Many of you VPN fans may have already wondered what split tunneling is and how it’s used. But we wouldn’t be surprised if even the most devoted VPN users don’t know a thing about split tunneling and how it’s used. Truth be told, you should use this very advantageous technique, even though not all VPN providers offer it to their customers. And what’s split tunneling exactly? As its name indicates, split tunneling allows you to direct only a part of your internet traffic to the VPN servers, while the rest is normally connected to the internet. Although there are a couple of risks when applying split tunneling, if used properly this method can indeed become quite handy, especially in speeding up your connection.
Why Split Tunneling?
One of VPNs’ biggest disadvantages (and also advantages) is the fact that your data is going through encrypted tunnels until it finally reaches the server. Although this makes you invisible in the eyes of ISPs and websites with trackers, it also gravely slows down your connection, which can be quite infuriating if you have a slow connection to begin with. Unfortunately, applying a number of different VPN protocols might not be enough, since they work on a balance between speed and encryption, meaning that you have to choose between being fast and being invisible.
To avoid the above Sophie’s choice, some companies offer the so-called split tunneling. With this feature turned on you can choose what traffic to route via the encrypted tunnel and what remains untouched, while you can still benefit from VPN protection and maintain the best of connections. Furthermore, this way you don’t consume as much bandwidth as you would do using VPN on “full speed”, which may be very useful for saving a few extra gigabytes if you have low data caps.
However, keep in mind that there’s a risk in split tunneling: if you want to stay hidden from your ISP, turn off this feature as you may experience data leaks, which can be intercepted. You should also avoid using this method in public Wi-Fi hotspots, since data leaks happening on these networks can turn really bad, especially considering that you never know who is using the network alongside you.
How to Use Split Tunneling
Like we said before, split tunneling is not supported by all VPN providers, so we’ll take ExpressVPN, a company having this feature as an example here. In ExpressVPN’s app for routers you can easily view how many devices are using the VPN signal, alongside their names and IDs. You can also toggle between ON and OFF, choosing which of the VPN using devices you want to have connected.
Let’s see how that works with an everyday example: you’re streaming a Netflix show on your computer, but the content available for your country’s version isn’t the best, so you want to bypass the restrictions with a VPN. However, your son is using his smartphone just to chat with friends and unnecessarily hoards your precious speed and bandwidth. With ExpressVPN’s split tunneling feature you can just kick that smartphone off your VPN connection, forcing it to connect to your house network in the regular way. Your son can still chat with his friends using a non-VPN connection on your home network, while the VPN network on your computer won’t be as “crowded” as it was before, resulting in better speeds and less bandwidth usage.