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Why Your VPN Keeps Disconnecting and How to Prevent It

Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio

Our Verdict

If your VPN keeps disconnecting and reconnecting, it’s likely that data packets are being lost or blocked between your device and the VPN server. This could be due to issues with the VPN client, your router, or your network connection. You can fix it by updating your VPN or router software, changing your VPN settings, or disabling power-saving features on your device.

illustration of a VPN protecting the mobile data usage on a smartphone

If you’re a regular VPN user, it can be frustrating if your VPN keeps turning off or randomly disconnecting.

Most premium VPN services have a kill switch that will disconnect your internet when the VPN connection drops. This protects your public IP address from leaking, but it means your WiFi will keep turning off if the VPN connection is unstable.

In this guide, you’ll find a list of the most common reasons why a VPN would keep disconnecting or turning itself off.

We’ll talk you through the settings on your VPN software, what you can do to improve the connection to your router, and how you can update your device’s software to prevent your VPN from disconnecting in the future.

Keep reading to learn more about VPN connection issues, or use the links below to jump to common disconnection problems and their solutions.

EXPERT TIP: If your VPN is disconnecting frequently and you can’t fix it, you might be putting your privacy at risk. The more often your VPN connection or WiFi drops, the higher the chance your true IP address will be exposed. We recommend using a VPN that protects your IP even when you’re switching servers, such as Private Internet Access.

7 Reasons Your VPN Keeps Disconnecting & Reconnecting

Some VPNs don’t automatically tell you when the connection drops, which can be confusing. We recommend checking the notification settings in your VPN app. If there are optional alerts for when the VPN disconnects, enable them.

Here’s a list of common reasons why your VPN might be turning off by itself or randomly disconnecting:

1. Your Connection Has Too Much Latency

VPN software creates an encrypted ‘tunnel’ between your device and a remote VPN server.

Every ten seconds, your device will send a message to the VPN server to maintain a continuous connection. If the server takes more than 120 seconds to respond, the VPN tunnel closes and your client will disconnect.

As a result, a slow or delayed internet connection can cause your VPN to drop. You can test the speed and latency of your internet connection using Ookla’s internet speed test.

Speed test tool to check your latency

You can check your upload speeds, download speeds, and latency using an online speed testing tool.

2. There Are Other Network Connection Issues

Your internet connection relies on a series of devices in a long chain, and failures in any one of them could cause your VPN to disconnect.

There could be issues with your broadband connection, WiFi network, or the router you’re using to connect to it. If you have a weak connection to your WiFi network or mobile data signal, that can result in your VPN connection dropping.

If your network is shared with lots of other people and doesn’t have the bandwidth to support it, that can make your VPN connection less stable, too.

Most VPN services will automatically try to reconnect as your internet connection reestablishes, which can make it appear as if your VPN is randomly disconnecting and reconnecting.

3. You’ve Reached Your VPN’s Device Limit

On average, VPN services allow you to use your subscription on up to five devices at the same time. If you’re trying to use a VPN on an additional device, the VPN may disconnect or fail to connect altogether.

ExpressVPN connection limit warning

ExpressVPN has a connection limit of five devices.

If you have a lot of devices to protect, you can avoid the device limit by installing the VPN on your router or choosing a VPN like Surfshark, which offers unlimited simultaneous connections.

4. Your ISP Is Blocking VPN Traffic

Some countries impose laws and regulations that heavily restrict the use of VPN software. States such as Belarus, Iraq, and North Korea have outlawed VPNs completely, while countries including China and Russia greatly limit their use.

If you’re attempting to use a VPN in a highly-censored country like China, it’s possible that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will attempt to identify and block VPN traffic.

To circumvent these restrictions, you’ll need to use a VPN with obfuscation technology, which disguises your VPN traffic as normal HTTPS traffic.

