Do you want to download in safety and privacy without slowing down your network? Perhaps you often stream content online and want to keep your connections safe and private? VPNs are known to provide you with excellent security features and unrestricted global content access. That said, they’re also known to increase ping and lower your network speed, especially when connected to remote servers.
Short on time?
Here are the best VPNs with split tunneling:
There is a convenient and handy way of making sure you get the best of both worlds. That is, to use a split tunneling VPN. But, not every VPN service offers a split tunneling feature. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about split tunneling and highlight the five best split tunneling VPNs.
What is VPN Split Tunneling and How Does It Work?
Before we go deeper on how it works, the pros and cons, and if you even need it, we should start with the fundamental question – what is split tunneling? In simple terms, split tunneling is a VPN feature that divides your Internet traffic.
It gives you the option of running two network connections simultaneously. Split tunneling sends a part of your connection through a VPN tunnel and routes the rest of it through your local network.
This differs from the default option of connecting to the Internet through one, single connection. This characteristic is a very beneficial feature to have as it enables you to still get fast internet while securing some parts of your traffic.
Main Types of Split Tunneling
When talking about split tunneling, it’s important to highlight that there are actually several main types. The three main ways of implementing split tunneling are:
- App-Based Split Tunneling – This allows you to select which apps you want to run through your VPN’s servers. All apps that you don’t select, along with the rest of your traffic, go through your regular network.
- URL-Based Split Tunneling – The tunnel is created through a VPN browser extension. Allows you to select the URLs you precisely want to run through a VPN tunnel.
- Inverse Split Tunneling – This type works oppositely to the two above ones. With inverse split tunneling, you select the URLs and apps you don’t want to run through a VPN tunnel. All other traffic is automatically sent through the VPN servers.
Pros of Split Tunneling
Like any other VPN feature, split tunneling comes with its set of pros and cons. Firstly, let’s go over the most notable advantages of using split tunneling:
Simultaneous Multi-Network Access
Split tunneling provides you with the great convenience of accessing multiple networks at the same time. In other words, you can do some things on your local network and simultaneously access remote sites or services through a VPN server.
Split tunneling provides a very advantageous user experience. This is because you won’t have to constantly disconnect and connect your VPN when you want to switch between connections.
For example, you can download or stream something through a VPN split tunneling connection. At the same time, stay connected to your local network and enjoy a full-speed browsing speed.
Better Network Performance
In line with the previous advantage, you can enjoy the benefits of added security and excellent performance. You’ll have better network speeds and less lag than you would if you were connected to a full tunnel.
Not only this but routing only a part of your connection will minimize the chance of bottlenecks. As neither your VPN nor local connections are being entirely sent through one server, you’ll achieve a more efficient connection overall.
Cons of Split Tunneling
As we’ve discussed the advantages split tunneling can bring to your network, it’s only fair to look at the other side of the coin as well. In this regard, here are some of the most notable disadvantages of split tunneling:
Not As Safe As a Full Tunnel
If security and privacy are the main reasons why you’re using a VPN, split tunneling perhaps shouldn’t be your go-to option. This is because there are some VPN split tunneling security risks you should be aware of. It can leave your sensitive information exposed to hackers who are willing to do more digging.
Suppose either your local connection or VPN split tunnel connection gets compromised. The attackers will easily be able to track the network back to your device. As there are possible backdoors and less privacy overall, split tunneling is simply not as safe as a full VPN tunnel.
Often Time-Consuming To Set Up
Depending on which of the three split tunneling types you’re using, it can take you a lot of time to set up all of the settings and permissions. You’ll have to decide and manage which apps or URLs you want to run through the split tunnel and which through your unprotected network.
How To Use Split Tunneling
With the understanding of what split tunneling is and how it works, we can address the next crucial topic – how to use split tunneling. To make this process as convenient and as smooth as possible, we’ve summed up the key steps you need to follow. As NordVPN is the best VPN with split tunneling, in our opinion, we’ll cover how to split tunnel with NordVPN.
That said, you don’t have to worry, as these steps apply no matter which of the five recommended VPNs you decide to go with. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to use a split tunneling VPN:
- Open up the NordVPN app.
- Click on the “Settings” tab.
- Turn VPN split tunneling ON and add apps.
The NordVPN split tunneling feature is our favored one as it’s very effective and user-friendly. It allows you to tailor settings and add or remove apps quickly. It also features the option to disable or enable apps. This effectively provides you with two split tunneling types in one app.
Best VPNs With Split Tunneling
NordVPN, one of the best in the business, currently offers split tunneling features for Windows, Android, and Android TV. The features don’t stop coming with split tunneling, as NordVPN has prepared a world-class VPN service. Other notable features include DDoS and DNS leak protection and a kill switch across most platforms.
