SOLVED: “Failed to initialize connection subsystem” in Cisco AnyConnect

AnyConnect logoTalk about obscure.

One of my end users was greeted by this informative error message recently. He was connecting to the internet using a 3G dongle and then to our network via Cisco AnyConnect VPN. “Software reinstall!” thought I. “Wrong!” said Google.

Although this is probably due to faulty programming on Cisco’s part, the culprit is Internet Explorer. (How I love to blame that historically stinky pile of poodoo.)

To resolve: load up IE. If you can’t see the [ File | Edit | View… ] menus, press Alt, to bring it up. On the File menu, “Work Offline” is almost certainly checked. Uncheck it. Connect again. Job done. Who knew.

If you’re using Internet Explorer 11, bad news: Microsoft removed the “Work offline” option from the File menu. Gone. So there’s no GUI interface to the relevant setting. In fact it’s a registry key called “GlobalUserOffline”, found at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings. You need to set it to 0, disable “Work offline”. This registry file should do the trick: DisableWorkOffline.reg.

58 Replies to “SOLVED: “Failed to initialize connection subsystem” in Cisco AnyConnect”

  1. OMG. This is ridicules.

    Master! Thank you I would have never found it. I use Firefox. And on rare occasions IE. And last time I wanted to make it stop it screamed offline mode. And then never bothered to look again.

  2. Thank-you so much. Glad I came upon your site after reading only 3. It just worked 2 days ago and I couldn’t figure out what could have caused it to stop. I started hearing that it was cause by FIOS and I didn’t know what to do.

    Such a relief.


  3. Thanks Rob. ur solution looks simple but it made me a great help in fixing my problem. hope we get much more help in fixing bugs through ur expertise knowledge.

    1. I’m glad you asked this question – it took a fair bit of research to find the answer. Microsoft removed the “Work offline” option from the File menu in Internet Explorer 11 and has not replaced it with any alternative. This basically leaves you with no GUI way of controlling this setting. Essentially you have to edit the Registry.

      The relevant key is: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\GlobalUserOffline. You need to set it to 1, to work online again. Here’s a registry file that will achieve the same result for you: DisableWorkOffline.reg.

      1. Hmm, your text says: “You need to set it to 1”, but the attached .reg file sets it to 0. Which one is correct?

        For me, none of both did work in the first place. I’ll reboot and try again…

  4. Resurrecting this due to Windows 10 Technical Preview OS. Not finding that key…..Weird part is I have gotten it to work a couple times…..for instance right after installing the version and it does the initial connection. But close it out and try again..and always get the error.

    1. Right click the cisco client exe and set compatibility on it. When you right click the exe you can simply choose “troubleshoot compatibility” and go with the recommended setting and to test it make sure your running cisco app is closed. It works!! Apply changes and your set.

      1. Thank You, Tim. I’m using IE 11 in Windows 8 environment. It was used to work earlier, but I don’t know, may be because of latest Microsoft patches, it might’ve gone wrong.

        However, it is fixed now with your solution. Cheers.

      2. Tim, thanks so much for the compatibility view advice. The “work offline” fixes didn’t help me on my Win 8.1 x64 machine, but after killing the mobility process and then right clicking on vpnui.exe, selecting “Troubleshoot compatibility”, and trying recommended fixes, I connected, first try. Big relief!

  5. Thank you for your info! I tried to fix this last night for like 2 hours and was completely frustrated!! Thank you!!!

  6. Just got off the phone with Cisco support and I can confirm that what Tim said is correct and working for me.

    I navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Cisco\Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client\vpnui.exe> r-click> properties> on the Compatibility tab check “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and select the OS of your choice. I am running Win 8.1 clients in Windows 7 mode as a solution to this problem.

    This issue is a result of a Microsoft security update. Not sure which one since I installed 34 updates right before my VPN clients broke.

  7. this worked great for me, but then another windows update screwed it up again. I then tried the fix below and thus far its working for me: I got it of this website

    1. Right click VPNUI in the Cisco install folder. (in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Cisco\Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client\”

    2. Choose Troubleshoot compatibility.

    3. The wizard suggests win8 compatibility.

    4. Try recommended Setting. (It did work for me)

    5. Restart the VPN service. (No need for me, worked after the compatibility mode fix)

    6. Start AnyConnect from the start menu.

    7. Working.

  8. After a win8 update yesterday I got this issue. No registry key present, but setting compatibility mode to windows XP on the cisco shortcut solved it for me!

  9. I am on Windows 8.1 & IE 11.

    I tired the registry entry and have shutdown my laptop and I still get the same Cisco error.

    Any other ideas?

  10. Tried the IE 11 fix. I don’t have a GlobalUserOffline

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\GlobalUserOffline

  11. Thank you for this! I am using Windows 8 with IE 11 – even though the “work offline” is removed, it helped to just run IE, and AnyConnect miraculously started to work.

  12. Thanks for this… i was freaking out for this was the first time i encountered this error on my 3yrs using cisco any connect. I believe i have toggled something but not so sure what.. i have searched other suggestions for resolving the issue and one worked for me. Thanks alog for tge detailed work around.

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