How to tell if your VPN is working and truly hiding your IP address. Updated tools for 2023.
These are among the most common questions we hear: “is my VPN working?” or “does my VPN work?”
First off, you have to realize that there are different VPN checks depending on what you want to use your VPN for. For web browsing, the basic check immediately below may be all that you need.
Keep reading to find out more.
[+] 'Is My VPN Working?' contents
Standard VPN Tests (for web browsing, not torrenting)
There are several ways to check whether your VPN is working properly but it's important to use reliable and reputable online tools that give accurate results. Here you'll find some tried and true methods to check if your VPN is actually working.
Basic IP Address Test
One of the simplest ways to check your VPN is by checking your IP address.
First, before connecting to your VPN, visit an IP check page, and note the IP address detected. This will be your actual IP address, the one currently assigned to you by your internet service provider.
Next, connect to your VPN and check your IP address again.
The IP address should be different. If it isn’t, something is wrong.
In addition, the new IP address should correspond with the country you selected in your VPN app.
For example, all of our recommended VPNs let you choose the country you want to appear to be in (see screenshot; NordVPN shown).
The Extended IP Address Test
For a more detailed analysis of your connection, conduct a check at IPLeak, first without your VPN enabled and then with it enabled.
IPLeak provides a lot of information about several aspects of your connection. It'll even detect DNS leaks (see below).
Does My VPN Have a DNS Leak?
DNS, short for domain name system, is used to translate numerical IP addresses into domain names (and vice versa) because domain names are much easier to remember than IP addresses.
When you visit a website (such as www.example.com), IP addresses are used invisibly in the background to point your web browser at the right IP address for a particular website. When you enter a domain name to visit a website, your operating system fetches the underlying IP address from a domain name system (or DNS) server. This action is independent from your web browser.
When a DNS leak occurs, your computer or Internet-enabled device starts using your (ISP's) regular DNS server instead of your VPN provider’s DNS server. This is a major risk, since it can reveal your true IP address.
In other words, a DNS leak occurs when your browser ignores your VPN set up and sends the DNS request directly to your ISP. Yikes!
Test your VPN for DNS Leaks
To test whether your VPN suffers DNS leaks, go to:
- DNSLeak Test – wait a few seconds for the results. There's also an IPv6 Leak Test if you want to check that too
- TorGuard's DNS Test (go to any page on TorGuard and choose ‘DNS Leak Test’ under the heading ‘TorGuard Links’)
- Hidester select ‘Test' to check your VPN or proxy for DNS leaks
- IPLeak and scroll down to see the information under the heading ‘DNS Address detection’
- DNS leak test and choose either the ‘Standard test' or ‘Extended test'
- bash.ws DNS leak test and select ‘Start Test'
If these tests show your ISP’s DNS server, you have a DNS leak. (Before you start freaking out, make sure you remembered to enable your VPN).
The risk of DNS leaks is why you should only choose a VPN, like PIA VPN, with DNS Leak Protection. This will protect you against this exact issue.
If your VPN doesn't offer leak protection, it may be time to switch. And if you're not using a VPN at all, well, we'd really suggest getting one.
VPN Leak Protection (Kill Switch)
OK, so this isn’t a test or check but it is something you need to be aware of.
A Kill Switch is an important feature to look for when choosing a VPN because it prevents your IP address from accidentally being leaked should your VPN connection unexpectedly drop. The kill switch works like a tripwire that is constantly keeping an eye on your Internet connection to make sure it stays anonymized.
As soon as a change is detected in your IP address status, the kill switch feature will immediately block your computer or device from using the unprotected Internet connection until the VPN connection is re-established.
Without a kill switch feature, your computer or device would automatically re-establish the Internet connection through your ISP provider, exposing your true IP address and location in the process.
When this happens, the web sites you visit and torrent connections you make can be monitored, logged and traced back to you through your ISP’s records. Not good.
- Top Tip – For a VPN with both a built-in kill switch and DNS leak protection, we recommend PIA VPN
As you can see, a kill switch is very important if you want to keep any sensitive web browsing or torrent file-sharing activities private.
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Torrent-specific Checks (How to Make Sure your Torrent VPN is Working)
Before you start downloading and sharing torrents using our anonymous torrent guide, you should first check what IP address your torrent app is transmitting. You need to make sure that your torrent VPN (or torrent proxy) is working, so that you can be assured that snoops can't see your true IP address.
- Top Tip – Remember, our top recommended torrent VPN, PIA VPNPIA VPNPIA VPNPIA VPN, passes these tests.
