What Is VPN Split Tunneling? [Everything We Know]

VPN Split Tunneling

Are you worried that your data may get leaked or hacked? Have you stored your work files or other important data on your laptop/PC? Do you wish to coat your online activity with a VPN server but not for all the apps/URLs? If this is the case, you can go for VPN split tunneling. It will secure only selected apps or URLs and the rest would go on the normal internet connection.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is nothing but an online security guard to your data, privacy, and your identity over a public network. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, it helps you to creates a tunnel that secures all your online activity.

It provides you privacy and anonymity over an IP address that is untraceable by any other network and consequently assures you stress-free activity. However, sometimes it slows down the internet speed. But, you can escape from such circumstances with VPN split tunneling.

Let’s learn how it really works.

What is VPN Split Tunneling?

Split tunneling is like having two entrance gates; one for VIPs and the other for non-VIPs. This amazing feature divides the application or device’s traffic into two sections, one type of traffic would pass through an encrypted VPN server while the other would have direct internet access.

Thereby you get to choose which apps should be passing through a secure network whereas the other can connect normally.

How does VPN Split Tunneling work?

Usually, your device has a single, direct connection to the internet. Through this direct connection, your data is sent and received which is less secure.

But, when you connect your device with a VPN network, it automatically creates a special gate called a secure VPN server. Thus, every bit transmitted through your device would first be passed through the security gate i.e. VPN server.

This VPN server encrypts all your data passes through it. However, it might slow down the internet speed since every bit has to pass through it. In such a case, you can split the traffic and work with two connections at the same time.

Different types of VPN Split Tunneling

You can implement VPN split tunneling based on the app, URL or just let it work for all your online activity. Majorly the VPN split tunneling is divided into three categories, let’s learn each one.

  • URL- based split tunneling: It allows you to choose URLs you wish to encrypt via the VPN, often executed by a VPN browser extension.
  • App-based split tunneling: It works the same as above but in this, you can choose which apps should encrypt via the VPN while the unselected apps work via the regular network as before.
  • Inverse split tunneling: This method will work just contrary to the methods mentioned above. Here, instead of choosing which URLs/apps to be encrypted, you choose which not to.

In simple words, all the traffic you sent and received passes through the VPN server and is encrypted automatically. You just need to specify which app/URL doesn’t need to be encrypted or pass through the VPN server.

The said method can be time-consuming, as you have to restrict sites or apps at least once when you connect to the VPN network.

Pros & Cons of VPN Split Tunneling

So far, it is clear that a VPN server delivers security to your sensitive data. Yet if you restrict it to some apps or URLs then the outcome may vary. Thus, using and not using a VPN server causes different effects and so has pros and cons.


  • When you connect to a VPN server, it eliminates the gridlocks, enhancing the internet speed.
  • You can use a corporate/foreign network on one side and access the local network on the other without using another PC to accomplish your work.
  • You can access your network printer and can surf the internet at the same time.


  • It leaves the security measures aside and makes non-VPN data vulnerable.
  • You need to specify which traffic has to pass through the VPN server which is very time-consuming.
  • Absence of a split tunneling feature in some VPNs.
  • It slows down your internet speed.

Is VPN split tunneling secure?

This question is just unavoidable and the honest answer to this question is that the security of VPN split tunneling is both secure and unsecured. Wonder, how? Well, certain traffic that is passing through the VPN server is safe and secure. Such traffic would be encrypted and eliminates the risk of malware.

On the other hand, the apps or data traffic that choose not to pass through the VPN server may involve the risk of malware or hacking.

However, it can be assumed that the data chosen to be accessed via an open network can be compromised to security. Because it’s not important or used for a temporary purpose.

Further, not using a VPN server at all is better than using it for specific apps, URLs, or data you are concerned about. Yet relying completely on VPN split tunneling can be risky if your PC stores sensitive data.

Risk of split tunneling

  • Half security: Traffic passes through the VPN server is safe but the rest which is passing through the open network may be vulnerable to malware.
  • Risk of hacking: If you haven’t set up the VPN server properly, the data or information may be exposed to hackers.
  • Security concern for the corporate system: If an employee using a less secure network, he/she can risk the security of a corporate system.
  • Access to vulnerable sites: If you visit any vulnerable site, it may bring malware or any other threat to your PC.
  • Reduce transparency at work: An employee may be surfing to an insecure network that will bypass the security measures.

When you should use split tunneling?

You can consider using VPN split tunneling if you have sensitive data to protect and don’t want to sacrifice internet speed.

How to use split tunneling?

To get to the split tunneling you need to follow the easy steps mentioned below.

  • Go to Settings or Options in VPN and choose Split tunneling.

There you will get options by which you can manage the VPN settings. You can either choose your VPN connection on an app basis or a URL basis.

How do you stop split tunneling?

Stopping split tunneling is as easy as starting it. To do so, follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Go to Settings/Options and choose/toggle disable split tunneling.

How do you test split tunneling?

To test the split tunneling, you can use a traceroute command or check the IP address for a specific website. First, check when VPN is not active and second when it is active. If the IP address shown is from the local provider, it is not working.

Does full tunneling slow down the speed?

Full tunneling leads to encrypt all your traffic and each bit sent and received would first filter through the VPN server and then it will proceed. Not necessary that the internet speed would go down but yes, it would not be as faster as in split tunneling.

Note that in split tunneling, you allow a part of traffic to compromise with security. Whereas in full tunneling, no traffic is compromised to security.

VPNs that offer split-tunneling

Numerous VPN providers offer split tunneling. But to your ease, we have listed the top VPN.

NordVPN split tunneling

NordVPN can be used as an extension to your Chrome or Firefox browser. Therefore, while surfing the internet you can easily suggest the extension which websites it should add to VPN security whereas the rest would go to the direct network as usual.

ExpressVPN split tunneling

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN available in the market and it lets you split the tunnel among Windows, Mac, and Android devices. It also offers you a 30days money-back guarantee.

CyberGhost split tunneling

CyberGhost allows you to set smart rules for split tunneling on your device. It let you divert the traffic via different servers.

Final words

VPN split tunneling features traffic security and at the same time keeps the speed of the internet as it is. However, if you can’t compromise any data of your system then you should go for full tunneling. Nonetheless, split tunneling is worth using for many reasons as mentioned in this article.

Is VPN split tunneling safe?

Yes, VPN split tunneling is safe and secure.

What are the benefits of split tunneling?

Split tunneling conserves bandwidth and provides a secure connection.

What is the disadvantage of split tunneling?

VPN split tunneling leaves the security measures aside and makes non-VPN data vulnerable.

By Vishal Negal

Meet Vishal Negal, a digital marketer and tech enthusiast with over 8 years of experience. Specializing in creating comprehensive how-to guides, in-depth reviews, and engaging tech-related content.

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