What Does My ISP See When I Use a VPN?

Last Updated: September 14, 2021

Every day, we share our most personal moments with the internet – from reading an article to watching a video. But what do ISPs see when you connect?
Jason

Jason

Hi! I'm the editor at EarthWeb. I have a deep interest in technology and business. I also enjoy testing products out. Contact me to be featured!
What Does My ISP See When I Use a VPN (A Complete list)
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Every day, we share our most personal moments with the internet – from reading an article to watching a video. But what do ISPs see when you connect?

What if they wanted all of your information on record for advertising purposes or, even worse, to use it against you in some way?

Well, worry no more! With VPNs, there is now technology that not only secures your data but hides it right before eye contact and protects this precious information at all costs until its destination has been reached. 

And don’t think just because someone’s looking over their shoulder while using one will give them away – thanks to advanced encryption algorithms, these invisible tunnels are completely undetectable by those who might want access (or try). So let us take a look.

Can My ISP Detect VPN Traffic?

An ISP can detect VPN traffic because it has identifiable characteristics. For example, when data is encrypted with a VPN protocol, the IP address and port number are easily identified.

In addition, a Deep Packet Inspection technique enables ISPs to detect if someone is using a VPN based on their internet connection pattern.

It is easy for an ISP to detect that you are using a VPN.

Here’s how they can do it: they’ll see your IP address, port number usage, and protocol, as well as detecting the traffic with Deep Packet Inspection (DPI).

Can My ISP View What I Download with a VPN?

When a VPN is used, the ISP can’t tell what you download.

Instead, it simply sees encrypted data streams and has no idea about your location or which content was downloaded because it’s all hidden within that encryption.

Can My ISP Detect What Sites I Visit with a VPN?

Your ISP can see when you connect to a VPN server’s IP address, but it cannot differentiate between the times when private browsing occurs.

As a result, your connection becomes encrypted, and your traffic is hidden via an anonymous proxy for web pages not viewable by others.

Can Internet Providers See What I Search Online With A VPN?

Your internet provider can’t see what you search when using a VPN. However, the site that hosts the content can still know what you are searching and browsing through.

A VPN protects against this by hiding from your ISP but not necessarily Google or Bing sites unless extra precautions have been taken with these types of searches as well.

When I Use A VPN, What Does My ISP See?

VPN

As your internet provider can log most of the connections that you make, there are still some data points they collect.

Using a virtual private network (VPN) keeps your browsing more secure and protects you from tracking by an ISP.

But what about all those other logs collected? Let’s take a look at them:

  • That a VPN is used
  • The IP address of the VPN server
  • VPN protocol
  • Your IP address
  • Amount of data used
  • Connection timestamps
  • Data is encrypted

ISPs can see your VPN traffic, but they only know where you are visiting and not what websites.

What’s more? ISPs also monitor when a connection is established with their servers and how long that browsing session lasts. 

However, your browsing habits are entirely hidden from both ISPs and websites you visit because encryption protocols use strong encryption unique to each port it connects with.

In addition, a VPN protocol shows which one was used by its corresponding port number on top of shielding your actual IP address while surfing online content anonymously!

ISPs could easily see how much data you’re transferring and the bandwidth consumption in your internet usage.

With mixed downloads, general browsing, it’s easy to tell what each user is up to when IPs are tracked with this level of accuracy. 

Unfortunately, VPN encryption adds extra overhead, distorting the actual data, so ISPs cannot inspect anything on their end – unless they break through the complicated encryption algorithms used by most providers’ services.

Summary Of Things ISP Can See When You Use VPN

SubjectDoes ISP See When You Use VPN?
That VPN is in useYes
Your Real IPYes
Searches No
Sites visitedNo
DownloadsNo
VPN server’s IPYes
Data amount and bandwidth exhaustedYes
Number of times you connectYes
ContentsOnly encrypted unrecognizable data
StreamingNo
TorrentingNo

Best VPNs To Prevent ISP Tracking

Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

Surfshark‘s VPN has a simple interface that will make it easy for you to unblock your favorite sites. This is an excellent option if you want access to the internet without any restrictions whatsoever.

