Which settings should you change in your VPN?
Sometimes we have questions from our readers about the VPN settings and which ones to select. Many people are a bit afraid of changing them and don’t even risk it. They download the software, and from that moment on they only turn it on and off. That way, the VPN still gives you an encrypted connection and a different IP. But if you don’t select a couple of useful tools, you won’t be taking advantage of the full potential that modern VPNs offer. So we made this post, directed at beginners, to explain what are the VPN features you should turn on.
The VPN Kill Switch
This is a very important tool and you should always activate it. If the VPN has a problem and has a momentary disconnection, this tool will interrupt the Internet connection. This feature prevents that your real IP address is visible while the VPN is not working. For example, if you are downloading a torrent file and the VPN connection drops, the torrent download will stop. You will have no Internet until the VPN is working again. This doesn’t happen often, but it is possible. It’s a very useful tool that guarantees your security at all times. If you want to read a bit more about it, then check the Kill Switch article we wrote.
Most of the modern VPNs, like ExpressVPN, come with this feature included. But you have to activate it yourself. It’s always located in the options area of the VPN software. It’s very easy to spot, the different providers normally call it this exact name, the Kill Switch. You just have to tick that box.
The DNS Leak Protection
DNS leaks are one of the biggest threats to anonymity, even when you feel protected. This is the way how Internet Service Providers can log the activity of their users.
When you type a website address in your browser and press enter, there is a request to the DNS server. The goal is to translate that address into numbers, the IP address. This action is performed by the DNS servers of your ISP, and that’s how they know your activity.
When you use a Virtual Private Network, the DNS requests go through the servers of that VPN. Your ISP won’t be able to see your DNS requests anymore.
BUT unfortunately, it’s not that simple! The problem is that many times Windows uses the default settings, and still sends DNS requests through the servers of the ISP. In that case, it doesn’t matter if you are using a VPN. Your ISP can still see those requests. That’s why it’s crucial to turn this option on, to make sure it overwrites the default Windows settings. This option will make sure the requests are routed through the VPN DNS servers.
This feature is easy to identify, and it’s also located in the settings area of each VPN software. To make sure there are no DNS leaks, you can go to websites like dnsleaktest and see for yourself.
Disable IPv6 Traffic
In a nutshell, the Internet Protocol IPv6 was made to substitute IPv4, which is still the main Internet Protocol. The reason for that is the fast growth of the Internet and the number of IP addresses. The difference between them is that IPv4 is 32 bits long, making it possible to have a capacity of 4.3 billion IPs. On the other hand, IPv6 is 128 bits long, which gives it a capacity of trillions of unique IP addresses.
IPv6 is still not very popular and most VPN networks are configured for IPv4. Because of that, having IPv6 on with a VPN configured to encrypt IPv4 may cause leakage in IPv6. In the future, the new protocol will be more used, and the VPNs will be reconfigured, so they can be compatible with it. But for now, it’s recommended to turn IPv6 off, to avoid any risks.
Most VPNs have this option in their settings, you just have to select it. But some VPNs don’t include it. The reason is that it’s possible to turn off IPv6 manually in your system with a few clicks.