The vast majority of VPNs available today offer apps for both Android and iOS. It’s very quick and easy to download and install a VPN app on most smartphones. Once you do get set up, you won’t be limited as to where and when you can use your VPN because VPNs work with mobile data and wifi alike. This allows you to bypass content restrictions (such as those of streaming services) and browse with greater online privacy.
Unfortunately, there may be times when your VPN isn’t working with your mobile data as it should. This may prevent you from accessing your usual websites and apps while traveling abroad. It may put you at risk when online banking or making payments. We’ll go over the potential causes of your VPN not working with mobile data and explain what you can do to get it fixed.
Best VPNs for mobile data
Before we get started, we’ll recommend a few VPNs that work best with mobile data. If you’re currently using a different VPN and find that the steps further below in this post fails to resolve the issue, you may want to try one of the best VPNs for mobile data.
Here’s our list of the best VPNs for use with mobile data:
- NordVPN: The best VPN for mobile data. Fast VPN protocol and over 5,000 servers. Strong unblocker of content. Specialty P2P servers. No-logs service with 24/7 support.
- Surfshark: Best value VPN. Servers in 100 countries. Packed with features including option to override GPS location. Unlimited simultaneous connections per account.
- ExpressVPN: 3,000+ servers in 94 countries. Its browser extension can spoof your HTML5 geolocation. Strong security with encryption. Doesn’t keep identifying logs.
- CyberGhost: Huge network of 9,000+ servers in 90+ countries. High-speed connections and can be used on up to seven devices at once. 24/7 support via live chat and email.
- IPVanish: Uses WireGuard protocol and has very fast server speeds. You can use it on an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. No-logs VPN with 24-hour support.
- PrivateVPN: Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Stan. Fast, consistent connections. User-friendly mobile apps. True no-logs policy and accepts payment in Bitcoin.
- AtlasVPN: Servers available worldwide. No limit to the number of devices you can connect. Lots of extra features including MultiHop servers and an ad blocker.
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Why isn’t my VPN working with mobile data?
It’s not always immediately apparent why your VPN isn’t working with mobile data. It’s for this reason that we recommend you first take a look at the potential causes listed below.
Here are some possible reasons why your VPN isn’t working with mobile data:
- You don’t have an internet connection
- The VPN app requires an update (or a fresh installation)
- You’re not connected to a VPN server in the appropriate location
- The VPN IP address doesn’t match your phone’s GPS location
- You need to change your VPN protocol
How to fix your VPN not working with mobile data
Below we explain what you need to do to fix your VPN not working with mobile data. With any luck, this should get it working again in no time. Failing this, you may want to get in touch with your VPN’s customer support to troubleshoot the issue.
Here’s how to fix your VPN not working with mobile data:
Check your internet connection
Your internet connection can come and go, particularly on mobile as you’re on the go. The VPN will sometimes struggle to connect as a result. After all, a VPN will only work providing you have an Internet connection.
If your phone keeps losing connection, there are a few things you can try. In particular, it’s a good idea to reset your phone’s network settings.
Here’s how to reset your phone’s network settings on Android and iOS:
- Android: Settings > System > Reset options > Reset Wi-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth > Reset settings.
- iOS: Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
Change your VPN protocol
If you’re having connectivity issues, changing the VPN protocol you use to connect to the VPN may do the trick. Although many VPNs now use WireGuard as default, you can also find options such as OpenVPN and IKEv2. Indeed, IKEv2 is highly suitable for use with mobiles because it’s particularly quick to reconnect when switching networks. Changing your VPN protocol is usually as simple as going to the VPN’s settings page and searching for “protocol”.
Here are the most VPN protocol options available:
- WireGuard: Newer, faster protocol which uses little mobile data.
- OpenVPN TCP: Highly secure but slower and consumes more data.
- OpenVPN UDP: Faster than TCP and still secure but less reliable.
- IKEv2: Quite fast, secure, and uses very little mobile data.
- PPTP: Fast and uses the least data but not secure.
Update your VPN app
Your VPN not working with mobile data could be due to something as simple as the VPN app being out of date. Updating apps on Android and iOS is quick and easy to do. Downloading and installing the latest version of a VPN app ensures you have access to the newest features, many of which are security-related.
It’s possible to auto update apps in both the Google Play Store and App Store which helps if you frequently forget to keep your VPN app updated.
