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VPN test guides often miss out on important details like “reconnection leaks.”
We cover these three tests, which are slightly more advanced. With simple instructions, you’ll be done in no time.
Small details make up all the difference. You could have an amazing VPN for torrenting UK-wide, without issues. Also, for doing online shopping in private, accessing geoblocked content, or even website building in private.
Or, it could put you at risk.
To avoid that, make sure your IP is properly protected.
VPNs Explained in 30 Seconds ⌚
Let’s run you through the basics very quickly.
The central task of a VPN provider is to keep its client’s information secure. Question is, How can you tell if your VPN’s working correctly? Think like a gardener. 🌻
The most important thing is that your VPN should let you access information online with some protection.
You will need decent speeds - to avoid the dreaded buffering logo when binge-watching your favorite Netflix series.
Run through the steps listed in the guide, when you first set up your VPN.
This will remove the chance of data leaks erroneously slipping out and revealing your computer’s identity even when connected.
This “How-To” guide will take you through the various systems you can use to authenticate your VPN connection against the most common sorts of leaks. These won’t take long.
After carrying them out, you can rest peacefully, knowing your VPN is actually shielding you from prying eyes. 🙄. We’ll also cover speed-testing your VPN.
VPN Leak Test #1 – Testing For A DNS Leak
Cover Your Domain Name 📛
DNS stands for Domain Name System. Think of this as an organizing system wherein IP addresses are given names, so that websites are easily found.
If you were to actually type in the IP address of a website you wanted to visit, you would have to remember upwards of nine digits… Brings us back to good old MS-DOS days.
By default, your internet service provider (ISP) handles the translation of domain names to the matching IP address. By using a VPN, you hide your actual IP address, so that the ISP only has access to that of the website; preventing your location from being tracked.
A DNS leak describes what happens when a translation request leaks out of the tunneling protocol of your VPN. In other words, the IP address of your internet service provider becomes visible to outside eyes.
This goes for hackers and cybercriminals… A DNS leak is the equivalent of sailing on a ship with a giant hole in its hull. It defeats the purpose and makes it unsafe to use your awesome VPN, so you can torrent without UK surveillance agents watching you.
Revealing your ISP’s not so bad, right? Unfortunately, once your IP address can be determined, so can your location. Some quick finagling brings up your street name, address-lines, and other details connected to that information - such as your name.
Related: Best Domain Registrars
The DNS Leak Test
Best not give any such data out. To test whether there is a DNS leak, log into your VPN, choosing a server outside of your country.
From there, look for DNS test tools, such as DNSLeakTest.com. You should not be able to see your actual IP address… If this tool brings up details that correspond to the location of your ISP, i.e. your country, you can be sure that your DNS is leaking. Simple.
While a DNS leak doesn't directly reveal your specific IP address - only your ISP's - competent spies can triangulate your specific location and IP address. To protect against this, ensure your VPN has an encrypted DNS system.
VPN Leak Test #2 – Testing For An IP Address Leak
Protect Your Connection 🔰
It's an understatement to say not all VPNs provide a stellar performance. Figures by CSIRO Australia - who studied free Android VPNs - found that 84% were leaking.
The second form of data-leak checking is to directly test your IP address for any leakages. Have a look around Google for IP checker tools.
It’s critical that you run this test both when your connection is running successfully as well as when your connection is reconnecting. VPNs that leak tend to do so when in the reconnection phase, immediately after a previous connection is lost.
We highly recommend using a VPN with an automatic Kill Switch script. Sounds worse than it is. When the option is on, it blocks incoming traffic when a connection drops, reducing the risk of data leaks.
VPN Leak Test 🧐
It's a bit tricky to test your VPN during the reconnection phase, so here is a quick guide on how to do so:
- ☑️ Select an IP-test tool such as IPLeak.net. Load up tabs in your browser. Note your actual IP address ( VPN off)
- ☑️ Run your VPN. Then cut the internet, while remaining connected to your VPN
- ☑️ Once you’ve confirmed your internet is no longer running, restart the internet and initiate the IP test
- ☑️ Results. Now that the sweaty part is over with - Let’s have a look at what the results say
- ☑️ No IP? If you can see your actual IP address in any of the tabs, then you have a data leak
Top Tip 🌟
If you are getting an IP address leak, find a different and more secure VPN. Manual ways of going about reconfiguring your current VPN is to disable the IPv6 connection or to use a better VPN protocol.
Final note: VPNs that are compatible with IPv6 protections also give IPV4 automatically.
VPN Leak Test #3 – Testing For A WebRTC Leak
The Final Leak Test 💉
If you’ve never heard of WebRTC, no worries. Testing for it is more important than knowing the ins-and-outs. We will run you through the types of social channels - and great website designers like Squarespace (Squarespace review) - that use it.
This API definition is used in modern web browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari Firefox, and Internet Explorer (you must download the plug-in first).
It's designed to let you do peer-to-peer file-sharing, and gives users the ability to video/voice chat when in a web browser, without any further extensions or plug-ins.
It’s completely free and the following four massive applications - just to name a few - all use it to enhance user experiences:
- ☑️ Google Hangouts - For nine years, Google has been the central reason for WebRTC’s existence
- ☑️ Facebook Messenger - WebRTC let them compete with the likes of Skype
- ☑️ Discord - An immensely popular communication channel and social platform, predominantly for gamers
More than 1.5 billion audio/video minutes rack up weekly with this tool, which is fully mobile-ready. That adds up to 214 million minutes daily.
The WebRTC Leak Test 🧪
Just like your VPN’s tunnel, WebRTC APIs can leak your IP address. So it's important to test for this by using the Perfect Privacy WebRTC Test. Nice and simple.
