One of the reasons that people use a VPN is because of the additional level of security and privacy when browsing the internet. It does this by masking or spoofing your IP address as a way of bypassing geo-restricted content or allow you to check if your ISP is capping your connection. However, your privacy and security on the internet is just as good as your VPN. But because of the easy “plug n play” or in this case “install and launch” feature of most VPNs we often forget to check whether the VPN connection actually works.
So, we decided to help you out by writing a comprehensively detailed guide on how to test and check your VPN connection.
Why should you check your VPN connection?
Well, your personal information is at stake and you want to be sure that when you subscribe to a VPN service provider you get your money’s worth.
First of all, you should know that there is a barrage of different VPN checks and tests that you can conduct. With that said, your current requirements should help you narrow down what to checks to administer.
Standards checks for a VPN connection
The basic idea of how a VPN works is to hide or mask your true IP address with the help of your VPN providers’ servers. If your true IP address is visible then it effectively defeats the purpose of a VPN. And as you well know, your IP address is assigned to your device by your ISP, which means you can easily be tracked from your ISP’s user logs.
Testing your IP address
How to conduct an IP address check
To start off, disable your VPN connection so you can find out your true IP address. Go to WhatIsMyIPAdress.com and take note of the IP address which has been detected.
Go ahead and enable your VPN. Afterward go back to WhatIsMyIPAdress.com and check whether the IP address detected is the same as the one you noted down earlier. If it is an exact match, then there is something wrong.
Pro tip: Most VPN service providers have a wide range of servers located globally. Whenever you select a server, take note of the country it is based in and then go back to WhatIsMyIPAdress.com. Your new IP address should match the country where it based in and you can confirm that location with the location provided on the map.
How to conduct an advanced IP address check
The IP checker we listed above does a basic IP check but if you’re looking for a more thorough and extensive connection evaluation go to IPLeak. Just follow the above step-by-step procedure we used for the basic IP check and instead of using WhatIsMyIPAddress, use IPLeak.
IPLeak will give you a comprehensive report on your IP check which will also include an IP leak report. This brings us to our next check.
Standard checks for testing IP leaks
What is an IP leak?
VPNs aren’t exactly fool-proof and like every other software, they do come with upsides and downsides. An IP leak is one of the latter. When your VPN is enabled and actively running its goal is to ensure that every data exchange between your computer and the internet is private and securely encrypted.
However, most people don’t realize that if the website you’re visiting uses some plugins which are already installed on your computer, then your IP address could potentially be leaked. A notable example is the famous flash player add-on.
Say, for instance, you’re browsing YouTube videos. YouTube will see your masked IP address provided by your VPN provider but when it makes a request to use your system’s Flash Player plugin it will be granted permission to do so. Now, this is where your real IP address could leak out.
And not just Flash Player, there are many other web-based plugins that could leak your IP address. They include Flash, Java, WebX and much more.
Basic Check for an IP leak.
If you have your VPN enabled and actively running, then turn it off. Once you’ve done that go on and check your IP address. Make sure you note down your real IP address as we will be using it later on.
Once you’re on XMyIP web page, go ahead and click on the “ADDITIONAL IP DETAILS” button which is adjacent to the IP address detected.
Check if the IP address detected matches your real IP address that we got from step one. Additionally, be sure to check that your location doesn’t match the one provided by Google Maps.
Try to establish a connection from different servers and go through the steps to see if the problem persists. The most basic task of a VPN is to protect your IP address and if it fails at that then it’s not really worth your time and money.
Advanced IP leak testing
This test will let you know if your VPN fully protects your system.
Go to Whoer.net and wait for the website to fully load before you continue.
The website looks intimidating at first because of all the information it provides but it’s quite easy to use. You will notice that at the top of the web page your IP address will be listed, together with your hostname. Check to make sure your real IP address isn’t the one that is listed. (you can do this by following the steps in our basic IP leak test)
NB: A “yes” under the blacklist section is nothing to worry about. It only means that your IP address is popular with most people and some sites might categorize it as malicious. But the website will work just the same so you don’t sweat over it.
