There are numerous reasons why you’d want to dig into the settings of your VPN provider. If you’re looking to tighten up your privacy settings or just want to understand what’s going on with your account, theres no shortage of reasons to get to know your VPN better. Now, as your personal VPN expert, I’m going to teach you the proper way to access and utilize the advanced settings of NordVPN so you can get the most bang for your buck.
How to Use NordVPN’s Custom Menu
As you’ve probably guessed, with any VPN you’ll encounter, the settings are accessible via a custom menu. In order to get to these settings, navigate to your VPN app’s menu, either by clicking on the tray icon in Windows or going through the menu in your phone’s app. Once you’re there, you can click on the gear icon in the upper right corner to bring up the advanced settings.
Change Your VPN Provider’s DNS (Domain Name System) Records
If you encounter any DNS errors while connected to VPN, this usually means that your VPN provider’s DNS isn’t functioning properly. The DNS is what enables your computer or device to find and connect to the websites and services you seek. If your DNS settings are incorrect, you might see website errors or connection problems. Changing your DNS records is one of the best ways to ensure a flawless, stable VPN connection. You can contact your VPN provider to request this change. Alternatively, you can use the DNS setting built into your router to make the adjustments. In most cases, this is the preferred way to go about it as you don’t have to rely on the whims of third-parties. When you change your DNS settings through your router, you’re ensuring that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) isn’t prioritizing their own DNS servers over those of your VPN provider. This can lead to connection issues since your VPN provider’s servers will be prioritized when DNS lookups occur. As a result, you’ll most likely have to change your router’s DNS settings as well so all devices connected to it can get on the same page. To do this, open your router’s settings page and look for the DNS section. You can also click here to see an example of a NordVPN router configuration. In general, you want to enter the DNS settings of your VPN provider in your router (along with their IP address if you’re not connecting through a Wi-Fi network).
Change Your VPN Provider’s TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and IP (Internet Protocol) Ports
As a computer or mobile device user you’ll most likely be required to change your network settings in order to ensure that your VPN connects properly and isn’t intercepted by others. This is especially important if you’re connecting to a VPN server outside of your country of residence. You can change your VPN provider’s TCP and IP ports via the advanced settings menu. To do this, enter the TCP and IP ports for your device in the relevant fields. You can find more information about connecting via a VPN on my blog post about VPNs.
Restrict Access to Certain Websites and Services
Sometimes it’s useful to block certain websites or services that you and your family don’t need access to. You can restrict access to certain sites and services in your VPN provider’s advanced settings. To do this, click on the shield icon in the upper right corner to bring up the advanced settings and scroll down to the Restrictions section. From here, you can block websites and services that you deem unsuitable for children or other members of your family (such as Social Media websites or other adult-oriented content). This restriction will apply to all of your devices that are logged into your account, so make sure you adjust it accordingly on all devices. You can also restrict access to specific devices or locations if you’re not sure about allowing the VPN on your personal computer. In most cases, restricting access to certain websites and services is enough for those seeking privacy and security. It prevents potentially dangerous content from being accessed when the VPN is connected, while still allowing the person using it to access standard web content.
Change Your VPN Provider’s Logging Settings
Your VPN provider’s logging settings determine what kind of information is logged and stored by your VPN. There are 3 logging settings to be aware of:
- General Logging: Enables general log logging. This includes information such as your device name, the website you’re visiting, and the files you’re downloading. Your VPN provider can use this information for marketing and promotional purposes. This setting is particularly useful if you have an interest in tracking your Internet activity while using the VPN. Keep in mind that this information may be subject to disclosure under the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
- System Logging: Enables system logging. This includes more technical information such as the IP address of the device you’re using, your location, and the type of browser you’re running. Your VPN provider can use this information to analyze network activity and improve service.
- Application Logging: Enables application logging. This includes information about the apps you’re using while connected to the VPN. Your VPN provider can use this information to improve their services. Keep in mind that this information may be subject to disclosure under the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
To change these settings, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner to bring up the advanced settings and navigate to the Logging section. Here, you can choose which type of information you’d like to have recorded (General, System, or Application), and configure how often the logs should be saved (at least once every 30 days). Remember, the more technical information you provide, the more you’ll help improve your VPN’s service.
Monitor Your Connections With Browsing History
Your VPN provider’s monitoring settings determine how your browsing history is handled. There are 3 options to be aware of:
- Prompt (Recommended): Enables prompting you to save your browsing history when you exit a website. This is the default setting and ensures your browsing history is automatically saved when you exit a website. Your VPN provider can use this information to identify returning users and gain valuable demographic insights. This setting is particularly useful if you have an interest in keeping a track of your browsing history while using the VPN.
- History (Not Recommended): Provides a history of all your previous activities. This setting creates a permanent record of your past browsing activities and may be considered a privacy violation by data protection authorities. This option provides the most convenience to the user since all the data is automatically logged and available for the person using it. However, since it creates a permanent record of your previous activities, it also gives your VPN provider a snapshot of your interests and habits.
- No History (Not Recommended): Disables history logging. This setting ensures no previous activities are logged by your VPN. While this may seem like an adequate solution to those seeking privacy, disabling history logging can negatively impact your VPN’s service quality. In most cases, this is the preferred option since you don’t want to affect your VPN’s performance by providing unnecessary data to your VPN provider.
To change these settings, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner to bring up the advanced settings and navigate to the Browsing History section. Here, you can choose which type of information you’d like to have recorded (Prompt, History, or No History), and configure how often the logs should be saved (at least once every 7 days).
Change Your VPN Provider’s Firewall Settings
Your VPN provider’s firewall settings determine which types of connections are allowed (and disallowed) while connected to it. There are 3 options to be aware of: