Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are a very popular modern era cybersecurity tool. The fact that VPNs are readily available for download and offer so many benefits that were unavailable to the average internet user in the past, is all the more reason to appreciate and benefit from the technology. Concepts like proxies and the specially routed web browsers both have clandestine beginnings, in that they were restricted technologies in the past that were not available to the public. In fact, the internet itself was a military defense research project that began in the 60s and it too trickled down to the public just like other technologies e.g. VPNs. However, all VPN software is absolutely not equal, and even the best peer-reviewed and verified brands release software that is afflicted with some common issues that users need to know how to resolve for a much better experience overall.

When you download a premium VPN, there is no doubt that you are doing the right thing for your digital security, but the process of correctly securing yourself is complete only when you understand and tune the common VPN problems found in VPN software. Some of these problems are simply annoying issues while others deserve more attention. Let’s take a look.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network, popularly abbreviated as VPN, is a type of anonymization software offered by VPN vendors either for free or for a monthly fee. Its roots are in the basic proxy system which came from Microsoft’s PPTP (point-to-point tunneling protocol) that has been around since the 90s, that is a sort of tunneling technology that aims to create an area of occlusion around you from your ISP and the rest of the internet network. A modern VPN is a widely available and popular anonymization, or obfuscation/cloaking network technology that connects you to a server of your choice which acts as a middleman between you and the rest of the internet. Effectively, a premium modern VPN cloaks your device’s IP address (internet protocol or physical location) as well as encrypts the connection (garbling the information) from end-to-end via differing protocols -depending on the VPN vendor/provider. A VPN can make it seem that you are in another city anywhere in the world when you connect to one of the available servers. It is a very beneficial tool in that it boosts your security by limiting those who track you and encrypts all of your traffic. A VPN can also allow you to unblock geographically blocked content, as well as save money on online purchases. For marketers, it is an extremely useful tool as it allows them to use e.g. the Indian version of Google for research purposes.

What Are Some Common Issues with VPN Software?

VPN software has not been perfected yet and is constantly developing especially when it comes to speeds and protocols. Here are some common VPN issues which you may experience that we will resolve in the next section;

• Slow internet speed while using a VPN

• VPN disconnecting resulting in a loss of internet connection

• The VPN software is freezing or crashing or is inoperable

• Your VPN is not unblocking streaming content as it should

Slow VPN Speed

Slow VPN speed can be caused by servers that are physically too far from you, a lot of VPN server load, or the use of stricter VPN protocols that slow speeds. In this case, the resolution for these problems is, respectively; to choose a server that is physically closer to your location or a different server in the same location and use the default VPN protocol recommended by the software. Remember, your VPN is only as fast as your internet connection itself.

VPN Disconnects

Frequent VPN disconnects are a common occurrence and happen with premium VPN services as well.  This is especially true on smartphones with the Android OS. Usually, the problem is that your WiFI connection or signal may be low if you are not on a wired connection. Secondly, try re-logging into your VPN account. It could also be the server, so try changing the server. If you have the killswitch option enabled, or the option to not connect to untrusted networks, this could also cause your connection to fall from time to time. If all else fails, contacting the VPNs customer service should resolve your issue.

VPN Crashing

VPN software can experience bugs from time to time, which is especially true for low-quality free VPN apps -which you should avoid using anyway. Also, make sure that other programs aren’t overloading your system if your device is on the slower side. Restarting your system and/or reinstalling the VPN software should solve the problem. Finally, check that your VPN isn’t conflicting with an anti-malware or antivirus software, or with a firewall.

VPN Unblock Problems

As far as streaming geo-blocked content goes, not all VPNs are equal and some cannot bypass e.g. Netflix restrictions if you are in another country. It could also be that your browser has stored cookies that you need to delete to reset your tracking information or try browsing in your browser’s incognito/private modes.

Final Notes to Keep in Mind

The single most important thing to remember is never to use an unverified, shady VPN service, which would be like handing your internet connection over to criminals. Always make sure that your VPN provider has proper security audits and offers a guaranteed no-log policy. Also, within your VPN software make sure that you use features such as auto-launch or auto start, killswitch, no auto-connecting to untrusted servers, and any additional cybersecurity features on offer should be activated. In conjunction with your VPN software, you should be using a security-focused browser that limits cookies, ads, and fingerprinting as well as a premium antimalware software that can constantly scan for (and eliminate) threats while you browse.