Courses
Cloudwards Video Courses New

Cloudwards.net may earn a small commission from some purchases made through our site. However, any earnings do not affect how we review services. Learn more about our editorial integrity and research process.

VPN Test: Check If Your VPN Is Working

VPN Test: Check if Your VPN Is Working in 2024

VPNs are meant to protect your online privacy, but they don’t always work properly. This guide lists several trusted VPN test websites and teaches you how to use each one to check your VPN for vulnerabilities

Aleksandar KochovskiSamuel ChapmanIgor Kurtz

Written by Aleksandar Kochovski (Writer, SEO Editor)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Writer, Editor)

Facts checked by Igor Kurtz (Fact-checking editor)

Last Updated: 2024-05-30T09:39:23+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Key Takeaways: VPN Testing
  • There are several types of VPN tests, but all of them are fairly easy to perform using publicly available testing sites.
  • Testing usually involves connecting to a VPN, then using a testing site to see if your real information is hidden, such as your original IP address or DNS server.
  • The most common fix for VPN issues is usually trying a different server or rebooting your VPN app or device.

Facts & Expert Analysis: VPN Connection Issues 

  • IP address leaks: A study on free mobile VPN apps revealed that 18% of the tested apps did not encrypt user traffic at all.
  • WebRTC leaks: WebRTC technology lets you make audio and video calls directly in your browser. However, your browser’s implementation could interfere with your VPN, resulting in a leak.
  • Common VPN vulnerabilities: Though most VPN vulnerabilities stem from plain ineptitude, there are some truly malicious VPNs that can inject JavaScript code into your traffic to reroute it, elevate their own app permissions and monitor your device.

The best VPNs (virtual private networks) make crucial privacy software easy to use — that is, when they’re working properly. Unfortunately, the background technology may be too complex for you to troubleshoot by yourself. Luckily, you can usually run a VPN test at no cost. This article will show you how to do just that.

Join us as we look into the various types of VPN tests, including IP address and DNS leak tests, speed tests, WebRTC leak tests and more. We’ll link all the necessary resources and include detailed steps on how to use them to facilitate the process for you. Let’s hop right in.

  • 05/30/2024 Facts checked

    We updated the article to include more testing resources, as well as more detailed steps on how to perform the tests.

DNS Leak Test Websites to Check if Your VPN Is Working

The table below lists seven trustworthy websites that let you test your VPN software. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll use ipleak.net, dnsleaktest.com, browserleaks.com, speedtest.net and wicar.org.

Leak Test:Purpose
whatismyipaddress.comIP address (IPv4 and IPv6), rough location
ipleak.netIP address (IPv4 and IPv6), DNS, WebRTC, browser fingerprint
test-ipv6.comIP address (IPv4 and IPv6)
dnsleaktest.comIPv4 address, DNS
browserleaks.comIP address (IPv4 and IPv6), WebRTC, browser fingerprint
IPX.acIP address (IPv4 and IPv6), WebRTC, DNS, browser fingerprint
speedtest.netDownload and upload speed, latency
wicar.orgTesting antimalware apps

How to Test if Your VPN Connection is Working

Your VPN’s performance depends on multiple factors, like your choice of VPN provider, internet service provider, DNS server and more. This can make it difficult to know what kind of test to run. Don’t worry — most of these tests run on their own and take less than two minutes. Here are the most common tests you’ll need to run to figure out if your VPN is running properly.

Online Security

Check out our online security courses and grab a limited-time offer.
Enrollment available now!

Enroll Now

DNS Leak Test

Your website visits and country become visible to others.

To connect to a website or online service, your device sends DNS queries to a domain name server. The domain name system (or DNS) then matches the domain name you’re accessing (like Google.com) to its corresponding numerical IP address (for example, 142.251.46.174) to connect you to the website’s servers.

DNS leaks occur when your device’s DNS requests bypass the VPN tunnel, exposing your actual DNS server information and potentially compromising your online privacy. 

How to Perform a DNS Leak Test

To check for DNS leaks, you can use a dedicated DNS leak test tool. We’ll use ExpressVPN in our example and test it using dnsleaktest.com. See our ExpressVPN review to learn more about this service.

