Are you unable to use a VPN on your iOS device? This may be because the VPN app stays stuck on the “connecting” screen. Or, sometimes, even after it seems that you have connected successfully to a VPN, websites may not load at all!
In this guide, we have listed all the top solutions to fix the most common VPN issues on your iPhone or iPad.
Note: Although we have used screenshots from Proton VPN in this post, most solutions mentioned here are general VPN tips. They will work even if you use NordVPN, Express VPN, Surfshark, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost, IPVanish, PrivateVPN, Hide.me, TunnelBear, AtlasVPN, ZoogVPN, Hoxx, Avira Phantom VPN, Speedify, Hotspot Shield, or any other VPN app.
1. Make sure Wi-Fi or cellular data is working
The installed VPN app on your iPhone can only connect to its servers and work successfully if your device’s Wi-Fi or cellular data are working correctly.
So, the first step is to ensure your iPhone has an active internet connection. To check, open Safari and visit a website. If it works, please move on to the next solution. And in case it doesn’t, see these tips to establish a working Wi-Fi or cellular data connection on your iPhone. Once Wi-Fi or cellular data works on your iPhone, you can route your web traffic via a VPN.
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2. Disconnect and reconnect from the VPN app
Open the VPN app on your iPhone and tap the Disconnect button to stop using it. After waiting for a few seconds, tap the same button to reconnect.
Note: The word VPN is shown in the iPhone Control Center when you’re connected to one. But sometimes, you will see this word in the iOS Control Center, even when your VPN app is stuck on the “Loading connection info…” or “Connecting…” screen and not actually working.
3. Force quit the VPN app and reopen it
Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone screen or double-press the Home button to enter App Switcher. From here, drag the VPN app tile all the way up to force close it. Once that’s done, wait 10 seconds before reopening the VPN app.
4. Enable and disable Airplane mode
Open the iOS Control Center or the Settings app and enable Airplane Mode. Doing so will turn off all wireless protocols like Wi-Fi and cellular data and refresh the network connections. Once this is done, open the VPN app and retry connecting. It should work now.
5. Restart your iPhone
This kind of VPN problems are successfully addressed by simply powering off and on your iPhone.
6. Restart your Wi-Fi router
In addition to restarting your iPhone, consider doing the same for your Wi-Fi router. Use the main wall power switch to turn it off. After that, wait for about 30 seconds before switching it on.
7. Make sure you have sufficient VPN allowance
If you’re on a paid VPN plan, you almost certainly have an unlimited quota. However, some VPN apps like TunnelBear offer a limited amount of data on the free plan. This can range from 500 MB to a few GBs. Once you exhaust that limit, your VPN won’t work.
So, if you’re using a free VPN, open the app, go to the accounts page and look for any such alert. If you do have one, consider upgrading to their paid plan or get another free VPN app.
8. Delete the VPN profile and add it again
This is an important solution that has worked for me multiple times. Here’s how to proceed:
- Open the Settings app and go to General > VPN & Device Management > VPN.
- Tap ⓘ next to the added VPN profile.
- Tap Delete VPN and confirm.
- Now, open the VPN app and tap its connect button. It will show an alert to add the VPN profile. Tap Allow, followed by your iPhone passcode or Touch ID authentication.
Once this is done, the VPN app will connect successfully. If you don’t see the Allow popup in step 4, delete and reinstall the VPN app.
9. Check the VPN server congestion
Some services like Proton VPN show you the list of servers they have in a country, and next to every server, it shows the congestion percentage. If a server is 90+% busy, try using a different, less congested one as that will connect quickly and offer better speed.
10. Pick a different country or VPN server
At times, VPN servers of a particular country may not let you connect to it due to overload or temporary downtime. In these cases, try picking a different country from the list.
11. Change the VPN protocol
A VPN protocol is responsible for how your data is routed from your iPhone to the VPN servers. Usually, a VPN app supports several protocols and, by default, tends to use the best one. Some may even smartly switch between protocols to ensure a stable and secure connection.
