Can My VPN Provider Track My Online Activities?


A VPN — or virtual private network — is often described as one of the most essential tools for online security. A VPN encrypts your data as it passes from one place to another on the internet. This data can include your location, browsing history, and any personal information that you provide when you fill out online forms — for example, your name, address, date of birth, and financial details.

Can My VPN Provider Track My Online Activities?
Can My VPN Provider Track My Online Activities?

Suffice to say, you certainly want this information kept safe and protected. While most VPN providers aim to do just this, not all have the same good intentions.

Many people wonder — if a VPN can block and encrypt all of this information, does that mean that my VPN provider has access to my personal details? The answer is both yes and no. Continue reading to discover what you should look for before signing up to any type of VPN service.

VPNs explained

How does a VPN work? Well, a virtual private network protects your online activities and identity by masking your IP address from everyone — this includes both online criminals and your internet service provider. A VPN tunnel also encrypts your information so that it cannot be accessed while you are browsing online.

Essentially, when you access the web via a VPN, your IP address — the identifying number associated with your device — is routed through a server in another country. When you sign up to a VPN provider, they often give you the option of choosing which country through which you want to access the internet.

Many people take advantage of this from both a security and entertainment standpoint. Being able to access the internet via another country — the United States, for example — means that you can access their streaming services and content which may be different from your own location.

VPNs and tracking

When we talk about tracking and VPNs, there are three ways of categorising a provider’s services. 

  • No-log: A no-log VPN will not log any information regarding your online activity at all. Ideally, this is the type of VPN that you should be looking for.
  • Connection log: A VPN provider who keeps a connection log will track information about your internet activity, not the activity itself. This includes your IP address, server location, time of connection, and data usage.
  • Usage log: This is the most invasive form of VPN service. A provider who keeps a usage log can track your browsing history, file downloads, and app usage while you are connected to the VPN tunnel.

Even when using a VPN, you are rarely completely invisible on the internet. Before deciding on a VPN service provider, be sure to read the fine print and understand what kind of information they are recording. 

What to look for in a VPN

There are thousands of VPN providers on the market today, all trying to sell you their security products. Deciding upon a service can be difficult; fortunately, there are a few key points to keep in mind to make your choice easier:

  • Speed: There’s nothing more annoying than a sluggish connection, particularly if you are trying to stream a movie or play a game online. Ensure your provider makes connection speed a priority.
  • Ease of use: VPNs should not be difficult to set up, whether you are logging on via your smartphone, laptop or tablet. 
  • Tech support: As with any type of product you are purchasing online, make sure that your VPN provider offers good tech support. Having a full-time, dedicated customer service team can also be taken as the sign of a trustworthy provider.
  • Price: The best things in life aren’t always free, and this is particularly true when it comes to VPNs. Avoid any free VPN service — you can pretty much guarantee that they do not have your privacy and security as a top priority. A free VPN provider will need to make their money somehow and this is often through tracking and selling your data to third party advertisers.

Yes, your VPN provider can track your online activities. However, that doesn’t mean that you should do away with the security and privacy that a VPN tunnel offers. Before signing up to a service, just be sure that you fully understand what kind of data your provider can track and who has access to your personal information online.

Author Bio:


Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.

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