How to update an Android app:
- Open the Google Play Store app.
- Tap the profile icon in the top right.
- Select Manage apps & device.
- Click on Update.
How to update Android apps automatically:
- Open the Google Play Store app.
- Click on the profile icon in the top right.
- Tap on Manage apps & device.
- Select Manage and then the app you want to update automatically.
- Tap on the app and then More (the three dots)
- Turn on Enable auto update.
How to update an iOS app:
- Open the App Store.
- Tap your profile icon at the top of the screen.
- Scroll down to Upcoming Automatic Updates.
- Select Update next to an app or Update All to update all apps.
How to update iOS apps automatically:
- Go to Settings.
- Select App Store.
- Toggle App Updates on.
Reinstall your VPN app
If updating your VPN app fails to get it working with mobile data again then reinstalling the VPN software entirely is the next thing to try. Again, this is very simple to do.
How to reinstall an Android app:
- Open the Google Play Store.
- Tap the profile icon in the top right.
- Select Manage apps & devices, then Manage.
- Tap the VPN app followed by Uninstall.
- Return to the Google Play Store and tap your profile icon.
- Select Not installed. Locate the VPN app and check the box next to it.
- Tap the download icon near the top of the screen.
How to reinstall an iOS app:
- Touch and hold the VPN app.
- Select Remove App and then Delete App.
- Tap Delete to confirm, followed by Done.
- Open the App Store.
- Tap your profile icon in the top right corner.
- Select Purchased and then Not on this iPhone.
- Locate the app and tap on the download button.
Connect to a VPN server in the appropriate location
First, check that you’re connected to a VPN server in the appropriate country. You can do this by looking in the VPN app where you should be able to see the server location and corresponding IP address. Alternatively, you can use our IP Address Check tool or an alternative such as whatismyip.com.
Remember that you may need to try more than one server to find one that works with certain websites and services. Many such websites and services actively block VPNs in order to comply with copyright and licensing agreements surrounding content (for example, TV shows and movies on streaming services). In some cases, VPNs are blocked in order to prevent fraud. This is common among online banking services and betting websites.
Spoof your GPS location
Websites and apps often determine your location through your IP address. While you can use a VPN to get around that by spoofing a different IP address, some websites and apps also look at your GPS location data.
GPS spoofing isn’t common on VPN apps, although Surfshark’s Android app does feature an Override GPS location. In order to fake your GPS location, you’ll need to use a GPS spoofing app such as Fake GPS Location.
For GPS spoofing apps to work on Android, you’ll need to set your phone to use mock locations. You can do this by enabling developer options as follows:
- Go to Settings > About phone.
- Tap Build number seven times.
- Return to Settings followed by System > Advanced > Developer options.
- Click on Select mock location app and then select the GPS spoofing app.
- Open the GPS spoofing app and select a location.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy to spoof your GPS location on iOS. Instead, you’ll need to download a desktop app such as that of iTools and connect your phone to your desktop device via a USB cable, or jailbreak it and use a third-party app library like Cydia.
VPN with mobile data: FAQs
Why do I need a VPN when using mobile data?
You need a VPN when using mobile data for the same reasons you need one while connected to wifi. A quality VPN provides a number of benefits. In particular, it hides your IP address, allowing you to browse with greater privacy. You’ll also be able to spoof your location and bypass content restrictions. This helps you access some of your favorite streaming services while traveling abroad, for example.
Does using a VPN use more mobile data?
Yes, you will use more mobile data when you use a VPN on your phone. This is due to the encryption process that takes place. As such, you can’t use a VPN to get around your monthly mobile data cap. The increase in data usage could be anything from 5-15% and really depends on your internet activity. For example, if you frequently use your VPN for streaming, you’re more likely to see a higher drain on data. It also depends on the VPN protocol you use.
Can I use a free VPN with mobile data?
There are a lot of free VPNs that work with mobile data. Unfortunately, many of these free VPNs display ads and pop-ups to make money and this can actually drain your mobile data even further. Besides, free VPNs tend to offer fewer servers and server locations. You’ll struggle to unblock as much content as a result (they’re notoriously poor with popular streaming services).
Due to the fact that many free VPNs engage in bandwidth throttling, you can expect very slow speeds while browsing and streaming with mobile data. Remember also that some free VPNs keep logs of your browsing and streaming activity. This may then be sold to third parties, compromising your privacy.