5. Software Conflicts Are Interrupting Your VPN

Your VPN client might be affected by other software that’s installed on the same device. If you have tried other VPN services previously and have not uninstalled them, they might be causing issues.

More commonly, firewalls and antivirus software can prevent your VPN from connecting to the internet. Network firewalls can be set to blacklist certain IP ranges, to cut long-running connections to single IP addresses, or even to block all the ports a VPN would use.

If your network’s firewall is running deep packet inspection, it could also be configured to terminate any connection that shows signs of running the OpenVPN or IPsec protocols.

6. Your VPN Server Is Congested

VPNs with small or crowded server networks are often slower and less reliable. If there are too many users connected to a single server, your connection may drop unexpectedly.

Our VPN reviews consider the spread and number of servers in a VPN’s network. For fast speeds and a more reliable connection, we recommend choosing a VPN with hundreds of servers in countries all over the world.

ExpressVPN vs Proton free VPN servers

ExpressVPN has servers in 160 locations whereas ProtonVPN Free has servers in 3 locations.

The more servers a VPN has in its network, the less likely it is that your chosen VPN server will be congested or overloaded.

7. Your Device’s Power Settings Are Disrupting the VPN

To help preserve power, some battery-powered devices deprioritize applications that don’t appear to be in use.

VPN applications tend to run in the background, which means they may be candidates for battery-saving measures.

If your operating system automatically throttles the VPN’s access to the processor, your VPN may disconnect unexpectedly.

How to Stop Your VPN From Disconnecting

If your VPN keeps disconnecting, the fault is usually in one of three places:

  • The VPN server and the settings you are using to connect to it
  • The network connection between your device and the VPN server
  • Your device’s settings and the software installed on it

In this section, we’ll cover the most common solutions to each of these VPN connection problems so you can prevent your VPN disconnecting or turning off all the time.

EXPERT TIP: To make sure your VPN is working properly, use our VPN leak test tool to verify that your IP address, DNS requests, and WebRTC details are being routed through the encrypted VPN tunnel.

1. Change Your VPN settings

The first place you should check for problems is in your VPN’s settings. You will find these configuration options in the VPN application on your device.

By connecting to a more reliable VPN server, changing connection protocols, or reconfiguring your DNS settings, you can prevent unexpected disconnections due to issues with the VPN software.

Use a Different VPN Server

Changing your VPN server is the simplest way to improve the reliability of your connection. If you’re experiencing frequent disconnections, there may be a fault with the server you’re connecting to, or it may simply be overcrowded.

The nearest server to your physical location will usually give you the fastest speeds and the most reliable connection. Try using the ‘automatic connection’ option if your VPN has it, as this will usually connect you to the nearest server with capacity.

Here’s a video showing how to switch servers using ExpressVPN as an example:

How to change servers using ExpressVPN.

If you need an international server to unblock Netflix, try a different server or city within the country you’re targeting. If your VPN isn’t working with Netflix, changing servers is usually the most effective solution, too.

Change Your VPN Protocol

VPN protocols are the rules used to create an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server. Some VPN services let you choose from a wide range of protocols, while others don’t let you choose at all.

High-quality VPN services will offer a reliable and secure VPN protocol by default. However, changing protocols can make your connection more reliable and prevent disconnections in the future.

If you’re experiencing connection problems, here’s the recommended order of protocols to try, where available:

  1. OpenVPN TCP – OpenVPN is the leading VPN protocol for speed and security, and TCP increases its reliability.
  2. WireGuard – This is a modern protocol that is supported by many top-rated VPNs. WireGuard is better than OpenVPN for mobile devices because it can switch between networks without breaking the VPN tunnel.
  3. Lightway TCP or UDP – This is ExpressVPN’s own proprietary connection protocol.
  4. IKEv2/IPSec – This protocol is often used on mobile VPN apps, because it is good at switching between WiFi and mobile data without disconnecting.
  5. L2TP/IPsec – this is based on UDP.

