Why Does My VPN Keep Disconnecting? How to Troubleshoot Your VPN

Last updated on October 11, 2021

If you find yourself asking, “Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?” there are two things you need to do:

  1. Find the cause of the interruption
  2. Troubleshoot the problem

While this may sound easy, the process of troubleshooting your VPN can be tricky. The purpose of this guide is to help you determine what’s causing your VPN disconnection, followed by some easy fixes to get you back to browsing safely.

Let’s get started!

What are VPNs?

Virtual Private Networks, or VPN, provide three things: security, privacy, and anonymity. They protect against surveillance and a variety of other cyber threats lurking online. How? By encrypting data and hiding your IP address. They do this by bouncing your internet or network activity through a secure chain to another server miles away. This means your online identity will be kept hidden (even on public Wi-Fi networks).

VPNs allow you to browse the internet safely and anonymously; however, they are prone to slowing down the internet connection. And, continuous interruptions during a session can lead to loss of important data or disrupt file synchronization on your device. Frequent disconnection is not only frustrating but compromises your privacy, leaving your device vulnerable to cyberattacks.

What Causes a Disconnection?

Alright, back to the question at hand: Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?

Disconnection is a common issue for users because of the sensitivity of the servers. Without the use of a “kill switch” to automatically disconnect your device from the connection until the VPN connection is restored, your personal information is visible to everyone sharing the server.

You want to find out the cause of the disconnection before you decide on the best troubleshooting method to reconnect your VPN to the server. Here are the most common:

Network Overcrowding

A virtual private network will struggle to stay connected to a network that is already overcrowded. Your VPN will have a harder time remaining stable as it fights against heavy traffic created by other users.

Weak Signal

Weak Wi-Fi signals will easily cause frequent disconnections. A way to bypass this issue or reduce the number of disconnections is to use a signal booster or operate on a wired connection through your router.

High Latency

Networks with long transmission delays will cause an excessive loss of data and session timeouts. High latency networks are not ideal for VPNs because they are weak and poorly performing.

Improper Configuration

Having an improperly configured firewall or router alone can cause disconnections. Making adjustments to their set-ups is enough to restore a reliable connection and is necessary to maintain a level of stability.

Device Settings

Disconnection can be caused if your device is set to go into standby mode after a certain period of inactivity. Shutting down apps to conserve battery strength and device performance will signal the connection that your device is no longer in use.

Staying off the Internet for more than a few minutes will automatically put the VPN service into standby mode. We will go more into detail about this type of connection in the next section.

Why Is My Internet Connection Being Dropped?

Almost all of these networks function in the same way. Their job is to establish a secure link between you and the internet while keeping your data traffic encrypted as it travels through the virtual tunnel.

A single internet connection is used to create an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with the VPN server. The server is responsible for encrypting all the data being sent and received by your device before it can pass through the connection. This process requires a lot of bandwidth that piles up the traffic over your internet connection.

The software essentially puts all of its power into the same source. When an issue arises, such as a disconnection, there is no safety net to prevent it from exposing or causing damage to your data. The connection is automatically broken, and your device is disconnected from the server.

This can happen if your cell phone signal is suddenly lost or if your laptop’s Wi-Fi connection fizzles out or any of the causes discussed previously.

Because VPN servers tend to use a single internet connection, the use of channel bonding is not common. Channel bonding is when two or more internet sources are combined with increased speed and reliability.

This would allow your device to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi and mobile data simultaneously. However, you won’t be able to use the extra bandwidth or connection strength because the VPN is still only relying on a single connection source. Attempting to double down on the strength will only cause it to disconnect every few minutes.

Internet connection issues are the main cause of VPN disconnections because even just a momentary lapse in connection will cause the entire server to disconnect. Don’t fret when you start to think, “Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?” because simple troubleshooting methods will solve the problem.

Ping Packets

Ping Packet loss or blockage can be another cause for the internet connection to be dropped.

The client and server software send encrypted data or a signed ping packet every 10 seconds to inform the opposing end that the device and connection are still in use. If the device or server does not receive a message for 120 seconds, it is assumed the server is no longer available.

The message can either be blocked or missing because of a disruption in the path between the servers. This causes an automatic disconnection. A software or hardware router can filter out the packets, or an unreliable internet connection can lose the pings as they travel.

Now we have covered all the reasons following the question, “Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?” Hopefully, you have discovered the cause of the disruption, so you can move on to the step of troubleshooting the VPN.

