Split tunneling VPNs are VPNs that allow you to route some of your app or device traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel and lets other devices or apps on to the internet directly. You choose the traffic you want to encrypt without losing access to local network devices.
Many VPNs have split tunneling availability on Windows, Mac, and Android which we’ll go over shortly. I’ve written a separate post for or a more in-depth breakdown of what exactly it is and how it works.
Choosing a VPN with split tunneling isn’t a guarantee and if it’s an option that you want then you should check out the pros and cons further below. It’s also important that the 5 below provide a great service overall and not just their split tunneling capabilities.
Now on to your best options. Let’s get started.
ExpressVPN really is the Swiss army knife of the VPN world, providing split tunneling features for Android, Mac, iOS, Linux, Windows and you can even use the feature directly on your router via an app – something that not many other VPNs can offer.
They make it easy to find in the settings on most devices although slightly trickier in Windows (under options) and Mac (under preferences).
ExpressVPN also benefits from offering ‘split-include’ and ‘split-exclude’ options which means you can either:
- nominate to send all traffic through the VPN
- send only traffic originating from specified apps
- send all traffic except for that originating from specified apps
With ExpressVPN you can be sure you’re getting the best split tunelling features out there and the host of security features as standard including unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime.
NordVPN also provides split tunneling features for Android, Mac, iOS, Linux, Windows (although directly on your router is not supported).
Not as flexible as ExpressVPN where you need to use the Chrome and Firefox browsers to choose which websites are to use the VPN and which to use a direct connection.
Not perfect but still a great choice considering the many benefits that come with NordVPN including great speeds and security.
A great solution for Android and Windows users including Android TV but iOS is not currently supported.
Backed by an impressive 141 countries to choose from and up to 10 multi-login users, PureVPN is another solid choice and one to look at if you have a larger household.
If you do like the look of PureVPN then you’ll like the look of the price as well.
Cyberghost features both split-exclude and split-include options for Android, Mac, iOS, Linux, Windows and both Amazon Firestick and Fire TV.
It works with up to 7 devices and provides access to servers in 90 countries making it easy to find a connection and quickly.
Another great choice.
It is worth noting however that this service is unavailable in China and UAE.
The only other option on this list that also supports router split tunneling as well as allowing you to let specific apps or websites bypass the VPN entirely.
Again, making quick work of all the available operating systems and standard features like a kill-switch and its very own No Borders feature which lets you circumvent country wide restrictions.
Split Tunneling - FAQs
Why is split tunneling bad?
There is always a risk when you set up split tunneling to exclude certain traffic from encryption as the tunnel you have chosen will not be protected from the safety of your VPN. To ensure protection when handling sensitive data for example, always use the full VPN connection.
Is Split tunneling secure?
Split tunneling is always susceptible to security risks because you are directly choosing not to encrypt certain traffic. For most users who wish to access geo-blocked content split tunneling should be absolutely fine. However, the risks can’t be ignored especially in a corporate environment where the entire network could be accessed by a bad actor and should be carefully considered.
What is an advantage of split tunneling?
Split tunneling allows users to do things like access geo-blocked content and local content at the same time, reduces the amount of data that is being sent and using up more bandwidth and accessing LAN devices while using a VPN.