UDP and TCP are the two most common types of protocol used to send data over the internet. Generally speaking, UDP is faster, but TCP is more reliable because it has error-checking built in.

If you have the option, we recommend switching to TCP to fix an unreliable VPN connection.

Change Your DNS Settings

VPN providers often operate their own DNS servers to stop your ISP seeing your DNS requests. These servers are responsible for converting a website’s domain name into an IP address.

If your VPN gives you the option to use custom DNS servers, you can try changing them to see if it increases your VPN stability. However, changing your DNS servers may offer weaker security than using your VPN’s default configuration.

Enable Obfuscation or Stealth Mode

If you are in a country with a heavily-regulated internet, VPN traffic may be blocked or even outlawed. It’s easy for a censor or state firewall to spot and block VPN traffic, which will result in a disconnection.

Some VPNs have built-in features to disguise VPN traffic, called “obfuscation” or “stealth mode”. This stops censors from identifying your traffic as belonging to a VPN, which reduces the chance it will be blocked.

IVPN obfuscation setting

IVPN’s obfuscation feature is found in the connection settings menu.

To stop your VPN disconnecting in China, Russia, or other censored countries, enable your VPN’s obfuscation feature, or upgrade to a VPN that works in China.

Disable the Multi-Hop Feature

Also known as ‘double VPN’, Multi-Hop is an advanced security feature that routes your VPN traffic through two different servers. This can offer some privacy and security benefits, but they usually come at the expense of speed and reliability.

Double VPN is unlikely to be enabled by default. We recommend enabling it only if you are handling highly sensitive information or you face the risk of targeted attacks.

For most users, a standard VPN connection is enough for improved security and privacy, and enabling this feature may be the reason your VPN keeps disconnecting.

Disable Trusted Networks

Some VPNs include a ‘Trusted Networks’ feature that automatically disconnects the VPN when you’re using a network you have labeled as safe.

NordVPN's trusted network feature

Your VPN will disconnect when you are using a trusted network.

If you forget you have this feature enabled and you move within range of a trusted network, your VPN will disconnect unexpectedly.

You can disable Trusted Networks in the settings menu on your VPN application.

2. Fix Connection Issues With Your Network

Your VPN may disconnect and reconnect randomly if there are problems with any part of your internet connection. If your VPN has a kill switch enabled, it may also appear as if your VPN is turning off your WiFi.

To confirm whether your VPN is disconnecting because of problems with your network:

  • Try connecting using a different device on the same network. If the VPN also disconnects on the other device, the problem is probably your network and not the VPN. If one device works but the other doesn’t, your device may be causing the VPN to drop.
  • Try connecting using a different network. If you’re using a mobile device, try using your mobile data connection instead of WiFi, or vice versa. If you are using a laptop, try switching between Ethernet and WiFi, or connect at a friend’s house. If your VPN works on one network but not on another, that suggests the network is probably at fault.
  • Try connecting using a different cable. If you’re connecting to your router using an Ethernet cable, try a fresh cable. Faulty cables can cause network connections to drop.

If you’ve confirmed that your VPN connection keeps dropping due to an issue with your network, here are some common solutions to fix network problems:

Restart Your Router

This may seem like an obvious first step, but restarting your router can help stabilize an unreliable connection. Turn off your router, leave it a few minutes, then turn it on again.

Update Your Router’s Firmware

Modern routers will often update their internal software (firmware) automatically. These updates can improve the stability of your connection.

If your router does not update automatically, try logging in to its dashboard to see if you can force it to update manually. You can log in to your router by entering its IP address in a web browser window.

Change the Port You’re Using

To improve the reliability of your connection, you can try changing the port that your device uses to connect to the internet. Not all VPNs allow you to configure this, but Private Internet Access and IPVanish are both top-tier VPNs that do.

