How to Test Your VPN Connection for Privacy Leaks – Make Tech Easier

Make Tech Easier


When you rely on a VPN, you certainly don’t want your private information slipping out, revealing details about who you are, where you are, and which sites you’re visiting. That’s exactly what VPN leaks are. They either come from your browser or your DNS connection. In either case, bad configuration can completely subvert your VPN connection.

You should always test your VPN to make sure that nothing is leaking. It doesn’t take long, and there are several places online to check to be sure that you’re not revealing anything about yourself.

The first and most obvious place to test your VPN is DNSLeakTest. It’s a site that’s designed to ensure that your DNS connection isn’t connecting to any servers outside your VPN.

DNS leaks are some of the most common VPN leaks. In a DNS leak your primary connection goes through your VPN like it should, but your DNS still goes to your ISP’s servers. Because your DNS reveals where you’re going and where you’re located, DNS leaks effectively render your VPN useless.

DNS Leak Test Home

Open your browser and go to dnsleaktest.com. When you first arrive, you’ll see a message telling you where you’re located and showing you a map. If that location isn’t where your VPN server is located, something is definitely wrong. Hopefully, it is your server location, and you can keep going.

There are two buttons on that main screen, too: one for the standard test and another for the extended version. Run the extended test.

DNS Leak Test Results

As the test runs through, it will try to find DNS servers that you’re using. When it completes, you’ll see the servers listed. In a successful test, you’ll only see your VPN’s DNS server.

Next, you can try Do I Leak. This one is an automated script that tests for both DNS leaks and browser leaks. Browser leaks are settings configured in your web browser that reveal information about you and your computer. They’re usually related to multimedia features, and most can be disabled without causing many issues.

When you arrive on the site, there’s only a single button there to begin the test. Click on it when you’re ready.

DoILeak VPN Test Results

The test will run through and probe multiple potential leak sources. After it’s done, it’ll print out the results of your tests in a convenient table. Each row will show you the results of a different test. Some things are more important than others.

Not having your timezone match doesn’t necessarily show anything about you other than the fact that you’re using a VPN, which someone could tell from the IP address anyway. Things like WebRTC, on the other hand, can reveal a great deal about you. You can click on the arrows at the end of each entry to find out more.

Browserleaks.com is another tool for analyzing multiple aspects of your connection. It tests many of the same things that DoILeak does but does them separately. When you arrive you’ll find each of the different available tests listed. They’ll all be on the side, too.

BrowserLeaks IP Test

Take a look at the basic IP address test first. It’ll give you location and DNS information. From there, you can take a look around. Java, Flash, WebRTC, WebGL, and Canvas Fingerprinting are probably the most important ones for you to look at.

BrowserLeaks takes things a step further by providing information on how to remedy the leaks that it finds at the bottom of each test page. Be sure to check them out if something turns up.

Finally, if you use your VPN for torrents, you want to make sure that you’re constantly protected. None of these tests specifically target torrenting. There is a great tool for torrents that actually interacts with your torrent client using a magnet link.

ipMagnet Results

The tool is called ipMagnet, and it provides you with a magnet link that you can paste into your torrent client. Allow it to run for a while. It’ll update automatically in your browser to reflect what’s happening in your client. You should only see your VPN IP listed in the ipMagnet results table.

By using these valuable tools and tests, you can ensure that your VPN is working as intended, and your information is secure. It’s not a great situation that you need to run tests to verify security of your VPN connection, but that is the case. Fortunately, once you have everything configured and secured, you won’t need to test or check things as often. They usually stay secure.





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3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid)

3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid)


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If you’re using Kodi, you’ve probably decided that a VPN is a wise idea, especially if you’re going to use some sketchy add-ons. But you aren’t ready to spend money on a proper VPN, what are your options?

Well, you can start off with this list of free VPNs that you can use with your Kodi box.

Do You Need a VPN for Kodi?