The company also does DNS leak tests. At no step along the way do any Perfect Privacy servers run logs or store any data relating to their users. You can use the service on any number of devices.
Top Tip 🌟
If you don’t have a use for WebRTC, disable it in your browser, which ensures that it will not be able to leak when your VPN connection is active.
Running VPN Speed Tests
No Point in Security Without Performance 🏎️
Websites work very hard to deliver you the best speeds possible, as they know it is one of the most important factors with regard to user satisfaction levels.
Amazon knows even a one-hour drop in speed can lead to millions lost in sales.
The same pattern goes for smaller companies, as a rule of thumb. This is why we always recommend small businesses choose the best web host available.
Note that several elements play a role with your connection speed, other than just your VPN. Let’s have a look at these while digging into how to test your VPN for quickness.
Internet Service Provider 🏢
You shouldn’t expect to get faster speeds then you were getting before installing your VPN. A VPN filters your connection, which inevitably leads to some latency.
Whatever contract you have with your ISP, this will limit the amount of bandwidth available. So, it’s the starting point.
First, we’ll download an internet speed-checking tool and see what numbers you get before your VPN is connected... From there, you can work out what the speed drop is and how it compares with what your provider estimates.
Once you have this baseline, see what it's like with the VPN running. The website speedof.me is a good one to use.
Got your result? We’re not done yet. Let’s see the other players:
Computer/Device Processing Power 💽
VPNs create additional tasks that run constantly in the background, whenever that VPN is active.
This puts an extra strain on your computer's processors (CPU). The amount of RAM or memory you have can be very important, as well as things like having a solid state drive (SSD) versus a mechanical hard drive. But the power of your processor is always number one.
Your VPN is constantly running encryption and decryption programs. If you want to take advantage of faster internet speeds, this will also push your computer's processing power harder.
For a capable machine, this won't be a problem. But, if your computer is older, a very efficient VPN and a fast internet connection may not be enough. Your computer simply cannot handle the extra computational demand.
Encryption Levels ⚙️
More encryption requires more processing power. As the VPN works harder to deliver this, there is a latency cost.
PPTP is the fastest protocol available because it uses the least secure encryption level. The most secure protocols like OpenVPN, however, use the most powerful AES 256-bit military-grade encryption level, which is virtually impossible to break.
Have a look at our article that compares the most used protocols in terms of speed and security ratios.
Top Tip 🌟
L2P2 is generally the fastest protocol choice, while still offering the highest level of security possible. PPTP might be recommended if you want to access geo-blocked content but do not need to encrypt your presence to any great extent.
Protocols can be toggled on and off according to need. Any good VPN will give you a selection of the most popular security protocols... If your VPN ONLY offers PPTP, steer clear.
VPN Server Location (Relative To Yours) 🌎
The speed of your connection - or host - partly depends on how many “routes” it has to pass through, to connect your computer and VPN server to each other.
The greater the distance, the more delay caused as the information travels across the “international gateway.” It's best practice to select a VPN provider who has servers in your country or even city.
Number of Simultaneous Connections On Your VPN Server 🎛️
Now that you’ve selected a United Kingdom-based server, get an idea of what kind of user load they have.
If there are a ton of active users on each individual VPN server, you can expect bottlenecks to appear, slowing down your connection experience.
To gauge this, only select VPNs that show server statuses, on a real-time page. There, you should see important bandwidth info, and you can compare VPNs against each other.
Firewall Configurations 🕹️
This is a very common issue; when a user’s own firewall interrupts VPN bandwidth stream. Having both at work can also impact the CPU, which will have a negative effect on performance.
VPN Malware Leak 🤢
This is an underrated issue that can critically undermine your VPN’s integrity.
If a piece of malware manages to insert itself into your VPN app, all of its security systems will be fatally compromise.
Top Tip 🌟
Now, this is a severe issue with free mobile VPN applications. Free VPNs aren't the same as the great free web hosts out there. Absolutely avoid VPNs that aren’t premium.
Currently, there is a massive market for free VPN apps. You can find them in the Apple and Google Play stores. What is actually happening, however, is the reverse.
These platforms are making money from their users by actually taking this data and selling it on to tertiary parties!
Yes, we’re serious.
For obvious reasons (official governing bodies dislike VPNs to begin with), these apps are unregulated. Studies on this have found that over a third of Android VPNs have malware embedded inside of them!
(This adds to the fact that 84% of Android VPNs have been found to be leaking regardless... This is not a domain to make decisions based on budgeting and convenience.)
Malware Tests 👩⚕️
This may be tricky to do if using a phone. But you need to locate the software's main “.exe” file.
Head to VirusTotal. The database will scan that file against more than 60 Antivirus tests. For reasons of “false-positives,” you can classify that application as malware-infected if you get four or more detections of malware
What To Do in the Event Of A Leak
Key Steps 🗝️
A VPN leak is a serious problem. When someone selects a VPN for regular use, there is an assumption that he or she can place confidence in the application.
Surfing and doing online shopping without protection puts you more at risk of digital snoopers, aside from the fact that surveillance agencies - like the NSA - will also have unmitigated access to your movements.
In the case of a leak, we recommend that you contact the support team of your VPN, in order to try to solve the issue - assuming you have one of the best VPNs around. Some tweaks to your settings may provide the solution.
If you're using a free VPN, this will probably be the issue. We do not recommend using a free VPN. The saying “nothing in life comes for free,” has never been truer here. For a quality VPN service, you’ll need to chip out a few pennies.
Many new companies have been popping up. They target users inexperienced with online privacy. Always make sure you select a provider with a great reputation. That pays dividends in the long-run.