When a VPN (virtual private network) is functioning properly, it may help you avoid being tracked while online. By using a virtual private network to encrypt your data transmissions and prevent your ISP from “catching” what you’re doing, you can keep your information private. Not all VPNs are flawless, and a VPN outage may result in a slew of security issues.
While your VPN software may assure you that you’re connected, it isn’t a guarantee that your VPN hasn’t leaked. In that situation, you might wonder if my VPN is working – is it? Fortunately, there are a few brief checks you may do to verify whether your VPN is functioning correctly and spot any potential security concerns that might be disrupting performance.
How do I know if my VPN is working?
When you connect to a VPN, your device should show the IP address of the VPN server it’s connected to instead of its own real IP address. If you discover that your device’s actual IP address is showing on the Internet, you may have a leak when you connect to the VPN.
If you’re not sure whether your VPN is functioning well, there are a few things you can do to check for security flaws. Follow the steps for these easy VPN tests to quickly discover and repair any possible leaks.
IP address leaks
A unique number assigned to every device connected to the Internet using the Internet Protocol (IP) system. When you go online, your IP address is associated with your computer and all of the activities you perform from it: as searches, clicks, site visits, and so on. One of the most popular reasons to use a VPN is because of IP mask.
How to check for IP leaks
The ability to conceal your IP address is one of the main characteristics of a good VPN, and a quick manual IP leak test may tell you if your IP address is safe or not.
- Find out what your IP address is: To check whether your VPN is turned on, open any search engine (like Google or Yandex) and type “my IP address.” The website will display your device’s allocated IP address at the top of the page. Make a note of it.
- Go to your VPN account and turn on your VPN. Connect to any of the available VPN servers.
- Return to the search engine and double-check your IP address: “my IP address” in the search bar again. A new entry will appear at the top of the screen. Compare this IP address with the first one you recorded in Step 1.
If the new IP address matches your personal IP address from the first step, your VPN has most likely leaked. If the two addresses are different, you may breathe a sigh of relief: your VPN is working as intended.
How to fix an IP leak
If your VPN fails the above test, connect to another server and attempt it again. If that doesn’t work, you should switch to a new VPN service that provides better security.
The Domain Name System (DNS) server is a translator in this regard, translating connection requests to a specific website address to the corresponding IP number. Its duty is to convert a connection request into a unique IP number, allowing users to easily travel throughout the Internet instead of entering website IP addresses. With your browser’s proxy option, you can also restrict access to a certain number of websites or add a list of restricted sites on your computer.
When you use the Internet, your browser makes DNS queries to obtain the IP addresses of the domains you wish to visit. Without a VPN, these requests go through your ISP’s unsecured tunnel, giving them a detailed look at each DNS request you make. If there is a DNS leak in your VPN, your surfing history, IP address, and your location will be discovered.
How to check for DNS leaks
Checking for DNS leaks is similar to looking for a secure IP address using a VPN. They are readily identified manually by searching for sites with geographical limitations, and you must choose a VPN server from another country (region) that does not allow you unlimited access to such a site. To discover whether your VPN is leaking, perform a manual DNS leak test.
- To login to a server in a different area, go to your VPN account and select a new region from the drop-down menu (for example, the United States).
- Visit a website with geo-restrictions: If you want to view content from another region, visit a website that has geographic restrictions in the country of your choice (for example, if you’ve selected the US for your VPN server, go to the Netflix USA site).
If you can’t access the website, you probably have a DNS leak.
We recommend taking it a step further and testing for any flaws with a program like DNSLeakTest to identify any vulnerabilities.
- Disconnect your VPN and visit the DNSLeakTest website to see your IP address and location. Choose the Standard Test option instead of the Expert Test one.
- Check the IP addresses of the domains displayed. Take a picture or write them down.
- Turn on your VPN and run a new test. The displayed IP addresses should be different from those specified in the first step.
If the IP addresses haven’t changed after you switched on your VPN, there might be a DNS leak.
How to fix a DNS leak
If you think you have a DNS leak, protect your connection by following these steps:
- Turn off your VPN and turn off your WiFi.
- After a minute, turn your WiFi back on and reconnect to your VPN. If that doesn’t work, consider changing your VPN server settings.
- After repairing the leak, do another DNS leak test to guarantee that your connection is safe.
If that doesn’t work, your VPN service’s customer care team will be able to resolve the problem. If you’re still having trouble after that, check out our list of recommended VPN services for additional options.
WebRTC is a new way to communicate that works in real time over the internet. It essentially offers real-time video, voice, and message exchange via a browser – in other words, it allows Web browsers to interact directly with one another online.
It’s great for browser-based peer-to-peer communication, but users have discovered that WebRTC opens security holes in VPNs. Even when connected to a VPN, WebRTC leaks because your browser displays your IP address when sending WebRTC requests. Any website may obtain your IP address and location in as few lines of code as desired.
How to check for WebRTC leaks
WebRTC leaks are unintentional and unavoidable. When your browser displays your actual IP address, even when you’re using a VPN, this is known as WebRTC leaking. Follow these three steps to check for WebRTC leaks to see if you have one.
- Go to the browserleaks website after turning off your VPN. In Public IP Address, you should see your real IP address.
- Turn on your VPN and refresh the page. You should see another IP address in the Public IP Address, which will be the masked IP address of your VPN.
If you still see your real IP address after the WebRTC test, your VPN is leaking your true IP address when you use WebRTC.
How to fix a WebRTC leak
The best way to solve a WebRTC leak is to use a VPN that prevents these types of leaks. If you don’t want to shift your VPN, you can turn off WebRTC in your browser. Websites address this problem in various ways, depending on the browser: by modifying its settings or installing a plugin. WebRTC Leak Prevent is a popular Chrome browser add-on that can be used to prevent WebRTC leaks. Alternatively, you may use a browser that does not support WebRTC.
My VPN is still not working – now what?
If you’ve already done the above tests and still can’t access your VPN, there may be a few additional factors why it isn’t working.
- If you’re experiencing issues with your VPN server, it’s possible that the server is full or that your ISP has bandwidth constraints. You may test the speed of your VPN for free here. You may also try switching to a different VPN server.
- Your VPN may be blocked by your ISP or country: Some nations have strict online content controls, which could result in the blocking of your VPN. In China, only a few government-approved VPN services are legal, for example.
- Most VPNs include an auto-disconnect option that cuts off your Internet connection if the VPN connection is shut down. The disconnect switch is intended to keep your personal information secure by stopping you from visiting online sites when you’re not connected to a VPN.
- The problem may be a port or protocol issue: The issue might be connected to your port or Internet protocol. You should contact your Internet service provider’s support staff to resolve the situation.
- If the problem isn’t one of the above, you may have a problem with your VPN software. You can contact customer support for your VPN service or switch to another provider if the issue is not linked to any of the above.
Tips to protect your VPN software
Ideally, your VPN software should operate automatically and require no intervention on your end. Periodically testing your software to ensure it is functioning properly can help you find any flaws in advance. Use the suggestions below to make sure that your VPN is functioning correctly.
- Check your VPN on a regular basis by running the tests described above manually.
- Ensure that your VPN provider supports IPv6 addresses, as this will prevent IP address leaks.
- Check to see whether your VPN provider automatically protects you from DNS leaks. Some do, while others don’t; if you don’t have such leaks blocked automatically, you can move to another VPN that provides this feature with greater security.
- To avoid WebRTC leaks, turn off WebRTC in your browser or install a browser plugin.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a fantastic tool for protecting your location and online activities quickly and effectively. Ask yourself if your VPN is functioning properly, and check it on a regular basis to prevent leaks and safeguard your browsing history.