How to check if your VPN is working

How can you be sure your VPN really protects you? If you run a regular check, you can prevent accidental IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. Here’s how to test your VPN for breaches and what to do in case it doesn’t work.
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A VPN (a virtual private network) is the best way to ensure your privacy when using the Internet. In short, a VPN app establishes a secure connection between your device and the sites you visit. It hides your IP, protects online banking operations, and makes sure you leave no traces behind. For more information on how a VPN works, you can visit this page.

However, there are many reasons why you might want to do a VPN check:

  • You need to test a VPN you’ve never used before
  • You are unsure if it really connects you to the server in the selected country
  • You want to make sure your current VPN isn’t leaking anything

Whatever your reason is, regular VPN tests will help you discover possible security issues before they turn into real threats. This article covers in detail how to check if your VPN is working.

Why you need to test your VPN for leaks

Having your information leaked is what you least expect from a VPN service. It is supposed to protect you and your data, isn’t it? Still, some apps may provide poor encryption, which can lead to all sorts of breaches.

IP leak

An Internet Protocol address (or IP address) is a number assigned to your device when you connect it to the Internet. There are two versions of the protocol now in use: IPv4 and IPv6. Each device has a unique IP, so its leak can identify you. It can happen because of a dropped connection, vulnerabilities of web plugins and software, and the inability of your VPN to deal with these issues. A leaked IP can give away a lot of your personal information, including your location, your Internet provider, and thus, your browser activity.

DNS leak

The Domain Name System (or DNS for short) is responsible for naming all the devices and services connected to the Internet. It takes a site’s URL and translates it to a numerical IP address helping browsers find websites. Your ISP is in charge of that, so they log and store all the information on their DNS servers. And if the DNS server is exposed, all of the data become visible to potential attackers.

WebRTC leak

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) allows browsers and apps to make audio and video calls without having any software installed. This protocol is supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and other browsers, which makes it popular, on the one hand, and very vulnerable, on the other. They can expose users’ IP and make it visible to advertisers and possible hackers.
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How to run a VPN check

When you notice some unusual activity from a VPN connection, you may ask yourself: “Is my VPN working?” To get rid of any suspicions, you’d better check your VPN for the leaks mentioned above.

Find out your IP address

Look at your VPN status. If it is on, turn it off. Then go to this page, and it will show you the IP address given to you by your ISP. Remember it or write it down.

Check for IP leaks

Turn your VPN on and choose a remote server from the list. Refresh the test page from the previous step: if you see another IP address, it verifies that your VPN is working.

Test for DNS leaks

Go to this DNS leak tester with your VPN on and run a standard or extended test. If the VPN is working correctly, the results will show the location of the chosen server. This means you are protected.

Test for WebRTC vulnerability

WebRTC connections can also reveal your IP address. Visit this WebRTC leak checker to know whether you’re safe or not. If you see your real IP address, there’s a breach. Some VPN services let you enable the WebRTC leak protection, and you can find it in the settings. It can be switched off by default, so you need to make it active for total security.
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Why is my VPN still not working?

If you are still can’t get your VPN to work, there can be several reasons for its malfunction:

VPN use is forbidden where you are

This restriction can be imposed by your government, by your company policy, or by your ISP

The VPN connection has dropped

If your VPN has a kill switch option, it may disconnect you from the Internet for security reasons if the connection between your device and VPN was lost.

The connection speed is very low

Overloaded servers tend to decrease your browsing speed. The same thing can happen if you choose a server too far from your whereabouts.

Your VPN is malware

Unfortunately, there are many untrustworthy VPN clients that can only harm your computer instead of protecting it.

You’ve been attacked by hackers

This problem has nothing to do with your VPN. It can be the result of you clicking the wrong link or hackers taking over your device.
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