How to fix VPN connection errors on iPhone?
Using a VPN on your iPhone is a must if you want to make it genuinely private and secure. However, not all VPNs are compatible with these devices, resulting in the VPN not connecting to the iPhone errors. There might be many reasons for this, but luckily, you can solve most of them without too much effort.
Delayed updates, overcrowded VPN servers, or faulty iPhone settings can all lead to the VPN not connecting to a chosen server on the iOS operating system. This error could leak your real IP address, compromising online privacy, which is especially risky in regions with tight internet censorship.
In this article, we’ll provide you with 19 reasons why your iPhone VPN fails to connect. Continue reading to learn how to fix VPN not working on iPhone, and keep using it safe from surveillance and malware.
VPN not working on iPhone (solutions)
The easiest way to notice your VPN is not connecting to the iPhone is by checking your IP address. The problem persists if you see your original IP, even though your VPN app shows a successful connection. Other times, the VPN will not connect at all and display error messages, like VPN error 800.
Here's a list of problems that can cause iPhone VPN not to connect with easy-to-follow solutions. Let's start with the simplest.
Check internet connection
VPN uses an existing internet connection to reach a chosen VPN server. It can’t do so if your internet access keeps disconnecting or dropping to extremely low speeds.
To solve this, turn off your VPN and try browsing the web without it. If the websites aren't loading or loading at a very low speed, try connecting to a different Wi-Fi network or switch to cellular mobile data. The shaky internet connection is at fault if the browsing quality increases after changing networks. Choose a network that's fast and stable and reconnect to the VPN server.
Check your VPN’s server status
To maintain the best performance quality, VPN servers experience occasional downtime due to maintenance. Other times, they might not work due to technical issues or even natural disasters. This is the most likely case if you see these VPN errors: 800, 619, 868, 720, or a Peer Not Responding message.
You can verify the server status by checking the VPN provider's website or contacting its customer support. Or you can simply connect to a different VPN server and try browsing the internet again – chances are, it will fix the problem immediately. However, it's best to subscribe to a VPN service with a large server network, Like NordVPN, with its 5,900+ worldwide servers. This way, you can always find a working alternative in the same or different region.
Check the VPN server congestion
A VPN server can crash if too many users connect to it simultaneously. This is especially common for free iPhone VPNs that have a small server amount shared between many users.
Some VPN service providers show server congestion statistics in the app. Choose the least congested server and connect to it for the best performance. Another solution is using an automatic connection to the fastest and least overburdened server, like the NordVPN Quick Connection feature.
Change the VPN protocol
Specific network settings or firewall configurations can block ports used by different VPN protocols. Simultaneously, some VPN protocols, like WireGuard, are more stable and secure. Meanwhile, outdated protocols, like PPTP, can cause all kinds of connection errors.
To fix this, go to your VPN app settings and switch to a different protocol. For example, Surfshark has three options: WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. Experiment with all protocols to verify which works best, and remember that you can also switch between OpenVPN TCP (more secure) and UDP (faster) protocols.
Restart your iPhone
Sometimes, your iPhone may experience a glitch for unknown reasons. That's why customer support agents are still using the popular “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” phrase.
To force-restart your iPhone, press the volume up and release, then the volume down and release, and hold the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Apple logo. Friendly reminder: you must press all buttons in quick succession.
Update your VPN app
Outdated VPN applications may have unfixed bugs that cause connectivity issues. Simultaneously, older VPN versions may be incompatible with newer iOS devices, resulting in the same error.
Most iOS VPN apps will alert you of the available newer versions. However, if that does not happen, go to the Apple App Store, search for your VPN service provider, and manually select to update it.
Update your iOS software
An outdated iOS version can also cause VPN connectivity issues. More so, older iOS devices may have vulnerabilities that put the user at risk even if the VPN functions properly.
To update your iPhone, go to Settings – General – Software Update. Tap on Automatic Updates and allow iOS updates to download and install automatically. If the VPN not connecting on the iPhone problem persists after enabling automatic updates, go back to the Software Update section and check for more updates – some might require a manual installation.
Subscription-based VPN services require logging in with credentials to verify the user's account. You might see an Authentication Failed VPN error message if you attempt to connect to a VPN server without the correct login credentials.
Make sure you input the right credentials before connecting to a VPN server. Check your username-password combination for typos, upper and lower case letters, special characters, and common mistakes like O (upper case letter) and 0 (number.)
Like in the previous scenario, you will see an Authentication Failed error message if your VPN requires two-factor authentication but it’s not set up correctly.
VPN services offer different 2FA options, so follow the instructions from your VPN provider to configure it. For example, NordVPN allows authentication via apps like Authy or Google Authenticator or via physical Bluetooth, NFC, or USB security keys.
Delete the VPN profile and add it again
A VPN app creates a profile in iPhone settings. Sometimes, a VPN profile may become corrupted or misconfigured, causing connectivity issues.
Turn off your VPN app. Go to iPhone Settings and navigate to the General tab, then scroll down and tap on VPN & Device Management and remove all VPN profiles. Relaunch the VPN app and allow it to configure a new profile. You may need to create a VPN profile manually from scratch if it still doesn’t work.
Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide (we'll use Surfshark as an example):
- Again, remove all VPN profiles in VPN & Device Management until only the option to Add VPN Configuration remains
- Launch a web browser and log in to your account on the VPN’s website
- Go to Products – VPN – Manual setup, select platform and protocol
- In the IKEv2 tab, select Credentials, and Generate new credentials if the fields are empty
- Tap on Locations, scroll down to the bottom, and download the IKEv2 certificate
- While downloading the certificate, choose a location you want to connect to and keep its details nearby
- After the download is complete, go to iPhone Settings. You will see Profile Downloaded under your account information – tap on it
- Allow installing a new profile. This should only be allowed with trusted VPN service providers, like Surfshark or NordVPN
- Go back to the VPN & Device Management section and choose Add VPN Configuration
- You'll have to fill in several fields. Write down your profile name in the Description field. Copy the server address from the Location configuration files in step 6 to the Server and Remote ID fields. Below, choose the Authentication by Username option and Copy the credentials from step 4 in the Username and Password fields.