If you cannot connect to VPN, open the VPN app on your iPhone and go to its settings. From here, tap the protocol button and choose another option. After this, try connecting to the VPN and see whether it works or not. If it doesn’t, go back to using the default protocol and read the remaining solutions below, or try another protocol.
12. Turn off the second VPN on your iPhone or Wi-Fi router
A few people might simultaneously use more than one VPN service for extra protection. It’s also possible that you are running a VPN on your iPhone and another on the Wi-Fi router. If that’s the case, switch off the other VPN and use only one at a time.
13. Update the VPN app
Tap and hold the App Store icon on your iPhone Home Screen or App Library and pick Updates from the Quick Actions menu. Next, pull down the Updates screen to refresh it. If an update is available for your VPN app, install it.
14. Uninstall and reinstall the VPN app
In rare cases, the only way to fix VPN issues is by deleting the VPN app and installing it again. Make sure you do that before moving to the remaining tips.
15. Turn off Private Wi-Fi Address
A few people have found luck by disabling Private Wi-Fi Address. If you’re unable to connect to a VPN on your iPhone, go to the Settings app > Wi-Fi and tap ⓘ for the connected network. From the next screen, turn off Private Wi-Fi Address and confirm by tapping Continue.
Next, try to connect to a VPN and see if it works or not. If it doesn’t, restart your iPhone and retry. In case the problem continues, re-enable Private Wi-Fi Address and move to the next solution.
16. Switch off Connect On Demand or Always-on VPN
Go to the VPN app settings and turn off any option labeled Always-on VPN or Connect On Demand. If you don’t see such a toggle here, open iPhone Settings > General > VPN & Device Management > VPN and tap ⓘ next to a VPN profile. From here, turn off Connect On Demand.
17. Change DNS inside the VPN app
Some VPN apps may give you an option to change the DNS. For example, you can replace the existing DNS address with that of Cloudflare (126.96.36.199), Google (188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206), etc.
18. Some websites and services don’t work via VPNs
Before moving forward, it’s essential to know that some websites, apps, and services may outright refuse to work with all or certain VPNs. Therefore, we recommend turning off the VPN when updating your iPhone or when you can’t get an iOS app to work.
19. Upgrade to a paid and reputable VPN
If you’re on a free service, evaluate your VPN needs and if it’s something you use frequently, consider buying a paid subscription. Most VPNs cost $3 to $6 per month if you go for their long-term plans. You can try NordVPN, one of the best VPNs for your Apple and non-Apple devices. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you don’t like their service.
20. Has that particular VPN pulled out of your country?
Due to multiple reasons like lack of profits, regulations, or governmental pressure, a VPN app may stop doing business in a country and pull out completely. If that’s the case, your only option is to use a different VPN.
21. Try another VPN app
Even after all the above recommendations, if your VPN app isn’t working, it’s time to explore some other options. One search on the App Store or Google for VPN will show many results. Go through reviews and people’s experiences on Reddit, Quora, or web forums before picking a VPN service.
Do the following in case you have already invested in a VPN app that no longer works on your iPhone:
- See if the same VPN works on your computer or other devices. Almost all VPN services allow you to use the same account on multiple devices.
- Read the remaining solutions to reset your iPhone if the same VPN (via your account) works on other devices but not your iPhone.
22. Reset network settings
Go to iPhone Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset and pick Reset Network Settings from the list. Once you perform this, open the VPN app and try connecting. It should work.
If the problem continues, consider resetting all iPhone settings.
23. Contact VPN support
Finally, if nothing works for you with the VPN service you’re trying to use, contact their customer support and explain your situation. In case you have already paid for their services, and it doesn’t work, request a refund and switch to a different VPN provider. You should find a way to reach your VPN provider at the bottom of the app’s settings app or their official website.
Please let us know which solution worked for you. And if you have other tips, do share them in the comments section below.
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