After finally signing up for a virtual private network (VPN), I was really excited to browse more securely and access blocked content. But soon doubts started creeping in – how can I be sure my VPN is actually working properly and keeping my data private?
As a first-time VPN user, I wanted quick and easy ways to verify my VPN connection is active and catch any potential problems. Below I’ll share the simple methods and tools I discovered to check on my VPN status.
Read on to learn the top techniques to monitor your own VPN and troubleshoot any issues!
Check Your New IP Address
When you first connect to your VPN, the most basic check is to confirm your IP address has changed. Without a VPN, your public IP gives away details like your internet service provider (ISP) and location.
Activating a VPN assigns you a new virtual IP address from the VPN server’s region. Here’s how to check:
- Search “what is my IP address” in your browser or use a site like ipleak.net.
- The IP shown should match your VPN’s server location, not your actual public IP.
- Alternatively, log into your VPN account dashboard – it typically displays your current VPN IP address.
If your IP address remains unchanged, your traffic is not being routed through the VPN. Time to troubleshoot your connection.
Websites Should Reflect Your VPN Location
In addition to your IP altering, your virtual location should also update across the web:
- Websites like Google Maps and various “What is my location” tools should display the city of your VPN server, not where you actually are.
- Run a geolocation test and verify it matches the location of the VPN server you’re connected through.
- If your true location still appears, the VPN isn’t properly masking your traffic and data.
If your IP address and location are still public, activating your VPN is useless. These tests guarantee that everything is appropriately hidden. While VPNs are a useful tool for protecting your online privacy, it’s crucial to pick a reliable provider.
Avoid using free VPN no sign up options, as they often lack the security and anonymity features provided by paid, trusted VPN providers.
Traffic Should Pass the VPN Leak Test
VPN leaks allow data to bypass the VPN tunnel and expose your true IP address. To check for leaks:
- Use the leak testing tools at DoILEak.com or IPLeak.net.
- They will scan for leaks across IPv4, IPv6, WebRTC, and other protocols.
- Make sure no leaks are detected and all traffic is flowing through your VPN’s IP address.
- If leaks occur, you’ll need to reconfigure your VPN app or router settings to close those privacy gaps.
VPN leaks are more common than you might think, so scan regularly to ensure you have no vulnerabilities in your connection.
Disable VPN and Check Connection Differences
A helpful test is to compare network details with your VPN both enabled and disabled:
- First check your public IP and note the results when connected to your VPN.
- Now turn off or disconnect from the VPN app.
- Check your IP again – it should revert to your true public address.
- Run a speed test and note the results with your VPN on versus off. Speeds should be slower when the VPN is active.
- Compare browser geolocation results on versus off your VPN as well.
If everything remains identical in both tests, your VPN is likely not engaging properly. The before and after snapshots should show clear changes. Ensuring that your VPN is working as expected is essential for maintaining your online privacy and security.
Even if you are facing problems with apps with restricted access. For example, if MxPlayer, Capcut or TextNow is unavailable in your country, then you might try switching your IP address by using a good VPN.
Connecting a VPN allows you to access any blocked apps like MxPlayer, Capcut, TextNow, and more, making them easily available to you, wherever you are.
In simple terms VPN bypass such restrictions and access the services you need.
Inspect Your VPN App’s Connection Status
Most VPN services display an icon in your system tray or menu bar indicating the connection status. Here’s what to look for:
- A solid icon (lock, shield, etc.) means you’re protected and connected.
- No icon means your VPN is disconnected and not functioning.
- A flashing or empty icon indicates your connection dropped out.
- Hover over the icon for details like your VPN IP address and server location.
- If offline, right-click the icon to manually reconnect your VPN tunnel.
I like having that ever-present visual cue my VPN is guarding my traffic. Don’t ignore the system tray – it contains valuable connection status!
Check Your VPN Account Dashboard
In addition to the desktop app, most VPN providers have an online dashboard for your account. Log in to:
- View your current IP address and connected VPN server.
- Check the total duration of your VPN connection.
- See graphs of your bandwidth usage and connection history.
- Confirm your subscription status is active.
- Review any notifications from the provider about service issues.
If your online dashboard doesn’t reflect an active VPN connection, reach out to customer support for troubleshooting.
Switch VPN Protocols & Servers
If your VPN isn’t behaving as expected, changing key settings can help pinpoint problems:
- First, switch between protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, etc. if available.
- Try connecting to different VPN server locations in case an individual one is glitchy.
- Change encryption levels, ports, and other advanced options.
- See if the issues persist across different configurations.
Tweaking protocols and servers helps determine if the problem is on your end or the provider’s based on what does and doesn’t work.
Troubleshooting Non-Working VPN Connections
If the checks reveal your VPN isn’t working properly, a few basic troubleshooting steps may resolve connection problems:
- Reinstall your VPN apps and drivers if connections are totally non-functional.
- Check for antivirus or firewall conflicts blocking the VPN. Add exceptions if needed.
- Update your VPN apps to eliminate any buggy software.
- Reset your router if using a VPN router configuration.
- Contact customer support if issues persist for help identifying the cause.
Don’t get discouraged if your VPN takes a bit of trial and error. Soon you’ll have it working smoothly and securely!
Will a VPN significantly slow my internet speed?
Yes, expect a 10-30% drop in speed from a VPN due to encryption and traffic routing. Poorly configured VPNs can slow to a crawl. Contact support if speed loss seems excessive.
Should I keep my VPN on all the time?
I recommend activating your VPN whenever browsing the web. But you can turn it off for activities like streaming where speed is crucial and location matters. Use your VPN judiciously rather than always-on.
How often should I check my VPN connection?
Periodically inspect your VPN status indicators and run a leak test to confirm you’re protected. Check immediately if you notice speed or connectivity issues to identify problems.
Is it normal to occasionally lose my VPN connection?
Temporary disconnections are quite common due to network blips, switching Wi-Fi, etc. Your VPN app should automatically reconnect shortly. If it stays disconnected, you likely have a configuration or app issue.
Get Peace of Mind Your VPN Is Locked In
Having doubts about whether your VPN is actually on and shielding your data? I’ve felt the same way as a new VPN user. Following the simple checks I outlined will quickly put your concerns to rest.
Of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider’s support team if you need assistance getting your VPN service humming smoothly. The technical staff can help analyze and perfect your connection.
Soon you’ll have the confidence your browsing is truly protected and anonymous. No need to wonder “Is my VPN working?” – let the IP address checks be your guide! With extra vigilance, your VPN will securely integrate into all your digital activities.