What is VPN split tunneling, why and when should you use it?

Abeerah Hashim Last updated: September 7, 2022 Read time: 14 minutes Disclosure

Split tunneling opens two simultaneous connections to the Internet for you. We explain how this handy feature works, list the top VPNs that support it, and more.

Sneak peek at Split Tunneling

Most VPNs offer a dedicated “Split Tunneling” feature that allows users to access local and foreign content simultaneously. It divides the internet traffic into two main streams. One moves through your regular ISP route, while the other passes via VPN connection with encryption and spoofed IP. You can easily control the data you want to send either unencrypted or under the VPN protective shield. In short, split tunneling protects the user’s sensitive data without interfering much with the system’s functionality.

Amidst the growing content censorship and geo-restrictions, VPN services have gained significant popularity among internet users. However, changing online locations also means that the users should surrender their access to local content, something infeasible for many. That’s where split tunneling helps VPN users manage their browsing requirements.

Split tunneling is a dedicated feature that allows your VPN to divide your internet traffic into two streams. One of these streams regularly goes through your ISP, and the other one passes through the VPN with full encryption and IP masking. That’s how it lets you browse content from other regions without losing access to the local stuff.

For instance, if there are any specific nodes within your local network that you won’t be able to access from an external server, you need to keep your local traffic open and your IP looking like your actual physical IP. At this point, split tunneling lets you have some of your traffic private at the same time while saving you a little bandwidth.

In most cases, your VPN’s apps or software will allow you to choose the applications on your device that should send their traffic through the VPN or your regular connection.

But do you really need split tunneling for your traffic? Is there any risk involved in this? Which VPN vendors will let you do it?

Read along to find the answers to all these questions and the information you will ever need to make split tunneling work for you.

Our short final analysis if you’re in rush right now

Split tunneling is not the best way to go if you are serious about anonymity, security, and privacy. But it’s an incredible feature if all you need is protection on some apps and services you use without compromising your overall speeds and loading times. If that’s you, NordVPN is the best split-tunneling VPN you can give a try!

Split tunneling: How does it work?

Split tunneling is an intelligent VPN tool that grants you much more control over your traffic. With this feature, you can choose which data goes through your regular channels, which are faster but unencrypted, and which traffic must be secured by your VPN’s encryption and IP masking capabilities.