How to Check if Your VPN Is Working (3+ Methods)
There are three simple steps you can take to confirm that your VPN is working. These methods work for almost every device, including Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.
However, the most important test for you will depend on how you plan to use the VPN.
If you are evading censorship and surveillance, for example, it is vital to check that your VPN is both encrypting your data and changing your IP address. If your main concern is unblocking Netflix, checking the encryption is less important.
1. Check Your IP Address
The easiest way to test if your VPN works is to check whether it changes your IP address and location. To do this, test your IP address before and after switching on the VPN and compare the results.
To check your IP address and VPN location, follow these steps:
- Test your IP address with your VPN switched off.
- Note down your IPv4 or IPv6 address.
- Connect to a VPN server in a different country.
- While still connected, test your IP address again.
- If you see an IP address in your VPN server’s location, the VPN is working. If you see the same IPv4 or IPv6 address as before, your VPN isn’t working.
This is the easiest way to check your VPN is working on every platform, including Smart TVs and Amazon Firestick devices.
Temporarily changing your IP address is one of the fundamental features of a VPN, but it doesn’t always mean your VPN is working fully. Your DNS requests may still be leaking, for example, or your web traffic might not be encrypted.
2. Check for IP, DNS, and WebRTC Leaks
Even if your VPN is hiding your IP address, there are other ways that information about you can be exposed. Collectively, these vulnerabilities are known as VPN leaks.
For example, your IP address could leak through WebRTC, or your country and browsing data could be exposed through DNS leaks. If any of this identifying information is revealed, your VPN isn’t doing its job.
The easiest way to test for VPN leaks is to use a dedicated tool. Otherwise, you’ll need to test for each data type manually.
Here’s how to check for IP and DNS leaks:
- Visit our VPN leak test tool and select ‘VPN Leak Test’.
- Click Begin Test.
- Turn off your VPN and confirm your location.
- When directed, turn your VPN on and connect to a server in another country.
- Turn off split tunneling if necessary.
- Confirm the VPN is connected.
- Review your test results. You’ll see the results for IPv4/IPv6 leaks, DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks, as well as geolocation and additional tests. Click the arrow beside each test for more information.
If you conduct this test on your computer and the VPN is confirmed to work properly, you can safely use the VPN on other devices like your phone.
To make sure your VPN’s kill switch is working properly, you can also use our dedicated VPN kill switch test. This will check for leaks during disconnections or server changes. To test your DNS servers directly, you can also check your DNS servers using our bespoke tool.
3. Check Your VPN Connection Is Encrypted
A good VPN uses robust encryption between your device and the VPN server, which means that your data is protected even if someone can intercept it.
For most use cases, it’s enough to choose a trustworthy VPN and use it with a reliable VPN protocol and encryption cipher.
If you’re using a VPN to protect sensitive information, or to evade state censorship and surveillance, you can conduct tests to confirm that your encrypted tunnel is working correctly.
Here’s how to check your VPN is encrypting your data:
- Download Wireshark.
- Choose the network interface with the most active line graph, usually WiFi or Ethernet.
- Click to blue fin icon in the top left corner to start capturing packets.
- Run the tool for approximately 2 minutes to capture enough data.
- Click the Red Square in the top left corner to stop capturing packets.
- Look for entries that match your VPN’s protocol, most likely OpenVPN or WireGuard.
- Right-click on the entry, select ‘Follow’, click your protocol stream.
- If the whole stream is scrambled and meaningless, the encryption is working.