VPN not working with mobile data

Nowadays, most VPNs are available on mobile devices and are compatible with both Wi-Fi and mobile data connections.

This means you can surf the internet privately and anonymously with your phone or tablet, and as a bonus, it will allow you to access geo-locked content wherever you are on your portable device.

However, there may be times when your VPN doesn’t work when you’re using mobile data. This means you may be unable to access location-based content on your device, and more importantly, you won’t be able to ensure a private online connection when out and about.

Fortunately, you can try several fixes to fix your VPN not working with mobile data. This article will explain how you can get your VPN working with mobile data again to use the internet safely.

See also:

VPN not working with mobile data: Fixes

  1. Make sure you’re connected to the internet

    VPN not working with mobile data

    A VPN won’t work without a reliable internet connection. If your VPN is not working with mobile data, you first need to ensure your device is connected to the internet.

    To do this, turn the VPN off and try connecting to a website or app. If it doesn’t work, then the issue isn’t with your VPN. It’s with your mobile data provider.

    We recommend contacting your mobile data provider to resolve this issue. Alternatively, you can reset your network settings on your phone or tablet.

    You need to go to settings for an Android device and search for “Reset Network Settings.” Select this, let the phone do its thing, and then try connecting to the internet again. 

    For Apple devices, you need to do the same thing, go to settings and search for “Reset Network Settings.”

    If this doesn’t resolve the issue, move on to the next step.

  2. Update your VPN

    VPN update

    It’s essential always to ensure your VPN is updated to its latest version.

    There may be some issues in the software, causing your VPN not to work with mobile data. More often than not, this will be known to the VPN provider, and it will release an update fixing the issue.

    To ensure you have these fixes update your VPN. To do this on Android, open the Google Play Store, select your profile icon in the top right, select manage apps, and click update. For Apple devices, open the App Store, tap your profile icon, scroll down to the updates section and select update next to your VPN app.

  3. Change to a different server

    Norton Secure VPN not working

    Often, your VPN will work with mobile data; however, it might not work with the online service you’re trying to access.

    When using a VPN with mobile data, ensure you’ve selected the correct location to access geo-locked content. For example, if you’re trying to access BBC iPlayer outside the UK, you must ensure you’re connected to a UK server on your VPN. If you’re trying to access Hulu outside the US, ensure you’re connected to a US server on your VPN and so on.

    Your VPN won’t work with mobile data if you haven’t selected the correct location.

    To get around this, open your VPN app and change server.

  4. Change to a different protocol

    Protocols

    A VPN protocol is a set of rules that define how the VPN redirects and encrypts your online data.

    These all work differently. Some of them are dedicated to fast connections, some of them are dedicated to security, and some of them are a hybrid of both.

    If your VPN has its own proprietary protocol, we recommend using that. For example, ExpressVPN has Lightway, and NordVPN has NordLynx. 

    If not, we recommend seeing if your VPN supports IKEv2. This is a lightweight protocol that works very well with mobile devices.

    It’s not as fast as other protocols; however, its incredibly secure and uses very little mobile data. This is important when connecting via mobile data, as you may constantly change networks.

    If your VPN doesn’t have the IKEv2 protocol, try changing to a protocol you’re not currently using and see if that fixes the problem.

  5. Upgrade to a VPN with a good track record of working with mobile data

    ExpressVPN Rank

    Your VPN might not be working with mobile data because it doesn’t have the infrastructure to ensure it can keep up with constantly changing networks and locations.

    To ensure you can use a VPN with mobile data regularly and consistently, you need to use a VPN with a considerable amount of financial backing and investment, and there’s none better than ExpressVPN ($6.67/month).

    ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) is one of the biggest VPNs in the world. It has physical servers in over 94 countries worldwide, super-fast speeds, and its own proprietary protocol called Lightway. 

    I’ve been using ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) with mobile data for years and have never encountered any issues.

    To learn more about ExpressVPN ($6.67/month), you can read our ExpressVPN review, it’s simply the best VPN on the market, and you won’t encounter the same issues you’ve experienced with your current VPN. 

Can I use a VPN with mobile data?

Yes, you can. To function, your VPN only requires a stable internet connection.

If your mobile data is constantly cutting out or you don’t have much reception, your VPN will struggle to function reliably.

That is unless you use a VPN with the infrastructure to ensure it can work not only when you have a strong internet connection but also an intermittent one.

