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Quick Tips

How to troubleshoot a VPN

VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are essential components in small business security. Whether you work in the office, on the move, on desktop, laptop or mobile, using a VPN protects your traffic and your business. There is no excuse not to use one. They are cheap, easy to use and their benefits far outweigh their cost.

But what if they don’t work properly? What if you’re having trouble maintaining a connection or getting connected at all?

Here at New Jersey Computer Help, we assist businesses of all shapes and sizes with network security and general IT issues. One common issue we are called in to help with is VPNs. Even though they are more secure and easier to use than ever before, there is often an extra layer of complication involved with using them.

If you’re having issues with your own business VPN, we are here to help. Here are some common situations you may find yourself in if you use a VPN and the solutions to them.

The VPN won’t connect

A VPN connection depends on a connection bring created between your VPN client and the VPN server. There are a few things that can stop that happening including different patch levels, poor network quality, corrupted app cache or something wrong with the device itself.

Try one of these fixes to overcome them.

Check the login

If you’re setting up your business VPN for the first time or have signed up to a new provider, verify the login details. Check the username and the password are correct. It’s such a simple mistake but one of the most common!

Restart the VPN app

Fully close the VPN app and start it again. If you’re using Windows, make sure the instance is not present in Task Manager. If on Android, make sure to Force Close in App Settings. Then restart the app and try again.

Try a different VPN server

If a restart doesn’t work, try selecting a different VPN server. Most apps will let you manually select an endpoint server so select a different one and try again. The one you’re choosing may be overutilized, be having issues, be suffering from network congestion or something else entirely.

Restart the device

A reboot will fix 90% of all program issues with any device. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an iPhone or an Android tablet, a reset clears memory, drops cached files, reloads the OS and starts afresh.

Check for updates

Checking the VPN client for updates is another key fix. Most clients will warn you of an update and require the update before it starts but not all will. Check the client and use the ‘Check For Updates’ function if there is one or visit the provider’s website.

Check your firewall

Most firewalls learn your traffic habits and will allow VPN traffic by default. If none of these fixes work, it is well worth checking your router or firewall logs for blocks. It’s a long shot but if you got this far it’s worth investigating.

Reinstall the VPN client

Your final option is to uninstall the VPN client, reboot your device and install the latest version. You may have to reload the login or the config but you should then be able to connect as normal.

Unable to connect to websites or cloud applications through VPN

This is a common issue with small businesses when they first set up their VPN. You can connect to the VPN server fine and everything is in the green but when you try to surf the web or connect to a cloud application, either nothing happens, you see a timeout page or are presented with a browser error.

There are a couple of fixes to this. One is specific to Windows while the second is relevant to any device.

Change IPv4 settings to default

The most common fix for this issue is to return Window’s network settings to default. If you set a static IP address for each machine in your network and elected to not use DHCP on your router, this may interfere with the VPN. It’s a quick fix that should address the majority of these issues.

  1. Set your router to use DHCP and assign an IP range.
  2. Right click the Windows Start button and select Network Connections.
  3. Select Ethernet from the left menu and Change Adapter Options in the center.
  4. Right click your Ethernet adapter and select Properties.
  5. Select IPv4 from the center and select Properties underneath.
  6. Set both settings to Automatic.
  7. Select OK and OK to commit the changes.
  8. Retest your VPN.

You should now be able to connect to websites or cloud applications as normal. If it doesn’t work, repeat Steps 1 to 3 and select your VPN connection instead of your main Ethernet connection. Then repeat Steps 5 – 8.

Check your nameservers

DNS configuration can stop you being able to connect to websites and is another common issue with VPNs. Some providers use their own secure DNS server which will automatically take over when connected. If there is a clash between your router or DNS server setting and your VPN client, it could be here.

Open your VPN client settings screen and look for Name Servers or DNS. If there is an option to use the VPN DNS server and it is enabled, disable it and retest your VPN. If the opposite is true, do the opposite.

Ideally you want to use your VPN DNS server for better security but this will get you connected to start.

Those are some common issues many businesses have with VPN and some quick fixes you can try to overcome them. If you’re still having problems after all this, contact your VPN provider or New Jersey Computer Help. We can visit your building and get you up and running again.

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