Troubleshooting Mac Getting “VPN Server didn’t respond” Error

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Encountering a “VPN not working” error can be frustrating, especially when you are in the middle of an important and confidential call or exchanging sensitive data. This is particularly concerning for those connecting from countries with internet restrictions and low internet freedom index. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a crucial tool for keeping your internet connection secure and private, but it is not immune to errors that can cause it to malfunction.

But luckily, there are measures on how to manage such situations. Learn how to fix various “VPN not connecting” problems below.

What is “VPN Server didn’t respond” on Mac?

This error message usually displays due to changes in some factors such as the server, country, or when the internet connection is slow or off.

You will also get this error while trying to connect from the device Settings. Please connect\disconnect VPN from the app as it will not allow you to control it from Settings.

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What Causes “VPN Server didn’t respond” Error on Mac

There are a few reasons that for iOS might not be working on a particular network.

  • The network may require a web-based login. Normally iOS will help you through these, but it doesn’t always work out when auto-secure is turned on. The first thing to do is try visiting an HTTP (not HTTPS) URL, such as If that doesn’t do it, go to your app → and flip VPN to OFF. This will get the auto-secure behavior out of the way long enough to get fully on the network. At that point, you can try turning it on manually. if that works, you can switch back to “Fastest Available” or whatever you normally use.
  • If your network is using OpenDNS, it may be blocking (and similar services). If you control the OpenDNS account, you can change your preferences to allow VPNs. If you’re able to visit, this probably isn’t the problem.
  • If you’re in a part of the world that restricts internet access — such as China or Iran — the VPN may be blocked by the government. This tends to vary from place to place and over time.
  • Some networks simply don’t support IPSec VPNs, whether through age, misconfiguration, or security policies. There’s no good test for this except that there’s no other explanation.
  • A few older networks only allow one IPSec VPN connection to be active at a time. Unless all of the devices trying to connect are yours, there’s not much to be done.

How to Fix “VPN Server didn’t respond” Error on Mac

Your VPN could have connectivity issues for many reasons. Before getting annoyed or disappointed by your service provider, try this:

1. Check whether your internet connection is alright.

Seems redundant, we know, but there’s always a chance that you might not have Internet access when trying to connect to a VPN server.

The simplest way to check if this is a problem is to just access a random web page on your browser. If you can’t connect to it, there’s an issue with your Internet connection – and that will obviously affect your ability to use a VPN.

If that’s the case, try turning off your router for 30 seconds, and turning it back on again. Alternatively, restart it, or try using a different DNS server (like Google Public DNS).

Try the following:

  1. Disconnect and reconnect to your Wi-Fi network;
  2. Restart your router;
  3. Check your router’s ethernet cable to see if it’s connected;
  4. Contact your ISP if you still need help to restore your connectivity.
  5. We’ve also got tips on how to increase your Wi-Fi bandwidth.

2. Check your credentials.

If you run a VPN on your router, make sure you have the right credentials entered for it as they are separate from your VPN account. If they are incorrect, you won’t be able to connect.

You’ll normally get a notification saying you entered the wrong username and password when you try to log in, so this shouldn’t really be a problem.

However, if you run a VPN on a router, and you or your VPN provider recently updated the login credentials you use, your VPN connection might not go through if you didn’t update the username and password on your router as well.

Also, if your VPN provider is the one who sets you up with login credentials, and updates them on your behalf, your connection might not work if they suddenly changed them while you’re signed into the VPN client.

If that’s the case, just restart the client, and log in with the new username and password.

Also, make sure you use complex passwords for your VPN account and change them often to stay safe. You could use a secure password manager to store them.

3. Check whether your preferred VPN server is working.

The problem might be with the VPN provider’s infrastructure. Some servers can reject new connections if they’re overloaded. Try connecting to a different server and see if it helps. Most premium VPN providers have tons of servers available and offer auto-connect functions that choose the best available server for you.

4. Check if you have the right ports opened.

Your provider can block traffic on a specific port, so try changing your default port settings to see if the right ports are open for a VPN.

For VPN to work, the 443 TCP and 1194 UDP ports need to be open. Your firewall or router must also allow passthrough for VPN. Just note that most VPNs do not offer port forwarding. The app blocks all ports except the ones your VPN needs to operate. This makes you safer, as open ports create lots of security risks.

There’s always a chance that the VPN protocol you’re using isn’t working for you – maybe because of the VPN provider or your network settings.

If you suspect that is the problem, just use a different VPN protocol.

At the same time, try using a different network port to connect to the VPN server since the network you’re using or your ISP might block traffic on the port you’re currently using.

5. VPN software issues.

VPN software, much like other software, can crash or experience glitches and bugs from time to time. It is always recommended to ensure that you have the most up-to-date version of your VPN application. Premium providers typically perform constant testing to catch and fix bugs as quickly as possible. Also, try resetting or reinstalling your software in case the problem persists. Consider closing some background programs and cleaning up your disk space.

There also could be issues in your VPN settings. You can easily reset them to default if you suspect there is something wrong.

6. Restart or Reinstall Your VPN Client.

Maybe client errors are preventing you from successfully establishing a connection to a server. So, just restart the client, and try again.

If that doesn’t work, uninstall it from your system, download the installation files, and install the client again. Make sure you install the latest version.

7. Make Sure the VPN Server Isn’t Down.

If you do have web access, the VPN server you’re trying to connect to might be down or it might be too overcrowded. That tends to happen a lot if you use free VPNs.

How do you check?

Well, it depends on how the VPN provider makes that info available to you. You could ask them over social media, or you might be able to check through the VPN client.

Just log into your account, go to Services, hit Manage on your active subscription, and you’ll see the whole list of VPN servers detailing if there are any problems.

8. Restart/Reinstall or Update Your Internet Browser

You should only do this if you’re using a VPN extension for a specific browser. Sometimes, they won’t work correctly if you have an older browser version, or if your browser is experiencing internal errors which you can fix by restarting or reinstalling it.

9. Check Your Router

Sometimes, you might not manage to connect to a VPN server because of your router – specifically your router’s Passthrough feature.

If you want to learn more about Passthrough and VPNs, check out this article.

But the main idea is this – if you don’t enable Passthrough for specific VPN protocols (PPTP, IPSec, and L2TP), VPN traffic won’t be able to go through your router, resulting in failed connection attempts.

Normally, you need to access the admin account on your router (the login details are usually on the router itself or in the manual), and check the Passthrough setting.

Please keep in mind that not all routers support Passthrough features.

Besides that, you also need to make sure you forwarded and opened the right ports on your router. For example, if you didn’t forward UDP port 500, and closed the 50 ESP and 51 AH protocols, IPSec VPN connections (like IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2) won’t run, so you won’t be able to connect to a VPN server using those protocols.

10. Firewall blocking

Also, make sure your firewall does not block VPN connections. Add VPN software to the list of exceptions in your firewall settings.

What’s Next?

If none of these methods are effective, it’s recommended to contact the customer service of your VPN provider and inform them of your concerns. Most providers offer round-the-clock tech support, making it possible for you to seek help at any time.

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