NordVPN currently supports over 5,200 servers in 59 countries. Their servers don’t come with any speed or bandwidth restrictions. Moreover, all of the servers are RAM-based. There’s also the service’s NordLynx protocol, arguably the best-performing protocol around.
SurfShark offers a split tunneling feature with its own twist on it, called the Whitelister. It’s currently available on Windows and Android devices. The Whitelister allows you to add and select apps and websites you don’t want to route through the VPN tunnel. But, the service has made it clear that they’ll be adding further support soon.
Apart from the outstanding SurfShark split tunneling feature, you can also count on a fantastic well-rounded VPN service. SurfShark is extremely fast but still very user-friendly and lightweight. It provides over 3,200 servers in 65 countries. All servers are P2P friendly and come with private DNS.
On top of everything, all of this will set you back only a little more than a couple of bucks per month. This is because SurfShark is one of the most affordable VPN services, especially if you pick a long-term plan.
ExpressVPN offers a great all-around split tunneling VPN service. It supports a split tunneling feature for Windows, macOS, Android, and routers. It’s one of a handful of VPNs that offer both split tunneling and inverse split tunneling support.
You can set it up when using one of the service’s 3,000+ servers based in 94 countries. ExpressVPN also offers you a great lineup of protocols, including the in-house Lightway protocol.
This VPN is regarded as one of the most secure services in the industry. This is because it offers private DNS on every server, strong network encryption, and doesn’t keep any connection logs.
Private Internet Access
As one of the most advanced VPNs on the market, Private Internet Access doesn’t fail to deliver on an excellent split tunneling feature. Moreover, it supports split tunneling on almost every major platform. This includes Windows, macOS, Android, and even Linux split tunneling. In terms of the sheer variety of devices supported, PIA ranks high as one of the best.
Of course, the rest of PIA’s service is on par with the best in the business. This VPN offers over 35,500 servers in 78 countries. All of these servers are blazing fast and come without any data bandwidth caps. You can connect up to 10 devices and enjoy the benefits of split tunneling across all devices you use daily. The service also comes with strong encryption and a lineup of solid protocols.
- Block ads, trackers, and malware
- Can be used with 10 devices simultaneously
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 3200+ Servers in 29 Countries
- No Traffic or Request logs
- 7-day money-back guarantee
IPVanish is one of the best VPNs for mobile users. It’s a streamlined and very solid VPN that’s easy to use. More importantly, in the context of all this, it supports split tunneling on its Android app. You can choose between over 1,600 servers in more than 75 locations. When using the split tunneling feature, you can count on advanced encryption and multiple connection protocols.
IPVanish split tunneling features are simple to use and adjust. The service itself is affordable, comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and allows you to connect to an unlimited number of devices per one subscription. Plus, the service is very powerful and can unblock all major streaming platforms worldwide.
VPN Split Tunneling FAQs
What is a Full Tunnel VPN?
A full tunnel means that your entire connection is routed through the VPN servers. With this in mind, it’s a term closely tied with split tunneling. Conversely to full tunneling, split tunneling is when only a part of your network is routed through a VPN server. The other part is routed through your regular IP address.
How to tell if a VPN is split tunneling?
A convenient way to check if a VPN is split tunneling is to visit a website that shows your IP address. If it shows your local network and not your VPN server, the data packets weren’t routed properly. If you’re using VPN split tunneling on a Windows 10 device, you can check and enable it through a PowerShell command.
Split tunneling vs. full tunneling, which is better for me?
If you can’t decide if split tunneling or full tunneling is better for you, you can apply an easy rule of thumb. Split tunneling is a better choice if you want additional security without slowing down your connection. If security and privacy are your priorities, you should run your entire network through a VPN.
What’s the best VPN protocol for split tunneling?
When it comes to the best VPN split tunneling protocol, we recommend you set up WireGuard split tunnels. WireGuard is one of the fastest and best-performing VPN protocols around. Plus, it’s safe and very adept at protecting your private and sensitive information.
Should You Use a VPN With Split Tunneling – Final Thoughts
Split tunneling is undoubtedly a useful feature to have by your side for a multitude of reasons. It combines convenience, performance, and security to offer a great VPN user experience. Split tunneling is definitely worth a go. Just be certain to keep both the pros and cons in mind when using this option.
If you’re an Android or Windows user, we recommend signing up with NordVPN or Surfshark. In the same breath, if you’re more of a macOS user, split tunneling with ExpressVPN is the best way to go about it. Nevertheless, each of the five VPNs we’ve discussed above is more than capable of providing you with a great split tunneling feature you can rely on.