How to Check if Your VPN is Working Properly

Are you truly protected by your VPN and not leaving a trace online? Here are a few ways to check if your VPN is working properly. If you happen to find that your VPN is leaking DNS, IP or WebRTC, then you should definitely consider using one that doesn’t.

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So you’re using a VPN to stay safe and private online. That makes sense because when a VPN works as it should, it masks your IP and creates an encrypted virtual tunnel between your device and the online destination you want to reach. 

But is your VPN really working? Are you truly protected and not leaving a trace online?

While VPNs are so useful, they can sometimes be a bit difficult to configure correctly. If they are not working as they should, you might find yourself exposing more than intended.

Common VPN Leaks

Upon first using your VPN, you need to ensure that your VPN really works and does protect your privacy, giving you that security you want. There are simple ways to do this. But before we dive deeper into that, take note that there are several ways something can go wrong.

Here are some common VPN leaks:

IP Leak

The IP is your device’s address on the internet. If your IP is visible online, it can lead to many bad consequences; just about anyone can track you down. Simply put, if a VPN isn’t hiding your IP, it’s useless. An IP leak is the leaking of your real IP while connected to a VPN service

An IP may leak because of incompatibility between the two major protocols, namely IPv4 (deployed over 30 years ago) and IPv6 (ratified in 2017). IPv6 was created to solve the issue of IP address depletion in IPv4, the protocols are unfortunately not interoperable.

It can also occur in a situation where your computer is unknowingly accessing default servers rather than the anonymous VPN servers assigned by your VPN.  Most VPN providers that are good, have built workarounds in their software to minimize the likelihood of an IP leakage. 

Domain Name System (DNS) Leak

DNS are basically web addresses that you can understand and remember. They are translated into IPs that computers use. If you’re not using a VPN, this is typically handled by the ISP but if you are, this information will be hidden by the VPN. 

When using a VPN and you experience a DNS leak, your DNS requests are sent to an unsafe DNS server. Your true IP is also exposed to this unsafe DNS server. Somehow your VPN server has been bypassed. 

When this happens, this could lead to a DNS hijacking attack where you are purposefully routed to fake websites. This could lead to the possibility of you handing your private information over to criminals. 

Good VPNs often have built-in DNS leak protection where their custom DNS servers are used. They use special technology to ensure that your DNS requests are always routed securely, inside the encrypted VPN tunnel.

WebRTC Leak

Most popular browsers have Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) built in. It is a basic technology that enables peer-to-peer functionalities on your browser without additional plugins or other apps, such as real-time communications applications (voice and video chats). However, this presents a vulnerability for VPN users.

This is because it’s possible to create a program that establishes a WebRTC connection to your browser where your real IP can be obtained via this way. Since this leak originates from the browser, it is possible for those geo blocking websites to find out your real IP even if you’re using a VPN. 

Preventing Data Leaks

Unfortunately, while these leaks are common and easily tested for, there is no way to do it all at once. You need to check and resolve for them individually.

Checking for IP Leaks

  1. First check your real IP (provided by your ISP). 
  2. If you’re using a VPN, turn it off.
  3. Go to your VPN IP test page or what is my IP?; the test will run automatically.
  4. Take note of your real IP.
  5. Turn on your VPN, connect to any server. 
  6. Go to your VPN IP test page or what is my IP?
  7. Check the results.
  8. Compare with your earlier obtained IP (real IP).
  9. If they match, this means your VPN is leaking. 
  10. If they don’t match, rerun this test with different servers to ensure that your VPN is airtight.

Checking for DNS Leaks

  1. First check your DNS.
  2. If you’re using a VPN, turn it off.
  3. Go to your VPN DNS test page or what is my DNS?; the test will run automatically.
  4. Take note of your DNS.
  5. Turn on your VPN, connect to any server.
  6. Go to your VPN DNS test page or what is my DNS? 
  7. Check the results.
  8. Compare with your earlier obtained DNS.
  9. If they match, your VPN is leaking your DNS information.
  10. If they don’t match, rerun this test by connecting to different VPN servers. You want to ensure that your VPN is truly airtight. 

Checking for WebRTC leaks

  1. Launch your VPN.
  2. Connect to any server.
  3. Go to your VPN WebRTC test page; the test will run automatically.
  4. It will show your IP, your IP version (IPv4 or IPv6) and whether you have a leak.
  5. Check to see if the IP address result matches your IP.
  6. If they’re the same, there is a WebRTC leak. 
  7. If they’re not, re-run the test with different VPN servers to be sure.

Conclusion 

If your VPN is susceptible to DNS, IP or WebRTC leaks, you need to take action swiftly and resolve this. The best solution is to switch to a better and more reliable VPN. Choose one that has built-in workarounds to minimize IP leakage.

In general, it’s not easy to choose a truly good, affordable and reliable VPN. But once you have committed to one, you’d want to know if it’s worth its salt. Therefore, it’s a good practice to test yours to see if it’s leaking information about you online. 

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