  1. Connect to Your VPN

    The first step is to ensure that your VPN service is active and that your device is connected to a VPN server. Simply turn on your VPN and connect to a server outside your country.

    expressvpn france
  2. Visit a DNS Leak Test Website

    There are several reputable websites that offer DNS leak tests, though we prefer dnsleaktest.com.

    dns leak test step 2
  3. Review the Test Results

    The DNS test website will only show the DNS server information it detects. It’s up to you to “analyze” it. All you need to do is see if the DNS provider matches your VPN’s or internet service provider’s IP address. If you see your ISP’s DNS server instead of your VPN’s, then you have a leak.

    dns leak test step 3
Fix DNS Leaks: Troubleshooting Tips

If the DNS leak test comes out positive, you can try the following steps:

  • Verify your VPN settings:Ensure that your VPN client or app is properly configured and that you’re using only secure, modern VPN protocols (see our VPN protocol guide for recommendations).
  • Activate DNS leak protection:Some VPNs let you switch DNS leak protection (and other kinds of leak protection) on and off. Make sure yours is turned on.
  • Change your VPN server location:Try connecting to a different VPN server, as the issue may be specific to the server you’re currently using.
  • Use the VPN provider’s DNS server:Many VPN providers offer their own DNS servers. You can check your VPN settings to see if there’s an option to use the VPN’s DNS server. If there is, activate it.
  • Use a custom DNS service: If none of the methods above worked, don’t fret. You can use a third-party DNS service like Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 or Google’s 8.8.8.8, as long as your VPN lets you use a custom DNS server.

IP Address Check

Your IP address and rough location become visible to others.

Your IP address is a unique identifier that your internet service provider assigns to your device. When using a VPN, your real IP address should be replaced with the VPN server’s IP address. If the IP address leak test shows your actual IP address, you likely have a leak.

How to Perform an IP Address Location Detection Test

Like the DNS leak test, all you need to do is hop over to an IP address checker and run the test. We recommend whatismyipaddress.com.

  1. Check Your IP Address

    Without connecting to a VPN, go to whatismyipaddress.com. The page should display your public IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

    ip address test step 1
  2. Connect to Your VPN and Run an IP Address Leak Test

    Now connect to the VPN, preferably via a server outside your country (so it’s easier to determine whether it’s working), and run the test again.

    expressvpn france
  3. Verify the IP Address and Location

    The test will display both your IP address and your approximate geographic location. If you see the same IP address as before and your real location, that’s a positive result for leaks. If the test shows a different IP address and location, your VPN passed the test. In our example, the location changed from Marseille to Paris.

    ip address test step 3
Troubleshooting Tips: How to Fix IP Leaks

If the test to check the IP address location was positive, you can take these steps to remedy the issue:

  • Change VPN servers: Most common VPN software issues will usually clear up with a change of server.
  • Ensure the VPN is properly connected:Check your VPN app’s settings for anything anomalous.
  • Disable IPv6:Some VPN services may not fully support IPv6, causing your version 6 IP address to leak (most internet traffic is to version 4 IP addresses, or IPv4). The IP leak test we recommend will show your IPv6 address separately.
  • Check your browser settings:Check the VPN’s proxy and WebRTC settings to make sure your browser isn’t bypassing the VPN tunnel (we’ll go over this next).

WebRTC Leak Test

Your IP address and rough location become visible to others when on a video or audio call in your browser.

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a technology that enables audio and video communication directly between browsers, without the need for extra software (think in-browser Zoom calls directly through the website, with no app installed). 

WebRTC needs to transmit your IP address in order to establish a call. If your browser’s WebRTC implementation isn’t properly configured to work with your VPN, it can bypass the VPN tunnel entirely and expose your IP address in a WebRTC leak.

How to Perform a WebRTC Leak Test

Here’s how to check for WebRTC leaks using the browserleaks.com test.