Here are some port combinations you can try when using the OpenVPN protocol:

VPN protocol Port numbers to try
OpenVPN UDP 53, 80, 443, 1194, 1197, 1198, 2049, 2050, 8080, 9201
OpenVPN TCP 443, 1443, 80, 110
WireGuard UDP 53, 80, 443, 1194, 2049, 2050, 30587, 41893, 48574, 58237

3. Fix Connection Issues With Your Device

If you’ve tried reconfiguring your VPN software and network but your VPN still keeps disconnecting, there may be an issue with your device or the software installed on it.

Here are some common device-level issues you can solve to prevent your VPN from disconnecting:

  1. Delete old VPN apps. If there are multiple VPN apps installed on your device, they may conflict with eachother and prevent your VPN from establishing a connection. Uninstall any VPN apps you’re not using.
  2. Check for conflicts with your firewall and antivirus. Check your security software’s event logs to make sure it’s not blocking your VPN. If necessary, add your VPN to your security software’s list of permitted software.
  3. Check for data-hungry software. If your operating system updates or other data-intensive downloads are taking place, this could result in congestion on your network connection that causes your VPN connection to drop.
  4. Install a VPN on your router. If the device-specific tips below don’t work, you can install a VPN on your router as a last resort. This will protect all of the devices connected to that router, and may avoid any problems that are caused by your device’s software and settings.
  5. Install a VPN on your router. If the device-specific tips below don’t work, you can install a VPN on your router as a last resort. This will protect all of the devices connected to that router, and may avoid any problems that are caused by your device’s software and settings.

Here are some more detailed instructions for fixing VPN connection issues on iOS , Android, Windows, MacOS:

How to Stop Your VPN Disconnecting On iOS

If you have tried changing your VPN settings and checked your connection, try the steps below to stop your VPN disconnecting on iOS devices:

Update Your VPN software
  1. Open the App Store.
  2. Tap your account icon.
  3. Find your VPN app in the list, and tap Update. If your VPN app is not in the list, you’re already running the latest version.
  4. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Reinstall Your VPN Software
  1. Tap and hold your VPN app’s icon.
  2. Select Remove App.
  3. Open the App Store.
  4. Search for your VPN app, and reinstall it.
  5. Reinstalling the app will reset its settings. You will need to log in again.
  6. Check the settings to make sure the Kill Switch is enabled.
  7. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Disable Power Saving Settings

Some power saving features can interfere with VPN connections. Try disabling them, but remember that your battery charge will not last as long:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Battery.
  3. Turn off Low Power Mode.
  4. Go back to Settings by tapping in the top left.
  5. Select General.
  6. Select Background App Refresh.
  7. Turn it off.
  8. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Clear the VPN Application’s Cache
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap on Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap on See all apps
  4. Find your VPN app and select it.
  5. Select Storage & cache.
  6. Select Clear Cache.
  7. Select Clear Storage or Clear Data.
  8. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Reset Your Device’s Network Settings

Resetting your network settings means you will have to re-enter your passwords and set up your connections again. However, if nothing else works, it might help you stop your Android VPN disconnecting:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Find System at the bottom.
  3. Tap Reset options. If it’s not shown, select Advanced instead.
  4. Select Reset Wi-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth.
  5. Tap Reset Settings.
  6. When your device restarts, your internet connection will be refreshed, which can help improve your VPN stability.

How to Stop Your VPN Disconnecting on Android

Try the steps below to prevent your VPN turning on and off on Android devices:

Update Your VPN Software
  1. Open the Google Play Store app.
  2. Tap your profile icon.
  3. Tap Manage apps and devices.
  4. Find your VPN app. If it can be updated, it will be labeled ‘Update available’. Tap Update.
  5. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Reinstall Your VPN Software
  1. Open the Google Play Store app.
  2. Tap your profile icon.
  3. Tap Manage apps and devices.
  4. Tap Manage.
  5. Tap your VPN app.
  6. Tap Uninstall.
  7. In the Google Play Store, search for your VPN app, and reinstall it.
  8. Reinstalling the app will reset its settings. You will need to log in again.
  9. Check the settings to make sure the Kill Switch is enabled.
  10. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Disable Power Saving Settings

