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Server poll timeout error in OpenVPN – How to resolve

by | Nov 11, 2021

Wondering how to resolve Server poll timeout error in OpenVPN? We can help you.

As part of our Server Management Services, we assist our customers with several OpenVPN queries.

Today, let us see how our Support techs resolve this error.

How to resolve Server poll timeout error in OpenVPN?

First and foremost, to diagnose problems with an OpenVPN server or client, it is helpful to look at the log files.

Locating the server log files

The log files are located in specific areas on your computer systems.

Log files are the place to check whenever you’re having any problems making a connection with an OpenVPN client program to the OpenVPN Access Server.

On the OpenVPN Access Server there is the server side log:

/var/log/openvpnas.log /var/log/openvpnas.node.log (in case of a failover setup)

In the event that you are having problems with starting the Access Server or certain portions of it, for example the web services, then it may be useful to stop the Access Server service.

Then, move the log file aside, then start the Access Server service, and stop it again immediately.

This creates a new clean log file that contains the startup and shutdown sequence of the Access Server and no other extraneous information.

This makes analysis of the log file much easier.

To do so use these commands in order:

service openvpnas stop
mv /var/log/openvpnas.log /var/log/openvpnas.log.old
service openvpnas start
service openvpnas stop

You can then grab the /var/log/openvpnas.log file for analysis and start the Access Server again:

service openvpnas start

Locating the client log files

Log file location for the OpenVPN Connect Client for Windows:

C:\Program Files (x86)\OpenVPN Technologies\OpenVPN Client\etc\log\openvpn_(unique_name).log

The OpenVPN Connect Client for Mac:

/Library/Application Support/OpenVPN/log/openvpn_(unique_name).log

To get to the /Library folder, open Finder and in the menu at the top choose Go followed by Go to folder and then enter the path /Library to get into that directory.

You can then go to the correct folder and look up the log file.

Please also note that the OpenVPN Connect Client for Macintosh will have permissions set on the log file so that you cannot normally open it.

To bypass this, right click the log file and choose the Get info option in the menu.

Then at the bottom, under Sharing & Permissions, you will be able to use the yellow padlock icon to unlock the settings and to give everyone read access.

Then, you will be able to open the log file with a right click and selecting Open with and then choosing something like Text editor to view the contents of the log file.

Server poll timeout error

Today, let us see the causes for the error and steps followed by our Support Techs to resolve it.

Firstly, OpenVPN client program will try to connect to an OpenVPN Access Server is to simply send out a message requesting for a reply.

So basically a “hello are you there?” message. The server is then supposed to respond and then a connection is started.

However if you see a server poll timeout error message then the server could not reach at the specified port.

The error message is very clear: there is simply no response at all on that address and port.

So when you see this message check below factors:

  • Firstly, if the port is actually open.
  • If the port is correct.
  • Then, if the address you’re trying to reach can actually be reached from the Internet, and isn’t a private IP address only, and other such checks to confirm basic connectivity to the server.

A common mistake that is made is that people set up the Access Server on a private IP address but neglect to set up a proper FQDN DNS name for it.

And configure that FQDN DNS name in the Admin UI under Server Network Settings in the Host name or IP address field.

It is that field value that connection profiles generated and provisioned to the OpenVPN clients will be using to start a connection to.

So if this is set to an internal private IP address that the Access Server was installed on.

Then the connection profiles will try to connect to that private IP address, which is unlikely to be reachable from anywhere else but the internal network that the Access Server itself is on.

The solution is to set up a proper DNS name and configure that and save settings.

Then uninstall, redownload, and reinstall the connection profile or OpenVPN Connect Client program and to try again.

Another common mistake is to forget to open the 3 ports required for OpenVPN Access Server to be reachable properly.

By default these are TCP 443, TCP 943, and UDP 1194.

[Stuck in between? We’d be glad to assist you]

Conclusion

In short, today we saw steps followed by our Support Techs to resolve Server poll timeout error in OpenVPN.

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