How to check if your VPN is working (and what to do if your VPN won’t connect)

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Through a Trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a great way to help protect your privacy online and hide your activities from companies that are collecting data about you across multiple websites.

However, as with all forms of software, sometimes signing up for a new VPN service or moving to a new PC can cause problems and errors with your VPN.

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If you’re not sure if a VPN is working properly or are experiencing connection errors, here are some tips on how to test and restart your VPN — and keep your connection secure .

How do I check if my VPN is working?

Before you do anything else while troubleshooting, you should always make sure that you have the latest VPN version available.

When the VPN is working properly, it will mask your IP address and create an encrypted tunnel to protect your data.

Now turn off your VPN and look up your IP address, which only requires typing “What’s my IP address” into Google. Your Internet Protocol (IP) address is your device identifier on the network, assigned by you Internet service provider (Internet service provider).

Also: What is an IP address and how can you change it with a VPN?

You can use Google search here to find your IP address. Also, use a privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo.

If you want more information, such as a rough geographic location, area code or server name, you can also use NordVPN’s Free IP lookup service.

Now that you know your real IP address, turn on your VPN. If your VPN is active (or at least able to disguise your IP address), you should see a different IP address appear.

For example, I live in London and my favorite VPN providers are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. As you can see below, my IP address and location are set to US when my VPN is active.

Also: What is VPN split tunneling and should I use it?

If you get the same IP address when you turn your VPN on or off, your VPN isn’t working correctly and isn’t disguising your location.

IP address lookup screen showing a location in New Jersey

Screenshot of ZDNET

IP address leaks: What you need to know

Test showing some lines of IP addresses with locations in New Jersey

DNS leak test successful, showing only servers connected to my VPN service.

Screenshot of ZDNET

Even if you use a VPN, your IP address can be leaked, whether the connection is based or not. IPv4 or IPv6. Let’s say a VPN service doesn’t provide enough encryption or has a programming problem. In that case, DNS queries sent outside of a typical VPN tunnel may reveal your real IP address instead of the IP assigned to your device by the VPN provider.

Also: Cybersecurity 101: Protect your privacy

It’s also possible that your IP address was accidentally leaked through WebRTC protocol, widely used by technology companies to facilitate real-time communication services. However, reliable VPN service with strong security in place should not allow WebRTC leaks.

  • To check for exposed IP addresses, go to DNS leak test and run standard or extended tests. If your real IP is exposed, then your VPN is not working as it should and your private data may be leaked.
  • You can also use WebRTC . tool available on the ExpressVPN domain.

If a leak occurs, it’s best to change your VPN provider.

What to do if your VPN refuses to connect

ExpressVPN protocol set to Automatic

Screenshot of ZDNET

If you know your VPN is up to date but are having connection problems, there are a few steps you can try. Many VPN providers will display a green light icon or similar when VPN connection is active and red when there is a problem with the connection.

  • Some VPNs intentionally blocking internet traffic if they can’t connect or have problems with your internet connection. This is known as a kill switch, which prevents your device from returning to a possibly insecure and unencrypted connection if the VPN tunneling fails. If you’re having trouble turning your VPN on or off, reset your router or cellular connection.
  • You should check your account details. If your login information incorrect, you will be denied access to the VPN service. Also, if you’re a subscriber and haven’t paid your bill, you may be locked out of your account.
  • As speed. If your internet connection is throttling or having line issues, this can cause performance issues leading to VPN failure. You can test your internet speed with these internet speed test.
  • Is your VPN running? blocked? Some countries, governments, and state-owned ISPs may prevent you from using VPNs altogether and block the use of common providers at the service level.
  • If you have an independent firewalldisable it to check if the software has accidentally blocked your VPN.
  • try converting between protocols. For example, as shown above, ExpressVPN will automatically choose the best option for you — but you can also switch between UDP and TCP.
  • You can also check if there are service interruption online has been reported by other users.

Your VPN is connecting but won’t show websites

Sometimes — and I found this with ExpressVPN — the connection is successful but I still can’t access the website. Usually the problem stems from the VPN location I have chosen. For example, a server location in Texas suddenly doesn’t show web pages, but a location in Germany does.

Usually, these problems are temporary and beyond your control to fix (e.g. the server might go offline) — so try changing the location and see if this resolves it. incident no.

ExpressVPN locations in different countries

Screenshot of ZDNET

FAQ about VPN

Why should I use a VPN?

VPN masks your IP address and more. They also encrypt traffic, secure the communication channels we use every day, and make you less likely to be tracked by marketers and other third parties — or have an impact. Threats to eavesdrop on your activities.

You should always use a VPN, such as when you connect to a Public Wi-Fi hotspotas they are open by design and can pose a security threat to your data and devices.

Also: Why you need a VPN

For many people, a VPN is a way to improve personal security. However, VPN users can also connect to avoid censorship and website blocking, or to access geo-locked content — such as a news store or a visitor-only library of entertainment. specific countries.

Can you be tracked with a VPN?

Trusted VPN providers will do their best to keep data collection logs to a minimum and security standards high to prevent surveillance. However, no VPN is completely secure, and there may be other ways that your use of a VPN could expose you to law enforcement (at least in countries where the VPN is banned). prohibit).

It is possible that some countries may work at the ISP level to detect who is likely to use the VPN, and some VPN services may collect more information than necessary about you, to then pass on to third parties. father.

Also: Best VPN for torrenting

Using VPNs is legal in most countries, but this does not mean that you are free to perform illegal activities through them. Even if your VPN traffic is encrypted, if you’re doing illegal work, there are other ways for you to be tracked.

What are the disadvantages of a VPN?

There are some downsides to using a VPN. The first is cost — many VPN providers will only unlock the full features and benefits of the software to users who sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription.

Furthermore, a VPN can increase data consumption and slow down your connection.

Also: Why is my internet so slow? 11 ways to speed up your connection

You should also check if using a VPN is legal in your country, as you could run the risk of being fined or even prosecuted in areas where they are illegal. Based on NordVPN, countries that have banned the use of virtual private networks include North Korea, Iran, and Belarus. Several other countries, including China, do not approve of the use of VPNs and are trying to limit their use.

Do I need to pay for a VPN?

You don’t have to pay for a VPN; however, it is generally recommended that you do so.

Companies need to generate income to operate, and VPN providers are no exception. The typical difference between paid and free VPN options is what data is collected on users. Some VPN providers will track your information and collect data for advertising purposes and research in the past suggests that free VPNs are more likely to do so.

Also: Best Free VPN (You Get What You Pay)

This is not to say that every free option will collect logs or other data. For example, some VPN providers will have a free option that is limited in terms of speed or number of countries offered, with paid subscribers enjoying the full benefits.


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