How To Secure Your Data If Your VPN Connection Drops
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)
Ok, so if you’re still window shopping for the ideal VPN or have been using one for some time already, you’ll know there’s one vital ‘make or break’ characteristic we all look for: a stable connection.
Even if you’ve never used a VPN before, you’re certainly no stranger to an unstable WiFi connection – dropping out and interrupting your flow of work. It happens. However, losing your VPN connection is a different matter altogether. After all, what use is a VPN if the connection to the server drops – re-routing your precious, private data back through your ISP? It would almost be as though you never had a VPN to begin with.
You’ll be relieved to know that there are several methods in which to protect and secure yourself in this almost inevitable scenario. So, before you queue any more Torrents or settle down to watch Netflix, you will need to make sure that if, or when, your VPN fails, that your flow of data comes to a halt – instead of pouring back into the hands of your ISP.
Whether you’re using Windows, Mac or Linux, here are some solutions:
Choose a VPN that includes a “Kill Switch”
This is a god-send for the novice or non tech-minded user who prefers to avoid a potentially time-consuming task of adjusting the settings on their computer. The VPN ‘Kill Switch,’ once a virtually non-existent feature, is today one of the hot selling points from VPN providers.
Built into many VPNs software, the ‘Kill Switch’ is as simple as checking a box – sometimes they’re given other names (like Mullvad has, above). It gives you absolute peace of mind, no matter what happens, that no traffic will escape your computer if your VPN fails. Some programs will even automatically attempt to reconnect – a handy bonus feature if you plan to be away from your computer for any length of time.
So if your current VPN doesn’t comprise of this snazzy feature, then perhaps it’s time to part ways and jump ship to another company that knows how to take care of their customers.
Here’s a list of top companies that have implemented a ‘kill switch’ into their software:
|Rank||Provider||Our Score||User Rating||More Info|
Torrent users should use VUZE (Windows, OSX)
This a VPN-friendly Torrent client that has the ability to establish whether you’re using a VPN. Vuze cares so much that it’ll even prompt you with a warning message offering you the chance to use the client over the VPN. Thanks Vuze.
Clicking yes should then configure this automatically. If not, then no sweat – it’s easy to set it manually.
- Now click Connection >> Advanced Network Settings
- Scan through the list on the right and pick out the IP address that corresponds to your VPN.
- Copy and paste the interface name into the ‘Bind to local IP address or interface’
- Now click on ‘Enforce IP bindings…’
You’ll know if you’re Torrent traffic is being routed through the VPN when the routing icon, on the bottom right, turns GREEN. When your VPN connection stops, all processes stop too. Phew. The icon may take a few seconds to catch up to turn green but rest assured no data is leaking when the VPN stops.
Download VPNetMon – for Windows users only
If your current VPN provider, or the one you have your heart set on, doesn’t have a in-built ‘kill switch’, don’t despair. VPNetMon is a very nifty, hands-on piece of free software, for Windows users only, designed to automatically close programs that are accessing the internet when the VPN connected is lost. Though you will have to manually configure this yourself, it is very straight forward.
Let’s demonstrate how this works:
- Download VPNetMon here: Extract and run.
- Now click opt. Now you can select exactly which programs should close when the VPN connection is lost (A).
- Enter the first two numbers of your VPNs IP address (found under ‘IPV4 Address boxes’) in the ‘VPN IP Start’ box (B).
- Take it for a test drive by manually disconnecting from your VPN. If you see all programs close down, then well done, you’ve created your very own custom ‘kill switch.’
- Make sure you launch each program you want to use via the VPNetMon program.
- Now when you are connect to your VPN, you’ll see the IP address appear in GREEN in one of the lower ‘IPV4 addresses’ boxes (C).
Try VPN Check – Windows and Linux
Yet another monitoring program – this time, Linux users are invited to the party. Rather like VPNetMon, this simple but effective software ensures that all programs (e.g. BitTorrent) will automatically close when the VPN connection drops.
It’s stand-alone software that can be used alongside other VPN programs, but works best when using OpenVPN with providers that don’t offer their own ‘kill switch.’
- Download the free or pro version here [ http://www.guavi.com/vpncheck_free.html ]. Once downloaded and opened, click ‘config.’ If using Windows, you can enter your VPN username and password to hook up with your existing account provider.
- Choose which programs you want to have close down if your VPN disconnects by clicking ‘Cycle IP Task.’ You’ll be able to choose whether to shut down these programs or even shut down the whole internet connection if the VPN fails
‘Loop time (sec)’ is how often you want the program to check the VPN connection is active. The screen shot shows “2” so the program will check the connection every 2 seconds.
Whatever your online activities consist of – torrenting, streaming, downloading – this is one area you can’t afford to ignore, and with these free and varied methods there’s no reason for leaking your data back to your ISP.
Implementing your own ‘kill switch’ may require some manual work, but a complex solution is better than no solution at all. Though it’s a relief to see VPN providers now offering this as a built in mechanism – saving you time, money and stress. The ‘kill switch’ really is the ultimate shield for today’s privacy warriors.