How to check if my VPN is working

Julie Cole
Julie Cole | Contributing Writer
Last updated: August 17, 2021
VPN tutorial - How to check if my VPN is working

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If you’re one of the VPN users asking “how to check if my VPN is working?” or “how can I test my Virtual Private Network?” we’re here for you. It is reasonable to be concerned whether it’s working or not. Even with the best VPN providers, there is always a potential for an IP leak to develop while on a VPN connection.

You can do several things to help you check and see that your Virtual Private Network is actually running right and protecting your data. For web browsing, the basic tests may be all that you need.

However, for P2P file-sharing, you will want to use a more advanced DNS leak test to make certain that your VPN is working accurately and keeping you safe from online fraudsters. You also need to take a cautious look at how your VPN is organized and managed so that you can secure a proper VPN connection.

Check if your VPN is working + Fix VPN problem ✅
2021-07-12

How to check if your VPN is working

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to easily check whether the VPN is working or not. In essence, it’s about showing or hiding your IP address.

  1. If you don’t know your real IP address, turn off the VPN and go to whatismyip.com.
  2. Now turn it on and revisit the same website.
  3. If you see a different IP address, it means that your VPN is working.
  4. You should also check your VPN for DNS leaks at dnsleaktest.com.
  5. If your real IP appears, it means that the VPN is leaking.

If your VPN turns out to be leaking or not working at all, we highly recommend switching to a reliable and leak-free service, i.e., NordVPN.

Get NordVPN

Test your VPN for leaks

Nowadays, there are more than a few websites that offer leak testing for VPNs. If you suspect that your VPN is leaking, you should run these three popular tests to find out.

  • IP address leak test. This one is the most important. After all, if your VPN leaks your IP, it beats the purpose of using it. If you continue to do so, your location, P2P activities, and visited websites will be visible to third parties and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Quite often, these leaks are caused by the IPv4 and IPv6 conflict.
  • DNS leak test. Sometimes a VPN manages to hide your real IP, but the DNS fails to protect your location, becoming visible to the ISP. Also, if someone’s snooping on your traffic, he can also see that information.
  • Torrenting test. Many users get a VPN or proxy for torrenting safely. This test asks you to download a P2P file and shows which IP your ISP sees.
  • WebRTC leak test. Used in most browsers to handle audio and video communication, WebRTC is also a vulnerability if you’re using a VPN. One day, you might wander upon a website that will take advantage of this issue and see your real IP address. This way, your VPN also won’t be able to avoid geo-blocking.

Testing your VPN for leaks is important not only for security and privacy. If your ISP sees that you’re using a lot of traffic by streaming in high-quality or torrenting large files, it might throttle your speed.

How to run a VPN test for IP leak

NordVPN is one of the few providers that are leak-free. But if you’re using another service and want to know how to check if your VPN is working, do a routine IP address and location test.

  1. With VPN turned off, visit an IP check website or simply type ‘what is my IP’ in Google to see your IP address.
  2. Connect to a VPN and go to the same site to check your IP.
  3. If you see the same IP address, it means that your VPN is not working.

The new IP address issued by your Virtual Private Network provider should match with the country’s server you chose in your VPN app.

You can perform this IP test at any given time to see if your regular IP or your VPN IP is active. But are there other ways how to check if my VPN is working? And the answer is: yes, of course.

Doing the extended IP leak VPN test

An extended IP test is a more detailed analysis for a VPN detection leak and the browser. Different websites such as ipleak.net or whoer.net carry out this test. It checks your Flash, Java, and DNS to ensure they are not leaking your IP or DNS.

The extended IP test searches all the sources within your browser and displays the IP detected. This makes certain that no other IP address is detected or only the Virtual Private Network IP address appears. If the VPN IP address doesn’t show up, there is a leak, and your VPN is not working.

There’s a way to avoid all the hassle by choosing a leak-free VPN service with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get NordVPN

How to do a VPN test for DNS leak

The DNS leak test is the most common and important of all unless you’re using a leak-free VPN like NordVPN. It takes some time since it tests a VPN server, and sometimes your computer may freeze. To run it:

  1. Go to dnsleaktest.com and start testing.
  2. If you see the VPN IP address and corresponding location, it means there’s no DNS leak.
  3. Additionally, you may select Extended test for a more thorough check.
  4. After the test, check your DNS hostname and IP.
  5. Finally, ensure that DNS is not your personal and not related to your ISP. If it is, you are not properly protected by your VPN.

