How Can I Tell if UTorrent Is Using My VPN?

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a) a VPN power user or b) you’re interested in finding out more about VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). If you’re like me, then you probably use VPNs daily. You might even consider yourself a VPN expert. But if you’re new to the world of VPNs, then it can be tricky to understand exactly how a VPN works and how it interacts with the apps and services you use on a daily basis. In this blog post, I’ll go over some of the ways you can tell if UTorrent is using your VPN. (And if you’re not using a VPN, then what are you doing wrong?)

The IP Confirmation Trick

One of the most convenient ways to tell if UTorrent is using your VPN is to simply check the IP address of the server you’re connected to. If you have a VPN connection open, then the last digit of the IP address will change to indicate that you’re connected to a different server than you usually use. For example, if you’re connecting from Malaysia, then the last digit will be “7”. Or if you’re connecting from the United States, then the last digit will be “8”.

If you’re curious, you can click here to see the IP addresses for various servers around the world. From my own experience, I’ve found that uTorrent’s IP addresses change quite frequently, which makes this technique quite unreliable. Still, if you’re curious, it’s better than nothing.

The DNS Trick

UTorrent isn’t the only piece of software that can cause your VPN to behave oddly. There are a number of other apps and websites that will slow your browsing experience because they’re trying to protect your privacy. So if you use a VPN and you start noticing problems with website speed or loading times, then it could be that a third party is trying to track your activity. (Which is why I always recommend using a dedicated VPN app instead of relying on one that’s bundled with your operating system.)

To confirm this, you can enter a website into the web browser on your phone and see how it loads. If you use a VPN, then entering a new website will often result in an initial delay, as the DNS (Domain Name System) takes time to resolve. (This is especially noticeable if you visit a high-traffic website. Then you’ll notice a noticeable delay before the site will actually display anything.) Once the site has loaded, you can then begin experiencing regular speeds and performance like you would if you weren’t using a VPN at all. This is why it’s best to use a dedicated VPN app instead of relying on one that’s built into your operating system.

The HTTP Strict-Transport-Security Header

If you regularly browse the web on your phone, then you might have noticed that some websites implement “HTTPS” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) while others don’t. (Which, by the way, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many websites use HTTPS now because it makes them more accessible to people who have privacy concerns. So it’s not like you’re necessarily insecure because your connection is encrypted.)

If a website uses HTTPS, then it will introduce an additional layer of encryption when it sends information to your device. This adds an additional step to the browsing process, but it’s a step you have to take in order to access secure content. (If a website doesn’t use HTTPS, then any information you send to or receive from that site is essentially open to anyone who’s got the ability to monitor your network traffic.)

To confirm whether or not UTorrent is using your VPN, simply open up the Settings app on your phone and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see a toggle switch for VPN. If it’s turned on, then your VPN is in use and you can turn it off by switching it to the off position.

The Server Address

While we’re on the subject of VPNs, let’s discuss something else that can affect your browsing experience. Sometimes the VPN you’re using will assign you a server address from a different country than you’re connecting from. So if you live in Malaysia and you’re connected to a US server, then you’ll experience slower speeds than you would if you were connected to a Malaysian server.

This is because accessing content and services from a different country than your location requires you to jump through additional legal and bureaucratic hoops. Most websites and services that are available in one country may not be available in another. For example, US-based services like YouTube won’t work in Malaysia because of government restrictions. (You can’t broadcast content that promotes hate speech or illegal activity in Malaysia. What’s more, censoring content is against the country’s laws as well.) To get around these restrictions, you’ll need to use a VPN to access the content you want to see. Then, after you’ve logged in, check the location of the server the app is connecting you to. If it’s not in the country you’re actually in, then you’re connected to a VPN server located in a different country. This could lead to all kinds of problems, ranging from slower speeds to censorship. (It’s best to avoid these risks by connecting from a country you’re registered in or where you live. Then your personal data, browsing history, and activity will be kept private.)

The HTTP Referer Header

Let’s say you’ve got an Android TV and you’ve installed a VPN app to watch your favorite show. You log in and begin streaming a season of Orange Is The New Black. For some reason, you decide you don’t want to watch the show anymore, so you exit out of the app. A few days later, you discover that your TV has been remotely hacked and someone has been watching you regardless of whether or not you were actually connected to the internet at the time. (This actually happened to a friend of mine.) In this case, the HTTP referer header will help you identify who hacked into your WiFi. It will show your computer’s IP address and the website you last visited before connecting to the VPN. (In your friend’s case, it was a streaming site that doesn’t require you to login. If you go back and visit the same site, then you’ll see that it’s been assigned a different IP address. This is how the ISP (Internet Service Provider) knew it was remote hacking rather than someone physically walking up to your device and picking it up to gain access to your network.)

If you discover that your TV has been hacked after using a VPN, then it’s important to note that not all VPNs are created equal. Many cheap or free VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are completely unsecured and offer very little in terms of privacy protection. If you’re looking for a VPN to keep your personal data private and protect your TV from remote access, then you might want to consider opting for a paid-for VPN that has a solid track record. (I recommend using a VPN for this purpose because unsecured VPNs could potentially expose you to hacking attempts. (Check the app store for reviews or visit the VPN website to read verified customer reviews as well as get a sense of the company’s reputation.))

The VPN Logs

Even if you’re not a tech wizz, you might be curious about what information your VPN is actually collecting about you. If you’ve ever used a VPN before, then you might have noticed that they keep extensive logs of your activity. These logs can often be found inside the ‘Resources‘ folder inside the app’s folder on your phone. (Some VPNs need to keep these logs for only 30 days before they’re deleted, while others keep them indefinitely.) The reason why you need to be careful what you do online is because your internet service provider doesn’t necessarily respect your privacy. With most companies, the second you login to an account, they have your personal information – including your IP address – on file. Plus, they can access the websites you log in to on a daily basis. (Thankfully you have the ability to opt out of this. Just Google ‘opt out of data collection’ or ‘unsubscribe’ if you’re getting spammed by email in connection with a free trial or membership.)

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