Features:

  • Works in over 60 countries with more than 3200 global servers
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Strong encryption and very secure
  • Kill switch, whitelister, and multi-hop
  • No-logs policy
  • Excellent for streaming and works smoothly with Netflix
  • Fast speeds
  • Money-back guarantee of 30-days

NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN is a great way to stay private and secure online.

It’s offered as an easy-to-use app for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux that encrypts your data with military-grade encryption standards so you can use the web safely on any device without the worry of being hacked by someone who wants access to your personal information such as passwords.

Features:

  • Works in over 59 countries with 5200 plus servers globally
  • Ad-blocking features and blocks malware through its CyberSec add-on
  • Next-gen encryption
  • VPN traffic masking technology
  • No-logs policy
  • It offers fast streaming features even for Netflix
  • Exceptional fast speed with P2P support
  • Money-back guarantee of 30-days

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a service that lets you access content from all over the world, wherever and whenever.

In addition, ExpressVPN offers encrypted connections to avoid snooping by your ISP or government officials.

The applications are easy-to-use on any device with automatic protection updates, so there’s no need to worry about security loopholes being exploited before they’re patched up!

Features:

  • Over 3000 servers in more than 160 locations
  • No-Log policy
  • Great for streaming movies like Netflix
  • Secure encryption (military-grade AES 256-bit)
  • Kill Switch, Split tunneling, and RAM-disk servers
  • Works on major operating systems like macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android
  • Great speed with strong connections
  • Money-back guarantee of 30-days

IP Vanish

IPVanish

IP Vanish VPN is a popular choice for internet users looking to safeguard their personal information and privacy.

IP Vanish VPN has become an increasingly attractive option as the importance of digital security becomes more apparent every day.

IPVanish offers virtually unlimited bandwidth, 256-bit AES encryption protocols, and DNS leak protection software on mobile devices and PCs/Macs alike—all without logging or user exploitation from this leading service provider!

Features:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth and P2P Traffic
  • 256-Bit AES Encryption
  • No Log policy
  • Anonymous Torrenting
  • Geo-Locked Content Access

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

The Private Internet Access VPN service is the ultimate in online security. They have a strict no-logging policy and over 1000 servers worldwide, so you always get fast connections wherever you are.

In addition to protecting your identity when using public Wi-Fi hotspots or unsecured networks, this premium provider will also encrypt data transmitted between your devices for added protection of information on cellular lines such as 3G/4G or LTE from eavesdroppers!

Features:

  • Ad-blocker blocks malware and tracker
  • Ten devices can connect simultaneously
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Broad coverage in 29 countries and over 3200 Servers
  • Does not log traffic
  • Money-back guarantee of 7 days

PureVPN

PureVPN

PureVPN offers an entirely free, ad-supported VPN service that allows you to connect up to five devices at once. You can also upgrade your account for additional features and benefits.

For example, it offers military-grade encryption software so no one will be able to see what you are doing online when connected through their network, either your ISP or government agencies because it even hides from them.

Features:

  • Available in over 140 countries with its 2000+ servers
  • Traffic masking and unblocks geo-restricted content
  • IP leak protection and Internet Kill Switch feature
  • Affordable Dedicated IP addresses
  • Supports standard operating systems such as macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android
  • Strict no-log policy
  • Fast streaming ability, ideal for Netflix, BBC, Hulu, etc
  • Money-back guarantee of 31 days

Final Note

When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted and routed through the service’s servers.

Your ISP doesn’t know what websites you’re visiting or where those sites are located because it can only see that information in plain text when it leaves your computer before being decrypted by the VPN server. 

If there were ever some kind of problem with an ISP like they weren’t allowed to access certain content anymore, using a VPN would be one way to maintain internet freedom without sacrificing speed.

What do you think?

Have any of these facts about ISPs and VPNs changed how you feel about them?

Let us know!

We want our readers to have all the information needed so that they can make informed decisions.

Written by Jason

Hi! I’m the editor at EarthWeb. I have a deep interest in technology and business. I also enjoy testing products out. Contact me to be featured!

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