You might not always need a VPN when browsing online. There are apps or websites you already trust, but always reconnecting to a server is not very convenient. If you want to easily manage your connections you need a VPN with split tunneling.
What is VPN split tunneling
A VPN split tunneling allows specific apps, websites, or devices to use your direct internet connection, while still connected to a VPN server. It saves bandwidth, allows access to local devices, and reaches both local and foreign content at the same time.
How does VPN split tunneling work
A VPN split tunneling works by using a whitelist. It allows you to select apps, websites, or devices either to use or bypass a VPN. Depending on the implementation, split tunneling can divide internet traffic by app, URL, or IP address.
Here are VPN split tunneling methods explained:
- By App: allows selecting a specific app that will bypass a VPN every time you use it. All the rest of your internet traffic will still encrypted.
- By URL: allows specifying a website URL that will use a direct internet connection every time you access it while visiting any other websites your traffic will be routed via a VPN server.
- By IP address: sets a specific IP address which should not use a VPN
- Inverse Split Tunneling: Just like all three options above, the selected apps or websites will always use VPN instead of bypassing it.
Why should you use VPN split tunneling?
VPN split tunneling has its benefits. It’s especially advantageous if you use it on mobile devices. Here’s why you should use split tunneling:
As it is known VPN uses some extra data due to encryption. By using split tunneling a part of the traffic is not encrypted therefore saves some bandwidth. This is especially useful when using mobile cellular connections or 4G internet.
Allows access to both local and foreign content at the same time
Depending on your set up, VPN split tunneling allows accessing both local and foreign content at the same time. It’s quite convenient to manage your connections without the need to constantly disconnect and connect to a VPN server.
Allows access to printers and other local devices
Sometimes with a VPN connection, you can not access the devices that are on your local network. You can set up split tunneling in such a way that printers, TVs, or other PCs can be reachable even with a VPN on. This might be very helpful when sharing files between devices.
VPN split tunneling security risks
If you ever asked is VPN split tunneling safe, you should know that it might come with some security risks. The security highly depends on how the feature was built and what apps or websites you select to exclude from VPN traffic.
Here are some VPN split tunneling security risks:
There are some concerns that VPN split tunneling might have some ways to access your device. The implementation of the feature varies greatly which can have an effect on your internet traffic safety. This can leave your device vulnerable from malware or visiting malicious sites this way infecting your device.
Lost some privacy
As part of the traffic is not routed via a VPN server, that means that the websites you visit using VPN split tunneling IP see your IP address. Also, your ISP can see which websites you try to access when using a direct internet connection. The content filtering or throttling by ISP becomes also possible.
Data leaks on public Wi-Fi
When you set up the apps or websites for split tunneling the settings stay on any network you connect. This might lead to accidental sensitive data leaks when using public Wi-Fi. You must be careful to select the apps that can bypass a VPN.
Best VPN with Split Tunneling
SurfShark (for Windows and Android users)
Surfshark is probably the best VPN with split tunneling. The Whitelister feature is very easy to use and suits best for Windows and Android users. It does not currently have this feature available for Mac or iOS users.
It allows selecting apps and websites that you either want to bypass a VPN or use a VPN. This additional inverse split tunneling method is very handy when you’re torrenting.
This skyrocketing VPN has great extra features such as ad-blocking and malware protection, Internet Kill Switch, fully supports torrenting, has great speeds, and can unblock Netflix.
Surfshark is based in The British Virgin Islands and does not keep any logs. As far as security goes it uses AES-256 encryption and supports IKEv2, OpenVPN, and Shadowsocks protocols.
The unique and really amazing thing about this VPN provider is that it allows an unlimited number of devices to be used with the same account.
As far as the pricing goes, it’s very affordable and the plans start as low as 1.99$/month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN (best for MAC and routers)
ExpressVPN’s split tunneling allows you to select the apps that can either use or bypass a VPN. This feature is available on Mac, Windows, and Android and is very easy to set up.
Maybe the downside is that you can not add specific websites. However, its app for routers is very powerful as it allows configuring split tunneling for specific devices.
This VPN has everything a VPN could need – amazing speeds, support for torrenting, unblocks Netflix, and does not keep any personally identifiable information.
It’s one of the most secure and privacy-focused VPNs. Their servers run on RAM-memory which does not allow to store any logs. All apps use the strongest encryption and protocols such as L2TP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN.
ExpressVPN is one of the top services in the industry and is a bit more expensive than others, but the quality has its price. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
PureVPN is another VPN with split tunneling that has this feature on Windows, Android, and AndroidTV apps. An Android allows you to select apps that should use a VPN and on Windows, you can set either to use or bypass a VPN.
This VPN is very good for streaming as it has servers dedicated just for that. Good speeds and open support for P2P traffic makes it a great choice.
The VPN has protection from IP and DNS leaks, an Internet Kill Switch, and allows up to 10 multi-logins.
PureVPN also has a 7-day trial for just 0.99$ and a 31-day money-back guarantee on all its plans.
Ivacy is a great choice for those who want reliable and robust connections. It has apps for all platforms and the split tunneling feature is on Windows and Android. You can select the apps you like to pass through a VPN tunnel just by adding them to a list.
This provider has a no-log policy, high download speeds, and P2P support on their 1000+ Servers in 100+ locations. It also offers additional add-ons such as Dedicated IP or Port Forwarding.
The service has no IP or DNS leaks and an Internet Kill switch. Strong AES-256 encryption and IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols support are also available.
Ivacy has a 0.99$ 7-day trial and quite affordable plans that can go as low as 3.50$/month. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN (Android only)
NordVPN is one of the most well-rounded VPNs on the market, however, split tunneling feature is available only on Android. Despite that, if you’re looking for a VPN specifically for Android then it’s one of the best there is.
You can also use split tunneling for your browsing with Nord’s Chrome or Firefox VPN extensions. These will make only the traffic from your browser travel via a VPN tunnel while any other traffic from the device will bypass it.
This provider is based in Panama and has an audited and proven strict no-log policy. It also just recently released the modern and very fast WireGuard protocol on all apps.
NordVPN can unblock Netflix, fully supports P2P traffic, and has next-generation encryption algorithms. Internet kill Switch, Invisibility on LAN, and ad-blocker are other available features this VPN can offer.
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans and currently has an offer with a 70%-OFF for a 2-year plan.
Split tunneling is a handy feature to manage your connections, reduce bandwidth and reach both foreign and local content at the same time. The best VPN with split tunneling for Windows and Android is Surfshark, while probably the only one suitable for MAC users is ExpressVPN.