To find out if your device’s IP address is really being spoofed everywhere, then go to the “interactive detection” section. Whoer.net will request the service of any plugins such as Java and Flash Player that are installed on your device and show you the IP address your device is broadcasting.
Check whether the broadcasted IP address matches the one on your VPN and not your real IP address. Additionally, go to the DNS section and confirm that the listed IP matches the one provided by your VPN provider.
NB: If you don’t have the respective plugins installed it will show “N/A”.
Go over to the “location” section and check whether the listed location matches your real location. Under no circumstances should this match your true location.
When you navigate to the “time” section it will show you the time according to your system. An actively running VPN will spoof and secure your internet connection but it isn’t allowed to change the time on your system.
Which means even if you’re using a server in Netherlands, the time displayed will be that of your true location according to your time settings. This can provide you with additional privacy but if you’d like to look like you’re from Netherlands then you will have to change your system’s time to that of Netherlands.
Solution to IP leaks
Unfortunately, there are limitations on what you can do to resolve the IP leak. However, with that said, you can:
Option one: Try to disconnect your VPN connection and reconnect it to another server and go repeat the steps we listed above. If that persists, then…
Option Two: You can try to clear the cache in your browser and…
Option Three: Repeat the test with a different browser.
Option Four: Try and uninstall and then reinstall your VPN desktop client.
Option Five: When all the above fail, contact your VPN customer service and have them sort it out.
Option Six: When all else fails then you should consider getting a different VPN service provider that has VPN leak protection.
However, having said that, you should know that an IP leak isn’t the only leakage by a VPN. Next, we are going to check for a DNS leakage.
Standard checks for testing DNS leaks
What is a DNS leak?
DNS is an acronym for Domain Name Service. It is used to change or translate machine-readable IP addresses into domain names and domain names into numerical IP addresses.
This is quite useful otherwise, we would have to type in a lengthy number to access Google.com and no one wants to do that. Domain names are easier to remember than a bunch of numbers.
It works undetected in your browser’s background and points your IP address to that of the website you want to visit. For instance, when you visit YouTube.com, your operating systems gets the IP address from the Domain Name Server. You should note that your browser doesn’t play a part in this.
Consequently, when your internet-enabled device uses your ISP provided DNS instead of the DNS server provided by your VPN provider, a DNS leakage could occur. This represents a high risk of exposing your true IP address.
Simply put, this happens when your browser ignores the settings of your VPN and sends DNS requests to your ISP directly.
This usually happens when your VPN chooses to adopt the default DNS on your device. Which means that every data exchange, websites you visit or queries that you sent via the DNS could possibly be read and logged by your ISP.
However, DNS leaks only provide information on the domain name of the website you visited. In heavily censored countries, this means you could possibly be identified. Additionally, your government could set up a DNS block which will censor content at a DNS level.
Testing for DNS leaks
There are a lot of methods and different website to check for DNS leakages. We will start with:
Method One: DNSLeakTest.com
Head over to DNSLeakTest.com and make sure the IP address detected doesn’t match yours. Should the website take long to load the results, then open the link while in incognito mode or in a separate private browser tab.
While on the website, click on the “Extended Test” button and have it run to completion. Be patient as this could take a few minutes depending on the setup you have.
Check whether the listed IP address and Hostname match yours—they shouldn’t match yours, it’s okay if they differ from the one provided by your VPN provider but they shouldn’t be an exact match to your ISP. You can either look up the IP address in a search engine like Google or look at the hostname.
Method Two: TorGuard.net
Visit TorGuard.net. If any ISP information and location provided in the results page is an exact match to your real one, then you have a DNS leak.
Method Three: Hidester.com
Visit Hidester.com and click on the test button. It’s a large orange button smack in the top middle part of the page. You can’t miss it. Again, if the results are similar to your real information then you have a DNS leak.
Method Four: IPLeak.net
Visit IPLeak.net and go to the “DNS addresses” section. And if you can see your actual true details, then you have a DNS leak.
Should either of the test results show your true DNS server from your ISP then you have a DNS leak. But just to be sure check whether you VPN is enabled and actively running.
