It’s generally regarded that if you’re using a VPN, you’re safe and anonymous. That no one can see where you are located or trace requests back to you (assuming your provider doesn’t keep server logs). I’ve always kept in the back of my mind that during the course of casual browsing, with or without a VPN, you’re leaking a lot of information but I’ve never dived in to the particulars.
I’m on the road a lot, clocking up some 160,000 km last year. As such I need to use a static IP otherwise I’m constantly having to adjust whitelists, which isn’t always feasible. I also have to connect to unsecured networks in hotels and airports, so naturally VPNs are my best friend. Earlier today I decided to do a quick test to see just how anonymous a VPN keeps you. As it turns out, you can use a VPN and not actually benefit from it, with the exception of your ISP not being able to see what you’re up to.