Can’t Connect to Starbucks WiFi? Fix Captive Portal Issues

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Stop me if you heard this one before

Starbucks is a great place to get your morning cup of Joe. With 87,000 drink combinations possible, you are sure to find something that will kickstart your day. And if that’s not enough, you should look up the secret menu. 😉 

Now, while you enjoy that sweet nectar of the gods, you are thinking of getting some work done.
Tell me, did this ever happen to you?
-You’re at Starbucks enjoying your pumpkin pie latte, you open your laptop. You sit down to work, select the WiFi network, and…nothing happens. Your WiFi icon is showing it’s connected, but when you go to open your browser nothing loads. The WiFi login page never shows up. Frustrating, I know. Let me explain why you can’t connect to Starbucks WiFi.

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What is a Captive Portal?

Before we can talk about why you can’t connect to Starbucks WiFi, we need to talk a bit about captive portals. Captive portal is a web page that the user is obliged to view and interact with before they are able to access the Internet. You’ve seen this, when you first logs on to Starbucks WiFi, you see a webpage that requires certain actions before Internet access is granted. If you would like to learn more about captive portal, you can find the Wikipedia page here.

Now that we know what a captive portal is, why can’t you connect to Starbucks WiFi?
It’s hard to know unless you are the one running the captive portal. Sometimes there are breaks with the system but it could be a different reason for different networks. In other cases having your computer set to use a custom DNS server can cause problems with a captive portal. In most cases the problem is related to the network itself and you as a user can’t do anything about it. If you are using a VPN, chances are the VPN is causing the issue.

That said, there are still things you could try.

Can’t connect to Starbucks WiFi when using a VPN?

If you are even a little concerned about your online security and privacy, chances are you are already using a VPN. And if you’re not, you should be, especially if you often connect to public WiFi hotspots. A VPN will encrypt your data and prevent any hackers from stealing your personal and sensitive information like social media passwords, credit card details etc.

However, you may have noticed that you can’t connect to Starbucks WiFi if you are connected to the internet. You will need to disconnect the VPN in order to connect to the WiFi which leaves you exposed. In some cases you will be able to connect to the VPN once you are already connected to the network but since the network setup has specific rules about IP address ranges that are acceptable to log in which are assigned by the hotspot / router at Starbucks, since you are using a VPN to mask your IP address, the login page will see a completely different IP than the one it’s expecting. So, you won’t be able to connect to the Internet at all.

But you will if you use Speedify bonding VPN.

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Speedify can bond any combination of 2 or more Internet connections and will intelligently distribute your online traffic between them for optimal performance.

In the majority of cases, Speedify will automatically detect and start using any Internet connections available to your device - but if you need help we have quick start guides available for most common set ups.

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This is How Speedify Bonding VPN Works on Captive Portals (Starbucks included)

When you join a WiFi hotspot with a login page Speedify will:

  1. Show you a notification asking you if you want to login.
  2. Keep you connected over cellular data so your other ongoing online activities (like Skype / Slack calls, streaming, gaming) will continue to work via the cellular connection, protected by Speedify so you don’t have to worry about dropped calls or streams.
  3. If you click the notification prompting you to connect to the WiFi hotspot, Speedify will pop up the login screen in a window.
  4. Once you login successfully, Speedify will immediately start using the WiFi connection, allowing you to seamlessly switch over from cellular to WiFi without stopping any of the things you are doing online.

Speedify uses channel bonding technology in order to bond multiple Internet connections at once. In the example above, it uses both WiFi and cellular connections on your smartphone or laptop.

Now you can finally connect to any hotspot and not worry about your data and privacy.

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