NordVPN is easily one of the best VPN services around, going toe-to-toe with ExpressVPN in a host of our guides, including our best VPN for torrenting and best VPN for Netflix guides. As you can see in our NordVPN review, though, even this VPN is not above connection issues, which plague nearly all VPN services. In this guide, we’re going to help you solve why NordVPN is not connecting.
If you want to learn more about this service, make sure to read our guides on if NordVPN works in China, as well as if NordVPN is safe to use in general.
If you’d rather skip the whole troubleshooting process, be sure to read our ExpressVPN review. Although NordVPN and ExpressVPN are equally matched, the latter wins in a few areas, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, to boot.
Okay, with the introduction out of the way, let’s see what you can do if you’re experiencing NordVPN connection issues. Hopefully, these eight steps will solve the problem.
How to Fix NordVPN Connection Issues
- Make sure your account is active
- Reinstall the client
- Reset your TAP adapter
- Switch servers
- Switch between TCP and UDP
- Allow NordVPN as exception to your firewall
- Check your antivirus
- Flush the Windows network stack
Step 1: Make Sure Your Account Is Active
Before going crazy with troubleshooting steps, you need to make sure you have an active NordVPN account. Head to the website here and log in with your credentials.
On the dashboard, you’ll see a “my services” section showing any active subscriptions you have. If you don’t have any, that’s your problem. Resubscribe or renew your subscription, and NordVPN should work just fine.
Also, make sure you’re properly logged in to the NordVPN application. If you haven’t signed in yet, NordVPN will show a login screen when you first boot the application. If you’re already logged in, click the cog icon in the top-right corner and select “my account.” Ensure the proper account is signed in.
Step 2: Reset or Reinstall NordVPN
Reinstalling software can solve a world of hurt, so it’s the first thing you should do if you’re experiencing connection problems with NordVPN. Thankfully, you don’t need to reinstall the application right away. Click the cog icon and select “advanced.” From there, click “run diagnostics tools.” When the new window opens, click “reset app.”
If that doesn’t solve the problem, fully uninstall NordVPN using the Windows Control Panel and reinstall it from the NordVPN website.
Step 3: Restart or Reinstall the TAP Adapter
Reinstalling should fix any TAP adapter issues, but in case it doesn’t, you can restart the TAP adapter. Open the Windows Control Panel and head to the Network and Sharing Center. On the left side, click “change adapter settings” and find the adapter named “TAP-NordVPN Windows Adapter.”
You want to try disabling the adapter. Right-click it and select “disable,” then after a moment, right-click it again and select “enable.” If that doesn’t solve the problem, you can uninstall the adapter using the Windows Control Panel and reinstall it from the NordVPN website.
Step 4: Try a Different Server
There’s no shortage of NordVPN servers, and if reinstalling doesn’t do the trick, it’s likely a server issue. Try connecting to a different server in the NordVPN app and see if that solves the problem. If you’re able to connect, there’s likely a problem with a particular server in the network rather than NordVPN itself.
Step 5: Switch Between TCP and UDP
If it’s not a server issue, your problem could be a VPN protocol issue. Click the cog icon in NordVPN and go to the “auto-connect” section. There, turn the “choose a VPN protocol and server automatically” setting off. You can then choose between OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP. Switch to whichever protocol you’re not using to see if it solves your connection problems.
Likewise, if you’re using the new NordLynx protocol — learn more about that in our WireGuard article — try switching to OpenVPN.
Step 6: Allow NordVPN as an Exception in Your Firewall
In rare cases, Windows Defender, one of the best free antiviruses, can misidentify NordVPN as a malicious application. Before adding it as an exception, turn off the Windows Defender Firewall and try connecting. If you’re able to connect, it’s a firewall issue, and you’ll need to add NordVPN as an exception. If you still can’t connect, move on to step seven.
To add NordVPN as an exception, press “Windows Key + S” and search for “Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security.” There, you’ll need to add three inbound and three outbound rules. Add a rule in each section for nordvpn.exe, nordvpn-service.exe and openvpn-nordvpn.exe. All of them should be in the application’s install directory.
Step 7: Check for Antivirus Issues
If you’re not using Windows Defender and instead have one of the best paid antiviruses protecting you, such as Bitdefender, that could be causing issues. Although each antivirus has different protections, there are two areas you want to check. First, make sure your antivirus hasn’t misidentified any NordVPN executable files as malicious.
Then, add the three applications mentioned above as exceptions in scanning and, if your antivirus supports it, to your firewall.
Step 8: Flush the Windows Network Stack
If your problem still isn’t solved, try flushing the Windows Network Stack. Search for the command prompt and run it as an administrator. Input these four commands and try NordVPN again:
- ipconfig/ release
- ipconfig/ flushdns
- ipconfig/ renew
- netsh winsock reset
After each command, press the “enter” key. If NordVPN is working, problem solved. If not, you can try the following five commands:
- netsh interface ipv4 reset
- netsh interface ipv6 reset
- netsh winsock reset catalog
- netsh int ipv4 reset reset.log
- netsh int ipv6 reset reset.log
After following all eight steps, you should solve any connection issues with NordVPN. The app has an excellent reset feature, and in most cases, that’ll solve any problems. Be sure to read our how to use NordVPN guide, in case you missed a step during the installation.
If you’re still experiencing connection issues, your problem is far outside of anything we’ve experienced and anything talked about online, so you’re better off just subscribing to a new service like ExpressVPN (find out how to cancel NordVPN and get a refund).
Did you solve your NordVPN connection issues? What was the problem? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
- There could be a lot of reasons why NordVPN won’t connect, but you can usually solve the problem by resetting the application. In the settings, click on “advanced,” then on “run diagnostics tool.” From there, you’ll see an option to reset the application fully.
- Long connection times aren't a unique problem to NordVPN. Depending on infrastructure, server load and distance, you could have longer connection times than average. If after a minute or two you still haven’t connected, try switching to a different VPN server and see if that solves the problem.