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Can Your Internet Service Provider See Your Browsing History with a VPN?

Are you wondering whether your internet service provider can still see your internet history if you use a VPN on your device? Assuming this is possible, what then should you do? Find out the answers to these questions and others in this article.

Many questions and discrepancies surround the use of VPNs, including how they work and what they can offer. This is because online security must be given due attention, more so in this digital age where people live a great chunk of their lives and conduct businesses through the internet.

Therefore, issues regarding who can access your personal details or detect your online services have become increasingly important due to cyber-attacks. That is why VPNs have become popular, to provide internet users with the privacy and security they require when they go about their online activities.

However, some people have wondered if organizations such as your internet service provider can still track your activities even with that blanket of security offered by VPNs. I have deliberated on this issue and will serve you my findings accordingly.

Can ISP See Internet History with a VPN?

No, your Internet service provider cannot see your browsing history when using a VPN. However, they will notice that you are using a VPN to restrict their access to your information.

Other than that, they can’t obtain any details regarding what websites you are visiting or what exactly you are doing. That is what will be seen by others who, like your internet service provider, are trying to access your information. Thus, your ISP can’t view your browsing history or get your other information.

When you use a virtual private network (VPN), your internet service provider (ISP) can see that you are connected to a VPN server, but they will not be able to see your browsing history or the specific websites you visit. This is because VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, making it difficult for anyone (including your ISP) to see what you are doing online.

However, it’s important to note that VPNs can only protect your internet activity from being seen by third parties. Your ISP may still be able to see your browsing history if you do not use a VPN, and some VPNs may keep logs of your internet activity that could potentially be accessed by authorities. It’s always a good idea to research the privacy policies and reputation of any VPN service you are considering using to ensure that your online activity will be kept private.

The Information Concealed From An Internet Service Provider

Information Concealed From An Internet Service Provider

When you use the internet with an active VPN in place, your internet service provider will only detect the use of the VPN and not information concerning the user. Therefore, the usual information they should get without your use of a VPN won’t be possible.

These are the details they won’t obtain from anyone using a VPN:

  • Online search history
  • Visited websites, webpages, and the duration of the visits
  • Downloaded content, uploaded files, and any information given on any unencrypted online platform.

However, your internet service provider can still get certain information because they provide you with the ultimate connection to the internet, allowing you to visit different websites and platforms. When you browse, every attempt to visit an internet location exists as a data package in the form of a request. Your internet service provider is responsible for sending this package data to the right place.

The only difference to this routine process when your VPN is active is that your request is being sent to the VPN server and not directly to the website or webpage you intend to visit. It becomes the responsibility of the VPN to connect you to the website. Therefore, your internet service provider does not know anything beyond that point.

The Possible Information About Your VPN Obtainable By Your Internet Service Provider

The Possible Information About Your VPN Obtainable By Your Internet Service Provider

Your internet service provider may not be able to get personal information about you, but they can get information concerning the VPN you are using. Therefore, VPN information obtainable by your internet service provider includes:

  • The exact time of connection
  • VPN server IP location
  • Port identity of your VPN
  • Coded data is being exchanged from your end to the VPN and vice versa.
  • The total amount of data being exchanged.

Aside from the above information, your internet service provider can’t get anything else. They can’t use them to figure out your identity, including the places you visit and where you are browsing from.

Possible Ways Your Internet Service Provider Can Get Information Even With Your VPN In Use

Although I have said that your internet service provider can’t get hold of your browsing history and other information about your online activities since you are using a VPN, there are instances where they still can. I will explain these instances below:

1. Break in connection

VPN connection suddenly break

When your device and the VPN connection suddenly break during a browsing session, you will be completely exposed to every prying eye. Your internet service provider can easily detect your internet operations and store the information. The protection you enjoyed when the VPN was still active would be gone instantly.

However, most VPNs come with a kill-switch feature to prevent such from happening. This tool immediately ends your connection to the internet whenever your link with the VPN fails. It acts like a circuit breaker and prevents anyone from accessing your information. But some VPNs may not have this feature, especially the free VPNs. That is why you must scrutinize a VPN service thoroughly before deciding whether to use them.

2. Poor VPNs

Poor VPNs

Some VPNs are poor in quality and lack the sophistication to provide you with ample online security and privacy. This is easily seen in free VPNs. And due to their poor quality, breaks in connection and malfunctions may frequently occur, exposing your browsing activities to your internet service provider and other snoopers.

3. Some VPNs can store and sell your data

VPNs can store and sell your data

VPNs usually claim to practice a no-logs policy. This means they don’t store any data concerning your activities online. However, not all VPNs adhere to this rule. Some may claim to practice the no-logs policy but still go ahead to retrieve and store your data which they can sell to third parties for monetary gains. If the third party happens to be your internet service provider, it automatically means they will have your information, including your browsing history. That is why it is advisable to use paid VPNs, as they are more reliable.

Free VPNs And Paid VPNs: Which Will Likely Expose You To Your ISP?

Free VPNs And Paid VPNs Which Will Likely Expose You To Your ISP

Paid VPNs should always be your ideal choice. The reasons are not farfetched. You get what you pay for, and when you pay for VPNs, they provide you with better security and privacy. Most also come with important and updated features that protect you from online hazards. They are less likely to keep your browsing information and sell it to third parties.

On the other hand, free VPNs may come with lesser features that may not give you the quality online protection and security you need. Due to their poorness, they may be prone to malfunctions which can automatically expose your activities online. Free VPNs will most likely store your information and sell it to third parties. Therefore, your internet service provider is more likely to get hold of your information when you are using a free VPN than a paid one.


Q: Can someone view my browsing history over a public Wi-Fi connection if I have an active VPN?

No, a person can’t view your browsing activities over public Wi-Fi since you have an active VPN. It is the same reason why your internet service provider can’t access your browsing information too. Your VPN acts as a barrier against any external intruder.

Q: Can my internet service provider view my browsing information when I am using incognito mode?

Yes, your internet service provider can view your browsing information when you are using incognito mode. This is only impossible if you have an active VPN in place. Without that, using incognito mode cannot conceal your browsing activities from your internet service provider. Incognito mode only prevents storing browsing history and data on your device so that no one can directly access them.

Q: Can my VPN provider access my browsing information?

Yes, your VPN provider can access your browsing information. They provide you with the required online security and can see all that you do since all your activities go through their server. However, most paid VPNs have a no-logs policy and, thus, do not save your data for any reason. But free VPNs are more likely to store browsing data and exchange it for monetary gains.


Your internet service provider cannot see your browsing history and other information when you have an active VPN. Some possible scenarios where your ISP can get your browsing information largely depend on the type and behavior of the VPN you are using. Your personal information is more likely to be exposed with free VPNs than with paid ones. That is why you are advised to choose a paid VPN over a free one and scrutinize it properly before making your choice.