How to run a VPN test for torrent leaks

If you’re a BitTorrent Proxy user, you should upgrade to NordVPN to avoid legal problems. If you’re still not ready, this test asks you to download a torrent file with a P2P client. After that, it shows the IP address that your ISP sees. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Run your torrent client and a proxy.
  2. Visit checkmyip.torrentprivacy.com
  3. Download the test torrent file.
  4. Check the IP that appears on the website.
  5. If you see your real IP, it means that your ISP can see it too.

check my ip

You can tell that you are secure if your VPN or proxy address is shown and not the IP address provided by your ISP. Your VPN-based information should be the only points that are listed on the site.

What to do if you experience IP or DNS leaks

In this case, there are basically two options. You can either disable IPv6 on your device or get another VPN with leak protection.

To disable IPv6 on Windows:

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center by clicking the right mouse button on the network icon on your desktop.
  2. On the right, choose Change Adapter Settings.
  3. Next, choose the network adapter and right-click for Properties.
  4. Uncheck the box that says Internet Protocol Version (TCP/IPv6).
  5. Press OK.

In case you decide to get a better VPN provider, take some time to look at our best VPN services in 2021. All of them have leak protection and more important security and privacy features.

How to do a VPN test for WebRTC leak

WebRTC is a protocol that lets your web browser control peripherals like a webcam. But cybercriminals can also use it maliciously to trick your browser into exposing your non-VPN IP address. Most reliable providers, such as NordVPN, have no WebRTC leaks at all.

To test your VPN for WebRTC leaks:

  1. Visit the WebRTC test page and note the IP displayed under “Public IP address.”
  2. If it’s not your VPN IP address, then your VPN is not working properly.
  3. If you see your real IP under “Private IP address,” you shouldn’t worry.

What to do if you have a leaking WebRTC

In this case, editing settings or getting a new VPN won’t do any good. You may want to try some of these options:

  1. Disable WebRTC. You can learn how to do it on Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers in our article dedicated to leaking issues.
  2. Use a browser without WebRTC. One good example is the Tor browser, but there are more, such as Opera Mini, UC browser for Android, and older versions of popular browsers.
  3. Get a browser add-on. Chrome has WebRTC Network Limiter, Firefox offers Disable WebRTC, and there are more solutions for other browsers.

However, don’t forget that WebRTC is required for real-time communication and file transferring in some cases. Therefore, our recommendation is a solid leak-free VPN service, i.e., NordVPN.

Get NordVPN

Top 3 leak-free VPN providers

Most VPNs offer IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection, but that doesn’t mean they can handle the issue effectively. That’s why we present you with the Top 3 leak-free VPN services with the best protection for your IP, location, and other personal data.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is our top provider that offers excellent security and privacy. Having no leaks is one of the key reasons why we ranked this service so high. It’s also the fastest one and can help avoid ISP throttling, a common practice against streaming and torrenting.

Split tunneling and SOCKS5 proxy will allow you to choose which apps will use encrypted traffic and which ones will circumvent the VPN connection. Moreover, NordVPN is great for Netflix and other streaming platforms. Finally, all plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get NordVPN

2. Surfshark

Surfshark is another great option if you’re tired from DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks. It has a strict no-logs policy, meaning that whatever you do online, neither the ISP nor any third parties will be able to snoop on it. Furthermore, ISP bandwidth throttling will become a thing of the past.

One of the greatest Surfshark’s features is unlimited simultaneous connections. This means you can use the same account on all devices and even share it with your family or friends. In this case, the already low Surfshark VPN prices become even lower.

Get Surfshark

3. PrivateVPN

This is a reliable provider for everyone who wants a leak-free VPN connection. At the same time, PrivateVPN is very cheap and allows six simultaneous connections. It also has its own private DNS, which is great for avoiding DNS leaks.

PrivateVPN is great for Netflix and P2P activities. There’s a SOCKS5 proxy for separating VPN and original traffic plus port forwarding if you need to seed before downloading torrents. In addition to the 30-day money-back guarantee, you also get a 7-day free trial.

