- VPNs are trending right now and they can be quite useful for a lot of online activities.
- Nevertheless, some tools (especially free solutions) might end up messing your system. Go for a premium VPN software instead and follow the steps below to fix VPN-triggered freezes.
- For more handy fixes, check out our Common VPN Errors & Solutions page.
- Don't forget to bookmark our VPN Guides Hub as well.
For some users, especially the ones from the countries with limited internet access, a VPN is a must. However, this great rise of Virtual Private Network solutions brought a lot of lackluster applications.
Some of those just won’t work as supposed, while others can invoke serious issues. One issue goes as far as breaking the system completely, by freezing it in the process. If the VPN froze your PC, follow the steps below to resolve it.
What to do if your VPN is freezing your PC?
- Use a proper VPN
- Check drivers
- Reinstall VPN clean
- Run SFC and DISM
- Scan system for malware
- Run the system in Safe mode
1. Use a proper VPN
For many affected users, the VPN tool they were using was subpar in many categories. And that’s something you need to accept if you decide to run a free solution.
What we rather suggest is resetting your PC to factory values and moving to a proper VPN.
One premium solution that is certainly not going to brank the bank is Private Internet Access.
Perfectly crafted to blend seamlessly with any device, any OS and any browser, PIA will cover all your VPN needs from anonymizing your browsing, hiding your location, unblocking streaming and/or gaming to protecting your online privacy and data traffic from prying eyes.
Plus, thanks to its cross-compatibility, you can be sure it will not inflict any degradation on your PC’s performances or cause it to freeze and/or crash.
You can choose from more than 3292 servers spread worldwide and always enjoy ultra-fast and reliable connections, while your data is protected with the highest degree of encryption and your traffic routed through secure VPN tunnels.
Private Internet Access
Free VPN is also FREEzing your PC? Team up with PIA and enjoy premium performances!
2. Run the system in Safe mode
First, we need to make sure that the VPN application is the one that causes this occurrence. The best way to determine whether a third-party app is causing system freezes is to start the given system in Safe mode.
The Safe mode allows you to start the system with just minimal drivers and third-party applications. If Safe Mode is not working, check out the steps to fix it.
Once you’ve run it, you should be able to confirm whether the VPN is the culprit or not. Should the system work in a seamless manner while in the Safe mode, we suggest the following further stages.
On the other hand, if the issue is persistent, try resetting your PC to factory values.
Here’s how to enable Safe mode in Windows 10:
- Press and hold Shift.
- While holding Shift, click on Start > Power > Restart.
- Click Troubleshoot.
- Select Advanced Options.
- Choose Startup settings and then click Restart.
- Select Safe mode (or Safe mode with Networking).
- If your system works without freezing, restart your PC and continue with the troubleshooting.
3. Check drivers
Most of the VPNs will, upon installing, install additional Network drivers and use them to create a virtual network adapter. However, those, as same as accompanying software for other devices, can fail you in various situations.
That’s why we encourage you to double-check the drivers and reinstall them. And we all know that a certain faulty driver can completely disrupt the system performance.
The best way to do so is by reinstalling the VPN itself, as the drivers come with the installation exclusively. After you’ve done that, the problem should be addressed. For the sake of checking, right-click Start and open the Device Manager.
Once there, expand the Network adapters section.
4. Reinstall VPN clean
Since we mentioned reinstallation as a solution for the driver issue, we need to explain how to reinstall VPN cleanly. The standard reinstallation won’t suffice since the VPN integrates into the registry. That’s why some users had issues with PC freezing, even after removing the troubling VPN.
So, what you need to do is to remove the VPN cleanly and install it later on. Preferably, you’ll want to use a third-party uninstaller, which will track all associated files and remove them accordingly.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Open Control Panel by typing control in the Windows Search bar and selecting it from the list of results.
- Click Uninstall a program.
- Uninstall VPN.
- Download and run IObit Uninstaller (free tool) and remove all associated files and registry inputs.
- Download the VPN client again and install it.
5. Run SFC and DISM
The system freezes are not to be taken lightly. As shown is so many cases, this is just the start of an unrepairable critical error which will eventually force you to use the recovery options or reinstall the system.
But, before we move to firm steps, let’s give the system utilities a try. There are two tools you can utilize through the elevated Command Prompt.
The first is System File Checker and here’s how to run it:
- Type cmd in the Windows Search bar. Right-click on Command Prompt and run it as admin.
- In the command-line, type sfc/scannow and press Enter.
- After the scan is finished and there’s nothing to report, try DISM.
The second is DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool. Follow these instructions to utilize it:
- Open Command Prompt with administrative permissions.
- In the command line, type the following commands and press Enter after each:
- This can take a while. After the scan is done, restart your PC and look for improvements.
6. Scan system for malware
One of the essential precaution measures includes scanning Windows 10 for viruses. There’s always a possibility (not so distant, depending on your online habits) that the system is infected with malicious software.
Or, at least the VPN client you’ve been using. For that reason, we encourage you to perform a deep scan for possible malicious presence.
You can do that with any third-party antivirus software, but we’ll show you how to do it with the Windows-native Windows Defender. Follow these steps to scan your Windows 10:
- Open Windows Defender from the notification area.
- Choose Virus & threat protection.
- Open Run a new Advanced scan.
- Select Windows Defender Offline Scan and click Scan now.
On that note, we can call it a wrap. If you’re aware of some alternative solutions or have some questions to ask, feel free to post them in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.
FAQ: Learn more about VPN issues
- What causes VPN to drop?
Insufficient signal strength and poor connection are usually the culprits. Try directing your connection through an Ethernet cable instead of using a Wi-Fi or mobile Internet connection.
- How do I resolve a VPN problem?
As always, it is a good idea to start the troubleshooting process by simply restarting the VPN. Also, make sure your app is up to date and try tweaking your options; for instance toggle between VPN servers and switch VPN protocols.
- What happens when VPN is turned off?
Basically, all the security features that came with the VPN are interrupted which makes your data traffic no longer be encrypted and your IP address to be exposed.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in May 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.