To check what IP address you're transmitting while torrenting, you'll need to perform special checks. It's not sufficient to visit simple “what’s my IP address”, like the ones we highlighted above. In fact, this can be a dangerous practice, since it can give you a completely false sense of anonymity.
It's entirely possible for an anonymizing service to hide your IP address when browsing the web, but not for downloading torrents. “Free” VPNs and Tor (The Onion Router) are good examples of this.
Instead, you'll need a different way to check your transmitted IP address and confirming that your torrent activities are being protected.
The test sites below are made specifically for torrents and provide detailed instructions on how to use them:
Top Tip – Get in the habit of pausing your active torrents before shutting down your torrent app (see screenshot). That way, the next time you start your torrent app, no torrents will be active and you'll be able to use the tests above before you start the torrent again.
Checking Your Torrent IP Address at TorGuard
Download the torrent featured on that page by selecting the ‘Check My Torrent IP Download Now’ icon (see screenshot).
You'll then be prompted to download a torrent file. Go ahead and download it.
Once the torrent file is downloaded, open it with your torrent app just as you normally would for any other torrent. You'll see that the torrent’s payload is a small image file, CheckMyTorrentIp.png (see screenshot). Select OK to start downloading it.
Your torrent app will try downloading the image, but it will never actually succeed. But that’s exactly the point. This keeps the torrent in a continually active downloading mode so that the CheckMyTorrentIP service can detect and regularly report the IP address that your torrent app is transmitting. Let’s check this.
To verify the IP address being transmitted,, go to your torrent app’s list of torrents, select the torrent you just downloaded and check its Trackers. In µTorrent, trackers can be found displayed under the Trackers tab (at box 2 in the screenshot below).
A short message will be displayed, telling you the the IP address that your torrent app is transmitting (see box 3 highlighted at the lower right of the screenshot above). Check it carefully. This IP address should not be your true IP address, but instead be the IP address assigned by your torrent VPN.
If the warning displayed under the Tracking tab shows your true IP address rather than your masked one, something is wrong. Either the VPN is not functioning (double-check that turned it on properly) or it does not support torrents. If the Trackers for the CheckMyTorrentIP torrent report your masked IP address, you know that your torrent VPN works as it should.
Keep the CheckMyTorrentIP torrent active in your torrent app, even though the payload image will never download. This way, every time you open your torrent app you can check the Trackers for this torrent and confirm that your torrent VPN is working and that your true IP address remains hidden from snoops.
- Top Tip – If you are using a torrent app that displays ads, such as the free version of µTorrent, you can actually use these ads to your advantage. The ads can serve as an indication that your anonymizing torrent VPN is working. If your torrent app is displaying ads from a foreign country (matching the country location you chose when connecting to your VPN) rather than your actual location, this gives you further comfort that the VPN is working.
Checking your Torrent IP Address at IPLeak or ipMagnet
For IPLeak, under the heading ‘Detected Torrent Address’, select the link ‘Activate’ and then follow the displayed instructions. In a nutshell, you download a small torrent file, open it and then re-check at http://ipleak.net/ to see what IP address your torrent app is transmitting.
- Top Tip – As with TorGuard, you can also check under your torrent app’s Trackers tab for the ipleak.net torrent to see what IP address is being transmitted.
For ipMagnet, the process is exactly the same: download a torrent from the site and then either revisit the page to see the displayed IP address or check the Trackers tab in your torrent app.
Checking your Torrent VPN is Working by Monitoring Your Ports (Web & Torrents) [Advanced Users]
More advanced users may wish to monitor their active ports to ensure that their Internet traffic is actually being routed through their VPN, whether for torrents file-sharing or web browsing.
A port monitoring utility allows you to monitor the connections made to and from your computer or device and lets you see which process (generally apps) has opened which port, as well as showing the local and remote IP address of each connection.
The port monitoring utility may even let you terminate a process (close the relevant app).
By monitoring your ports, you can verify that your Internet traffic is actually being routed through the VPN.
For Windows, we recommend CurrPorts (free). If you see your VPN’s masked IP address in the ‘Remote Address’ column of CurrPort’s display for your relevant app process (for example, uTorrent for torrents or Chrome for web browsing), you can be confident that you are making connections through the VPN and that your true IP address is safe.
Is My VPN Working: Conclusion
Now you know the answer to the question, “is my VPN working?”.
Whichever test you performed (or maybe you performed all of them), once you confirm your VPN is working and transmitting a masked IP address and not your true one, you can confidently go about your activities protected and anonymous, whether web browsing, mass downloading from the web, Usenet or sharing torrents.