VPN Split Tunneling

VPN Split Tunneling

Written by: Per-Erik Eriksson

While connecting through a VPN service, there are some applications that users want to access through their real IP address. Some users need to turn their VPN service off in order to normally access the applications with their home addresses.

To resolve this issue, many VPN providers came up with a split tunneling feature that allows them to separately use their applications outside their connected VPN. Some traffic is routed through the VPN servers, while other internet traffic goes through your normal ISP.

Here’s everything else you need to know about Split tunneling.

Split Tunneling — Explained

Split Tunneling is a feature that allows you to choose which data you want to be sent through the VPN connection. For example, if you are using a VPN for your mobile device to protect your sensitive information while using public Wi-Fi, you might want all of your data to go through the VPN. With Split Tunneling enabled, only certain types of data are sent over the VPN, like web browsing or app data.

It provides an extra layer of protection for activities like online banking and checking email with sensitive information, but it can make some services incompatible or unstable because they need access to Internet resources you would normally have if connected directly without a VPN.

It’s also important that if certain apps are designed to only operate in areas where their service license applies, like streaming media services, Split Tunneling may not be a viable solution.

How Split Tunneling is Useful

Split Tunneling is useful if you use public Wi-Fi hotspots often. If you connect to a secured WiFi like the ones at your workplace, for example, you probably don’t want all of your traffic to go through the VPN. However, if you use open hotspots like at a coffee shop or airport, you might want to make sure that everything is going through the VPN connection.

Split Tunneling can also be used when watching Netflix and Hulu on your smartphone. If the service only allows access to their content in certain areas, you can use Split Tunneling to route only your Netflix traffic through the VPN connection, while sending all other apps’ data through your regular WiFi or mobile data.

While it’s a useful feature, many reviewers have noticed that some applications don’t work properly with Split Tunneling enabled. Your best bet is to talk to your VPN provider and read their documentation before enabling Split Tunneling.

How to Enable Split Tunneling in a VPN?

As far as what you need to do to enable or disable Split Tunneling, there are many VPN providers and therefore many setups. It’s best to check your specific provider’s documentation on how to enable or disable Split Tunneling for your device.

Pros of Using Split Tunneling

A VPN is a complicated tool with many features, but if you are looking for some basic reasons to use Split Tunneling, here are five of them.

  • With Split Tunneling enabled, the VPN uses less of your data plan. This is especially useful on mobile devices because it can be expensive to go over your data limit.
  • You can also use this feature on public Wi-Fi to protect all your data from being accessed by anyone at the hotspot.
  • With split tunneling enabled, you don’t have to worry about being banned from an online game or streaming service because all of your traffic is coming from the same IP address as the VPN’s connection. This means that if any connection restrictions block your account, they will block it through the VPN too.
  • If you are using a cheap “free VPN” that doesn’t have any bandwidth limits, Split Tunneling can save you money by only sending the data you need to the internet through the VPN.
  • Split Tunneling allows your device to run better on battery power because it reduces the strain on your battery from having all of your apps connect to servers through the VPN.

Cons of Using Split Tunneling

Following are a few disadvantages of using split tunneling features in most VPNs.

  • A disadvantage of Split Tunneling is that it may not work on some mobile devices. You need a VPN client that supports split tunneling and a device that will accept the settings from the client.
  • Another disadvantage is that when you use Split Tunneling, your visited URLs can no longer be seen in your browser’s history. This may not be an issue for every user, but if privacy is a concern for you, you might wish to avoid Split Tunneling.
  • Some users report going through more data when they have Split Tunneling enabled because the data isn’t being compressed by the VPN.
  • If you have a router with a public IP address, then there are some security risks associated with Split Tunneling since the traffic will not be encrypted between your computer and router.
  • There is a potential for performance issues when Split Tunneling is enabled since the VPN software isn’t able to handle all of your traffic on its own. In some cases, you may notice a slowdown in your connection speed if Split Tunneling is enabled.

Bottom Line

The disadvantages are limited though, and most users will not notice any difference in their internet experience when they use Split Tunneling on their devices. Moreover, it also heavily depends on your VPN provider whether their split tunneling feature is good enough to route traffic differently. So choose your provider wisely!

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