  1. Connect to Your VPN

    As always, start by connecting to a VPN.

    expressvpn france
  2. Visit a WebRTC Leak Test Website

    Open browserleaks.com and let the test run automatically. You should see a green checkmark and “no leak” written next to it. We haven’t detected any WebRTC leaks on any of our VPNs, so we’re not quite sure what a positive test would show. However, we imagine it wouldn’t say “no leak.”

    webrtc leak test step 2
Troubleshooting Tips: How to Fix WebRTC Leaks

If you’ve been unlucky enough to spring a WebRTC leak, here’s what to do:

  • Disable WebRTC: Most web browsers have settings to disable WebRTC, which will effectively prevent leaks. Keep in mind that this will disable in-browser video and audio calls.
  • Try the VPN’s browser add-on: Some VPN providers offer browser extensions or add-ons that might prevent WebRTC leaks.
  • Use a different browser: This may not be what you want to hear, but if your browser poses a security risk, it might be time to switch to a new one.

VPN Speed Test

Your internet connection could slow down, pages may refuse to load and your VPN protection could become less reliable.

We take VPN speed testing seriously here at Cloudwards. We run our own automated speed tests daily for a selection of VPNs, which you can check in our fastest VPN guide. If your VPN is on our list, then these results should give you a baseline of what to expect from that VPN’s speed performance.

Don’t worry if your VPN is not on our list, though. You can still reliably check the VPN’s speed by comparing your regular, unprotected speed with your VPN-connected speed.

How to Perform an Internet Speed Test

We regularly rely on Ookla’s speedtest.net, so that’s what we’ll use for this example (and we suggest you do the same):

  1. Test Your Unconnected Speed

    Without connecting to the VPN, open the speedtest.net website and run the test. Log your ping (latency), download and upload speeds.

    speed test step 1
  2. Connect to Your VPN and Run the Speed Test

    Connect to the fastest VPN server available to you. The VPN itself will usually recommend one, but if it doesn’t, just use the one closest to you. Next, run the test again and log the new set of speed results. If the VPN’s speeds are less than 80% of your top speed, you might have an issue.

    speed test step 2

All VPNs decrease your connection speed. Many factors go into how fast a VPN is, such as the hardware its servers use, the server congestion and your distance from the server. For a full breakdown, refer to our VPN speed guide.

Troubleshooting Tips: How to Fix Speed Issues

If your internet speed test revealed a significant decrease in performance while using your VPN, you can try the following troubleshooting tips:

  • Connect to a different server: We’ve suggested this several times because it usually works. Some servers might run on older hardware or might be severely congested. Simply switching to a server with fewer connected VPN users could significantly improve your speeds.
  • Upgrade your VPN plan: Some VPN providers offer improved connection speeds on higher-tier plans, though we’re not aware of any reputable VPNs pulling this tactic.
  • Check your network conditions: Make sure your local internet connection is not causing your speed issues. Check the physical connections to your router and your device’s network settings to ensure there aren’t any connectivity issues affecting the VPN’s performance.
  • Disable unnecessary features: Some VPN features may impact your connection speed. If your VPN comes with extra features like malware protection or ad blocking, try disabling them temporarily to see if your speeds improve.

Malware Test

Your device could have a malware infection.

Though most VPNs can’t protect you from computer viruses, there are some that have decent antivirus or antimalware capabilities. Let’s start by breaking down the different types of VPN antivirus you can find.

  1. Malicious site blocker:This is the most common type of VPN malware solution, which works at the DNS level to stop you from entering sites that are known to host malware. Examples of VPNs with this feature include ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and Proton VPN.
  2. File download protection: Some VPNs can scan the files you download while they’re active. To our knowledge, the only VPN that does this is NordVPN with its “threat protection” feature — learn all about it in our NordVPN review.
  3. Full antivirus software: If a VPN has full antivirus capabilities, it’s usually only as a paid add-on. You can read about one in our Surfshark review. However, you’re more likely to see the opposite case, with a full-fledged antivirus app like Avira, McAfee or Norton offering VPN capabilities. The testing should be identical either way.

If you’re looking for an antivirus that’s separate from a VPN (which we recommend), see our picks for the best antivirus software.

How to Perform a Malware Test

To test your VPN’s malware fighting chops, you can use WICAR’s website, which offers a host of tests. However, the tests required are different for each type of malware protection.

  • If your VPN’s malware solution only protects your browsing, you can try any test. The results should show that all of the URLs are blocked. We suggest using the browser-only Java JRE 1.7 Applet or JavaScript Crypto Miner
  • If your VPN has download protection, you can also try downloading the EICAR test virus file to see if that feature is functioning properly. It’s hosted on a separate website, but the WICAR site links to it as well.
  • You can also use the EICAR test virus file for full antivirus solutions to check if the file is quarantined once it’s on your device.