How to Troubleshoot the VPN

The solution to your problem is dependent on the problem itself. You might have to try a combination of troubleshooting options before the VPN connects to the server without further disconnection issues.

Below is a list of all the troubleshooting options to fix several issues causing continuous interruptions between the server and your VPN program.

Restart the Software

This may seem like an obvious solution, but shutting down the program can get it running smoothly again. If the VPN has its own program, close it completely, not just minimize it, and reboot it. If it is a browser plug-in, close the browser and restart it.

If the easiest fix doesn’t do the trick, you can try reinstalling the VPN. This can help a VPN that is frequently slow to connect, often crashes, or if it connects but prevents you from opening links and performing other functions while using the network.

Check Your Firewall

We mentioned this earlier, but the firewall can be an easily fixed reason for disrupting the connection.

Your firewall is protective of the traffic that comes and goes onto your computer. It checks all the data that makes it through the connection. VPNs are finicky enough without an overprotective firewall, so you may need to temporarily disable your firewall to see if it is the cause of the interruption.

Some firewall software doesn’t run smoothly with VPNs. Check to see if disabling it has a positive effect on the connection. Just don’t forget to turn it back on when you’re done.

Clear Your Device of the Old Software

You might have tried out a few different VPN software programs before you settle on your favorite. If you have downloaded several packages and still have them on your computer, they can prevent your chosen software from running properly.

Disable or uninstall any programs you are no longer using, including any software packages that you were using previously, and see if the quick clean-up solves the problem.

Make Use of the Help Function

Most VPN software providers build a help function into the program for when users get stuck. The help function is a user-friendly asset intended to help users with little to no experience with the software. Don’t be intimidated by having a problem, and see if you can find any helpful information after looking around the menu.

If you have trouble navigating the help function or continue to experience issues not listed in the menu, don’t hesitate to get in contact with the provider. Depending on the service, you may have the option to call, email, or chat directly on the website.

Check That it’s Up to Date

VPN software is frequently updated with small quality tweaks to make the program easier to use, while some updates may impact the program’s functionality. Whether the updates are big or small, you want to make sure that your program is up to date with all of them.

To find out if you have acquired the newest update, you must compare the version you are currently running to the version listed on the provider’s website.

Change the Server

Using a VPN can give you access to hundreds of servers to connect to, but not all may function correctly. This can happen for several reasons, including too much traffic, the server is down, or a blacklist of the service you are trying to use.

While it can be a hassle trying different servers until you find the perfect one, this also allows you to try again without having to reinstall a different program.

Connect Using a Different Protocol

If you are still having trouble trying to establish a connection, your VPN protocol could be an issue. The protocol is a network used for exchanging data. The example you might be the most familiar with is HTTP, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is the beginning of every website you visit in your browser.

Experimenting with the protocol settings may be the solution. You might even be able to improve the speed of the connection by resetting the protocol.

Try the OpenVPN Protocol

OpenVPN protocol is an open-source protocol option that is popular and widely used. It’s compatible with a wide range of operating systems and established VPN programs. This free-to-use protocol program is a secure and easy fix to many of these common issues experienced by users.

This custom security protocol establishes a secure tunnel between you and the server established by a leading global cybersecurity company.

Make Sure Your VPN is Compatible with the Server

Another easy function to check is the compatibility between the VPN you are using and the server you want to connect to. Your VPN needs to be able to access the service you are attempting to use. This software can bypass many websites, but the protection on these websites can sometimes be even better.

In theory, a strong VPN can give you access to content all around the globe. Some websites are structured to prevent users from obtaining content not meant to be available in their country.

Not all VPNs are compatible with every website, so it might help to check the information on the website you are accessing. If the VPN you are using is not compatible with the website, there is no solution other than choosing a different program that is compatible.

You no longer have to ask yourself, “Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?” now that you have learned the ins and outs of VPN issues and their solutions.

Keeping Yourself Protected

The use of Virtual Private Networks is popular for its ability to keep users protected when connected to a network over the internet.

Users can even enjoy the safety of accessing region-restricted websites like Netflix, shielding browsing history while using a device in public, and keeping business networks safe and together over the internet.

Keeping yourself protected while using a VPN program only works when the connection to the server is reliable and continuous. After reading through this guide, you should feel comfortable using the right VPN for your needs and how to troubleshoot the program when you run into bouts of frequent disconnection.

Now when you find yourself asking, “Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?” you know how to quickly find the answer and fix the problem to get your VPN running smoothly again.