VPNs are a very simple way to improve your online security, but how do you check if the VPN you're using is actually working? Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your VPN is doing its job correctly.
Why might your VPN not be working?
IP Leak - One of the purposes of having a VPN is to protect your IP address. If your original IP is revealed to snoopers this defeats the purpose of having it in the first place.
DNS Leak - Network World defines DNS system as simply a "directory of names that match with numbers". In some cases your DNS address could reveal your location if not properly protected. Anyone on your traffic would have access to this information and the websites that you visit.
How to check for IP leaks
You need to find out your original IP address given by your ISP and make a note of it on this website.
Turn on your VPN and go back to a test website. It should now show a different IP address and the country you connected your VPN to.
If the results show your original IP address, then, unfortunately, your VPN is leaking.
How to check for DNS leaks
Since sometimes IP tests fail to detect DNS leaks, it’s recommended to check it on DNSLeakTest.
If your VPN is on, DNSLeakTest should show the location you’ve chosen and your new IP.
Select Extended Test to dig even deeper. This test might take a few minutes.
If the results now show your new IP address and your chosen country, you are safe. If not, your VPN is leaking.
Still not working?
If you've checked for both tests and your VPN is still not working, there could still be some reasons for this cause.
Your ISP or your country is blocking VPN usage. In some countries, especially with online censorship, VPN usage can be blocked or considered illegal.
Your VPN connection has dropped. Most VPNs offer an automatic kill switch, which means that if your VPN connection drops, it will terminate your internet connection.
VPN malware. Technology experts would never recommend using a free VPN, which might include malware. If you are using a free VPN, you might already be exposing more personal information than you wanted to.