Using a VPN (see our guide to VPN terminology


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The Short MakeUseOf Guide to VPN Terminology

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) for Kodi is about more than avoiding detection when using illegal add-ons.

Kodi is remotely hackable, and add-ons can be riddled with security flaws. Whether you’re accessing illegal content, adding legal streams, or simply using the approved add-ons, you might be making your Kodi less secure and more susceptible to man-in-the-middle and keylogger attacks.

Even rogue subtitle files can hack your device!

Kodi isn’t anonymous, which means that anyone observing your activity online (whether a hacker or a government agency) can see exactly what you’re streaming. Using a VPN with Kodi, you can anonymize your online activity, encrypting all data leaving Kodi.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a PC, smartphone, or Raspberry Pi; a VPN can be installed. A VPN will also protect other hardware on your network in the event of a Kodi add-on attempting malicious activity. Our list of reasons for using a VPN with Kodi


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3 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN With Kodi

If you use Kodi for streaming content around your home, you should be using a VPN. The reasons are more complex than you might think.
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expands on this topic.

The Best Free VPNs for Kodi

Various free VPNs are available, but which ones are suitable for use with Kodi?

Before we proceed, it’s worth highlighting here that free VPNs typically offer a restricted experience. Bandwidth is often limited, meaning that your activity via the VPN is capped. Paid VPNs don’t have such a limit.

As such, the list of options for free VPNs that you might use with Kodi is limited.

  1. ProtonVPN: A good option, but P2P (peer-to-peer) is not supported. So while streams from YouTube and other direct streaming services will work, add-ons relying on P2P data will not work.
  2. TunnelBear: Sadly, this has a 500MB daily cap for free use, making it pointless for video streaming. However, if you’re streaming audio or downloading podcasts with Kodi, this could be an option.
  3. VPNBook: No registration, and therefore the most private VPN out there. VPNBook doesn’t offer an app. As such, you will need to install an OpenVPN client on your Kodi device and manually configure the settings. This may not be suitable for many users.

Ultimately, you’re not going to get an enjoyable experience using a free VPN with Kodi. If you choose to use a free VPN, you will see more ads; any personal data you submit will be sold, too. See our list of the best unlimited free VPNs


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for more.

However, there is a better option.

If you aren’t able to pay for a VPN but want limitless VPN access, why not consider a trial subscription? As long as you cancel the subscription before the billing cycle begins, you should be able to use your chosen VPN for free. Many services offer a free trial (ranging from three to 30 days), so this option is worthy of consideration.

What Is the Best Paid VPN for Kodi?

Express VPN desktop client

Put off by the idea of using a free VPN with your Kodi box? It’s understandable; the best answer is to find an affordable, fast, and competent VPN solution that can handle gigabytes of streaming media.

While we’ve put many VPNs to the test over the years, the one that offers best reliability for Kodi is ExpressVPN (save up to 49% off using this link).

With desktop clients for Windows and macOS, OpenVPN support for Linux, and apps for Android, iOS, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire (tablet and TV), Xbox, PlayStation, and the Chrome, Mozilla, and Safari browsers, ExpressVPN is available everywhere. You can choose from over 2,000 VPN servers in 94 countries, and it’s easy to set up and use.

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, with no data retention laws, with no restrictions on what you can stream, and no one forcing them to store your activity. You can be confident of a secure, private Kodi streaming experience.

Which VPN Should You Use With a Kodi Fire Stick?

Have you installed Kodi on your Amazon Fire Stick


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? If so, you’ll probably want to install a VPN there too.

Thanks to the Amazon Fire Stick’s Fire OS being based on Android, this is relatively straightforward. All you should need to do is install your VPN app from the Amazon App Store.

IPVanish offers an app for Amazon Fire Stick

But which one is best?

ExpressVPN, PureVPN, NordVPN and many other recognizable names are available. If you’re looking for the best option for this device, however, we suggest you take a look at IPVanish.

Note that if you’re using a VPN on your Amazon Fire Stick or TV box, you’ll need to ensure that it is running before you open Kodi. While it is possible to access the Android apps from within Kodi, this can cause a lag and cause the VPN (or Kodi) to crash.

How to Install a VPN on Kodi

Installing a VPN on Kodi differs from machine to machine. Perhaps your Kodi system is running on Windows; perhaps Linux. Alternatively, you could be using an Android TV, a games console, or a Raspberry Pi.

Each of these has a slightly different requirement for running a VPN with Kodi.

For example, Linux computers will benefit from OpenVPN, which is supported by many VPN providers. A PC or Android device, meanwhile, should be able to run a dedicated mobile app from the VPN provider.

Because the requirements are different depending on the hardware, it is a good idea to check if your device is supported by the VPN provider before proceeding. You should also consult our guide to setting up a VPN on Kodi


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. Not all Kodi devices work well with a VPN. If you find that things aren’t working well, try a VPN router instead


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.


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As Online Privacy Deteriorates, What Is the Future of VPNs?

As Online Privacy Deteriorates, What Is the Future of VPNs?


Recently, there has been speculation that VPNs might be reaching the end of their natural lifecycle.

Some people have even suggested they might die out entirely in less than two years


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. The argument claims that issues surrounding data logging, ISP restrictions, encryption, and geo-blocking are all eroding consumer confidence the product.

But VPNs were never designed to be either privacy or geo tools in the first place, they’ve just morphed into those roles over time.

So, what does the future hold for VPNs? Are there any technologies that the VPN providers can embrace to keep their product relevant? What can they do to ensure customers retain their subscriptions?

Join us as we peer into the crystal ball. Here’s a look at the future of VPNs.

VPNs Are Adapting to Mobile

Like all web-based businesses, VPN providers are quickly wising up to the fact that the online world is becoming increasingly mobile-centric.

Of course, most VPN companies are more than happy to tout the availability of their service on mobile


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. Both the Android and iOS operating systems provide a way for you to enter your VPN credentials and use your network.

That’s all well-and-good, but behind the scenes, mobile VPNs are a different beast. The technology required to operate a mobile VPN is very different to that required for a desktop VPN.

When used on mobile, the VPN needs to reduce the amount of memory it uses, process data over shorter timeframes, and use data compression techniques to improve performance and increase throughput.

As such, we’re going to see more and more companies adopting the FIPS 140-2 standard. The standard—which was published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology—demands that VPNs must offer secure and persistent wireless access using a mobile-optimized TLS protocol.

Four mobile VPN technologies are adhering to the FIPS 140-2 standard. They are IPsec VPNs, SSL VPNs, IKEv2 VPNs, and MobileIP VPN, though SSL and IPSec were designed for desktop use.

We’ll probably see more and more VPN companies adopting one of the four technologies over the coming years. Even more likely, we’ll see a new VPN protocol arise that’s specifically designed for mobile usage and which eradicates the flaws of the current crop of protocols.

The Rise of Network Access Control

Although most people think of VPNs as a way to access Netflix US and prevent ad companies from tracking them


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around the web, they’re also an essential tool for businesses.

VPNs allow employees to log into a company’s network and access the data within it. This enables them to perform business-critical tasks while working from home or when on the road.

But the practice also introduces an element of risk. How can the company be confident that the device you’re using to log into the network is safe? Is it virus free? Is it running the latest version of the operating system? And is it free of apps that could steal the company’s data? Ultimately, VPNs are one of the most vulnerable access points in a business’s entire network.

And that’s where Network Access Control (NAC) comes into play. In broad terms, a robust NAC system will not grant access to any device unless it meets predefined criteria. The criteria could be anything from anti-virus protection to system settings.

The increased usage of “Bring Your Own Device”


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(BYOD) policies and the shift towards mobile gadgets have made NAC policies harder to implement.

