Having VPN connection issues? Microsoft warns the April 2024 Windows update is to blame

If you install the latest Windows update, your VPN connections may fail. Microsoft says it's working on a fix.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Windows 11 desktop
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Another Windows update, another glitch. In an all-too-familiar refrain, Microsoft has acknowledged that its latest update for Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows Server may break a key capability on which many users depend.

Rolled out last month, the April 2024 update could prevent your VPN from connecting. The problem can be triggered by either the KB5036893 security update or an April 2024 non-security preview update.

Also: Windows 11: Do these six things right away after you finish setup

The issue affects virtually every current version of Windows, both client and server:

  • Windows 11, version 23H2
  • Windows 11, version 22H2
  • Windows 11, version 21H2
  • Windows 10, version 22H2
  • Windows 10, version 21H2. 
  • Windows Server 2022
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008

Microsoft didn't provide a specific date as to when the glitch will be fixed other than to say: "We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release."

Windows updates are supposed to fix problems, not create them, you say. That's correct, in theory. In reality, Microsoft's updates often have a poor batting average.

Sometimes they fail to install properly. Sometimes they conflict with other apps or capabilities, causing them to break certain functionality. Sometimes they can even cause Windows to freeze, crash, or experience the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

Also: Windows 11 FAQ: ZDNET's upgrade guide and everything else you need to know

Microsoft typically releases Windows updates as part of Patch Tuesday, which the company observes on the second Tuesday of each month. In the past, these updates focused on security patches and bug fixes. More recently, the company has expanded the scope to include new and improved features as well. The April 2024 update added Start menu ads for recommended apps, which I'm sure is a feature every Windows user has been demanding.

Why are Windows updates unreliable? Microsoft has been faulted in the past for not vetting or testing them properly before rolling them out. That's a valid criticism, but the overall challenge is just the sheer number of Windows PCs and configurations. Every person's Windows environment is different and unique in some way, so even extensive testing can't always catch each potential glitch or conflict ahead of time.

If you're in this boat, here's what you can do. Go to Settings > Windows Update > Update History. Check the Quality Updates section to see if the KB5036893 update was installed. Even if it was, that doesn't necessarily mean your VPN won't work. My Windows 11 laptop received the update, and I was still able to use NordVPN without any hiccups.

If you are bumping into VPN connection glitches, you can try uninstalling the glitchy update. Go to the top or bottom of the Update History screen and click the Uninstall option. Select the KB5036893 update and click Uninstall. Just remember that doing so will remove any other fixes or features this update includes.

In its notification, Microsoft also suggested that users with home PCs use the built-in Get Support app to request help from Microsoft. Business or Enterprise users can call their Help Desk or IT staff for assistance.

Otherwise, you'll have to wait for Microsoft to issue a fix, which probably isn't too far away and hopefully won't itself break any other features.

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