This table shows the different types of VPN malware protection and the corresponding tests:

VPN Malware Type:WICAR Tests
Malicious site blockerJava JRE 1.7 Applet, JavaScript Crypto Miner, all other tests
File download protectionEICAR test virus (any file)
Full antivirus softwareEICAR test virus (any file)

Here’s how to use the WICAR tests to check if your VPN antivirus is working:

  1. Activate Your VPN

    Turn on the VPN and connect to a server.

    malware test step 1
  2. Disable Your Antivirus

    If you have a separate antivirus app, disable it (you shouldn’t be running two antiviruses concurrently anyway). This goes for Windows Defender too, as well as any other built-in malware protection your device might come with.

    malware test step 2
  3. Access the Test Website

    Open the WICAR test site (or another antivirus testing site) and choose a test based on the type of malware protection your VPN offers. You can refer to our table above to determine which one to use. Follow the steps below to analyze your results.

    malware test step 3
  4. Analyzing Malicious Site Blocker Test Results

    This is the simplest test to run. All you need to do is click the link to the JavaScript Crypto Miner test. If you see a warning message preventing you from entering the site, your VPN’s malware blocker is working.

    malware test step 4
  5. Analyzing File Download Protection Test Results

    For this test, you’ll need to go a step further. First, dismiss the warning message (and any other consecutive messages that pop up). Then, with the site open, right-click and choose “save as” in the context menu. If the VPN’s malware blocker is working, the file should be blocked from downloading or deleted immediately upon downloading.

    malware test step 5

We ran the infected file download test twice on NordVPN. It deleted the infected file on the second try but failed on the first attempt, despite initially blocking us from opening the download site. 

Troubleshooting Tips: How to Fix Malware Protection Issues

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if your VPN’s malware blocker is malfunctioning apart from general VPN troubleshooting.

  • Reboot your device: Before trying anything else, we suggest rebooting your device, as that can sometimes help with malfunctioning apps.
  • Disable all other antimalware apps: If you have antivirus or antimalware running, it could interfere with your VPN’s malware blocker. Disabling your antimalware app will usually solve this issue. However, if you already have an antimalware app installed, we strongly suggest you use that one instead of your VPN’s antimalware.
  • Reinstall your VPN: Uninstalling your VPN and reinstalling it could fix issues with its antimalware features. If you want a completely clean installation, you can even use a free app like Revo Uninstaller to completely remove all residual files and registry entries before reinstalling.

Streaming Service Test

  • Test website: Any streaming platform

You could have no access to international content.

Most VPNs can unblock streaming sites, but some are better at it than others. To see if your VPN works with a streaming site, all you need to do is connect to the VPN and open the streaming service’s website. However, you may not always have enough speed for high-quality streaming with a VPN, so you’ll want to check that aspect as well.

How to Perform a Streaming Test

The following steps explain how to test a VPN’s streaming performance.

  1. Connect to Your VPN

    Turn on the VPN and connect to a server in a different country where the streaming service you’re testing is available.

    expressvpn france
  2. Access the Streaming Service

    Open the streaming platform’s website. If it’s usually unavailable in your current location, it should be unblocked now. If it’s an international site like Netflix, you should see content from the library where you’re connecting (France, in our case).

    netflix france today

If your VPN failed this test, try our list of the best VPNs for Netflix to check out some alternatives.

Fix Streaming Issues: Troubleshooting Tips

If a streaming platform is blocking your VPN, the solution can be as easy as switching to another server. However, sometimes it’s a bit more complicated than that.

  • Switch to another VPN server: Streaming services routinely block VPN server IP addresses. Switching to a different server in the same country can solve this issue, but only if the other server hasn’t been blocked.
  • Change your VPN settings: Sometimes trying a different VPN protocol or changing another setting can make a difference in unblocking websites.
  • Restart the VPN: The time-tested method of turning the VPN off and on again can help solve VPN streaming issues.
  • Wait it out: If your VPN used to be able to unblock a streaming service but can no longer do so on any server, there might be an issue with the VPN provider itself. This happens every now and then as streamers and VPNs race to one-up each other. The only solution is to wait for the provider to fix the issue. 

