A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is used for a number of reasons, all boiling down to just one – being safe online. That essentially means that your IP address is hidden, that people don’t know who’s behind the VPN, what he’s doing online and where he’s connecting from.
A quality VPN service can achieve all that, but many don’t. Also, in some cases, all the VPNs in the world won’t help you, if there are other services on your machine which are leaking all the data you’re trying to protect.
In any case, there are ways to check if your VPN is good, and that it is actually doing what it was designed to do – keep you safe online.
Test your IP address
The first thing you should do is make sure your IP address is different when running the VPN, and when it’s turned off. So, head over to the What Is My IP Address? website, and write down the numbers it shows. Then, turn the VPN on, and go check again. If the numbers are different, then you’re good. If they’re the same, chances are something is leaking your information.
Test Java and Flash
One of the problems with VPN is that, despite you being behind one, services such as Google Maps can still find your location. That is because they use Java or Flash, which can sometimes leak the data. This is also called an extended IP test, and can be done on this link. If it shows that Java and / or Flash are not behind the VPN, try disabling these services in your browser and running the test again. Be warned, disabling Flash or Java can render some services useless.
Some VPNs are better than others. They offer more features, better services, lower prices. Some are simply better at what they do, making sure nothing leaks your data online, and are quick to react to any issues. Sure, price is an important factor (for example, VyprVPN price starts at $9.99 per month, so it’s not that expensive), but if it’s not doing its job, then you’re just wasting money, no matter how cheap it is.
Test your torrents
Peer to peer (P2P) services, such as torrents, have also gained popularity in the last five years, but they too can leak your IP address. Luckily, there is a way to test these services as well. Going to www.ipleak.net, you’ll want to download the .torrent file it has on offer, and run it. The site will then tell you if your P2P app is leaking your IP address.
If that indeed is the case, don’t despair, there are remedies. The first thing you will want to do is to check which ports are being used by the P2P service, and make sure they’re aligned with your VPN service provider. If the same error keeps popping up even after alignment, it could mean your VPN is leaking the data, and you should consider switching.