VPN not working through router: How to enable the connection

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • VPNs have gained a lot of popularity lately. It's no surprise that privacy-conscious users are interested in protecting their entire network rather than a single device.
  • By pairing your VPN with your router, you can do just that. And if the connection does not go through, just apply the solutions listed below.
  • Check out our Routers section and VPNs Hub for more useful tips.
  • Take your knowledge even further with our VPN Guides.
VPN not working through router

A VPN comes in handy when you want to access geo-restricted content, or get better software prices, or browse anonymously through a secure tunnel. With all these needs, there is a real necessity for a router that can make all these and more, happen.

Connecting your router to your VPN service also has many benefits in terms of online privacy because both your router and VPN would be on, and you can connect to either Wi-Fi or Ethernet while being protected.

There are two ways to set up your VPN on your router: either buy a new router setup for the specific job or install it into your existing router – make sure to check for compatibility in both cases.

As a quick heads-up, other users have mentioned wireless router won’t work through TL-R600VPN, Windows VPN does not work through router with OpenWRT, or that Express VPN through router is not working.

A VPN router will protect all your devices while providing better security, plus you get an easy to use interface, use more devices with a single VPN account, and defeat censorship on all devices.

In all this, though, you may encounter a situation when your VPN does not work through the router, and probably restarting the VPN app or even your computer and/or router doesn’t yield any tangible results.

This article lists some solutions you can try to fix the problem.

What to do if VPN does not work through router?

  1. Slow speeds
  2. Unable to browse
  3. Loss of connectivity
  4. Connected, but not getting VPN IP Address
  5. Check Error Logs on your router
  6. What to do when disconnected:
  7. Unable to connect
  8. Other steps you can take

1. Slow speeds

If you’re experiencing slow speeds because of the VPN not working through the router, here’s what you can do:

  • Disable the firewall of your primary router (ISP modem)
  • Connect with different servers
  • Switch between available protocols i.e. PPTP / OpenVPN
  • Connect to the VPN servers which are closer to your physical location. For instance, if you are in US, the servers in Canada or Mexico will get you better speeds.

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2. Unable to browse

If you cannot browse because your VPN does not work through the router, try the following steps:

  • Change your router DNS settings to OpenDNS i.e. 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 Or Google DNS  8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4
  • Save settings
  • Restart your router

Stuck on Windows 10 VPN error 789? Check out this guide and have it fixed in no time.

3. Loss of connectivity

If you lose your internet connectivity as soon as you couple your VPN to your router, make sure that the router is not working as a modem. You cannot directly configure a VPN on your ISP’s modem/router.

As soon as you will change the modem or router’s WAN settings, you will lose your internet connection. You have to configure it on an extra one, as you cannot configure two connections on a same router at the same time.

4. Connected, but not getting VPN IP Address

  • Change your router DNS settings to OpenDNS i.e. 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 Or Google DNS  8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4
  • Save settings
  • Restart your router

5. Check Error Logs on your router

  • To check error logs, you are suggested to follow below-mentioned steps:
  • Go to the Services tab in DD-WRT
  • Enable Syslog on the Services tab, or simply go to the Administration tab, then select Commands and enter the command as cat /tmp/var/log/messages. (DDWRT)

6. What to do when disconnected:

  • Disable the firewall of your primary router (ISP modem)
  • Switch between different protocols i.e. PPTP / OpenVPN
  • Switch between different servers

7. Unable to connect

If you’re unable to connect because the VPN does not work through the router, do the following:

  • Try to connect with OpenVPN protocol if PPTP protocol is causing problems
  • If the issue remains unresolved, disable the firewall of your primary router (ISP modem)
  • Connect PPTP / OpenVPN protocol on any other device for testing purpose and check if you are able to connect the VPN using the same protocol

Note: Ensure that the following protocols are supported by the router: PPTP or OpenVPN.  Before configuring the VPN on your router, make sure that your router is not working as a modem.

8. Other steps you can take

  • If your equipment supports NAT-T (NAT Traversal), turn it on.
  • Contact your network administrator to understand details of how you need to configure your VPN software.
  • If your company uses L2TP pass through, register your router’s MAC address with your company’s system administrator.
  • Upgrade to the latest router firmware.
  • Enable Port Forwarding for the VPN port 500, (for IPSecVPNs), port 1723 for PPTP VPNs, and port 1701 for L2tp- L2tp routing and remote access. Port 500 may be listed under the list of services.

Note: Check if the WAN IP is Public or Private. Ports can be opened on Public IP addresses only.

By default the router’s firewall is configured to drop (delete) ICMP packets sent from outside your network to the WAN port. Your VPN may require the ICMP packets. To accept them:

  • Log in to the router using a browser by typing http://192.168.0.1, http://routerlogin.com, http://routerlogin.netor http://192.168.1.1.
  • Type admin for the username and password for the password (unless you changed the default password)
  • Select WAN SetupAdvanced > Respond to Ping on Internet Port
  • Click Apply

Has any of the above solutions worked for you? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.

FAQ: Learn more about VPN routers

  • Do all routers support VPN?

Actually, not every router can be a VPN router. Generally, routers that support OpenVPN open-source protocol can support a VPN client as well, but it is best to check for each particular device.

  • How do I know if my router is VPN compatible?

You can either check the manufacturer’s specifications or search for your specific model on the internet in order to see if it is VPN compatible.

  • How do I setup a VPN behind my router?

Download your router firmware and plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the LAN port of your router and the other into your PC’s LAN port or simply turn on your connection if you’re using Wi-Fi. Then, flash your router according to the manufacturer’s instructions and connect it to your VPN client.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in May 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.