- Tap on Done to finalize your new VPN profile. Remember that manual VPN profile setup allows connecting only to one selected server, and you'll have to go through the whole process again to use a different one
Verify VPN settings
You may have made a mistake configuring the new VPN profile if it still doesn’t connect to a selected server. This is most likely the case if you see VPN errors 691 and 633 or a DNS Resolution Failed error message.
Carefully compare details like the VPN server address in the manual VPN configuration fields with your provider's instructions. Fix any typos, lower and upper case letters, special symbols, and other mistakes.
Some VPNs require certificates for authentication. The VPN connection will fail if you do not have the required certificates.
Different VPN apps have different steps to download and install VPN certificates on iPhones. Check your VPN service provider's guides or contact customer support for assistance.
Reinstall your VPN app
Just like any other software, VPN apps may be misconfigured during the installation process or after updates.
Exit the VPN app and delete it from your iPhone. Then, go to the Apple App Store, search for your VPN service provider, and reinstall the app. Log in with your credentials and reconnect to the chosen VPN server.
Check your router's and firewall's settings
Local network settings or firewall configurations can block VPN traffic and prevent it from connecting to the server.
Check your router's and firewall's settings if you connect to a VPN via your home Wi-Fi network. Follow your router's manual to verify required VPN ports are open, and the firewall allows VPN traffic.
Set up port forwarding
VPN apps require specific router ports to be open to establish a connection to the server, like port 1194 for OpenVPN UDP and port 443 for TCP protocols.
If your VPN service provider allows port forwarding, follow its instructions to set up port forwarding on your router.
Contact your VPN provider
Sometimes, you cannot find the exact reason why your VPN is not working on your iPhone, no matter how much time you spend researching.
Contact your VPN service provider's customer support and ask for assistance. Most reliable VPN providers have a 24/7 live chat option, but if the agents are not responsive, look for the official customer support email address and send them an email describing the problem.
Check network policies
A few reasons unrelated to VPNs may cause problems establishing a connection to the VPN server. Schools, university campuses, libraries, and workplace offices may have specific network configurations to block VPN traffic and prevent it from connecting to a server.
Contact the network's administration to verify whether they allow using a VPN and ask for specific permissions if necessary.
Ensure there are no location-based restrictions
Countries with tight internet censorship often restrict or block VPN usage to prevent information access and maintain censorship. For example, Chinese citizens can get in legal trouble for accessing banned websites via a VPN, and Russia plans to ban VPN services by March 2024.
Choose a VPN service provider that efficiently bypasses location-based restrictions without compromising your online safety. For example, you can use NordVPN obfuscated servers to make your VPN traffic look like a casual internet data flow, which is especially handy for bypassing VPN blocks on the Great Firewall of China.
Choose a reliable VPN provider
If none of the above work, you may have stumbled upon an unreliable VPN service that doesn't work that well on iPhones.
Go through online reviews and pick the best VPN for iPhone that has an excellent track record, a positive user rating on the Apple App Store with at least several hundred inputs, robust cybersecurity features, and reliable customer support. We recommend paid professional VPN services like NordVPN instead of using questionable free VPNs.
How to test a VPN on iPhone
An IP address leak is the best indicator that your VPN is not connecting on your iPhone. Use a website like Whatismyip and mark down your original IP address without connecting to a VPN. Then, launch the VPN app, connect to the server, and refresh the Whatismyip website. Your VPN has failed to connect to the server if it shows your original IP address instead of the VPN's.
A DNS leak is another indicator that there's something wrong with a VPN connection. Connect to the VPN server and go to the DNSleaktest website. Select a Standard or Extended test and wait for the results to appear shortly. Your VPN may be leaking a DNS address if you see your original Internet Service Provider's name and your country of residence in the results.
Lastly, you can use an online speed test tool to verify your VPN is fast enough to establish a stable connection. Alternatively, check our VPN speed test comparison that shows the performance results of the world's biggest VPN providers.
There are many reasons why your VPN is not connecting to your iPhone. Forgotten VPN or iOS updates, wrong protocol, or local network restrictions often prevent the VPN from doing its job. Simultaneously, some VPNs simply do not have a functional iOS app, and you should consider switching VPN service providers.
Our top recommendation is NordVPN, which has an excellent iPhone app and valuable additional features, like obfuscated servers. Furthermore, it's one of the fastest VPNs in the market, ensuring safe and speedy browsing once you connect to its servers.
More VPN guides from Cybernews:
Why isn't my VPN working on my iPhone?
Your VPN might not be working on your iPhone due to delayed app updates, Wi-Fi Network limitations, regional VPN traffic blocks, or a lousy VPN app. We suggest subscribing to a VPN with a functional iOS app and several VPN protocols to choose from, like NordLynx.
How to fix a VPN not working on an iPhone?
To fix the issue of VPN not working on your iPhone, verify you have speedy and stable internet access. Then, try connecting to a different server or reinstall the VPN app if the problem persists. Lastly, contact customer support or switch to an iOS-friendly VPN service if you do not find a solution.
How do I reset VPN on my iPhone?
If you're using iOS 15 or later, go to Settings – General – Transfer or Reset – Reset – Reset Network Settings. For iOS 14 or earlier users, tap Settings – General – Reset – Reset Network settings. This will reset the Wi-Fi, cellular, and VPN settings on your iPhone.