As such, many experts speculate that VPN providers will start offering NAC solutions as standard. A VPN could assess the device and establish if it was in the correct state to connect before a user even enters their credentials.

It would also allow an employee to try and log into the business network from any public computer, even if it wasn’t verified by the company’s IT department. On paper, this should remove obstacles that hinder employees from doing their jobs and thus help to increase their productivity.

Cloud Storage as Standard

Many companies are starting to use cloud-based solutions instead of VPNs. For a start-up or SME, which might not have a dedicated IT specialist, the cloud offers a more straightforward way of sharing and accessing the company’s business-critical data.

Google, Microsoft, and even Amazon are now targeting the enterprise sector in a big way. Businesses are loving it; the agility offered by cloud solutions combined with the pay-as-you-grow nature of the subscription plans is enticing for cash-poor corporations.

VPN providers are slowly starting to respond. Some have started to offer integrated public cloud services that run in tandem with the VPN itself. The providers’ aim is to offer a secure, single service solution for both cloud storage and a VPN.

Smart Routing

Also referred to as AI-based routing, smart routing is set to become more common over the next few years.

The VPN will be intelligent enough to route each individual request to the VPN server closest to the destination server. For example, if you visit a site based in Brazil, your traffic will be sent to one of the VPN’s servers in Rio. If you then visit a website hosted in France in another tab, your traffic will be routed to a server in Paris.

Smart routing has three main benefits. Firstly, your traffic will remain inside the VPN network for as long as possible. Secondly, you’ll experience the lowest possible latencies. Thirdly (and perhaps most impressively), it means every single website you visit will see a different IP address. It would make it much harder for companies to track you around the web.

Protocol Obfuscation

Recent years have seen many websites and services deny access to traffic that’s originating from a VPN


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. The most notable are Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

Similarly, some ISPs have also been caught blocking traffic from VPNs. ISPs are aware that many people use VPNs to download torrents and other illegal content, and so decide to take a blanket approach. There are even reports of college dorms and apartment blocks restricting access.

In all these situations, the solution is to obfuscate the VPN protocol. The aim is to change the characteristics of network traffic so that sites cannot identify it as originating from a VPN.

There are already workarounds for achieving this goal. For example, it’s possible to use a command line proxy tool called Shapeshifter Dispatcher. It uses pluggable transports to bypass Deep Packet Inspection filtering. However, the tool is complicated to set up and not suitable for beginners.

Luckily, protocol obfuscation technology will become more common in consumer VPNs. It will remove the need for sophisticated third-party tools and help to return VPNs to the status they had a few years ago.

Service Fragmentation Among VPN Providers

It wasn’t so long ago that commercial VPNs were all much of a muchness. They promised stronger privacy and a way to circumnavigate geographic restrictions, but not much else.

But we can already see the market starting to fragment. The sector’s biggest names—such as ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access—are trying to offer a generic VPN solution that covers almost any use case you can think of on any platform. At the same time, many free services are trying to find a niche for themselves by offering something the big players don’t.

This trend is expected to continue. With the growth of censorship in countries like China, Russia, and Iran, it’s predicted that an increasing number of small VPN providers will pop up in a bid to capture the highly censored markets.

Need a reputable VPN? Get started with 3 free months of ExpressVPN, the VPN provider we trust most. Free VPNs are riddled with privacy and usability issues, so always use a paid VPN!


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Here's An Extremely Rare Deal On Our Readers' Favorite VPN Service [Exclusive]

Here's An Extremely Rare Deal On Our Readers' Favorite VPN Service [Exclusive]


It’s not hard to find good deals on VPN subscriptions, but our readers’ favorite service, Private Internet Access, is notable for hardly ever running sales. Just for our readers though, they’re opening back up their holiday offer of two years for $60, down from the usual $70. That’s just $2.50 per month to protect your browsing data, get around video geoblocks, circumvent proxy filters, and more.

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