Solution: How to fix my DNS leakage
Option One: You can manually edit the DNS on your system to either OpenDNS or Google’s free DNS or something similar.
Option Two: Go for a VPN service provider that has a dedicated DNS. Some of them include encrypted DNS leak protection in their packages.
Standards checks for torrenting and torrent VPNs
We all love downloading torrents, well, most of us do. But how safe are you when downloading or sharing a torrent? A good torrent VPN will effectively hide or spoof your true IP address from everyone, similar to what a VPN does.
However, even if you are told it works you shouldn’t assume it does so. You should always check and confirm for yourself whether or not it works. The process of checking whether you’re secure when transmitting a torrent is a tad bit complicated but definitely worth it.
Using run of the mill IP checkers won’t do you any good since they’ll give you a false sense of security and anonymity which is contrary to the truth. Most VPNs give you some level anonymity and privacy when browsing the web but this doesn’t apply when you’re transmitting torrents.
There a couple of ways of finding out your torrent client’s IP address. To start off, we have:
Method One: Using TorGuard
Visit TorGuard and then go on ahead to their Torrent IP check page. Alternatively, you can visit any TorGuard page and under TorGuard links click on “Check my Torrent IP”—it’s at the bottom of the page.
Proceed to download this torrent. You have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t have any seeders and it won’t download or complete at all.
Be sure to keep it active in your torrent client queue so you can be able to see your torrent client’s IP address. You want it to keep downloading so that TorGuard’s CheckMyTorrentIP can routinely check the IP address being transmitted by your torrent client.
Go ahead and open the torrent in your torrent app, similar to how you do it with any other torrent. Then proceed to begin downloading the torrent. Again, you have nothing to worry about, it’ just a small PNG image file.
In your torrent client window, go to your queue of torrents, select the CheckMyTorrentIP torrent. Once you’ve done that, proceed to check the tracker. For Utorrent, it will be under the torrent queue section. Under the “status” column is where you will find your IP address listed.
The IP address listed shouldn’t be your real IP address but instead, the one assigned to your device by your VPN provider. Obviously, if it is your real IP address then that would mean something is wrong with your VPN.
Just to be sure, check whether your VPN is actively running and properly enabled. However, if it shows the masked IP address from your VPN provider then everything is working okay.
PS: You should leave the CheckMyTorrentIP torrent active in your torrent client so you will always be able to see your IP address in the tracker.
Pro tip: Additionally, you could use the ads displayed in your torrent clients as a way to gauge whether your torrent VPN is actually functioning. This is by looking at the ads displayed in your torrent client. If they are foreign and from the country of your chosen VPN server then everything is running smoothly.
Method Two: Using IPLeak
Start off by going to IPLeak.net
Once the page loads, proceed to go to “Torrent Address Detection” section. It’s the fourth row from the top right under DNS addresses and above Geolocation detection. Then click on the “Activate” button to get started.
You will be prompted to download a torrent and once you’re done downloading it proceed to add it to your torrent client’s queue and start the download. After you’ve opened it in your torrent client, go back to IPLeak.net and check what IP address your torrent client is broadcasting.
And remember: if your torrent VPN is working properly the IP address listed shouldn’t match your real IP address.
Method Three: Using ipMagnet
Go to ipMagnet.
Once the page has loaded you will be prompted to download a torrent. You will see a “Magnet Link” in the first section which links to the torrent download. Add it to your torrent client and begin the download.
Head back to your ipMagnet page and check the details displayed. Your IP address will be listed on the page and obviously, it shouldn’t be your real IP address if your torrent VPN is worth its salt. If it is, then something went wrong.
Testing your VPN connection by looking at your established ports
If you’re a bit tech-savvy and know your way around ports, then you can check your VPN connection using a port monitoring utility. This will ascertain whether or not your data exchange is being routed through your torrent VPN.
A port monitoring utility tool like CurrPorts will enable you to monitor all the connections established by your device or computer and lets you see the programs that have opened ports and displays both the local and remote IP addresses of each established link. Additionally, it also allows you to end or close the running applications.
