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How to Fix Home Office VPN Problems: Remote Worker Guide

Rosemary S Siluvai Anthony
Last Updated by Rosemary S Siluvai Anthony on August 06, 2022

Losing access to your company’s VPN connection while you’re working remotely can be frustrating and even dangerous. Projects are delayed when critical files and applications can’t be accessed safely on the company’s network. In a worst-case scenario, a competitor could gain access to confidential information because of a DNS leak.

When a VPN fails, your own personal data can also become vulnerable to attacks. That’s why using a VPN that is trusted and known for its stability like ExpressVPN is a must for protecting your home network. Unfortunately, you may not be at liberty to choose the VPN your company uses. While problems with VPN connections are quite common, they’re usually easy to fix. To keep all your private information secure, try these tips.

Tips to Fix your VPN from the Home Office

You can fix most of the problems related to VPN connections on your own. It involves a few steps but doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge. Of course, some problems can originate from the corporate network’s side. So, it helps to troubleshoot and rule out any misconfigurations on your side before approaching your company’s IT department for help.

To do this, you need to know what to look for and how to fix them yourself. This guide will help you with that and possibly save you some time compared to if you had to wait around for IT’s response. Before doing any of this, you should check your company email on a device that does have an internet connection in case you were notified of a scheduled outage.

1. Check that you have a working internet connection

First, check if your internet is turned on and working. Whether it’s WiFi, cellular data, or ethernet, you need an active internet connection to use a VPN at home or elsewhere. There are several ways to find out if your internet is working.

  1. Open your browser and try accessing a website. If your internet is connected, you’ll be able to access it.
  2. On your router, check if the ethernet cable is securely plugged into the correct ethernet port. Sometimes the cable is worn out or defective, and you’ll have to replace it.
  3. If you recently changed your WiFi access point’s password, make sure you changed it on your device as well.
  4. Call your ISP to find out if there’s been an outage in your area.

2. Check your VPN settings

If your IT department has provided the client software and installation instructions for your VPN, check that your configuration settings match those. Any deviation in the following settings can cause the VPN to not work.

  1. Port settings – Port settings can vary depending on the VPN and the protocol it’s using. For example, WireGuard uses UDP port 51820 while IKEv2 uses UDP ports 4500 and 500. Check the instruction to see which port you should use.
  2. DNS settings – If the VPN client is assigned an incorrect or no internal network DNS server address, it won’t work. Confirm that the VPN client is assigned the correct DNS server address.
  3. Server locations – VPN servers in certain locations may not give you access to your company’s network. Connect to a server recommended by your IT department. Sometimes, the server you’re trying to connect to has issues and throws an error code. If this happens, try a different server.
  4. Incorrect login details – These can sometimes get mixed up, so try re-entering your login details.

advanced ExpressVPN settings

Find the advanced setting menu in your company’s VPN

These options should all be located in your VPN’s settings tab. While your interface will likely be different than mine, you should see a similar list of toggle options. Make the necessary changes and try connecting to the internet again. If it still isn’t working, we can continue with some additional troubleshooting steps.

3. Check your browser

A few SSL VPNs and remote access solutions require a browser to connect rather than a software client. Most of these VPNs only work with certain browsers, so check if yours is compatible and up-to-date with the latest version. Also, check all browser notifications to make sure you’re not missing a critical update or error message before launching your VPN.

To rule out your home network as the source of the problem, try opening and connecting to a browser on your personal device without a VPN. If you can load a webpage without the VPN, it’s something in your settings or on the company’s side.

4. Check your home network for issues

If you use a laptop to work from home, try connecting your VPN through your WiFi. If the VPN works, your wired home internet connection could be the cause. This could be a number of issues like lacking a device driver or having a faulty ethernet port.

The first step is to reset your router. On most routers, you just have to press a small button and hold it down for several seconds until the LED light flashes. Now, connect to the VPN again. Resetting the router usually fixes any home network issue. If you can still connect via WiFi and not a wired ethernet connection, I would recommend contacting your ISP or, if you’re using a company laptop, contact IT as this may be a hardware issue.

5. Check that the VPN and your home router are compatible

If the problem just started after you purchased a new router or received a new one from your ISP, then it could be that the router is incompatible with the VPN and its protocols.

Routers have a feature called VPN passthrough. It allows your traffic to enter the internet via a VPN without being blocked. Unfortunately, some routers do not support this feature while others don’t support the protocols some VPNs use.

If you are unsure about your router’s compatibility, contact your IT department to check if it is compatible.

6. Check that your company and home network’s IP subnetworks are not identical

This is a bit more technical, so if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can contact your IT Department and have them walk you through it.

Basically, a VPN is not able to connect if your computer attempts to make a local connection to your office network from within the same subnetwork. It means your IP address is in the same group as your company’s network IP address. You don’t want this since you are on a different home network entirely. You can easily fix this, but you’ll first need your company’s IP subnetwork, so you’ll have to contact your IT department.

Next, determine your own IP address. If you have a Windows device:

  1. Right-click the Windows icon at the bottom-left of your screen, and type Command Prompt.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type IPCONFIG and press Enter.
  3. The number listed in the IPv4 Address section is your IP address.

If you’re using a Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon on the top-left corner.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Click Network and select your network.
  4. Click the Advanced button at the bottom
  5. Select the TCP/IP tab.
  6. You’ll find your computer’s IP address next to IPv4 Address.

