t find a VPN server I previously used

A server might get taken down for maintenance and upgrades. While this is usually temporary and uncommon, there can be times when it happens for an extended period. For example, a VPN might decide to take down all its servers in an authoritarian country that issues new privacy laws. The solution is to either bookmark your favorite server or ask your VPN why it was removed. Bookmarking the server helps you find it easier when you need to use it again and lets you know immediately if it has been removed.

Try ExpressVPN Today

FAQs on VPN Connection Issues

What happens if my VPN disconnects?

If your VPN disconnects and you use the internet, it exposes you to significant privacy and security risks. This is because your data becomes visible, meaning your ISP and any potential hackers will be able to see everything you do online. This information can be sent to unwanted third parties, like advertisers and the government, and it puts you at risk from malware.

You can protect yourself from these risks by using a VPN with a kill switch. A kill switch instantly cuts you off from the internet if your VPN disconnects, which means your data won’t be exposed.

What causes my VPN to disconnect?

A number of reasons can result in your VPN becoming disconnected. The most common causes are related to the stability of your internet connection, using old VPN software, slow internet speeds, and your VPN being blocked by other software like your firewall or antivirus. Also, there might be times when a VPN’s servers are down for maintenance.

To reduce the chances of your VPN disconnecting, I recommend using a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN that has a global server network with world-class infrastructure. Even if you are thousands of miles away from your server, it still provides a fast and reliable connection. Plus, its military-grade encryption protects your data.

What should I do if my VPN keeps connecting and disconnecting?

A number of solutions exist because there’s a wide range of VPN connection issues. One of the most common reasons is that your VPN runs simultaneously with your firewall or antivirus, which flags your VPN as suspicious. The way to solve this is to disable the firewall or antivirus temporarily. Another common problem is when your internet connection is slow and disconnects frequently. Since this isn’t directly related to your VPN, you’ll need to contact your ISP.

Why does connecting to a VPN disconnect my internet?

This happens when you enable your kill switch, which stops you from accessing the internet when you’re not connected to your VPN. This also includes the time when you’re connecting to a VPN server or switching to a new one. It’s designed to stop the accidental exposure of your data, which makes it a helpful security feature. But if you disable your kill switch and still experience the same issues, there are other reasons with easy fixes.

Why won’t my free VPN connect?

Free VPNs might seem like a good idea, but most are unreliable and come with limited features. Connection issues usually result from small server networks with slow and overcrowded servers. This can negatively impact you when streaming, torrenting, and downloading, as your connection will no longer be reliable. A much better option is to use a quality VPN that comes with a money-back guarantee. This lets you use it for free for a set period of time.

Try ExpressVPN Risk-FREE Now

Fix Your VPN Connection Now

There’s no need to panic or get frustrated when your VPN disconnects, as there are plenty of working solutions for different connection issues. Regardless of your experience level, you can easily identify the cause of your issue and fix it with a method that’s quick and easy. Some problems might require a bit of technical knowledge, although they’re rare.

Out of all the VPNs I tested, the fastest and most reliable is ExpressVPN. Wherever you are in the world, you can connect to any of its servers and enjoy a smooth and reliable connection that barely drops. It even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try all of its features risk-free. If you don’t like it, you can request a refund.

To summarize, the best VPNs for disconnection issues are…

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Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

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About the Author

Ren is a technology researcher and writer. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and digital freedom.

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