Get PrivateVPN

What should you do if your VPN is not working?

If your VPN is not working, you will always get an IP leak. So what should you do?

  • Report to your provider immediately.
  • Close the VPN application and reconnect.
  • Opt for a VPN service with a flash or Java test to look at how well the Flash plugin or Java is being used. You should monitor this based on how a connection is established and whether there are problems relating to the Virtual Private Network.
  • Look at the ports used for a P2P connection. Check if they are correctly aligned to get a clear idea of how your setup is being run.
  • Check at how well your VPN is being connected. You must get it tested to ensure there are no problems involved where your IP might leak.

In an ideal case, “how to check if my VPN is working?” is not a question any longer. But please feel free to leave your comment below if we can help with any related questions you may have.

FAQ

How do I know if my VPN is working?

The best way to find out is to check your IP address online. If you see your original IP, it means that the VPN isn’t working. In such a case, we recommend running DNS and WebRTC leak tests as well to get the whole picture.

Can a VPN be detected?

A VPN can be detected. As a matter of fact, your ISP will know when you’re using a VPN. However, it won’t be able to tell what you’re doing online because of the encrypted traffic. Therefore, this is also a good way to avoid ISP bandwidth throttling.

How do I turn on my VPN?

Turning on your VPN is easy. All you have to do is launch the app and connect to your chosen server. If you want to know whether your VPN is really working, simply check your IP address online. If it’s the same that you see on the app, it means you’re safe.

However, be aware that some less reputable VPN providers might be leaking your IP or DNS. You can learn how to check for leaks above, but we recommend getting a reliable, leak-free VPN, such as NordVPN, instead.

Should you use a VPN at home?

Many people use corporate VPNs at work but are hesitant about having one at home. We believe that you definitely should use a leak-free VPN at home. It will help you hide your personal information from cybercriminals by encrypting all traffic.

At the same time, your real IP will be protected as well. What’s more, some ISPs like to throttle your bandwidth, especially if you’re watching a movie or downloading something big. Finally, when your VPN encrypts the traffic, there’s no way for anyone to tell what exactly you are doing online.

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

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9 comments
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  1. Duncan Riordan

    Hello,
    I use Express VPN. Sometimes when I run a DNS test I get a failed test because Avast sro are on the test. I us AVG as my anti virus package, bought out by Avast. No problems on my phone just the computer. I would appreciate some help


    1. Benjamin Jordan

      Hey Duncan,

      I bumped into the same issue.
      There were DNS leaks whenever I ran DNS leak test.

      I found out it was because the “Real Site” feature in Avast Premium Security was turned on.
      As the “Real Site” feature redirects your traffic to one of Avast’s servers to check whether the website you’re visiting is safe.

      I turned this feature off and it has been all good since.
      No more DNS leaks from various DNS leak test websites (expressvpn.com, ipleak.net, dnsleaktest.com).
      And Avast still protects my PC by blocking websites that contain malicious coding.


    2. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hey Duncan, thanks for stopping by. I would suggest turning off your antivirus while you’re doing a DNS leak test. If you’re doing plenty of those and it’s a nuisance to turn the VPN on and off every time, consider contacting ExpressVPN and/or Avast support. Maybe it’s a known issue that can be solved easily.


  2. Zeke Krahlin

    Your “Download test torrent file” link doesn’t work. 🙁


    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hi, Zeke, thanks for stopping by! I’ve checked all the links and they seem to be fine. That was probably some temporary issue. I hope it works for you now as well.


  3. 7889Savannah.May

    There are little things we neglect while using VPN or perhaps we simply do not know. Like checking the working status of our VPN. A basic test to ensure our web activities are protected may be all we need


  4. Kamron Cash

    I discovered some strange pop-up on my screen and the question on my mind in recent times is “how do I check if my VPN is working”? Now, you’ve been able to put that mind disturbing question to rest. Thank you so much


  5. Sammie Yung

    What if one gets a WebRTC Control that helps to disable | enable your real IP will that helps protect against the leaking your real IP when using A VPN?


  6. BarneyH

    I didn’t know there were so many tools to check if a VPN is working or not. It’s not a bad thing though, knowing if your VPN works is really important! Thanks a lot for the guide.

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