If you and your company have the same IP subnetwork, you can manually change a few settings on your router to solve the issue.

To do this, go to your router’s configuration page. You just have to open your browser and enter the router’s IP address. On the next screen, key in your router’s login credentials. You can sometimes find it written on the back of your router.

Change your router’s IP address to one where the first 3 blocks do not have the same numbers as your company’s subnet. For example, you can change an IP subnetwork from 192.165.1.1 to 192.165.2.1. Doing this should allow you to connect to your company’s VPN if you found that the subnetworks were identical.

7. Allow VPN ports, protocols, and passthrough

This is another solution that’s quite technical, so contact your IT department if you’d rather have them guide you.

To allow VPN ports, protocols, and passthrough, check your home network for the router’s firewall configuration settings first. To do this, find the IP address of your router using the same steps in the prior section.

Now, open a web browser and enter the router’s IP address. You’ll see a login screen. Key in your router’s login credentials. It’s usually written on the back of the router.

Every router has a different interface, but on most the VPN port forwarding and passthrough settings are typically under the Security and Firewall option of this page.

Port forwarding and protocols:

Your router’s firewall may need certain protocols opened and specific ports forwarded. For example, PPTP tunneling protocols need IP protocol 47 (GRE) to be enabled and forwarded to TCP port 1723. If your VPN uses IPSec protocols, you must ensure protocols 50 (ESP) and 51 (AH) are opened and forwarded to UDP port 500 (IKE).

Passthrough

Check if there’s an option to enable IPSec or PPTP Passthrough. If you do not know which your company’s VPN uses, enable both options. Remember that there are some routers that do not have this option, so you will have to consult your router manufacturer’s site or support for assistance.

8. Contact the IT department

If you have tried all of the above tips and still can’t fix your VPN from the home office, contact your company’s IT department. Tell them what you have tried, what operating system, router, and internet connection you use as well as the error messages you received.

FAQ: Other Common VPN Issues

How to fix slow connection speeds?

Even the best VPNs on the market will reduce your base internet speeds by roughly a third because they add a few extra steps between you and the internet. Your data first needs to be encrypted and then sent through a secure VPN server before it’s sent on its way.

However, there are several ways you can improve the speed when using a VPN.

  1. Try changing servers to one closer to your location. Faraway servers require your data to travel the distance and back, which means a slower connection.
  2. Check which protocol the VPN is using. Some protocols like L2TP/IPSEC (256-bit) are slow but use very strong encryption. For a good balance between speed and security try using WireGuard.
  3. Turn off inactive devices that are connected to the internet. This is especially relevant when you use wireless connections. Most of the time, several devices are connected to your home WiFi network. Since these devices all share resources on the same wireless channel, it can cause slowdowns.
  4. Close unused apps on your device. Unused apps running in the background can also take up resources and slow down your connection.
  5. Enable the split-tunneling feature. Some VPNs have a split-tunneling feature that allows you to route only some of your traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel while others access the internet directly. This reduces the load on the VPN and increases speed.

One thing to consider when trying to improve VPN speed is your overall internet speed. You can’t reach 100mbps if you only have a 10mbps home connection. But if the internet connection is not the issue and you still can’t get top speeds, it’s better to get a super-fast VPN like ExpressVPN for your personal use.

Why my VPN won’t connect to a server?

You may need to update your VPN if you haven’t used it in a while or the VPN might just be undergoing scheduled maintenance. But if it’s none of those things, check your internet connection. If that’s fine, try connecting to a different server. If it still doesn’t work, you may have to contact the IT department of your company or your VPN’s support team if it’s on a personal network.

What to do if streaming platforms block access?

IP addresses that belong to VPNs are constantly being blocked by many platforms. But there are ways to watch shows on Netflix US and other streaming services. This requires switching servers a few times to find one that isn’t blocked. If that doesn’t work, clearing cache and cookies usually fix the issue. Outdated streaming apps and VPNs can also cause this problem.

How to troubleshoot frequent disconnections?

If you can’t connect to any servers or your connection drops frequently, check your VPN’s settings page. If it has an option to Restore Defaults, select it. Otherwise, change your connection protocol to Automatic, TCP, or UDP.

Next, add your VPN to a safe list to prevent it from being blocked by your firewall.

On Windows: you can

  1. Click the Windows icon in the bottom-left and type Windows Defender Firewall.
  2. Select “Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall” on the left panel.
  3. On the next screen, click Change settings and then “Allow another app > Add your VPN.”

For Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left.
  2. Choose “System Preferences” and then “Security & Privacy.”
  3. Go to the Firewall tab and click the “Firewall Options” button.
  4. Below the list of programs, you’ll see a button with a “+” sign. Click this to locate your VPN and select “Add.”

Final Thoughts

Working from home has many advantages, but you can get cut off from company resources when your VPN doesn’t work. There are also other security and privacy concerns such as industrial espionage and hacking that can put your data and your company in danger.

Although it’s unfortunate that VPNs sometimes don’t work, you don’t always need to be a technical expert to solve the problem. Try the steps listed above to save time-solving common home office VPN issues and spare your IT department the trouble.

To avoid some of these problems in your personal life, pick a trustworthy VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN for its top-notch security features and lightning-fast speeds. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can buy ExpressVPN with confidence.


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