How to Tell if My VPN Connection Is Blocked

As we discussed, websites routinely block access to VPN servers, usually due to content licensing contracts or security. However, there are tricks to help you get around these kinds of blocks.

  • Try a different server: This is the go-to fix for nearly every website-related issue.
  • Try an obfuscated server: Obfuscated servers mask your connection by sending your traffic through common HTTPS ports, making it seem like your VPN traffic is normal internet traffic. VPNs like ExpressVPN might also have obfuscation built in, so we suggest you confirm with customer support that your VPN has obfuscation capabilities.
  • Try a dedicated IP address:VPN servers sometimes become blocked due to the “bad neighbor” effect, where the actions of one user reflect negatively on all users who share an IP address. A dedicated IP address is free from the bad neighbor effect since you’re the only one who can use it. They usually come at an additional cost, though.

Why Isn’t My VPN Working? 

There could be a number of reasons why your VPN isn’t working right. First, ensure your VPN is actually malfunctioning by running all of the tests we suggested. If you’re absolutely sure it isn’t working, it could be due to one of the most common reasons for VPN failures, listed below:

  • Misconfigured VPN settings: Ensure your VPN client or app is properly configured. Check that your kill switch is activated and that you haven’t turned off any encryption or leak protection features. We also recommend using a modern VPN protocol like WireGuard or OpenVPN.
  • Network issues: Problems with your internet connection or network configuration can interfere with your VPN connection. Even something that appears trivial, such as a slower connection speed, can prevent proper communication with the VPN server.
  • Incompatible devices: Your device might not be fully compatible with your VPN provider’s app due to a quirk in the hardware, poor optimization or an outdated operating system.
  • Bandwidth limits: If your VPN plan doesn’t have unlimited bandwidth, you might be running into issues stemming from slow speeds, like websites or online media not loading when connected to the VPN.
  • VPN server overload:Also related to VPN speed is server load. If the server you’re connected to is congested, you’ll likely encounter issues like slow speeds or an inability to unblock content.
  • VPN blocks: Workplaces, schools and governments sometimes completely ban VPN traffic, as do some individual websites. A truly good VPN should be able to bypass these blocks once it’s installed on your device.

Which VPNs Have Leak Protection?

  1. 1
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
    • :
    • :
    • :
    • :
    • :
  2. 2
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
    • : 6
    • :
    • :
    • :
    • :
  3. 3
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
    • : Unlimited
    • :
    • :
    • :
    • :

Are Free VPNs Secure? 

Free VPN apps are rarely secure. There are hundreds of free VPN apps in the Google Play Store, and most of them don’t work correctly. Some of them flat-out harvest your browsing data. In fact, a study of around 280 free mobile VPN apps found that a staggering 38% of them contained malware, with users appearing to be mostly oblivious to its presence.

We’re not suggesting all free VPNs will steal your data and report you for torrenting — far from it. However, using an unsafe VPN can be as dangerous as using a malicious one. That said, quite a few of us at the office trust a handful of free VPNs with our data (Proton VPN is your author’s VPN of choice). Check out some of our recommendations on our list of the best free VPNs.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring that your VPN is functioning properly is crucial for maintaining your online privacy and security. By regularly testing your VPN for leaks and other issues, you can proactively identify and address any potential issues with your VPN connection. Always remember that a well-configured and functioning VPN is a powerful tool in your digital security arsenal.

Have you tested any VPNs yourself? What was your experience like? Have you ever encountered a leaky VPN? Please let us know in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.

FAQ: VPN Server Test

  • If you want to make sure your VPN is working correctly, you can test it using a leak testing website like ipleak.net or browserleaks.com.

  • Yes, VPN traffic is always detectable to a network admin, even if you have obfuscation on. However, with obfuscation activated, the admin would have to perform deep packet inspection to see the VPN traffic, which is difficult to do — especially for large websites with many visitors.

  • Just check our list of the best VPNs to see if it’s on there. Our reporting is genuine, and our top VPN list is accurate based on our experience. You’ll find a bunch of good, secure VPN options there, but you can also run the tests for yourself to find out if the one you’re currently using is at least safe to use.

↑ Top