What Does My ISP See When I Use a VPN (A Complete list)

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It is a common practice for ISPs to track and log your internet activity. They can collect your data because data retention laws and regulations ask for it.

A great way to privately browse online is to use a VPN. But you might ask – What Does My ISP See When I Use a VPN?

What about your downloads, searches, and websites visited? Can an Internet Service Provider see what you do when connected to a server? Let’s take a look if VPN can be detected and what does your ISP sees when you use it.


ISP can easily see VPN traffic. This is because an encrypted connection has characteristics that are specific to a VPN. ISP can tell that you are using a VPN by IP address, Port Number, and VPN protocol used. Internet Service Providers can also detect VPN traffic by using a Deep Packet Inspection technique.

Here’s how ISP can see VPN:

  • Seeing VPN IP address: it is easy to tell that a server you are connecting belongs to a VPN provider
  • Looking at Port Number: you connect to a specific port which is determined by a VPN protocol
  • Noticing VPN Protocol: even if you use a different port, VPN protocol encrypts your connections, which might be another indicator
  • Analyzing with DPI: a sophisticated technique used by most advanced ISPs to analyze and detect VPN traffic

Using a VPN prevents the ISP from seeing what you download. It can not know what is inside the encrypted VPN tunnel. ISP can not track what you download and where you are getting your files from. A VPN is the most secure way to share files, especially when torrenting. An ISP can only see encrypted data streams.

A VPN stops your ISP from seeing the websites you visit. All connections to the sites you visit are completely private. A VPN encrypts all your internet traffic and hides it so ISP does not know where you browse. Your ISP can only see the times when you connect to a VPN server’s IP address and the bandwidth used.

Your ISP can not see anything you search online when using a VPN. However, the search engine you are using can still see what you search for. A VPN hides your searches from ISP, but not from Google or Bing. You need to take extra actions to protect your browsing and search history completely.

We just answered the most common questions about sites visited, downloads, and search. But what does your ISP see when you use a VPN?

A VPN keeps your browsing private and protects from ISP tracking your internet activities. As ISP logs most of your connections, there is still some data that it collects.

Here’s what your ISP sees when you use a VPN:

  • That you use a VPN
  • VPN server’s IP address
  • VPN protocol used
  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • Amount of data transferred
  • Encrypted Data

As told in the beginning, your ISP can see the VPN traffic itself. It is not difficult to tell that the IP address you are connecting to belongs to a VPN provider. ISP, however, only sees the connections going to a VPN server and not the websites you visit. 

Your traffic is encrypted using a VPN protocol. These protocols use strong encryption and a unique port they connect to. You can also tell which VPN protocol was used by the port number.

A VPN hides your real address and location only from the websites you visit, but not from ISP. ISP knows your real IP address. It also knows the times when you establish a connection and how long you browse.

ISP can also track the amount of data transferred and bandwidth consumption. Of course, this data can be very inaccurate since your downloads and general browsing are mixed up together. There’s also VPN encryption which adds extra overhead and distorts the actual data.

If your ISP decides to inspect your contents – it can’t. With a VPN it can see only the encrypted gibberish data stream. It is not possible to crack the encryption algorithms used by VPNs, therefore your traffic is secure.

Summary of what ISP can see on VPN:

Subject

Can ISP See It When Using VPN?

That you use a VPN

Yes

Downloads

No

Sites visited

No

Searches

No

Your Real IP

Yes

VPN server's IP

Yes

Times you connect

Yes

Amount of data and bandwidth

Yes

Contents

Only encrypted gibberish data

Torrenting

No

Streaming

No

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