The best VPNs for mobile data use, ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) and NordVPN ($3.19/month), work well with mobile data.

Do I need a VPN when using mobile data?

You don’t need a VPN when using mobile data; however, we highly recommend it.

Using a VPN on mobile data gives you the same benefits as at home or on Wi-Fi. It provides a secure, anonymous internet connection to protect your data and ensure online privacy.

As a bonus, it can allow you to access geo-locked content in your location and bypass content restrictions as well.

VPN not working with mobile data

Does a VPN use more mobile data?

Yes, when you use a VPN with mobile data, it will use more of your data. However it isn’t a massive increase.

This study from NordVPN found that a VPN will use 5-15% more data than if you didn’t use a VPN.

This is because of a VPN’s encryption process to secure your online connection.

If you constantly watch 4K videos on your phone and use around 30GB of data with a VPN turned on, you’d use 34GB. However, if you mainly use your device for less data-intensive tasks, the increase in data usage will be almost unnoticeable. A fair trade for a secure online connection, we think.

Will a free VPN work with mobile data?

Free VPNs are attractive choices when trying to secure your online connection or watch restricted content in a different location. However, there are a number of reasons why we don’t recommend using a free VPN.

  1. Limited Security: Free VPNs often aren’t as secure as other VPNs. They don’t usually have strong encryption protocols, and some free VPNs have even been found logging user data. This means the VPN is collecting your online data and, in some cases, selling it to third parties. This compromises your online privacy and goes against the main reason for using a VPN in the first place.
  2. Feature restrictions: If you’re using a free VPN, you’ll probably come across limitations in regard to the features. There may be a limit on the number of servers you can access, there are often limits on the amount of data you can use with the VPN, and there have even been examples of reductions in speed. This can hamper the online experience and make streaming content or downloading files with the VPN difficult.
  3. Lack of customer support: VPNs can sometimes be tricky to navigate, and the best VPNs often have customer support to assist you when you’re having trouble. Free VPNs very rarely have customer support options.
  4. Limited server locations: If you’re using a VPN to watch a streaming service, it’s better to have more servers worldwide. Free VPNs often have severe limitations in regard to how many servers they have available. This can make it more difficult to access specific content.

Basically, more often than not, free VPNs won’t work well on mobile data, and even worse, they don’t always guarantee a private connection.

The best VPNs for mobile data

1. ExpressVPN 🥇

Why You Should Use ExpressVPN? It’s the fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2023

ExpressVPN UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
Best VPN list - ExpressVPN

Special Offer for you!

Get 3 extra months free when you sign up for a 12-month ExpressVPN plan. That’s 15 months in total for the price of 12.

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $6.66/month for 15 months
  • $9.99/month for 6 months
  • $12.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.

Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.

The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.

With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevents its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.

Check out our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN 🥈

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

NordVPN US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ No logs
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 6-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ No refunds for purchases from iTunes/App store
Best VPN list - NordVPN

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $3.49/month for 2 years
  • $6.99/month for 1 year
  • $11.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.

It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired a full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers’ connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations.

Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunneling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.

Read our NordVPN review.

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3. Private Internet Access

The BEST low-cost VPN for streaming!

Best VPN list - PIA

Pros

  • ✅ Fast and reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Only 48 server locations
Best VPN list - PIA

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 25,000+ | Speed: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 74 countries | Devices supported: 10 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.03/month for 3 years
  • $7.50/month for 6 months
  • $11.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1-million paying customers.

This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.

If – for whatever reason – you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).

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4. Ivacy

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

Ivacy US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ Dedicated streaming servers
  • ✅ 5-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat

Cons

  • ❌ Only 5 devices
  • ❌ Sometimes runs slow
  • ❌ Occasionally block by streaming sites for several days
Best VPN - Ivacy on Mac

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for Ivacy and enjoy a 7-day trial with no strings attached

Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $1.16/month for 5 years
  • $3.50/month for 1 year
  • $9.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.

This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.

The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.

For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.

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5. CyberGhost

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

CyberGhost UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ 1-day free trial
  • ✅ Reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 7-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
  • ❌ Average speed scores
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

SPECIAL OFFER – 1-DAY FREE TRIAL

Take advantage of CyberGhost’s 1-day FREE TRIAL!

Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.75/month for 3 years
  • $3.69/month for 2 years
  • $5.99/month for 1 year
  • $12.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.

From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.

That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.

Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.

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Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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