Encrypted and private internet browsing has never been easier. Thanks to VPNs like NordVPN. With NordVPN, you can browse the web anonymously, without worrying about third-party watchdogs or your ISP snooping on your activity.
But, as useful as VPNs are, they’re not perfect. Sometimes things happen that prevent them from working as intended. If you try to use a VPN during a major internet outage, for example, you might end up with less than perfect speeds, as the service can’t always keep up with the demand for anonymous IPs.
Is It Working As Expected?
Thankfully, there are ways for you to test if your NordVPN is indeed working as intended. For the most part, you just need to follow a couple of simple steps, without needing to log in to your account or install any apps. Let’s have a look.
Checking DNS Leaks And Random IPs
If you want to test if your VPN is working as expected, you should check its DNS leak score and random IP assignment. DNS leak is a measure of how well your ISP’s DNS servers are hiding your true IP. When you use a VPN, your IP is usually assigned a random IP mask by the VPN’s DNS servers, preventing your IP from being tracked on the web. A high DNS leak score indicates that your VPN isn’t entirely protecting you from eavesdroppers and tracker scripts.
On the other hand, a high random IP score indicates that your VPN is doing its job well. Random IPs are those IPs that are dynamically allocated to your device when you connect to a VPN, usually due to a leaky DNS server. If you’re not concerned about privacy, you can disable the service’s DNS servers and check for leaks yourself. You’ll just have to trust the VPN for now.
Monitor Network Connections
You can also monitor your network connections to confirm that your VPN is in fact keeping your internet traffic secure. If you’re using WiFi to connect to the internet, this is particularly easy to do. Just scan through the list of available networks, and make sure that the one you’re connected to is marked as secured (with a locked padlock). If it isn’t, you’re probably connecting to an unsecured network, which puts your traffic at risk. There’s no need to stress about whether or not your VPN is truly protecting you, because this is the easiest test of all.
Use A Proxy To Test
Although checking for leaks and random IPs is fairly easy, it’s still not the safest or most convenient way to test your VPN’s performance. If you have a specific site or service that you use regularly, like YouTube or Netflix, you can test the service’s integrity by using a proxy to browse the website. A proxy is a tool that acts as a middleman between your device and the website you’re visiting, hiding your true IP and increasing your anonymity. Proxies are also highly useful if you’re testing the speed of different services or websites, as they allow you to browse without having to worry about additional traffic or slowed speeds due to a large number of users.
There are multiple readily available proxies to choose from, and it’s easy enough to set up a VPN and configure your browser to use a specific proxy. If you already have a NordVPN account, you can use the service’s built-in web proxy to test if it’s keeping your activity secure. Simply type https://ip.me into the address bar of your browser to access the proxy.
If you’re not sure how to use a proxy, here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial that’ll put you on the right track.
How To Use A Proxy For Testing
The first step is to open a new tab in your browser. If you already have a tab open, close it (but don’t delete it!). Next, navigate to the website you want to test and log in, if necessary.
The last step is to close the Google tab, and your browser will return you to the original website you were visiting. Instead of seeing your IP address, you’ll now see the IP address of the proxy server. This makes you easier to trace on the web if you’re being hunted by an antagonist (like a hacker), as your true identity is now masked by the proxy. This also prevents your ISP from identifying you as a problematic user, as the proxy is technically acting as your intermediary. Should an ISP representative get nosy and request your personal details, the representative will have to request them from the proxy server, not directly from you.
Checking Speed And Reliability
Besides checking for DNS leaks and random IPs, you can also easily check the speed and reliability of your internet connection, using the VPN’s integrated web proxy. While most people prefer to use VPNs for privacy and security reasons, some use them for speed hacks. If you’re connecting to a public library’s WiFi network, for example, you can often find a speed gain of up to 5 Mbps, which isn’t bad, considering the usually slower speeds available outside of a WiFi network.
You can also use the service’s IP to geolocate yourself, to see if the Internet is working properly in your area. Just type in your assigned IP (found in the VPN’s settings) into the address bar of your browser, and a map will appear, displaying your location. If you want to use this feature, make sure you’re connected to a VPN that’s working properly, as you could end up in a bad location (like the wrong side of the globe) if the DNS servers are misbehaving.
If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your VPN, keep the following tips in mind.
- Use the VPN’s integrated web proxy to check for leaks and random IPs.
- Select a VPN that offers a money‑back guarantee. If you’re not comfortable sacrificing some privacy for increased security, consider another option.
- Configure your router’s settings to automatically connect to the VPN, whenever you log on. This way, whenever you’re online, your internet connection will be routed through the VPN, ensuring that your activity is protected and that you’re always identifiable on the web. Keep in mind that if you use WiFi to access the internet, the security of your activity will depend on the security of the WiFi network you connect to.
You can also protect your privacy and security when using public WiFi by connecting to a VPN that offers military-grade encryption (AES‑256 bit), as the default encryption of your WiFi network could be anyone’s guess. While there’s no need to broadcast the fact that you’re using a VPN, you should be mindful not to use weak encryption settings, as this could leave your activity susceptible to surveillance.
Testing your VPN’s performance is fairly easy, and with just a couple of steps, you can see if it’s keeping your personal details secure. If you want to check if a specific website is working as expected, you can use a VPN’s proxy service, as it will act as a middleman between your device and the website. By using a VPN to unblock websites that are otherwise blocked by your ISP, you’re ensuring that you’re always getting the best possible experience online, without risking your privacy.