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Issue #872: April 7-13, 2024

Q: I have 2 issues that I believe are unique to only one of my laptop computers. 1) Outlook 365 will not automatically download embedded images in a message when a VPN is connected. I’ve tried 2 VPNs, and the problem exists with both. I have Outlook set to always download images, so that’s not the problem. About a month or so ago, the problem went away, but after a couple of weeks it reappeared. I didn’t change any settings either time. 2) On this computer, YouTube TV, both using the app or accessing it through the web, has the wrong location, and it has the same wrong location whether the VPN is connected or not. I can update the location, and see that the location has changed when I’m in the “manage accounts” screen, but as soon as I go back to the main screen to watch a video, the location changes back. Again, I don’t have either of these problem on my other laptop that is also running Windows 11. I can’t find any settings that seem to help. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

 – Frank S.
Niceville, Florida

A:  I covered the basics of VPNs in an issue last year (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #837, August 6, 2023), so you might want to check out that issue in the column archives over on my website. Based on your description, Frank, I’m fairly certain the cause of the problems you’re having can be narrowed down to your VPN in conjunction with some other settings on your PC, probably in the Windows Firewall. 


Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, changes lots of different aspects of your Internet connection.  Most people use them to anonymize their Internet presence, because a VPN masks everything from your IP address to your physical location. While desirable in many circumstances, this can cause unforeseen problems in others.  I’m thinking specifically of your location in YouTube TV, though you said this happens even with the VPN disabled.  So, you’re telling it what you want it to know, but when you run it, it does its own analyzing, and determines that you’re not where you say you are, so it “corrects” it for you.  While you may not think this is particularly helpful, you have to understand that YouTube is heavily involved in content licensing that is partially based on a viewer’s physical location. So, it’s going to do its best to determine where you are, to ensure you stay in compliance with the geo-restrictions associated with any content you might view through their service.  Is it possible your account data is shared with someone else?  Or worse, has been compromised, and is being used elsewhere without your knowledge?  That could certainly mess with YouTube’s ability to determine your location.  My best suggestion is to change your account password and then not share it out to anyone.  See if the problem goes away.  If not, you can get Google’s advice on this issue by reading the article at

Things get even more complicated with regard to the issue of images not downloading in Outlook when the VPN is enabled.  A mysterious “something” is preventing external connections, such as those used to download images in your e-mails, from working properly when your Internet traffic is redirected over the VPN.  My first inclination is to look for something misconfigured in the VPN’s tunneling settings, but since you have the same problem with two different VPNs, it would seem more likely that the problem is on the laptop itself.  The primary gate guardians on your PC are your antivirus/antimalware software, and the Windows Firewall.

The first thing I would suggest is to make an attempt with your antivirus software disabled.  If the pictures appear despite the VPN being enabled, you’re halfway home.  If that doesn’t work, I suggest you present this issue to the support team for one or both of the VPNs you’re using and see what they have to say.  It seems unlikely that you’re the only person who has ever had this issue, and they probably have a ready-answer that will set everything right for you.

Once you take the time to do some homework on the problem, please follow up with me by visiting my website and making a comment on the column.  It’ll be marked “Issue #872”.  Good luck!

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May 2024

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