Get your free copy of CurrPorts and proceed to install and launch it.
Once the setup is complete and you’ve launched the program, go to the “Remote Address” column where your actively running applications will be listed. If the listed IP address is the one from your VPN provider, then everything is running perfectly. If not, then there is a problem with your VPN.
Standard checks for testing WebRtc
What is WebRtc?
For you to understand what WebRtc you will first need to know how VPNs works and we have an excellent VPN beginner’s guide for that. WebRtc stands for Web Real Time Communication. This feature is usually built into browsers and allows internet browsers to request real-time information from desktop clients and resources from backend servers.
If you’ve ever wonder how you video chat, transfer files, use online text messenger and even share items from your desktop without plugins, then this is the magic behind it all. However, with all the good it does it has a major security vulnerability.
This handy little feature could expose your real IP address whether you’re using a VPN connection or not. So far no one is exploiting this flaw, that we know off, but there are streaming services that are looking to adopt it to block those of us who use VPNs to access restricted content. Good examples include Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, etc.
With that said, the flaw is browser-based as of now, which means it affects applications—with WebRtc, that can view web pages. This means that with just a few lines of code, the location protection you receive from your VPN service provide will be nullified.
Simply put, anyone will be able to find our who you are, where you are, who your ISP provider is and trace your physical location using the listed address from your ISP. When I say anyone, I mean the government, advertisers, data brokers, hackers and the list goes on.
Additionally, streaming services which were available to you through geo-spoofing may no longer be available. Yikes!
Test your VPN connection for WebRtc
Begin by disabling your VPN program so we can find out what your real IP address. Once you’ve done that go to WhatIsMyIPAddress and take note of your real IP address.
Reestablish your VPN connection and select a server but make sure it is actively running and enabled. Check WhatIsMyIPAddress to verify that it works—the IP address listed should match the one provide by your VPN provider and not your real IP address.
Now proceed to go to Reseller’s WebRtc testing page. You will find a list of your local IP, public IP, and IPv6 addresses.
Both of the tools shouldn’t show your real IP address and if they are then your browser might be broadcasting your IP address to everyone.
Most browsers like Opera, Chrome, and Firefox are WebRTC enabled with the exception of Internet Explorer/Edge and Safari. However, WebRTC is built into those two browsers, so you can choose to activate it any time. Here is how you can protect yourself:
Option One: Switch to a browser that has WebRTC disabled like Internet Explorer or Safari but if you love your browser so much then go to the next option.
Option Two: For Chrome browser, add the Script Safe extension.
Option Three: Script Safe is also available for Opera but it’s a bit of a tedious process. However, it’s not too complicated and here is a guide to installing chrome extensions in Opera.
Option Four: For Mozilla Firefox, install the Disable WebRTC add-on and everything should be fine.
Option Five: This involves directly disabling WebRTC in your Firefox browser. To do this, open a new tab, type “about:config” in the URL bar. Look for the “media.peerconnection.enabled” setting and set it to false.
Option Six: This will likely be overkill but it works all the same. Install the NoScript Firefox add-on and you’re good to go.
Bonus: VPN connection dropouts KILL SWITCH
This isn’t quite a test but something to look out for regarding your VPN connection. A kill switch helps prevent the leakage of your IP address in the event your VPN connection accidentally drops. It works like a circuit breaker except in this case instead of current it’s your internet connection.
When your internet connection isn’t secure it will automatically block the connection until a secure connection is reestablished. Most reliable VPN providers include a kill switch in their VPN packages. Since your device will automatically connect to your ISP in the event of a connection drop, your IP address could be leaked.
This means any website you visit or torrent you’re transmitting could ultimately be logged and traced back to you using the records from your ISP. Kill Switch is a handy tool that you should always consider before subscribing to a VPN service provider.
Check VPN Connection: Conclusion
There you have it, folks. A comprehensively detailed guide to test and check your VPN connection. Most VPN providers have customer satisfaction guarantees but you should only take them at face value. Performing routine tests on your VPN connection will give you peace of mind and confidence in your VPN provider and the service itself.