BBC is one of the giant names in the television and broadcasting industry, and for good reason: they have awesome content and awesome reputation. There is, however, one significant snag: you have to be in the United Kingdom to access their services. Starting 2017, though, non-UK based consumers did get a way to go around that limitation: the BBC iPlayer, which they could watch via the use of a VPN.

However, things have rapidly taken a turn for the worse lately, with BBC squeezing down on VPN usage intensely. This is understandable – people who do not pay the mandatory TV License fee but still watch are a direct threat to their business. So, your iPlayer not working all of a sudden is likely due to this improved geo-blocking. It can also be an issue with the VPN itself.

Before you decide that you have been blacklisted, you should resolve the other possible issues first. We put together a little guide for dealing with the three most common problems: your VPN not connecting, or constantly disconnecting every minute, or downright crashing at every third heartbeat.

When your VPN refuses to connect

First confirm that both you and the server are, in fact, online. We know it is a ridiculously obvious thing, but that is exactly why the vast majority of users tend to overlook it – they never even stop to think about it. So, open any website without a VPN connection to confirm whether your internet connection is working. If it is, awesome! If not, restart your router (just unplug it for about 30 seconds and plug back in). it may also be an issue on your ISP’s side, so check with them too. Take a look at the VPN provider’s site, since their server may be down for maintenance or shut down completely. You may need to wait a while in that case, or connect to a different one. Check out this link for tips on troubleshooting your internet connection.

Next, confirm that you definitely typed your username and password correctly, and if you keep getting authentication errors, try resetting your password. Next, try connecting through a different port. Check your VPN documentation to see if it requires a specific port, or if there is a chance that some specific ports were blocked by the ISP or network.

Finally, connect on a different network. This is the easiest way to fix things if the problem lies with the VPN itself, and not your own internet settings. Use a friend’s wifi, a public hotspot, or a café’s network for this test.

When your VPN keeps disconnecting

First try disabling your firewall temporarily. They are important for your security, but they can also be problematic for your VPNs, as in slowing your connection down, which can cause the VPN to shut off completely. Some firewalls cannot keep up with your VPN traffic due to their data scanning nature.

Also, sometimes the problem lies at router level, so try plugging an ethernet cable directly into the cable jack to circumnavigate this issue. This frequently happens when you have routers for different devices one behind the other (the so-called “double NAT”). The way to get around this is to bride your wifi and make the two routers cooperate properly. Visit this link to learn how to make it happen: https://www.lifewire.com/wireless-bridging-explained-816563

Next check if the issue actually lies with your VPN provider. You can do this by connecting to another nearby server and see how it behaves, whether you will get a better connection. Also consider changing protocols to remedy weak connections. OpenVPN is typically regarded as the most secure and reliable one, but also give a chance to L2TP or, if you really have to, PPTP.

Finally, change your DNS server from the default one you got. The majority of VPNs provide a DNS service of their own, which adds valuable privacy to the package, but can sometimes make things difficult in terms of staying connected. Opting out of this default setting can help you maintain your connection. How exactly you change it will depend on your particular VPN, but look for an option that is named something along the lines of “Use only the VPN DNS while connected” and switch it off.

We have to give you a fair warning: doing this could slightly increase the chances that you will be vulnerable to a DNS leak. However, if your VPN keeps disconnecting before you can manage to do any of the stuff you need to do, the trade might be worth a little additional risk.

When your VPN keeps crashing

Make sure your VPN software is up to date. If you are not using the most recent version, you will likely have stability issues. See whether your client’s settings allow for automatic updates; and if not, set yourself a reminder to regularly check for them.

Close down all other apps that you have currently running. If a lot of applications are hanging open, it can present a problem for your VPN client. This is especially true in the case that you are using an older computer, since computers, like so many other (relatively) advanced technology products, suffer from in-built obsolescence. Take some load off of your poor machine’s proverbial back and close everything that you do not really need at the given moment.

In the end, there are two more options to consider: the hard reset and the reinstall, everybody’s grandmother’s favorite solutions.

It might sound too basic, but sometimes turning off your computer and turning it on again is really the way to solve the problem, so give it a go. Employ Task Manager to kill off all stray processes, and restart to make sure any potential straggler update has been completed and applied.

And at the end of the line, if push really comes to shove, you may have to completely delete your VPN client and then install it again to fix it.

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