The power saving feature in Android could cause your VPN to disconnect, so try disabling it:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap on Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap Advanced.
  4. Select Special app access.
  5. Tap on Battery optimization.
  6. Select All Apps at the top.
  7. Find your VPN app and select it.
  8. Select Don’t Optimize.
  9. Select Done.
  10. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Clear the VPN Application’s Cache
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap on Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap on See all apps.
  4. Find your VPN app and select it.
  5. Select Storage & cache.
  6. Select Clear Cache.
  7. Select Clear Storage or Clear Data.
  8. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Reset Your Device’s Network Settings

Resetting your network settings means you will have to re-enter your passwords and set up your connections again. However, if nothing else works, it might help you stop your Android VPN disconnecting:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Find System at the bottom.
  3. Tap Reset options. If it’s not shown, select Advanced instead.
  4. Select Reset Wi-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth.
  5. Tap Reset Settings.
  6. When your device restarts, your internet connection will be refreshed, which can help improve your VPN stability.

How to Stop Your VPN Disconnecting on Windows

Follow these steps to prevent your VPN disconnecting on a Windows desktop or laptop:

Reinstall Your VPN Software
  1. Select Start.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Apps.
  4. Select Apps & features.
  5. Find your VPN app and select Uninstall.
  6. Visit your VPN provider’s website to download the VPN app again and reinstall it. You’ll need to re-enter your account details. Make sure the Kill Switch is enabled.
  7. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Disable Power Saving Settings
  1. Click the battery icon in the taskbar.
  2. Select Battery settings.
  3. Go to the Battery saver section.
  4. Uncheck the box where it says “Turn battery saver on automatically…”
  5. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Manually Update Your VPN’s Network Driver

The TAP adapter is your VPN’s network driver, and sometimes problems with it can cause stability issues with your VPN connection.
You can update your VPN’s network adapter by following these steps:

  1. Open your Windows Search and search for Device Manager.
  2. Select Network Adapters.
  3. Find your VPN’s adapter, and right-click it.
  4. Select Update Driver Software.

How to Stop Your VPN Disconnecting on MacOS

If your VPN keeps disconnecting on macOS devices, try these troubleshooting tips:

Update Your VPN Software
  1. Begin by opening the App Store.
  2. Click Updates in the sidebar.
  3. Find your VPN app in the list, and tap Update. If your VPN app is not in the list, you’re already running the latest version.
  4. Test your VPN to see whether the connection issue is resolved.
Reinstall Your VPN Software
  1. Use Spotlight to find your VPN app.
  2. Press and hold the command key while you double-click the app in Spotlight.
  3. Select the app and choose File > Move to Trash.
  4. Delete the app using Finder > Empty Trash.
  5. Go to the App Store or your VPN provider’s website to download the app and reinstall it. You’ll need to re-enter your account details.
  6. Make sure the Kill Switch is enabled.
  7. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.
Disable Power Saving Settings
  1. Open the Apple menu.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Select Battery or Energy Saver.
  4. Select Battery in the sidebar.
  5. Disable Low power mode.
  6. Select Power Adapter in the sidebar.
  7. Set the Energy Mode to High Power.
  8. Test your VPN to see whether the issue is resolved.

4. Change Your VPN Service or Contact Support

If you can’t resolve the problem by yourself, contact your VPN’s support team and ask if the service is experiencing any known issues. Most top-tier VPN services offer customer support via live chat or email, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It’s also possible that your VPN service is simply unreliable. Many cheap or free VPNs operate with limited resources, which means you can’t always rely on them for a spotless connection.

If you can’t get your VPN to connect consistently, we recommend switching to a premium VPN service like ExpressVPN, which has a history of fast speeds and reliable performance.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio